Saturday 9 August 2014

Mekicevica's 2014 Sailing Adventure: Returning Home

Monday 4th of August: Along the North Sea Canal and through Haarlem (20 NM)
Instead of waisting one day waiting for the night crossing of Amsterdam, I decided to try the day route via Haarlem. This involves a long stretch along the North Sea Canal, the modern route from Amsterdam to the North Sea. This turned-out to be wide and even sailable... unless you have the wind right on the nose as I had.
The crux was the bridge under the motorway at Spaarndam, which opens only a couple of times a-day. I made it to the 1200 opening with a few minutes to spare.
Than came the very scenic (but payable) Haarlem crossing, at which the convoy was delayed by a technical fault of the railway bridge. I sketched a plan to stop at an unknown harbour in Hemstede, shortly after Haarlem, and when I saw a sailing boat with British flag turning into it, I decided to follow.

Tuesday 5th of August: Bridges, bridges, and more f... bridges, Hemstede to Boskoop (22 NM)
This is when I re-join the Amsterdam route. It is also, the most boring part of the Staande Mast Route. Bridge, after bridge along straight-line canals through the polders. The Brits started a bit too early for the opening of the Sassenheim bridge and sure enough I met them waiting.
After that, there is clearly no way to cross the Gouda bridge before the evening, so I started making alternative plans. The chart hints at some small yacht harbour in Boskoop, and again I saw the Brits turning into it and decided to follow.
It was indeed a small harbour, in which members rotate the duty of harbourmaster. There was a very friendly couple in a converted tug-boat who directed me to a box and he even offered to go and buy petrol for me. How friendly is that?!

Wednesday 6th of August: Drama on the Ijssel, Boskoop to Schiedam (21 NM)
The next stage was planned together with the Brits over copious amounts of red wine. We need to make the opening of the Gouda bridge at 1027. That was not difficult and we even had to wait awhile.
In the rush to pass the bridges and the lock I seemed to notice that Suzy Q had changed the pitch of her noise, "probably a good sign". We had not been in the Ijssel more than a few hundred meters when Suzy Q went on strike and refused to restart. A slightly sticky situation when several sailboats in the convoy rushed to help. Finally I was towed by a Midget 31 (based in Bruinisse) until I could figure that the problem was the pumping of fuel. While being towed I filled the integral tank, let go of my generous rescuers and resumed the motoring down the Ijssel.
Venturing into the Nieuwe Maas like this would be crazy. Anyway the fuel in the integral tank of Suzy Q would not be sufficient, so when I spotted a yacht harbour in Capelle an den Ijssel I turned in for some checking-up and planning.
Plan A: remove the nozzle from the external tank and manually pump more fuel into the integral tank. While doing that I noticed the tank getting a bit shrivelled. At that moment it dawned on me that the very friendly chap who filled my tank in Boskoop said; "I closed the vent."
Duh! Vent reopened and problem solved. Confidently into the Niuewe Maas to overnight in Schiedam again.

Thursday 7th of August: Back into the Spui with approaching storm (16 NM)
The last worry before the tranquility of the delta is the Botlek bridge. The information in the almanac is a bit sketchy and, as I discovered on the way North, inaccurate. So I decided to go with the tide and hope for the best.
Lucky again, because the bridge opened for us and other yachts coming from the opposite side. The Oude Maas was very quiet and soon we were on the even quieter Spui, happily being pushed along by the tide. Unfortunately the sky to the West was getting darker, and darker, it started to rain heavily and a thunderstorm was getting closer and closer. Even if it was not far to go to Middelharnis, I opted to take shelter at the Brinckvliet yacht harbour.

Friday 8th of August: The last bit alone across the Haringvliet (5 NM)
Only a little bit to go. Don't want too leave too early to wait for the tide, but there is a warning of thunderstorms in the afternoon. I hung around a bit, went for a run, and finally set off. First on motor, for a while downwind with full genoa and finally motor again into Middelharnis harbour canal, where I was directed to a box in the inner harbour and tied-up under the pouring rain.
First-Mate arrived in the evening and we headed for the Greek restaurant again.

Saturday 9th of August: Windy ride on the Haringvliet, motor down the Volkerak (24 NM)
It blew really hard all night, but the SW windy was forecast to gradually ease during the day. We had a leisurely start but it was still windy. With reefed main only, mostly on a beam reach and staying close to the weather side of the Haringvliet, the wind gusts were manageable by constantly tweaking the sheet.
After the Volkerak lock we would have to turn straight into the wind, and given the discouraging forecast for Sunday we decided to motor all the way to Bruinisse.
It was nearly 8pm when Mekicevica tied-up back in her cosy berth in Bruinisse harbour, after four weeks and more than 360 nautical miles. The longest journey ever on a Manta 19?