Wednesday, May 27, 2009

River Orwell

Left Lowesoft Sunday morning at 630am to catch the first bridge at 7am. There was almost no wind but what little there was came from behind us and with almost 4 knots of current we made good progress towards Harwich. Harwich is located at the entrance to the Stour and Orwell rivers and the bay was full of sailboats out enjoying the bank holiday weekend, surrounded by a wall of massive deep sea container ships and loading docks. Seb was thrilled to see a huge container ship being launched by two tug boats (approx. 900 feet long, depth of 40 ft) looming up next to us. As we sailed up the Orwell river, leaving the industrial port behind us we were surrounded by beautiful green rolling fields and lush vegetation dipping into the river. Boats of every shape and size were bobbing about on mooring buoys all around us.

About 7 miles up the Orwell we picked up a mooring buoy at a little village called Pin Mill, location of the Butt and Oyster – one of the best sailors pubs in England according to Yachting Monthly. We pumped up Spikkel (our dingy) and headed off to explore the area. Pin Mill has a long hard path about 1,5 m wide that snakes out into the water from the middle of the village. This is appropriately named ‘The Hard’. The Hard is surrounded on all sides by a vast expanse of soft mud and allows you to walk/ bring your dingy into land when the tide is out. We had a very nice meal at the Butt & Oyster and then took the little monkeys to play in the grass on the Common. Emma made her first friend and ran about exploring while we chatted with some of the locals. Pin Mill is a very pretty friendly place. We headed back to Spikkel at about 730pm. The tide was still quite far out so we walked out along The Hard. The dingy was ready and Seb held Emma and Macsen while I stepped in. Unfortunately, I took one step back before entering the dingy and plunged thigh deep into ‘The Soft’. Emma was completely shocked and started crying and whimpering “I don’t like it when Mama falls into the mud”, needless to say Mama didn’t think much of it either. The first 100m in the dingy were very uncomfortable, Emma and Macsen both crying and me completely covered in brown sticky goo. Back at the boat, we stripped off our muddy things in the cockpit and had a good laugh. Excellent day! We have a real feeling of being away and seeing new things. We didn’t expect to feel this already in England.

Moved to Woolverstone Haven the next day as a low front was moving in and high winds expected. This is an extremely friendly marina with a playroom for the little monkeys, very nice for the two rainy days we spent there. There are lovely walks along the banks of the river, muddy path with lots of ruts that had Emma clinging onto her step on the Bugaboo. Closed off our time on the river Orwell with a nice visit with a couple who keep their boat in the marina. Joyce and Robert very kindly invited us aboard their absolutely stunning Najad 570. They are lovely gracious people who plan to set sail on a long voyage to see their grandchildren in New Zealand, hopefully in 2010. We wish them fair winds and many many more years on the Pink Cloud. Who knows, we may come back to this lovely spot to wave them off. They sent us away with a chocolate duck for Emma, 2 duck eggs and a turkey egg from a friend of theirs with a farm. Breakfast will be very good tomorrow as we head off towards London.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Photos Reception, Lowestoft, Pinmill

Click on the links below to view the photos.

Fair Winds Reception

Texel to Lowestoft

Pin Mill

Texel to Lowestoft

Departure from Texel Friday morning was at 1030am, much later than planned. We were feeling a little nervous in the morning. Taking on our first overnight crossing in one of the world’s busiest shipping channels would require careful planning and alertness. We intended to have a fairly early start and positioned ourselves bravely before the diesel station at 0745 only to be told that their tanks were as empty as ours. A very helpful harbour master in Oudeschild arranged for us to meet up with a diesel truck arriving on the 1000am ferry. At 1015am our (relatively) little boat was pumped full by a (relatively) massive tanker truck. We were one of the smallest direct customers he had ever serviced and we topped this off by having the nerve to ask him to fill two 10-liter jerry cans. This was a first for him but he agreed to maneuver the huge hose over each flimsy tank to drizzle 10 liters inside. And we were on our way, not feeling great about the delay but still full of vim and vigor. We motored out along the Marsdiep and entered the sea through the Schulpengat at 6 knots with 1 knot current with us.

The winds were light but directly against us so we headed as high as we could on a south-westerly course. It was a beautiful sunny day and we had a wonderful sail along the coast of the Netherlands. Making very slow direct progress towards our destination of Lowestoft, in East England but enjoying ourselves immensely nonetheless. When we communicated our departure from the block channel area to the coast guard via VHF, Seb was cheeky enough to add a little extra information on the end “Netherlands Coast Guard, Netherlands Coast Guard, this is sail yacht the Pjotter departing the block channel area, see you in 15 months!”

Poor Emma was sick twice in the first 5 hours and timed it perfectly to cover her jacket, two of her own outfits, two of mine, a blanket and the newly upholstered cabin cushions. She rallied bravely however and was soon entertaining us with her usual positive playfulness. Macsen had a record breaking 4,5 hour nap and spent the rest of the day laughing loudly at Emma’s antics. Fortunately, neither Seb or I experienced any seasickness at all.

We settled in for the night at around 8pm. Macsen back to sleep in his bumpy berth and Emma in our cabin cuddled up with Seb. I had the first watch starting from 9pm. As it became dark I nervously scanned the horizon in all directions and studied the GPS intently. AIS is a wonderful invention! It gives you all sorts of useful information about the ships in the vicinity; size, position, speed over ground, course over ground etc. Once you see a ship you can immediately determine if there is any danger of collision without having to check the relative angle with the binoculars every few minutes. During the course of this 3,5 hour watch I saw several extremely large and intimidating boats but had to change course on only three occasions. For the rest of the time I sat and drank tea, ate bon bons and enjoyed the cushion of stillness around us and the lights reflecting on the water. I woke Seb at 1am and tumbled into bed and slept soundly until he woke me for my next shift at 6am.

Land in zicht! First sighting of the English coastline was at 0630am and our arrival in Lowestoft at 1030am (0930am local time) was exactly 24 hours from departure. All four crew members were in very good spirits as we pulled into the Lowestoft Haven Marina hoping for a shower and laundry facilities. All in all an enjoyable and blissfully uneventful crossing – the first of our Pjotter passages.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fair Winds, farewells and new beginnings

Sunday, May 17th began as a rainy gray day. We started the day at 0730 to move the Pjotter from Willemsoord to lie in front of the Waterworld cafĂ© to be on good display for our Fair Winds reception. By the time that the first group of family and friends started to arrive the sun shone through and it became a beautiful day. Thanks to all of you who came by the wish us well. We had a wonderful afternoon and really appreciated the support and all of the thoughtful gifts, each one unique, useful and easy to stow away in the slightly more cosy quarters of our new home. We also had many wonderful messages including words of encouragement from fellow ‘vertrekkers’ on the Mjolner (already underway) and the Elena and Tangaroa (both eagerly awaiting departure). I had a good chat on the phone with my parents before going off to sleep for the last time on land for a long time. This was quite appropriate given that our ultimate destination is their home in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada.

Bumpy ride to Texel

We made a late start to Texel on Monday afternoon and the first step of our journey did not start auspiciously. We expected winds of 4-5 Beaufort, current against us. The current were as always predictable but the winds were blowing gusts up to 39 knots giving us a very uncomfortable ride. Seb’s mother, Linda, Wouter and Caroleijne came along for the short ride and some were a little worse for wear when we arrived in the harbor of Oudeschild. We bid them an emotional good-bye and settled ourselves and Emma and Macsen in for the night, the first night of our new life. I had expected a rush of adrenaline and a feeling of freedom to be finally on our way. Instead I felt completely exhausted, sad and a little overwhelmed.

All is right with the world

Sleep is a great healer and fresh air, island rhythm, happy children and a sunny day did wonders for our mood.

Tuesday morning began with the ultimate puzzle. How can we fit all of our earthly belongings into such a small space? Particularly so that nothing flys around when we are under way. My education and work experience did not prepare me for this challenge! But we took it on with great determination and now the boat is almost ship-shape and ready for our first overnight trip to England on Thursday. It is also full to the brim and I am absolutely sure that I will never remember which nook or cranny I shoved things into.

Apart from the final packing, we had a quick explore of the village around Oudeschild, played in the fabulous pirate ship playground, admired the fishing boats and generally enjoyed the island life. The little monkeys (Emma and Macsen) seem to absolutely love living on the boat and as I am sure all parents will understand when they are happy, we are happy.

We had our first barbeque with the new Magma barbeque, a great device that hangs over the railing of the boat, no mess, no fuss. Delicious. Who needs a Cobb anyway? We stoked up a Cobble stone on the Magma and ate royally. The fish we cooked was purchased rather than pulled from the sea but we plan to change our fish procurement strategy on the way. We eagerly agreed that the fish in the coming months would be more delicious for being gathered in the traditional way. Jeroen, Luise and Sophia, from the Mjolner, have already caught their first fish in Denmark so the challenge is on!

Ahhh, and now I am sitting the cockpit in the soft glow of the Welsh miner’s lamp, with a laptop on my lap, full online connection and a cold beer at my right hand. Isn’t technology wonderful? And Heineken of course. All I can hear are the sounds of the wind blowing through the masts of the boats around us and of Seb messing about inside the boat. The children are sleeping comfortably in their new rooms and all is right with the world. This is what I was waiting for.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Een gebroken voorstag

Tijdens het overzeilen van de boot van IJmuiden naar Den Helder is onze voorstag gebroken. Met twee spinnaker vallen hebben we de mast nog de nodige steun kunnen geven. Gelukkig gebeurde het pas tijdens het wegrollen van de genua in de haven. Toch is dit uiteraard iets waar je als zeiler op z'n minst niet blij mee bent.

Hoe het nou precies heeft kunnen gebeuren is nog enigzins onduidelijk. Het lijkt er op dat de val zich de stag heeft gedraaid. Het Profurl systeem gebruikt een soort halve maantjes om dit te voorkomen. Dit systeem lijkt dus niet goed gewerkt te hebben. Furlex heeft hier een andere methode voor waarbij de val naar de mast wordt gebracht en dus eigenlijk een hoek maakt met het voorstag. Op deze manier kan de val eigenlijk niet om het voorstag draaien. Vanmiddag komt de zeilmaker om het voorstag te vervangen en het systeem aan te passen op de 'Furlex' manier. Hopelijk krijgen we dan ook wat meer inzicht in hoe dit precies heeft kunnen gebeuren en moeten we wellicht ook de kotterfok die ook op een Profurl reefsysteem zit aanpassen.

Hier is goed te zien dat de stag bij de terminal is afgebroken

Mede vertrekkers kiezen ruime sop

Op woensdag 6 mei zijn onze vrienden van de Mjolner vertrokken vanuit Den Helder voor de eerste grote etappe van hun wereldreis. De tocht voert hen naar Denemarken waar ze familie van Louise gaan bezoeken. Het was een apart gevoel om ze uit te zwaaien, wetende dat wij straks (over anderhalve week) zelf dat stipje aan de horizon zijn. We wensen Jeroen, Louise en Sophia in ieder geval een behouden vaart en heel veel plezier!

De Mjolner op het Marsdiep op weg naar het Molengat

Afgelopen zaterdag is ook de 'andere Pjotter' van Kees en Martha Slager vertrokken voor hun rondje Atlantic. Hun Breehorn lag er werkelijk fantastisch bij. Het was leuk dat we ze nog even konden zien voor aanvang van hun reis. Uiteraard wensen we Kees en Martha ook een heel goede reis met goede wind!


Potje pindakaas meenemen

Onlangs heeft Martijn Gijsbertsen van het Noordhollands Dagblad ons geinterviewd over onze zeilplannen. Op 1 mei is het resultaat in de krant gepubliceerd.