After the Transpac it has been busy! It is a process moving the house through and around Europe, but the process is ongoing. First leg is done, we have sailed from Aabenraa to Zeebrugge. Now we are heading “home” (where is that..?) for a couple of days in Aabenraa and then the National championship for ORC in Norway.
After 4-5 days of fixing stuff for long distance sailing (electronics, radar, new battery bank +++) we were off on the fifth of August. We topped the diesel tanks in Aabenraa, and after doing that the port engine would not start. We decided that now we had done enough fixing so we left just using the starboard engine. After tying up to the dock in Sonderborg we moved the starter engine from starboard to port and it worked. OK – lets buy a new starter engine was the conclusion, and we did. Rush order and everything, so it ended up being an expensive one. Karl Otto was off the next morning to pick it up on his brand new bike. After half of the 9 km, the back-wheel punctured, and then it was pouring rain for 10 minutes – GREAT! Back on the boat the starter engine was put on, and everything worked – one time… The time was in to call our good colleague Flemming that came and figured out something was not right with the wiring. After doing some small fixes, it works, and it has been working ever since.
Sunniva should according to the original plan fly to Amsterdam and join us from there for 5 days. After spending too much time in Denmark, she joined us from Sonderborg instead. We had a great trip to Kiel and continued into the canal. We came a bit further than halfway through before the sunset (when it is not allowed to navigate any more). We started at 5.15 and did the last miles to Brunsbuttel, and finally we were out in the ocean once again!
The sailing westward was once again fantastic with offshore breeze and flat water along the Frisian islands. Just when we came to the entrance of Lauwersoog, the low pressure system that was forecasted hit us on the nose. That was about what we managed to sail on this first leg. After that it has been gale from south-west.
On the other hand, we have made new and great experiences when being “forced” to try navigating on the canals. The Staande mast route is a fantastic trip to do. Lots of nice small and big villages and cities, as well as the funny feeling when you are sailing in the middle of fields. Cows, sheeps and horses almost onboard (and the smell of them!). For Cottee it was also great as it is a “mouse-year” this year and she has been busy digging and tracing them up at all our stops.
After counting in the end, we have been through 70 openable bridges and 13 locks. We entered lauwersmeer from the ocean, went through Leuwarden (which also was the most exciting as the narrowest bridge was 7,94 and we are 7,20 wide). We continued through fields and villages and came out to IJselmeer in Lemmer. Crossing Ijselmeer and Markermeer was easy, and we came into Amsterdam Marina 1 ½ day after leaving Lauwersoog. Sunniva was leaving us here, to fly back home to Singapore.
After negotiating the weather forecasts, we figured out that we were not going to manage to move a lot more south than just entering Belgium during the next week, as the gale from south would not give in. Because of that, we continued in the Staande Mast route from Amsterdam, and it was a special feeling to go through Amsterdam city center in the night convoy. We continued to Gouda, were we did a stop for the night. Gouda is a very nice city, definitely worth a visit. The Staande Mast route south of Gouda is on large canals, and for us it was not that exciting, but on the other hand, we were now in a “delivery mode” and did not stop along the way more than necessary. We had a night stop in Bruinisse too, and after that we went to where OctoPus is safely docked now; Zeebrugge. The last 4 miles to Zeebrugge was not nice, and to us it kind of underlines that we have made the right decision, not stressing with upwind sailing in heavy winds. Occasionally we had the feeling that the whole 44 feet catamaran under water, or totally flying. We entered the big Zeebrugge Harbor together with a Salona 42 that just managed to motor the last bit in.
The Staande mast route is not to easy to figure out regarding information. Our measurements, that for sure works are mast height = 22 m, Length = 13.4, width = 7.2. Our draft is with the daggerboards up around 1.15, but in our opinion, a draft of 2.0 is OK as long as you can accept to have some small stops in the mud, back out and go a little bit to the side instead. There are not many places shallower than 2.5 m.
We`ll be back in less than a week to continue the trip towards Cannes. It is of course to far to guess the weather for the next 2 weeks, but if it is possible, we will most likely try to do it in one stretch from Zeebrugge to Gibraltar. If we have a window to go SW along the French coast and cross the Bay of Biscay, the chances are good. The breeze in the Mediterranean is however a different story…