Sunday, 7th July 2013 – Summer Finally Arrives!
The forecast was for a scorching weekend and that's exactly what we got! We caught the 7.20 am Shuttle and even allowing for a quick stop for the loos at Jabbeke, we arrived in Kortgene at 10.30 am BST. Since we left home at 6.30 am, that makes it four hours door to door!
We stopped in the village at the baker's to get some of their superb rolls and then, after unloading the car and preparing the boat, got underway, leaving the marina at 12.00 noon. When we got out onto the Veerse Meer, it was quickly apparent that “everyone” was out and about.
The wind was easterly, about Force 2 – 3, so we headed off towards The Bad Hotel with the wind abaft the beam and often on a dead run. Kim was helming with Wendy on the main sheet watching for the accidental gybe. Unlike Kim, Wendy is not so keen on this point of sail because the risk of a gybe means that you can never relax as you have to watch the luff like a hawk for the slightest flutter and pull it in fast. In strong winds an accidental gybe can be quite dangerous and cause a lot of damage. Fortunately in lighter winds it is not such a problem, which was just as well, since later in the afternoon when Wendy was helming, we had an accidental gybe!
Lunch was an hour at anchor, sat in the cockpit watching the world go by. Kim is not very confident about anchoring, at least not for an overnight stop, the concern being that the wind might get up and the boat start to drag the anchor. Although this was only a lunch stop, the anchor was well and truly dug in and took quite a bit of effort to break it out when it came to weighing anchor to leave. As we headed up in the direction of Veere, we could see that all our favourite jetties were packed out and we began to wonder if we might have to anchor for the night. However, heading up the western side of the Haringvreter, we were surprised to see several spaces on the jetty, so we grabbed one of them. The shock of finding a space was so great that it caused Kim to forget some of the basics of bringing a boat alongside and the result was he made a real pig's ear of it! Fortunately a friendly Dutchman was on hand to fend us off and avoid too big a scrape!
After a cup of tea, Kim went for a swim, the water was 22 degrees and whilst a bit cool on first entering, he quickly acclimatised and was reluctant to come out.
In the evening we lit the Cobb barbecue and cooked steak and sausages, which we sat and ate, with salad, in the cockpit. The evening was a bit hazy so the sunset was not up to its usual spectacular standard, but nevertheless, still impressive.
Sunday delivered more of the same – clear blue skies, gentle Force 2 -3 winds and temperatures in the mid twenties, it was however a lot less hazy. Definitely shorts, t-shirts and sun cream! We had a good sail down to the Bad Hotel, then tightened up on to a hard beat. When the first tack was reached, we dropped the sails and put the engine on. The prospect of short tacking down the Veerse Meer with hundreds of boats coming towards us was not very appealing and in any event we had a Shuttle to catch so time was not on our side.
Back at the marina, our immediate neighbour, the Benne, was out so we had lots of room – to get it wrong! Kim left the turn too late and we ended in the Benne's space. Since it wasn't there, not really a problem. We soon had Emjaytoo tied up in her own space. As we had time in hand and lots of space all round us (so many boats out on the water), Kim decided that we would exit our berth and have another go – for the practice! This time he got the turn right, but the spring Wendy dropped over the cleat on the end of the finger snagged on the fender step and in the resulting confusion we ended up in the Benne's space again, courtesy of the easterly breeze. Kim did point out that had the Benne been there, we would probably have slid nicely alongside her without any further ado. The greatest potential drama/comedy, however, was that as Wendy stepped backwards off the boat onto the finger, the boat continued to blow off the finger, leaving her with both feet on the pontoon and both hands still holding onto the boat. Fortunately she managed to throw her weight backwards and avoided a big splash by the skin of her teeth!
After all this excitement, we had lunch in the cockpit, tidied up the boat and left by 3.00 pm. The journey back to Calais was uneventful, but the Shuttle had delays and we were an hour late departing, getting home at 8.15 pm. All in all, a brilliant weekend, even if some of Kim's boat handling skills left a bit to be desired. Wendy says that she is going to go back to helming as she is obviously nowhere near as bad as she thought!
Sunday, 21st July 2013 – And More Of The Same!
Another fabulous weekend, although Saturday was forecast to be cloudy most of the day. We were on P & O Ferries this weekend and arrived at the boat just before midday. We decided to have lunch in the marina before setting off, so didn't depart until nearly 2.00pm. We were quite keen to get away as the car park by the pub was set up with a funfair and it was clear that Saturday night was destined to be a loud and late one. Memories of a similar Saturday years ago with the MacGregor - “Alice – Who The **** Is Alice?”
Despite the grey sky and lack of sunshine, it was very warm and there was an easterly breeze. Wendy took the boat out and despite the easterly wind she departed the berth in a very tidy fashion. An easterly wind has the potential to push us down into the cul de sac and given it was Wendy's first time helming this year she was very pleased with the results.
Once on the water it was clear that the forecast had not put people off, the place was packed again. We had a good sail up to the Bad Hotel then motored up the eastern side of the Haringvreter. Arneplaat and the Goudplaat were, needless to say, very busy, but the unattached jetty on the Haringvreter was virtually empty, so we had the pick of where we moored up. Within a few minutes we had a visit from a family of black swans.
The evening brightened up (as forecast) and we put the Cobb to good use again. We did need to slip fleeces on in the cockpit after dinner, but otherwise it was a very pleasant evening.
Sunday morning, we awoke to a clear blue sky (again, as forecast) and after a fairly leisurely start, got going by 10.30am. We made good progress towards the Bad Hotel as the temperature soared. We quickly realised that we had quite a bit of time in hand and since the boat's water temperature display was showing 24 degrees plus, we decided to drop anchor for a swim. We ended up spending two hours anchored up, enjoying the water which by the time we got out to have lunch, was up to 26 degrees plus.
The whole place was heaving by this stage, we were surrounded by anchored boats with everyone enjoying the sun, meanwhile the main channel looked like a motorway with the continuous stream of boats going back and forth. Unfortunately time ran out and we had to head back to Delta. We could have stayed all day. We got back to the marina, still with over an hour to spare so were able to have a drink in the cockpit before clearing away. We had done quite a bit of the packing up whilst motoring back to Delta which worked very well
Wendy put the boat back in its berth, again a first this season, so she finished the weekend having done all the boat handling, which was a good boost to her confidence. Sunday proved to be one of the most enjoyable days we've had this season. Our next trip to the boat is in 3 weeks, when we are having a 4 day weekend. Is 4 days of this hoping for too much?
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