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Sunday, 3rd October 2010 – Saved By A Centre Line

Setting off at 6.30 in the morning is easy in the summer but it felt like the middle of the night at this time of the year! This plus the less than promising forecast meant that Wendy was not exactly enthusiastic but as things turned out, it was one of our most satisfying weekends.

Having used the Shuttle, we arrived on the boat at about 10.45 and as we didn’t need anything from the shops, we were able to get away promptly at 11.45 for what turned out to be quite an eventful trip. The weather was rather cloudy but a bit brighter than we had expected with a F3 in the marina, coming rather unfavourably over the port bow. On both previous occasions with the wind in this direction, Wendy has managed to make a pig’s ear of our departure from the berth by overcompensating for the wind. Kim kindly pointed out (as if it were necessary!) that this time too, had all the potential to go wrong, but Wendy was not going to be beaten again. With a good bit of welly and some positive steering, we got out a treat and set off down towards the lock to make our way to Goes.

We were lucky enough to go straight into the lock without having to do any twirls outside and that was where the fun started. Kim decided to go for a centre line straightaway, but by the time the line was on, the bow had started swinging in towards the lock wall. Wendy couldn’t reach to get a stern line on and as the pulpit is wider than the hull, Kim stood rather helplessly, watching the metal work grate along the wall. However, because the only line we had on was a centre line, it did enable Kim to eventually pull the boat in closer to the lock wall, thus enabling Wendy to get a stern line on. Question - did the use of a mid-ship line cause the problem in the first place? Not really sure as a bow line would probably have had the same effect if the boat was still moving forwards. However, the centre line certainly enabled us to retrieve the situation rather than ending up broadside across the lock (not that this would have been an entirely new experience). Fortunately, our exit from the lock passed without incident and we headed down the Zandkreek under genoa only.

Incident number two occurred in the next lock at the bottom of the Goes canal. Again we went in with Wendy on the helm, with Kim this time going for a bow line. Whilst Wendy got her stern line on without any problem, Kim hesitated and failed to get the bow line on before the bow started drifting away from the lock wall, thereby threatening to leave us broadside across the lock. Fortunately, Kim had rigged a centre line and was able to quickly move to the middle of the boat and hook a line over a bollard, thus limiting the potential for the boat to swing. He was then able to go forward and secure a bow line in the usual way.

We then motored up the canal to Goes. The wait at the Wilhelminabrug passed without incident and we tied up just outside Goes to wait for the Ringbrug to open. Once through we decided not to go through the St Maartensbrug into the inner harbour as last time it was very noisy. This was a decision that was vindicated at 03.00 the next morning. However before that, we got tied up as the drizzle turned to heavier rain and after a cup of tea and some stroopwaffels we decided to brave the rain and go for a walk. Of course we have seen Goes before and most probably, in the rain before!

Goes In The Rain

On our way back to the boat, up by the inner harbour we did notice a nightclub on the quayside advertising a birthday party for the Saturday night, more of this later! We then settled down to mussels in garlic sauce followed by steak and salad all washed down with a bottle of red. Finally we retired to bed and drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Kim, as is his habit, awoke around 03.00 for a call of nature. He then woke Wendy up to ask if she could hear all the noise! The nightclub was turning out and although we were far enough away not to have been actually woken up by the noise it was definitely apparent.

Sunday morning we awoke to clear blue sky and brilliant sunshine!

Goes In The Sunshine

It was also quite breezy. Because we were booked home on the 19.20 Shuttle, were able to have a relaxed start, leaving Goes at 10.00 catching the last morning bridge opening.

And so we arrived at the lock heading back out into the Oosterschelede, ready for the next incident, this time with Kim helming and Wendy on the bow. Wendy got the bow line on without any problem, but since the boat probably still had some forward momentum, Kim could not get close enough to the lock wall mooring point and made a grab for it with the boat hook. Unfortunately, at full stretch with one hand on the boat hook and the other on the wheel, the boat hook slid out of his hand and fell into the water. Kim immediately jumped on the centre line, which we had prepared in case, and with Wendy fending the bow off, brought the boat swiftly back along side. The boat hook was then successfully recovered.

Back in the Oosterschelde, the wind was mostly abaft the beam so we set the genoa only and had a good sail all the way up to the Zandkreeksluis.

By the time we were approaching the Zandkreeklsuis, the wind was blowing well over 20 knots and we could see that we had some time to wait before the lock opened. The safest thing to do appeared to be to tie up and wait on the windward side, which entailed threading between some rather large (metal) dophins and the floating pontoon. Initially Wendy brought the boat alongside very well and Kim stepped off easily with a centre line. However, as she had had to use quite a bit of power to get in and avoid being blown off the pontoon or onto the dolphin, Wendy was then unable to check the forward momentum (describing it later as the fastest she had even gone forwards in full astern!), and by the time the boat was brought to a halt by the centre spring, there was some 2 to 3 metres of mooring line between the boat’s cleat (and Kim!) on the pontoon. The combined effect of the spring bringing the boat to a halt and the 23 knots of wind trying to blow the boat off, was that, once again, the stern kicked out. But again, the use of a centre spring prevented the boat from hanging off the pontoon by the bow and possibly even smacking the stern against one of the dolphins.

Thereafter, our passage through the lock and back into the Veerse Meer went like clockwork - Wendy on the bow, Kim on the helm/stern. Once clear of the lock, we went back under genoa only and continued on up to Delta.

The trip ended on a real high - though sadly without an audience! In spite of the strong southerly wind, which was always going to make the turn into our berth difficult, Kim actually gave Wendy 98/100 for her performance. This was made even better by efficient teamwork in getting all the lines secured and we both agreed that it was probably our best arrival ever, even with the adverse conditions.

So what lessons did we learn?

1) How a centre line can get you out of so much trouble.

2) Try to check the forward momentum with the engine, not a mooring line, as the bow will turn in and the stern will kick out. This is often easier said than done though, when there is a strong wind and you need to maintain steerage for as long as possible.

3) We make a pretty good team!

Wednesday, 20th October 2010 – The Season End Draws Near

The end of the season is drawing near. We are heading over to the boat this weekend with Julie & Trevor for what will probably be the last trip of the year before winterising Emjaytoo. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not looking too good for the weekend:-

Weather For The Weekend

But, we’re sure to have a laugh!

Monday, 25th October 2010 – More Belgium Than Holland

With the weather forecast looking awful, we decided, that as we were highly unlikely we were going to venture out from the marina, there was not really any rush to get there. So having caught the 7.20am shuttle on Saturday morning and since Julie wanted to stop in Belgium to buy some cheap tobacco, we decided to call into Veurne on the way up. It was grey and had been raining, but we parked the car up and went for a wander around.

Wandering Around Veurne

We didn’t get any tobacco, but the town was very attractive.

Veurne in the Rain

Well, at least it would have been, had the sun been shining.

By the time we did get to the marina the wind was howling and the rain was pelting it down. The decision not to take Emjaytoo out was confirmed and after some lunch we headed off to Middelburg where we visited a large electrical super store and a garden centre! Exciting stuff – eh?

That evening we went to Iets Anders in Kortgene, where we had yet another fabulous meal. We all had the same set meal – scampi to start, followed by a lobster platter, dessert and washed down with wine. As it was a set meal the price was very reasonable given we had lobster. Whilst sat in the restaurant we were treated to an excellent lightning storm, fortunately the rain abated when it came to heading back to the boat.

Sunday, we had a leisurely start – Wendy didn’t get in the shower until about 11.00am! As our shuttle wasn’t ‘till 7.00pm we decided to visit Brugge on the way back to Calais. When we got there we had quite a shock as it appeared to have snowed quite heavily.

Snow in Brugge?

On closer inspection it turned out to be hailstones!

Although the weather wasn’t very good we walked around the centre of Brugge which is full of some pretty fantastic old buildings.

Brugge Brugge Brugge Brugge

Next weekend Wendy and Kim are back to the boat to clear her away for the winter. Our 4th season with Emjaytoo is over!

Sunday, 31st October 2010 – Clearing Away For The Winter

Where did the season go?

On Saturday we caught the Norfolk Line ferry at 0800 BST for our last trip of the year. The main objective was to take off the sails and spray hood and generally clear out the soft furnishings/clothes/books etc. We were very lucky that the weather on Saturday was really good. We needed to leave the boat with a full tank of diesel, so headed off to the fuelling pontoon. The weather was so good we almost considered forgetting about clearing the boat and going off to an island. But we just reminded ourselves what we had come over to do. Our little trip, all of a mile was very pleasant.

Last Trip of the Year

By Saturday night the sails and spray hood were off and in the car, the dinghy and out board were in the car and some of the gear from inside the boat had been transferred as well.

We then settled down to a meal cobbled together from what we found in the bilges. A far cry from last weekend's Lobster Platter in Iets Anders. However, we did find a very nice bottle of wine in the bilges!

Sunday morning we awoke to weather that made us glad we had got the sails and spray hood put away on Saturday and only had the inside of the boat to sort out. Fortunately the rain was mostly drizzle and by 12.00 noon the boat was cleared and the car packed. Thanks to the clocks going back this weekend we had even managed a leisurely start to the morning.

We called into the chandlery and dropped off our form requesting the marina carry out the winterising to the engine and water system and then with a bit of time to spare we headed up to Vrouwenpolder where we had a short walk on the beach and then had lunch in the Lekkerbek - a typical Dutch fast food chip cafe. We both had chicken sate and chips with a token bit of salad garnish and the ubiquitous Frittesaus (Salad cream!).

After stopping en route to get some tobbacco for Kim's Mum and some cheap diesel at Auchan, we got to the ferry terminal about 45 mins before departure. There we had to endure NorfolK Line's usual disorganised checking in/boarding proceedure. This is now 5 seasons we have been doing the Dover - Dunkerque crossing and Norfolk Line haven't got any better. To be fair, it isn't all Norfolk Line's fault, The British Border Control is equally disorganised. They never have enough staff on and every time we turn up with only 45 mins to spare we can't help but start wondering whether we will get on the ferry. As Kim said, the return ferry trip is the most stressful part of any weekend. But then as Wendy said, and this is Kim's favourite remark - " remember, only £38 return!"

This year we have used quite a few shuttle crossings and it has made us question the benefit of always using Norfolk Line. In fact as we stand, we still have one unused Norfolk Line crossing to take before the 16th December. We shall probably not use it as we won't be going over to the boat again until February of next year.

One final comment about Norfolk Line is that they became DFDS Seaways a few months ago. Maybe next year they will get their act together.

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