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12th May 2008 - Am I Sad?

Just opened the blog three times in sucession to get the Web Counter on to 5000.

28th May 2008 - An Eventful Weekend!

Itís only Saturday afternoon as Iím writing this and itís already been quite a weekend! We had both had very stressful weeks and rushing to leave on Thursday evening did nothing to make it any easier. Add the poor night's sleep as a result of waves knocking against the side of the boat and the result was that by Friday tempers were extremely frayed - the phrase too many chiefs and not enough Indians just about sums it up! Anyway, we battled the wind and each other and made it down to Yerseke in the increasing gloom. The original plan had been to spend the night on one of a group of three mooring buoys we had identified just off the entrance to Yerseke but the shallow water and complete absence of any lateral marks on the channel, combined with the deteriorating visibility resulted in a hasty (and untypically unanimous!) change of plan and we headed into Yerseke marina. This in itself proved quite an adventure as the channel is very narrow and twisty and there didnít initially appear to be any room but we slotted in ok and were soon secure and ďdebatingĒ the events of the day, before tucking into tasty home made Chinese chicken.

By Saturday, egos had recovered, the sun was shining and the wind blowing quite hard, leaving us with a bit of a tricky departure, but as the other boats left, it all appeared a lot easier and we planned to spring the stern out and reverse out. As Wendy does not like reversing our boat (it does some very odd things!), Kim took the helm for a change, but just as were getting ready to go, a whole fleet of mobos arrived, wedging us in even tighter than before. The system worked well, however, until Kim started reversing down the main channel and the wind caught the bow and we didnít quite go where we intended. It needed a lot of throttle to go out through the narrow entrance against the wind and tide and Kim certainly gave it some throttle, but unfortunately forgot to do the 90 degree turn to follow the channel Ė and ran us aground, much to the amusement of the passing fishing boat, who had obviously seen it all before! Fortunately the bottom is only soft and we came off again quite easily, having learned a number of lessons: always do a pilotage plan, always have the chart plotter on and don't be rushed by a fleet of mobos!

Thereafter for a couple of hours we had a really good sail, getting well over 6 knots off 12 to 15 knots of wind, even reaching 7.5 kn at one point. As usual, the further up the Oosterschelde we got, the stronger the wind became, blowing a constant 20 knots plus, making for some very exciting sailing. Unfortunately we didnít quite get the sails down in time to make the half-hourly opening of the Zeelandbrug and the red light came on as we were just a few boat lengths away. So we did the very British thing of putting the kettle on to have a cup of tea, or rather Wendy did as Kim is not at his best down below when thereís a swell. Wendy even made some sarnies to keep us going and was very careful to pour the boiling water into the mugs in the sink and then to put the mugs in a baking tray for passing them up into the cockpit. She was just about to bring them up top when Kim called out that he was turning the boat. She thought the mugs were safely wedged behind the fiddle rail around the galley, and indeed they were, but the contents sadly were not and spilt all over her foot! Whilst she was screaming and ripping her sock off, poor Kim just had to carry on. We had a few minutes before the bridge opened and she managed to hobble up top with her foot in a cold flannel, relieved that she wasnít required to do anything for a while Ė or so she thought! Just as we came through the bridge and started heading up towards the canal to Zierikzee, a very loud alarm sounded. First thoughts were that it must be the engine overheating, so before either of us needed to say anything, Wendy was already looking to get the genoa up. We then realised that the noise stopped when we turned the VHF radio off, so panic averted.

Listen out for the sheep in the video clip!

As we were arriving in Zierikzee by 3.15 Dutch time, we didnít anticipate any problems with finding a mooring but in fact it was aready packed and very windy. The harbour master told us which boat to raft up to and Wendy bought Emjaytoo in beautifully (even if she did say so herself!) to deposit Kim perfectly on the other boat, leaving him scrabbling to find a suitable cleat to make fast to. By 6 o'clock we had 2 more boats rafted to the outside of us, with the inevitable mesh of associated lines and power cables. Sunday morning saw a deterioration in the weather and no one in a particular hurry to go anywhere, especially the two chaps on the outside of the raft who had come back sometime around 2 am (I didn't think Zierikzee had anywhere that lively!).

The trip back saw us in full foulies all the way, but there was only the odd spell of drizzle and even that had cleared by the time we got to the Zandkreeksluis. Once again we managed to get tied up in our berth (eventually, after a bit of a cock up on Wendy's part as a result of a strong gust at just the wrong moment) just before the heavens opened, even accompanied by a few bursts of thunder. It was lovely to sit in the warm and dry with a cup of tea not having to worry about getting packed up to go. The weather then cleared and we had a walk in the evening sunshine before tucking into the Fray Bentos and instant mash. As a precaution, Kim rigged up his "anti-slapper" device, as suggested by someone on the forum, namely some lengths of pipe insulation strung on a bit of old rope and floated on the water behind the stern of the boat. We still got some noise but it was much better, especially as the wind got up quite a lot overnight.

Red = day 1, green = day 2, yellow = day 3

All in all another excellent weekend with even more lessons learned, and in spite of what Wendy said on Friday, she just might go sailing with Kim again - if he's not too bossy!

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