September, 2013

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Wednesday Sept 11. A new plan.

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

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I am back in Amsterdam. The EPIRB arrived, finally at noon in IJmuiden. But after the Tuesday storm ( wind speed recorded on the Ijmuiden pier was as high as 95 KM/hr,= 51 plus nautical miles/hr, which is Force 8 to 9…) the fear of God was re-instilled in me. And I realized that maybe I should look after the mast’s potential problems. And I still did not manage to get the SailMail program or the Navionics navigation program to work properly. The moorage in the marina in IJmuiden is pricey and it is far from stores, a bit depressing and not a good internet connection. This is a replay of October 2004. I set sail from Gig Harbor to San Francisco and had to return from Port Townsend for almost the identical problems. The communication and navigation not working properly, yet.  But then Plan “B” worked out fine for me and I am sure it will again.

I have a few options. I can go back through France in the reverse direction as I came here from the Med, last year. The mast could be repaired while I am on the about 6 week journey and delivered to me at the Med.

Another one intrigues me. Every even year there is a an informal transatlantic race for boats between 20 and 30 feet lengths, the Jester Challenge. http://www.jesterinfo.org/ This was started by Blondie Hasler. My very first wind vane self steering gear was a Hasler Pentab, I used in the 1982 Single Handed Transpac. The race starts on May 11, 2014 at Plymouth and is sailed to Newport, R.I. It is a very low key gentlemen’s race. With a better mast and some of my rigging replaced I should be able to have the perfect set up for such a race. I would have to be all set up before April since I want to spend time in the Pacific North West for my oldest daughter’s 50th birthday on April 18 and my friend Roger Rue’s 80th earlier in April and for the centennial celebration of my parish church St. Nicholas in Gig Harbor at Easter time.

I hope the friends at “de Schinkel” will have me back. I may have to sell a few of my books to throw another go away party.

 

 

Tuesday Sept 10. Storm bound in Ymuiden

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

I had hoped to be on my way today, but the EPIRB is still bouncing around the Netherlands. Last report is that it will be delivered to the  marina here in IJmuiden tomorrow. But this might have been a blessing in disguise. If I had left this morning I would be in a heap of trouble out in the North Sea now. The weather forecast was decent, with a chance of stronger winds in the afternoon. But from noon on the winds built and right now it is blowing a full gale, from the W.N.W. The boats are straining on their mooring lines. I feared for the worst and put a line from the mast step to a dock cleat. The waves are blowing horizontally over the docks, very noisy. My sister just called me and from where she is just 60 miles to the east of me there is no wind at all….

I worked on hooking up the shortwave radio to the Pactor modem and the laptop but am having trouble figuring out the connections. I have not used the setup since 2009 and then used a different laptop. Can anyone tell me to where the wire with the 15 pin male serial port connection hooks up? It has a USB connection to the laptop but the modem and the radio both have the female 15 pin ports. I had a manual but have not found it yet.

My well heeled Hamburger dock neighbor, straining at the bits in the storm.

Monday Sept 9. IJmuiden

Monday, September 9th, 2013

I left “de Schinkel” on Sunday evening. I said my last goodbye’s to several of the club members and friends at mass. .And more survival packs were given to me. Together with those I received at the farewell party on August 31st. I can probably cross the Atlantic without having to stop at Safeway on the way. I have been so spoiled by these wonderful friends. Maybe I should have never left…. I  made new friends with a couple from Katwijk in the last days at the Schinkel. Cees en Anne Greet van Duijn. They were visitors and I was moored right behind them. Handsome couple as you can see from the picture and we have a common bond,  believing in the promise of an even better destiny.

The railroad bridge, at de Schinkel locks  opened at just after 1 a.m. Monday morning. I travelled the “Standing Mast route” with just two other boats. We moored at the north end of the route at 2.30 a.m. Then, after a short rest, I discovered why I had not received the EPIRB on Friday. The DLH delivery man claimed that my address did not exist. So, after several e-mails and phone calls I am now expecting to receive it here at the North Sea exit port in IJmuiden on Tuesday morning.  At least it will give me a good night sleep before crossing during the afternoon and all Tuesday night to Woodbridge. And the wind will have turned in my favor compared to having to beat into the wind, today on the North Sea. I expect to get to Woodbridge Wednesday evening. I still have to hook up my modem to the SSB radio but expect to have my SailMail up and going tomorrow. My e-mail address will be the same as before with the call letters starting with W and @sailmail.com.

 

 

 

Friday Sept 6. There are still a few good Dutch(wo)men among us. And departure report.

Friday, September 6th, 2013

I knew my chances were slim to none. I had gone through the exercise in Bulgaria in 2011 trying to recover the nearly $2,500 in VAT sales taxes that was due to me on the exportation of the engine, from the EEC, that I had bought from Holland and installed in Romania in late 2010. I bounced from one customs office to the next in Varna on the Black Sea.

This time I should be able to get the VAT (BTW) back on anything I purchased within the three months before my departure. The biggest purchase is my new EPIRB and altogether it is 250 euros, close to $400. The problem is that seldom a sailor goes through the hoops to recover these taxes. Tourists flying out of Holland can easily claim their refunds at the airport. I made a number of telephone calls and every one contradicted the other. There is no customs office in the port I’ll be leaving from, IJmuiden, the most logical alternative would be the port of Amsterdam but I was directed to the Schiphol airport. How in the world can they verify that I am taking the goods out of Holland? But sometimes I do get lucky. It was a long walk from the airport building to the customs office. It had started to rain and my bedraggled look probably helped to stir compassion. At first the custom’s man and woman, taking their smoke break on the entrance steps, told me that this was not the place.  I told them about the many phone calls I had made and that I was not very happy. The lady had worked in the port of Rotterdam where they still have a customs facility. She called the Rotterdam office. In the meantime the other male officer offered me a cup of coffee. And sure enough I started hearing the sound of stamping on the six invoices I had submitted. The next step is trying to get the sellers who collected the VAT from me to refund it to me…..because they will most likely not be familiar with the procedure.

I had figured on having to go through this exercise on Monday in Amsterdam but now that it is taken care off I should have clear sailing to IJmuiden on Monday and if the weather cooperates I plan to begin my sail to Woodbridge from IJmuiden in late Monday afternoon and arrive at the mouth of the Deben River on Tuesday morning or late Tuesday afternoon.  I can only cross the bar early morning and early evening. There are a number of friends and relatives who wish to wave me out and I think I should be going through the locks in IJmuiden in mid afternoon on Monday. I shall be checking out with the Marechaussee there and probably be there an hour or two. You can check with me on my mobile phone.

Please, note that from now on to e-mail me while I am away from shore you’ll need to use the trusted Sailmail e-mail address. Remember, it is my WDB  call numbers followed by sailmail.com.

 

 

Sunday September 1. The “Blue Peter” is hoisted.

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

 

“P” for partir, the traditional signal flag to signal the ship’s departure. Partir c’est vraiment mourir un peu. (French expression : leaving is somewhat like dying). Yesterday afternoon friends and family came to say their “bon voyage” at my departure party. The reality of what I am leaving behind will only start to sink in when the Dutch coastline disappears from my sight. I plan to write these impressions later here for you.

Under the signal flag flies my new club burgee presented to me at the party. Eighteen relatives made it to the gathering and many of the old and new friends I met here in the four year’s Europe visit plus club members.

I still have chores to do this week and expect to leave here the end of the week.