Sunday, 28 May 2006

Oostende bound

With Oostende planned, we left home by 17h00 Friday evening, and set off down to Maggie. While on the way down, we received a text message from Jim, stating that his departure of the previous evening had resulted in an eventful trip, with them deciding to abort around about Long Sand Head, after experiencing very strong wind, and constant heavy rain. Understandably they had aborted, and ended up in the Orwell, and eventually in our Marina..... So after calling in at Tesco to stock up on food we arrived down at Maggie. The forecast didn't look great, and after a phone call from Karen and Patrick on Vreny, still in Burnham, it was decided to delay things until Saturday evending. Vreny planned to head for Harwich during the day, and along with Miss Behavin, we agreed to review the forecast with a plan to set of 02h00 Sunday morning.... By later in the afternoon, it looked OK, so we set off down to Harwich..... we grabbed a buoy at Levington. David on Miss behavin called us on his mobile.... his VHF had packed up..... not looking promising! Anyway, he grabbed the fuel berth in SYH after the staff had gone home and closed it for the day, and so I rafted to him, and took his VHF apart..... don't know what I did, but when reassembled it worked again! So, alarms set, we got ready top retire to bed. As a last minute check, I flicked on the nav lights..... northing.... darn.... I traced the wiring, and had 12V at the lamp, so I sedt too taking the lamp apart. I'm not sure what I did again (maybe its a magic touch!), but it all flicked back into life! We went to bed by 23h00, and it didn't seem long until the alarms awoke us at 02h00..... we groggily got ready for sea, and motored out by 02h30. Harwich in the dark is amazing.... it is so difficult to pick out the nav marks, as there is so much back light from the docks.... but none-the-less, we made it safely out to Cork Sand Yacht Beacon, raised the sails, and turned off the engine.... set course for Long Sand Head and set ourselves up mentally for a long crossing... it was SW approx 15kts, so a reach, couldn't be better! By the time we had made a mile past Cork Sand Yacht Beacon, the sky had lightened to the point where nav lights were no longer really needed, but we left them on for a while... An hour and half later, we approached Long Sand Head, and the wind had swung North Westerly, and dropped off quite a bit. We now had a 39nm leg, across to West Hinder a way off the Belgian coast, and at the start of the main TSS system heading north/south up the North sea, so we calculated a course to steer, and set off.... the wind wasn't playing ball, and we couldn't hold the CTS as it was too deep, and with a bit of a sea running, we struggled to keep the main full.... so we had to sail off course, and then gybe a few times to avoid getting too far off track... all the while the wind was dropping, eventually settling at about 7 to 10kts... With the ever decreasing winds, it was nearly 14h00 by the time made the start of the TSS, and we set a course to cross the TSS at the correct angle, whiuch was just a few dgerees different from our current course. There was little traffic, with one large vessel changing course a few degrees to clear our sterns, and us having to duck one mid sized ship. Otherwise an uneventful TSS, even though its very wide at 10nm.... We set course after clearing the TSS for West Hinder, and still faced a dead downwind course, with a roly poly sea... C finally gave up, and supplied the fish with the tomato soup that she had taken at lunch... At West Hinder, we had a course change, the first real one for nearly 9 hrs, and for just 15mins we had a reach across the second TSS.... this is just 2nm wide, and was very busy. We had to heave too for 10mins in the centre to wait for a break in the traffic to leg it across, which was in the end, quite OK, and we reached Ooste Dyke buoy, the last way point before Oostende. It was almost depressing when we set the course, back onto a dead run, with just 7 kts of wind and a decent sized following sea, and the GPS reported 19nm still to go.... I called Will, who was already in Oostende, and agreed to call him when we were 3nm off...... Oostende is interesting, in that there are several major sandbanks offshore of the coast, but when I looked at the tides, we had plenty of water, and in the shallower waters of the inshore area, and the light winds, we decided to take a direct route... which should allow a minimum of 4m of water at 8nm offshore.... it was fine in the end, and by 17h30, we called Will again, and he agreed that he would carefully observe our arrival, from the yacht club bar! Oostensde is bow too mooring, but we were forewarned, and had a long line ready, grabbed the buoy easily, and then tied the bow up.... no dramas, and all was well... we were tied up by 18h30... exhausted! We met a few other hardy forumites that had made the crossing despite the sometime ominous shipping forecast, talked via the phone to a couple of others that had made it across the previous day, and looking at the forecast, had sensibly decided to head on up to Vlissingen today, and then nipped out for a bite to eat. We found a nice little restaurant on the hrabour front, and enjoyed a good meal. C tried Moule for the first time, brave for a 10yr old, and enjoyed them enormously... another result! By 10h00, we were all falling alseep in our empty plates, assisted by a strong Belgian beer, and retired for the night.... I don't remember anything after my head hit the pillow! A good crossing, less than perfect conditions, but at 16hrs, a bit long, but OK...

Miles logged 65nm
Miles this season 161nm
Miles since this blog started 942nm

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