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13th August 2007 - While The Cats Away

This weekend, was Wendy's second on her Day Skipper course down in the Solent, so Kim & Stewart went over to Holland on Friday with Kim's sister Julie and Trevor.

We got there just after lunch time and whilst Julie, Trevor & Stewart went into the village to get some provisions, Kim went over to the service centre to ascertain what had been done to the boat. A pleasant chap called Pim, who spoke excellent English (of course!) came over to the boat and we got the ST60 Wind to work - not really sure whether they had actually done anything, or whether the previous malfunction was just a glich. Anyway it worked fine for the rest of the weekend. The TV aerial certainly hadn't been done, but at least Pim now knows exactly what has got to be done. Basically he's been asked to "make it all work".

Late afternoon, we slipped the mooring and motored out into the Veerse Meer heading towards Veere. There was a reasonable wind blowing Northerly 12 -15 knots. Due to the inexperienced crew we decided to put two reefs in the main (they were already there, so more a case of leaving well alone) and use about 2/3rds genoa. We had some really good sailing and finished up short tacking up to Veere with gusts up to 19 knots. It all came to an end when the skipper ran her aground! We were pushing up to the shallows and tacked in 6.5m of water and halfway through the tack - the boat grinds to a halt. 6.5m to 1.5m in nano seconds. Since she had already gone through the tack, we switched the engine on and a good bust of full ahead had her clear and on her way. As we were then quite close to Veere and the time was getting on we decided to motor the last bit. A lesson in some healthy respect for the chart which did indicate that the bottom shelved very steeply.

Motored in to Veere Marina (where we stayed last time) to find the berth we had reserved earlier in the afternoon had been taken. So back out again and round towards the entrance to the main harbour. However the outer visitor jetty only had a couple of boats on it and so we moored up there - just as the harbour master was walking down. He confirmed we were okay to overnight. We had a quick walk into Veere to the Yacht Club so Julie could get some "fags" - she'd run out and was at risk of doing "cold turkey"!

Back to the boat and spag bog, plenty of beer and a sound nights sleep.

Although Friday had been a pretty sunny day, Saturday dawned with a cloudless sky and a promise of scorching sunshine.

After a leisurely morning exploring Veere (for the benefit of the guests - well Kim has seen it a few times!), we headed off towards Goudplaat and anchored for lunch. It took three attempts to get the anchor to set. The first two attempts just would not set, then after switching to the leeward side of the channel she set perfectly, Stewart and Kim had a swim before lunch and then we just sat back and enjoyed the setting.

We were actually in sight of the jetty at Goudplaat, which was full (hence why were anchored), but since we were on the leeward side of the channel we weren't happy about staying overnight, so when a couple of boats left we upped anchor and took up our now customary place on the jetty.

The skipper was then given the job of seeing to the bar-b-que.

The Cobb Bar-b-que is a brilliant device - it just doesn't burn the food. Shortly there after it was time to eat.

We finished the evening up with a game of Nautical Trivial Pursuit.

Sunday morning, after a cooked breakfast, we slipped the mooring and headed back to the marina. Got back about 11.30 BST, which gave us time to clean the boat and have a leisurely lunch before the drive back to Calais for the 19.45 BST ferry.

Everyone had a great time, the weather was brilliant, we all got a bit burnt and we probably drank too much. Stewart's high point of the weekend was a trip part way up the mast.

We had hoped to meet up with fellow forumites - Morgana - who were on their way over from the Orwell to Holland for their summer cruise, but they decided to stop at Middelburg, rather than push on all the way to the Veerse Meer.

Kim and Wendy will be back on Emjaytoo in a fortnight, so maybe we'll see them on their way back home.

Aug. 25, 2007 - Out of the Comfort Zone

We've finally ventured out of the Veerse Meer - and it's only taken us 18 months!

We booked an extra day's holiday (the Friday) for the Holiday and caught the 6 pm ferry on Thursday night. Friday morning we had a trip up to the bank in the village to arrange opening a Dutch bank account (we need to do this in order to get our digital TV subscription). After victualling the boat (not very well!) we headed for the Zandkreeksluis and into the unknown (the Oosterschelde), destination Goes to buy a digibox for our TV.

First hurdle: the Zandkreeksluis lock, which we negotiated without incident in the company of various other boats, including an enormous barge. We proceeded out into the Oosterschelde and turned right and after about half a mile, all under power, we then entered the Havenkanaal via the Sas van Goes lock, and then continued up the very pretty canal, negotiating 2 bridges before mooring up just on the edge of the town centre.

Saturday morning we went shopping and bought our digibox, as well as a Dutch pay-as-you-go mobile phone, before going to the supermarket to finish off the victualling properly. We left Goes at 12 noon and had a brilliant sail all the way up to Sint Annaland (12 miles), arriving just after 5. Mooring was interesting and tricky, as it was between piles (not a particular problem, but there was very little room either side of the boat as we went through), and also because, as this marina is tidal, we had to get our stern lines around vertical wire sliders, which was a bit of a challenge when only 2 up.

However, all made up for by fast and free WiFi internet access, hence this update to the blog whilst we are still here!

Tomorrow's plan is to head out under the Zeelandbrug, destination Zierikzee and a well-deserved plate of mussels and chips!

28th August 2007 - No Mussels!

On Sunday morning we didn't bother going into the town of Sint Annaland as the "book" suggested it wasn't that great, so we headed off west towards the Zeelandbrug. With the wind coming from the northwest it was a series of long beats with a few short ones thrown in to get back across the channel. We got upto 17 knots apparent and briefly got Emjaytoo over 6 knots - peaking at 6.4! All with the full rig up. Had the wind stayed consistently over 15 knots then we would have put a reef in, but it was mostly 12 - 14 knots, so great fun!

As we closed the bridge, the wind came right on to the nose, so we dropped the sails and motored the last half mile or so, since we were getting tired. The pilot book said the bridge opened every hour, but our observations showed it opening every half hour, so we didn't have to wait long. We went through with about half a dozen other boats.

Once through, it was only a short distance until we entered the canal leading upto Zierikzee.

As we entered the harbour, the Havenmiester came out in his rib and guided us down to a spot where he wanted us to raft up to a boat already on the pontoon.

It was yet another new experience for us as there were already boats rafted 3 deep to one side, but Kim put her alongside with out any problem at all (not quite sure how come it went so perfectly!). After paying the equivellent of 10.50 (power and water on the pontoon and showers/WCs on the quayside), we went for a walk around - not before having our now customary beer to celebrate landfall!

The harbour was packed out, not just with pleasure craft, but loads of Dutch sailing barges and big mussel dredgers all decked out in flags. It soon became apparent that we had arrived at the tail end of a festival - Thursday/Friday/Saturday had been the annual Zierikzee Mussel Festival.

After a walk around the old town, which is very pretty, we returned to the boat to find a new arrival rafted up to us so we were now sandwiched in - all very cosy!

In the evening we headed off to a likely looking resaurant so Wendy could get her mussels and chips. After having a drink first, we get to ordering and HORROR OF HORRORS - the resaurant has sold out of mussels. Seems the good people of Zierikzee scoffed the lot during the festival. Rather than go looking for an alternative, we made the best of it (the food was excellent).

Monday morning we awoke to virtually no wind. The people rafted outboard of us were away quite early and although the people inboard of us were staying put, we were still away by 8.30 BST. Motored back towards the Veerse Meer, the Oosterschelde was like a sheet of glass and being an ordinary Monday in Holland it was very quiet.

We were back in the marina by 11.00BST and given our ferry out of Calais wasn't until 21.45BST, we had a leisurely lunch and took our time cleaning the boat inside and out. Ready to do it all again in a fortnight's time with Julie & Trevor.

All in all, we had a fantastic four days, almost on a par with our Greek bareboat holidays! We pushed the boundaries and dealt with loads of new things, mostly without any problems at all, and where things didn't go quite right first time, we coped and got it right second time around. The weather was really very good - plenty of sun and wind and great sailing.

The only down side was that the marina had still not fixed the TV aerial! We did get a missed call on the mobile, Friday morning, and when we went over to the service centre it turned out the were going to do it Friday and were checking to see if we were going to be on the boat. Since we were already there, we arrange for it to be done Tuesday - which is today. So, hopefully, by the time we go back in a fortnight it will all be fixed. We shall see!

31st August 2007 - Peters Opal In Administration

With all the excitement of recent trips over to Zeeland, I've forgotten to record the sad news that Peters Opal - the UK Main Agent for Bavaria Yachts, went into Administration around the 15th August. This is terrible news for all those people with deposits and partly paid for boats as they will probably loose the lot. "There but for the grace.....". Of course, it is pretty bad news for their former employees - like Andy and Arthur up at Ipswich.

How lucky we are that it did not happen four or five months earlier, otherwise we would have been one of the unfortunate ones. As it is we can forget about the outstanding work to the toe rail, or any other warranty work that would have been down to the dealer. The TV antena is a particular example, as we will have to pay the Dutch marina to fix it, with no recourse back to the dealer who fitted it in the first place. The work should by now have been completed. I was supposed to 'phone the marina this afternoon to check, but forgot as I was very busy at work. Will check up next week as we definitely want it working for our week's "cruise" in September.

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