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Monday, 5th May 2014 – And We're Off!

We were a bit apprehensive about this weekend as the forecasts were suggesting it was going to be a bit cold (maximum 12 degrees by day, 2 or 3 at night!). Although we are experiencing a period of high pressure, the winds are generally from the North East and that means cold! We got to the marina about 11.00am and Kim had to put the newly washed main halyard back, then take off one of the rather dirty spare halyards so it could go home for a run through the washing machine. He then had to fix our new fixed bow mooring lines to the posts at the outward end of our mooring box.

By the time all this was done and we'd paused for lunch it was getting on for 3 o'clock and we figured that with the potential for the temperature to drop as the afternoon wore on it was best to stay put in the marina for the night. We were glad of the mains power as the fan heater certainly got some use.

We are still unsure as to whether the move of marina berth was the right thing to do – it will probably be the end of the season before we can really assess all the advantages and disadvantages. But one thing we have noticed so far is that it appears to be a lot quieter than our old berth. There is no noise from the road down to the campsite and no constant beeping and banging of the entrance gate. On the other hand the walk to the toilets and showers in the morning is a lot further.

After a leisurely start to Sunday and a brief chat to our new Dutch neighbours on our starboard side, we departed our box mooring, heading for an island. This was our first departure from the mooring and whilst we tried to work it all out in advance, it didn't go very smoothly. Wendy complained that there was too much to do within a very short space of time. The loops on the fixed mooring lines have to be dropped over the posts at just the right time, or else the line is too short. In practice this means the point at which the widest part of the boat is passing through the gap. It also means, however, that Wendy has to go from half-way down one side of the boat, round the bow and half-way down the other side of the boat. Oh, and there are the fenders to pull up (4 on each side) to ensure that they don't snag on the posts. From Kim's perspective, nothing went wrong as such, it just seemed a lot of hassle keeping the boat straight as we motored forward and then when Kim tried to turn, it took several attempts forwards and backwards to get round. The wind had died away to nothing over night so we got no assistance with the turn. On the other hand we didn't get any resistance either. All in all, a bit more fine tuning is required to the procedure.

Once on the water, we got the sails up and established that everything had been put back correctly. We then spent a couple of hours trying to sail in what was often 0 knots of wind! With no wind the temperature rose and we were sitting in the cockpit in short sleeve T-shirts with plenty of sun cream on.

Soaking Up the Sun photo IMG_0132_zpsc5e3a290.jpg

Our plan was to spend the night on the Goudplaat, but we had to abandon that idea as when we arrived we found it was a building site!

The Goudplaat Under (Re)Construction photo IMG_0138_zps3b51058f.jpg

They are evidently replacing the jetty. So we decided to go to the Haringvreter. Whilst there were plenty of boats around we had noticed that most of the island jetties were only 30% - 40% occupied. We could see there were a few boats on the attached jetty at Haringvreter, whereas the unattached jetty only had one boat on it, so there we went.

After a couple of hours sitting in the cockpit we noticed that the boats on the attached jetty had departed so we decided to move. The reason being, Kim wanted access to the toilets to save filling our holding tank.

We spent some time in the cockpit with a beer and were joined for nibbles by this rather cheeky chap (or chappess). He had the most amazing eyes, though Wendy commented that his shade of eyeliner was not very flattering!

Love The Eyeliner! photo IMG_0176_zpsdbccd157.jpg

We decided to call him Oscar!

Oscar photo P1010014_zps491d9af7.jpg

The temperature was falling rapidly by now, though, so we headed down below and shut the hatch to keep the warmth in – no fan heater on an island; no power to run it! After dinner we watched an episode of An Idiot Abroad, the second one; it really is very funny.

During the night the wind shifted through 180 degrees and got up to a Force 3. This meant that at around 2 o'clock in the morning we were woken up by the “slappers”. We laid in bed listening to the wavelets slapping the hull right under our heads and eventually had to move in to the forepeak.

Monday morning dawned bright and breezy and it soon warmed up; another day for the sun cream! After breakfast and a short walk around the Haringvreter and a brief reunion with some old friends.

Old Friends On The Haringvreter photo IMG_0186_zps7ca11ef0.jpg

we set off back towards Delta Marina. Initially there was quite a breeze but it was all on the nose so in order to make the tacking easy, we sailed with just the mainsail up. However, this proved a bit slow so we unfurled the genoa as well. The wind was still a bit iffy and by the time we got to the Strawberry Island it had taken us over an hour. Time is always of the essence when returning to the marina, given that we have got to get away to catch the shuttle so reluctantly we dropped the sails and did the rest of the journey using the engine.

The journey was largely uneventful but we did see some local fishermen at work and saw our new neighbours out on the water again, who gave us a cheery wave, as indeed did one of the fishermen.

Hello Fisherman photo IMG_0200_zps9934ebdc.jpg

Most of the conversation on the way back revolved around how we were going to get back into our new berth. Thanks to the light wind, we were able to do everything in slow motion – so slowly in fact, that the wind started blowing us out of the berth before we were actually tied up. Again the manoeuvre was performed without anything actually going wrong, but we did seem to make rather a meal of it, but we are hoping that with experience and practice we will get slicker at it.

As it was a Bank Holiday, we were booked on a slightly later shuttle so were able to have lunch in the sunshine and clear away in a slightly more leisurely manner.

Sunday, 18th May 2014 – Veere

A quiet weekend with glorious sunshine and just enough wind to sail. We had brought the tender and outboard back, so after Kim had got those back on board (well, the tender anyway, he forgot the outboard and it spent the weekend in the car!) we headed to Veere. The water was not as busy as we thought it might be, but it is still early in the season. The wind was a bit fickle and we had a combination of sailing and motoring. Once past the Bad Hotel, the wind was steady and good for sailing, but now on the nose, so after a few goes at short tacking we gave up and motored the rest of the way to Veere.

By the time we were off Veere it was a getting a bit cool, but once inside and tied up on the Kaai it was scorching – isn't it always? After a cup of tea in the cockpit we went for a walk and Kim took the same inevitable shots he has taken year in, year out. This is one of this weekend's photos

Veere Cannon 2014 photo P1010056_zps576c090b.jpg

and here is one from 2008

 photo IMG_0150_zpscc80822f.jpg

Hmmmm, not much difference there then!

But in such a lovely location, who can blame him? There was extra excitement here this time, though, as the town and quayside are being taken over for 3 days starting on Monday by a film crew. There were various piles of strange materials and artefacts all over the place, including a mock boat yard and lots of sacks and wood. As we were leaving there was even a full blown galleon outside on the visitor pontoon.

Wendy had brought a pre-prepared goulash from home so we spent a very convivial evening in the cockpit with a starter of local shrimps and salad, the goulash and our usual beer and wine. All evening the swallows were swooping over the boat and under the quayside to their nests. They were amazingly tolerant of all the boats and people and even stopped to rest on the mooring lines, giving us a close up of their beautiful metallic navy blue feathers, rust coloured chins and creamy bellies.

Swallows In Veere photo P1010082_zps19861c90.jpg

On Sunday morning the sky was even bluer and any slight chill early on, soon disappeared, enabling us to have breakfast in the cockpit as well. It reminded us of being on a balcony in Greece. Sadly we couldn't spend all day lazing around, though, and had to make our way back to Delta. We soon gave up any ideas of sailing as the wind was barely more than a few knots and bang on the nose, so we motored back with the intention of enjoying a leisurely extra hour relaxing in our berth.

Upon arriving back, we found that both our adjacent neighbours were out so decided to have a few goes at box-bashing in order to perfect our technique for arriving at and leaving our berth. The less charitable might say it looked more like pig's ear bashing but it was nevertheless a useful exercise. The system of fixed lines from the piles to the bow cleats is great for when we leave the boat but really does not work well when coming in, especially when our neighbours are out and their line has to be removed first in order to pick ours up, all adding to the jobs to be done in the precious few seconds when the boat is within reach of them. Added to that, Kim was having a lot of trouble keeping the boat straight as it was being blown sideways and, as ever, our boat was not on its best behaviour when going backwards, no doubt due in part to the distance between the propeller and rudder being too great, a common problem with sail drives.

By the time we had done all that and had lunch, again in the cockpit, it was time to pack up and make our way home. Not an easy thing to do as the weather was glorious (around 25 degrees) but at least we're back next weekend for the Bank Holiday. In fact,we're even going to see if Kim can arrange to leave work a bit early and we can change the crossing to Friday evening, so that we can get a really early start on Saturday and get down to Tholen, especially as we can come back late on Sunday

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - Quite a day! – Zandkreekplaat (eventually!)

The forecast for this weekend fluctuated wildly over the course of the week, with everything from gusts of F8 to thunderstorms, so we weren't overly optimistic about sailing when we set off from home at 6.25 on Saturday morning. Kim was a bit grumpy as it was very busy and the queue was too long to get his bacon roll for breakfast before boarding the Shuttle. Fortunately Wendy had packed him a hot cross bun, though, so he didn't starve.

Just after we crossed over the border into Belgium, a chance remark from Wendy had Kim searching for the first lay-by to stop and go through the bags. Having spent some time last night sorting out his various medication to bring to the boat, it appeared that he had left it at home and indeed hadn't even taken it in morning. Whilst this would not be a problem for the odd day, it is rather more serious to miss it for several days and of course this is a bank holiday weekend. The only thing for it was to book a day trip the wrong way round, i.e. Calais-Folkestone-Calais, and go home to get them. Initially it looked like this was going to cost “us” £150 but we then thought about using one of our frequent traveller crossings.

At the next available opportunity, Kim got off the motorway, turned round, then got back on and found somewhere with a good signal to make the booking, after which we set off back down towards Calais. As Wendy expressed her surprise again that he could spend so long sorting his meds out and then forget them, Kim remarked that he remembered putting them all into a spare box but hadn't noticed the box on the chest of drawers this morning when he had cleared away the old packets. The proverbial ‘lightbulb’ moment then occurred and Kim thought to look somewhere else for them and there they were – so another call to Eurotunnel (amazingly the same lady!) to cancel the booking we had just made. All in all it only cost us an hour but we felt exhausted by the end of it!

Then we decided to call in somewhere different to get some shopping and decided on the Spa shop by the marina in Wolphaartsdijk. As we were wandering around, the girl came up and told us they were shutting for lunch so we had to hurry up, pay and be escorted out via the side entrance as the doors had been locked. In the end we still had to go into the one in the village as we had forgotten several things!

Once on the boat the wind blew and the weather alternated between warm and cold depending on whether the sun was out. We had originally planned to go out later in the afternoon/evening but the forecast kept changing even as the afternoon progressed and we decided against it. In fact we booked a table at the Boot Café for the evening instead.

Just as we were about to head over to the Café the heavens opened and we felt pleased with our decision. Our meal was excellent and by the time we came out there was barely a breath of wind and the sky had cleared. We went for a bit of a walk and suddenly realised that this would be an ideal time to leave, so we rushed back to the boat and quickly made ready and departed our berth very easily.

There was no one else on the water and it was beautiful, still not fully dark and very atmospheric.

The Veerse Meer By Night photo IMG_0220_zps008a07db.jpg

We saw that there was no one on the Zandkreekplaat jetty so took our chance. The approach in is very shallow and Wendy knows from experience that it is best to come in lined up on the end of the jetty and then swing in at the end. As she could barely see over the sprayhood, however, she left the turn too late and started to abort the approach, only to find that the stern was coming round of its own accord, so with a bit more shuffling we got in a treat, just as the last of the light was going.

Sunday, 25 May 2014 – Reaping The Reward!

All our efforts last night were more than rewarded today with the most fantastic morning. Hot, clear, sunny and deserted – the sort of place where you take your camera with you even to the loo!

Veerse Meer photo IMG_0228_zps2afdd03b.jpg

Zandkreekplaat photo IMG_0238_zps5c8e0173.jpg

Knowing that we had got the whole day also meant that we were really able to take it easy in the morning and enjoy the amazing conditions, watching the wealth of geese and other birds. Whilst we have fallen in love with Kate and look forward to sailing her, all of this is just such an important part of our lives that we could not give it up unless we were really forced to.

We set off this morning in the hopes of a sail but the wind just wasn't there or was bang on the nose. After turning up towards the Goudplaat, we were on a dead run and hoped things might improve a bit, but when we started arguing about whether we were actually going forwards or backwards, we thought it was probably time to give up. We tied up on the unattached jetty at the Haringvreter for lunch and settled back to relax and enjoy the afternoon before heading back to a jetty closer to the marina for the night. That way we would be able to enjoy another night out but still be round on the marina pontoon for the lift out tomorrow without having to get up ridiculously early, especially as we only got about 5 hours' sleep last night.

As the afternoon wore on, the clouds rolled in and people started to make for home so we took the opportunity to leave and took up one of the vacant spaces nearer to home. Initially we sailed with just the genoa but as we reached the big expanse by the Bad Hotel and turned to go to the left of Bastiaan it moved more onto the beam/nose and we had our best sail of the year, although there were a lot of grumblings from the crew (Kim) about having to tack and perhaps we should put the engine on! And after all those years of dinghy sailing too!

We managed to get onto our preferred jetty near the Paarderkreek, although we went in very gingerly as the depths are a bit unknown here as the jetty was only installed a few years ago. With the slight N/NE wind, it was very sheltered and with all the trees, reminded us of Panormou in the Sporades (Greece), where we sailed some years ago

"Panormou" photo IMG_0252_zpsea096c15.jpg

In spite of the cloudy sky, the sunset was spectactular.

Sunset At The Pardekreek photo IMG_0265_zps8c2068ac.jpg

Monday, 26th May 2014 – Lift Out!

This morning, the forecast was for it to be raining, which was part of the reasoning behind spending the night at the Pardekreek jetty – if we had to motor back to Delta in the pouring rain, at least we could minimise the journey! As it happened, it was quite bright all day, not on a par with yesterday, but much better than forecast.

We motored up to the lift out jetty by the crane, bang on 9.00am to be greeted by the marina staff who were waiting for us. We then handed Emjaytoo over to them and they did the rest.

Soon she was parked up

Emjaytoo On The Hard photo P1010178_zpse5d72275.jpg

and after we had had a cup of coffee, we cleared the last of our things and headed back to Calais.

We had a few hours in hand so stopped at a place called De Panne on the Belgium coast. We have frequently seen the signs on our journeys backwards and forwards to the Netherlands and knew it to be a very popular stretch of the coast. Okay, the weather was pretty grey and miserable, but whow, what a dump!

De Panne photo P1010187_zps0769f257.jpg

After that we then went on to Diksmuide, which was a very picturesque town, inland; well it would have been if it hadn't have been raining!

Diksmuide photo P1010190_zpsc4e45fb7.jpg

where we had coffee and "appel gebak", which was "lekker!" It also was very reasonably priced (unusual for Belgium).

Over the next two weeks the Marina will redo the anti-fouling and replace the anodes. Next weekend we are over for Kim to clean and polish the topsides (the hull above the water line).

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