Last month I had a sailing weekend on our home cruising ground of the IJsselmeer (a fresh water inland sea) which proved to be the ultimate test for my nephew's young wife, who passed with flying colours and proved to be an excellent helmswoman.
On the Saturday we passed a regatta fleet on its way back from the racing area:
Next, some views of Sunday's sailing in a northwesterly 4 to 5 - I had to take a roll in the genoa to trim the boat. Even so we regularly touched 7.5 knots, with the wind abeam (best point of sailing):
Two stills from a video clip I shot, as we were dodging the squalls in a strong NNW-wind on the IJsselmeer. We were on our way from our home marina to the old town of Makkum in Friesland, a 20nm trip. We ran under foresail only, making about six knots all the way. The wind was terrific - in one squall I had 30 knots on the clock, a nice force 7. It wasn't the force as much as the gusts that did it. At one stage I was inside for a moment, with the autopilot on and my wife keeping watch when we suddenly were pushed over at least 45 degrees before the boat luffed and righted.
After the rough trip to Makkum, we stayed there for three nights due to a depression bringing monsoon weather. The next day we walked along the old sea wall, where I encountered an old steel workboat known over here as a ‘vlet’ – hauled up by a hand winch and left there for a long time...
In Makkum we also encountered an 1928-built motor coaster formerly named ‘Drittura’, now rebuilt into the sailing ship ‘Store Baelt’. This one has a war record, carrying cargo for the Allied powers and taking part in the D-Day landings. The old wheelhouse far forward from the stern is now the day saloon, and there is a curious looking wheelhouse high on the stern.
As the weather cleared we moved on to the isle of Vlieland, in good weather but the trip ending in a very rough passage in open sea – even reefed down we were flat on our ear, butting into a steep 5 foot sea set up by the wind hauling through unexpectely to a full force 6. The tide carried us to the island fairway which immediately brings relief as it is sheltered from the NW.
After staying in Vlieland for three days in strong west winds, we used a favourable northerly to carry us to the isle of Ameland, further east. The trip was a little rough due to the swell that had been set up by the strong winds of the previous days. We passed the wreck buoy marking the grave of the ‘Stolzenfels’, a German freighter used as a minesweeper in WW2, and sunk by a mine...
The coastline in the photo is the isle of Terschelling.
This is the view astern as we entered the passage between the islands of Terschelling and Ameland, after passing through the swell set up on the 'bar' between the sandbanks to either side of the fairway:
In Ameland we stayed another three days, and the summer returned, enabling us to do more walking and cycling which we love to do in the islands. The first morning I had to rise early as the boat inside ours had to leave at 6am to catch the tide across the sands to the next island. The tiny harbour was in turmoil with boats leaving, and I made use of the opportunity to watch a beautiful sunrise.
I looked closely at the bolts and found they're not all vertical. I suppose minute deviations in the cast bolt holes needed to be reamed out to get the bolts in. The structure has stood for 135 years. It hasn't been manned since the late 1980s, although the observation post and control room is still intact and probably can be put back into operation when needed. The tower and its radar are now monitored from the Brandaris traffic centre on the next island of Terschelling:
In former days, there was a crew of about 10 people running the tower, all islanders, some of which lived on site, but others came from other villages on the island such as Nes and Buren. If the winter weather was inclement, they slept in the tower, some in hammocks, and others in bedsteads heated with stones put in the living quarters' fire, wrapped in cloths and put in the beds. Nice foot warmers, in a cast iron tower that is as cold inside as out!
I wrote some of this during a night anchor watch in the Vlieland roadstead, where we expected a quiet night but the wind changed from NE to east and increased to a force 5, setting up rough conditions on what amounted to a lee shore.
That Wednesday we had returned to Vlieland in good weather and little wind. As we emerged from the sheltered fairway to Ameland, a three foot swell made things difficult, managing to whip the mainsail halliard round the radar reflector on the mast! So the mainsail could not be used – I spent some time trying to get it off, but to no avail. Luckily we managed all right with the big balloon foresail and the genoa.
Around 11:30pm that night I found we were anchored in the wrong place, the swing of the anchor (30+ metres) almost grounding us on a falling tide, so we moved to a better place across the fairway. Apart from the boat tending to drift over the anchor in wind over tide conditions, after moving it seemed to be all right, as I kept an anchor watch. The wind pushed us broadside on to a short 2ft sea whipped up in the anchorage.
A small boat came into the anchorage at 1:30 am which probably fled from a more exposed place. Shortly afterwards I had another look at the position and since it seemed to be all right, I turned in and tried to shut my eyes – until at 4:30 the anchor alarm screamed its head off and got me out of the bunk again. It appeared we had turned with the tide, moving just outside the alarm perimeter on the GPS. Nothing wrong, so I turned in again and slept a hole in the day.
It looks far more friendly in the photo below - wind and tide going the same way, and a friendly sun shining on to the lighthouse on top of the dunes:
Only the next morning before leaving Vlieland I found a way to clear the jammed halliard, using a fender and various lines, described elsewhere in this forum. On the Thursday morning we left the anchorage and went to sea, then sailed all the way outside the isles of Vlieland and Texel, past the breakers of the dangerous Eierland Passage between Vlieland and Texel. At sea we saw the QE II passing in the shipping lane:
Finally we entered the Marsdiep (Texel) roadstead and sailed upwind to the Oudeschild harbour on the island, with a roaring flood tide under us.
Friday we returned to the home base at Andijk, having a tame but quick sail in a force 3. Just before we arrived at the locks in the sea wall, there was this row of cormorants and gulls literally waiting for the tide... as the sandbanks uncover at low water, it's feeding time for the birds!