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21st october 2007 - It's Been a Long Time

I can't believe it is over a month since we were onboard Emjaytoo!

A lot has happened since then - primarily, I have changed my job and that has entailed a change of car which has caused a number of cancelled trips. Then this weekend we were going to go over but it was the Rugby World Cup in France and since England were in the Final (they lost!), we couldn't get a crossing.

Anyway, the good news is we have the crossing all booked up for next weekend - and at the ridiculous price of £29 return, with Norfolkline. Can't wait - well, we were getting withdrawal symptoms!

Whilst hoping to get a good weekend's sail, we also need to sort out some things with the marina. We got the bill for fixing the TV aerial - which included dropping the mast - the cost is horrendous! But also includes other things like taking out & refixing the Autohelm, so we need to get to the bottom of that. We also need to talk to the marina about lifting the boat for the winter. So lots of things to sort out.

30th October 2007 - The last weekend this year?

In spite of Kim's new office being closer to home than before, we made the Friday night ferry with the least ever time to spare - checking in about 25 minutes before depature! We were on Norfolk Line for the first time this year, for the incredibly cheap price of £29 return. Alas, they don't appear to have improved at all since last year. Nevertheless, we were still on board Emjaytoo, gear unpacked and beer/tea in hand by 11 pm.

Saturday morning saw an extremely leisurely start, followed by a walk into the village and a trip over to the marina office to pay the bill and request a breakdown of the costs. We need to know the cost of removing and reinstating the autohelm following its repair by Raymarine under warranty. The hope is that we can get Raymarine to pay the marina's charges for their work.

The weather by lunchtime was pretty grotty and very cold and we were of two minds whether to bother going out for a sail. However we made the effort, donning full foulies and thermal layers.

Helming the boat out of our berth was a bit nerve-racking after nearly 6 weeks, but it all went beautifully and we were pleasantly surprised at how well the boat sailed to windward, getting more than 4 knots at less than 30 degrees off the wind out of 8 to 10 knots of wind - and all in spite of Wendy being on the helm most of the time! As we turned round the bottom of the Goudplaat we were on a dead run with very little wind but managed to goose wing at around 2 knots.

Since the weather forecast for Sunday was for quite strong winds, we decided not to stay out overnight but to return . As we headed back the weather brightened, the sun gradually broke through and despite the cold, it turned into a very pleasant evening with a hazy sunset.

On the way back, we picked up a Netherlands Coastguard Sécurité broadcast on channel 16 which warned of high winds up to gale force 6 (!) for Sunday morning, thus vindicating our decision to return to the marina on Saturday night.

Our arrival back at the berth was very calm and controlled, with Kim's system of the midship spring doing its job perfectly. Don't know why more people don't use it!

Quiet evening in with the usual Fray Bentos pie and watching our TV, accompanied by a few beers and a bottle of white wine.

Sunday morning dawned cold and miserable, with a howling wind, but it did at least stay dry, which enabled us to load up the car with all the items which we didn't want to leave on board for the winter - clothes, bedding, cushions, books etc. By the time we had finished loading up the car, it was time to head off for Calais, in spite of having gained an hour with the clocks going back. Another vindication of our decision to return to the marina on Saturday night.

As we left, we called in to the chandlery and picked up a chart pack for the area north of the Grevelingenmeer, so that we can spend the winter planning an even more ambitious cruise for next year.

Our first Sunday evening trip back of the year with Norfolk Line only served to remind us what a c**p company they are, but at £29 return you have to bite your lip and put up with it, even if we did get home nearly 2 hours later than planned.

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