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Sunday, 1st May - I Think That Wind's Died Down A Bit .....

What a first weekend to the season! Wallie's was forecasting F4 to F5, mainly from the East and our aim was very much to have a slow, stress-free start to the season. Thanks to William and Kate we were able to set off on the 8 am ferry from Dover on Friday, arriving here about 1 pm. After some discussion as to should we, shouldn't we with the strong, unfavourable winds, we eventually decided to go for it, with Kim on the helm and managed to depart the berth without mishap. As soon as the boat had cleared the Beneteau to the side of us, Kim let the wind blow the bow off so we were facing the "wrong way" and then reversed up the row to the main channel. Once out in the Veerse Meer, with the easterly wind, we unfurled the genoa and had a good sail. It was great to be back on the water and the effort all seemed worth it.

Wendy

We overnighted on the Goudplaat, which was beautifully sheltered and as ever enjoyed a beautiful sunset and peaceful night.

Veere Sunset

On Saturday morning the wind didn't seem so bad and the sun was shining, so we set off for the top of the Veerse Meer, somewhere we don't venture very often. By the time we got to the top and started heading back down the other side, we were recording winds of around 25 knots - the top end of a F6 and well in excess of Wallie's forecast. The sail was exhilirating, albeit done somewhat lazily under the main only. We decided to go on the Veere side of the Haringvreter on the basis that it was sheltered ... what a joke! Going alongside the pontoon was slow and hard work as we gradually managed to get in close enough and then proceeded to double up the lines . Winds were now gusting in excess of 26 knots and the boat was rocking and constantly snatching at her moorings (Julie and Trev: think Patitiri!).

We awoke on Sunday morning to a much fresher morning but still with the same bright blue skies and strong winds.

Emjaytoo

Initially Kim was sure the wind had eased off a bit but our optimism didn't last long and the wind soon became extremely tiresome. At first Kim kept busy cleaning the boat but he became increasingly agitated as the day wore on, with the result that staying an extra night on the Haringvreter was not an option. We decided to try to time our departure to be able to slip into a space left by a departing Dutchman on the Goudplaat but most of the other yachts on the water had had the same idea, so in the end we decided to come back to our home berth in Delta Marina. Even that was no mean feat in the conditions and we got lots of salt spray all over Kim's freshly cleaned windows!

The winds were still blowing 20 knots plus as we turned into the channel up to our berth. After some discussion, it was decided that Wendy would bring the boat in, on the basis that Kim was better able to leap around. It was a horrible approach with such strong crosswinds and only one chance to turn into the gap between the finger and the Beneteau next to us. Initially all went extremely well and Kim was busy singing Wendy's praises as the wind caught the stern and swang us over onto the Beneteau with a horrid grating noise. Our toe rail suffered some gouges where it hit the Bene's rear fairlead. The Bene has suffered some minor cracking of the gel coat adjacent to the fairlead. We will have to leave a note for the people and notify our insurers.

This incident was the final straw and forced us both to confront what we have been thinking for some time. Is all this stress really worth it? The boat is great when all goes well, but the cost seems to be an enormous amount of financial, physical and mental stress. Sooner or later we are going to have to decide how long we can/are willing to go on. Things seemed a bit brighter after a good dinner but we still have a lot of thinking to do .

Monday morning and a good night's sleep has not really helped, both of us feel pretty down. At the moment we feel as if we don't want to sail again. It's not just the knock coming into the berth, other things have been worrying us both. We have both realised that if one of us went over the side it is quite likely that neither of us could recover the other. Wendy has worried about how we would deal with one of us suddenly being taken ill. Yesterday, motoring back to Delta head in to 25 knot winds Kim couldn't help worrying about what we would do if the engine packed up. We wouldn't be able to get the main up in those conditions and whilst we could unfurl the genoa, we would be heading in the wrong direction. This morning, sat drinking coffee the wind is still howling through the marina and peaking at 25 knots. At the moment, we both just want to go home and are not sure we want to come back.


Thursday, 5th May - Emjaytoo Is NOT For Sale!

Having had a few days to get over last weekend (and having sent the insurance claim form off) we have now recovered from our little malaise and Emjaytoo will not be going up for sale!

Life is full ups and downs, risks, compromises and sacrifices. On balance having a boat to sail around the Netherlands is currently considered to be worth whatever it takes - 'til the next time! No, only joking!

There were lessons to be learned from last weekend and already we are both looking forward to getting back on board and putting some of the issues behind us. The last two paragraphs of the last Blog entry do seem to be pretty downbeat, but that was very much how we felt at the time and the Blog is supposed to be a reflection on our thoughts as well as the events relating to Emjaytoo.

As Wendy said to Kim, at the end of the day we couldn't bear to be without the boat! So, one down to experience!


Wednesday, 11th May - Ferry Booked

Well the ferry is booked and we wait to see what the weather will be like. Earlier Wallie was forecasting Westerlies - Force 4 to 5, but as of this evening that has been down graded to a Force 3 to 4, so we will wait and see. If it is blowing too hard we will just stay in the marina.


Sunday, 15th May - Taking It Easy (AKA Chickening Out!)

Having caught the 8.00am ferry, we didn't arrive on the boat until after 2.00pm having wasted time in Goes trying to find the Albert Heijn as we wanted some shopping but fancied a change from the Spar shop in the village. We found the Albert Heijn, we then found a parking place only for Kim to announce that he had no change to pay for the carpark. We ended up getting our shopping in the Spar shop in Kortgene!

All the way up from Dukerque it was quite windy and when we got on the boat it was blowing 19 knots plus in the marina, so we decided to stay put especially as Wendy had bought some stewing steak to make a Goulash which would benefit from several hours in the electric fry-pan (dependent on the marina shore power).

Having got the Goulash on we went for a walk up the foreshore along by the Pardekreek campsite. It was mostly sunny but quite blustery.

Blustery on the Veerse Meer

On the way back Kim tried some artistic photos, or does he just have a thing about sheep!

Sheep

When we got back to the boat Kim cleaned the topsides and then we tried to sit in the cockpit with a beer and some crisps but quickly retreated to the saloon as it was too cold and windy.

Our Goulash was 'lekker' even though Wendy said it could have benefitted from a bit longer cooking. We then watched a DVD - The Taking of Pelham 123, which was a good film (a modern remake of a film made some years ago). In fact it was so good that Wendy even managed to stay awake right to the end!

Overnight, it remained blustery and in the early hours we had a short spell of heavy rain. The morning dawned grey with a bit less wind and after breakfast Kim was able to replace some fittings on the spray hood which had got damaged when refitting the hood during the recommissioning. We then went over to the chandlery to pay the marina bill for the lift out and keel painting. At this point it got very overcast and we had a bit more rain.

Kim bought some rope to make a new mooring spring and is going to develop a tool to enable the spring to be attached to the pontoon finger cleat as we come into the berth to avoid us having to jump off the boat. More on this as it develops!

A comment on the Ultrasonic Antifoul System. When we arrived on board we were immediately aware of the "chirping". Last time out we didn't have it switched on unless the engine was running as we had no shore power. Wendy thought that it would get on her nerves, but we soon got used to it and really were unaware of it. Even in bed it wasn't that noticeable. It will be a while before we get any indication as to how effective it is though.

The decision to stay put in the marina was the right one, we had a very relaxing weekend without anything to cause either of us any anxiety. The weather wasn't that great and we did get winds up to 22 knots at one point so it was better to play safe.


Wednesday, 25th May - The Prototype Mooring Device

Here it is, the first prototype.

Photobucket

As you can see, the device at the end of the pole holds the spliced loop open. The idea is that this enables the crew to reach over with the pole and place the loop accurately over a cleat as we come alongside. Once there is some tension on the line, the pole is then pulled back on board releasing the line and leaving us securely attached to the cleat on the pontoon/jetty.

This weekend, we are off to the boat for a long Bank Holiday weekend and will hopefully get to try it out. If it works, then the plan is to fabricate an aluminium version instead of the plywood prototype.


Monday, 30th May - Another Weekend Blown Out!

This just says it all!

The weekend was always forecast to be windy, so we set off on Friday evening with an open mind and arrived on the boat at about 23.00 BST – an uneventful journey. Saturday morning, we checked the forecast and it was still indicating Force 5 gusting F6 or F7 depending on who you looked at. It was also pretty grey, so we decided on a leisurely start followed by a trip to the windmills at Kinderdijk This is a UNESCO World Heritage site and very impressive.

Unfortunately, the journey there was a bit of a disaster. It shouldn’t have taken more than about an hour and a half at most, but en route there was a rather lengthy diversion due to a tunnel under one of the many rivers being shut. The volume of traffic being diverted onto a road that was not up to the task, was such that we crawled along for an hour or more at walking pace. Towards the end the car started to object as the engine temperature got higher and higher. Fortunately the traffic then speeded up narrowly avoiding a boiled over radiator! In the end it took us about 3 hours and we arrived about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

It was well worth the trip, even though the Netherlands is full of windmills, this place really is impressive (which is probably why it was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage site). There are a total of 19 windmills all built in the 18th Century.

Windmills

Windmills

Windmill

The journey back was considerably better. We avoided the area of the shut tunnel and were able to get back to Kortgene by about 6 o’clock in the evening. We had thought we might eat out, but earlier in the week Wendy had started to get a load of spots. She thought they were insect bites to start with, but they kept appearing. On Saturday morning a load more had appeared on her arm.

Wendy's Arm

She also had some on her face and neck, so felt self conscious about going out to a restaurant, especially as she was now beginning to wonder if it wasn’t something contagious. Anyway we had a pleasant evening on board Emjaytoo with a “spag bol”.

We had thought that we might go off somewhere on Sunday as we had a bank holiday weekend at our disposal, but still the forecast was for a load of wind and it was still grey and uninviting, so we decided to cut our losses and head home.

We got away promptly and were back in Folkestone by 3 o’clock in the afternoon. We stopped off at the Folkestone Hospital Walk In Centre to have someone look at Wendy’s spots/rash. It was very quiet and we got seen immediately. The nurse said it wasn’t any of the known contagious diseases, but beyond that she didn’t really know. It was by now starting to look a bit better. Wendy ‘ll see how it goes and maybe a trip to the doctors will be required.

As for trying out the prototype mooring device - that'll have to wait for another time.


Monday, 30th May - Post Script

Sadly, Kim has to confess that he has just opened and shut down the web site 13 times in order to get the counter on to 17,000.


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