When one makes a journey……..
This transfer journey becomes more and more like a test drive to put the boat through its paces.
The stormy weather was over and now we were sailing in very little wind indeed. The next harbour we wanted to head for was 92 nm away, not reachable within a day with little wind. So we prepared ourselves for another night sail. First, however, our fellow sailor discovered a tear in the genoa at the luff, where it is threaded into the groove. The genoa was rubbing against an additional fastening part, which still had relatively sharp edges. So open-heart surgery: Mathias sewed the luff while I, together with the autopilot, tried to keep the boat as close to the wind as possible. This is not easy with the wide trimaran and without proper speed, and I had to make corrections more often.
During the night, the next challenge came our way: the engine or clutch made strange noises and it was no longer possible to engage the engine. So we had to somehow manage on the upwind course with the sails. We experimented for a while which reef size of the mainsail would fit the jib or genoa so that the bow would still be pushed around again. There was also still current and for a long time we drifted backwards or on the spot. Eventually we picked up speed again with the genoa + 2 reefs in the mainsail. With a little more wind, we were also able to sail with 1 reef + genoa again. The tacks are not so easy with the big genoa, we still have to practise. But at least we made progress again.
Suspicious boat is inspected
During the day we had just fought our way through another tack when we were hailed by a French customs ship. This time, the usual questions were not enough, they wanted to come on board. But because we couldn’t or didn’t want to stop so easily without an engine backup, the officials came to us by dinghy and the customs ship followed us. Four men came on board and started a search for drugs, alcohol and weapons. Because the boat’s registration had been submitted in Germany but not yet processed and we didn’t even have the provisional registration, we had literally made a quick ADAC registration at the last minute shortly before leaving La Rochelle. But that was not enough, so the customs officials wanted to see the invoice for the boat. We only had the invoice electronically and Mathias was supposed to send it by e-mail. As we were not sailing close to the coast, this process took ages. But all’s well that ends well. Customs left the ship in a good mood and wished us a good journey. Maybe they just wanted to have a look at a trimaran. For the next trip we will carry a stack of papers with us. At least when the German authorities have finally finished processing the registration.
On we go
After the visit we continued with full main + genoa. Tried the engine again – something is stuck.
Towards evening, Christian discovered a leash, which we pulled behind us. The end of the line was tattered. It was the painter line of our dinghy, which had probably come loose. Hope gleamed, maybe this line had got caught in our propeller. Sure enough, the engine was free again and ready for use.
The second night on the water we kept to the shallower water next to the traffic separation area. During my watch, I saw a 200m passenger ship that you can see very far because there are full deck lights on. The wind changed so that I didn’t have to make a tack to stay on the set course. The crossing of the approach to the next bigger harbour already fell back into Mathias watch.
We arrived at the port we had originally chosen in the early morning and that would have wasted a whole day. So we sailed on. There was a lull again and soon there was so little wind that we sailed under motor for a while. The only advantage is that the water gets warm, which means you can take a hot shower. 🙂
On channel 16 we followed a search operation for a small red dinghy with 6 men on board that was missing, position unknown. Later, a yellow and white boat was searched for. The dinghy must have had a radio or telephone and was able to report that it was in the vicinity of a yellow and white ship. Shortly afterwards, a ship reported and about an hour later the boat had been found.
In the meantime, our ambition had taken a firm hold on us and we wanted to drop Christian off directly in Amsterdam, from where he could fly home. So another night at sea. During this night we crossed the approach to Antwerp. An outgoing ship was giving us a hard time. We slowed down (sails up). But before it could have become critical, the outgoing ship slowed down and turned away. It was a dredger that had obviously reached its work site. I then sat on watch alone, taking care to avoid an oncoming sailor. When I could see the lights better, I realised that it was under engine – I could have held course.
During the day there was wind but also rain. In the end, we sailed quite briskly with a heeling angle (12 kn) that was again to be discussed. This enabled us to reach the entrance to the canal to Amsterdam in broad daylight. Here the next task and premiere was already waiting for us: the lock.
I had to dare to use the radio again. We asked Ijmuiden Traffic which lock we would fit into – the small south lock for pleasure boats, and were instructed by radio on channel 61. At first we just had to watch out for the lights and enter on the green. In front of the lock we moored in a waiting position. In the meantime we had changed the radio to channel 22 and talked to the lock co-ordinators. Fortunately, they still asked for our dimensions. The smallest lock is only 12 m wide and we are 9 m wide, which can be tight. The lock coordinators then assigned us to the larger lock chamber for the next lock. From our waiting position we watched a large motor yacht (27m long, 7.6 m wide) entering the smallest lock and having quite a bit of trouble. When the larger chamber went green, first two tugs were allowed to enter and then we were the third vessel. Mooring against the lock wall and adjusting the lines as the water level dropped was a thrilling action for us bloody lock novices. Everything went well and when we left the lock we felt as if we had already been through an exercise for the Panama Canal.
Our fire extinguishers are mounted! (Greetings to my NDR colleagues)
In the channel towards Amsterdam-Marina, one of the tugboats warned us that we had set the wrong host country flag. The French flag was still there, so maybe he thought we had confused it with the Dutch flag. In any case, we quickly changed the flag. I had to search for the Dutch flag in the mountain of host country flags.
We stay in Amsterdam for a few days, because the next bad weather front is approaching.