Saturday, 19 August 2006

big bridges, and bigger rafts

The Veerse Meer is a beautiful location. We had a superb nights sleep, with complete peace and quiet. By 10h00, we decided to slip and head off... the wind was blowing across our beam straight onto the pontoon, but it was only at 15kts. However, it was the perfect opportunity to practice springing off, which we did with some aplomb... perfect, and guaranteed that the topsides didn't have to scrape past the corner of the pontoon. We motored our way out of the anchorage, and set off down the Veerse Meer towards Keersluis, and the entrance to the Oosterschelde. It was downwind... a mixture of dead runs and very deep reaches... so we set sails, and with apparent wind at 10kts, flew down towards the lock... After 45mins, and a gently rising wind, we were being pressed a little, despite putting a turn or two in the genny, so rather than muck about putting a reef in for just a few minutes before the lock, we dropped the sails... this proved fortuitous, as we rounded the next bend to see the lock in front of us..... there was quite a queue, and we waited no more than 3 or 4 minutes before the gates opened.... we motored in, amongst the now expected rush of Dutch boats... there is no concept of queuing or orderly entry! We motored in, with the later half of boats, and saw a space for 2 boats alongside the wall... the boat in front of us was heading for the front of the two slots..... however, he decided to tie up in the centre of the gap, taking up both slots.... idiot!.... (he then later proved the point by climbing the ladders, and doing press ups on the ladder at the top, with his shirt removed... enough said).... so we backed off, and went forward and aimed to raft alongside a more forward boat.... no problem, but as we approached the boat, the boat behind them was still tying up, and one of the crew plopped over the side..... straight in between the boat ond the wall..... they managed to recover him very quickly, albeit with a heavily dented ego... Even so, we tied up alongside the planned boat, and waited for exit. Which all went to plan. The vista of the enormous Oosterschelde opened in front of us, and we then enjoyed an hour of reaching across to the spectacular Zeelandbrug. This is one seriously big bridge, with a total span of over 1.5nm.... Our timing was poor, and we reached the lifting section just 5 mins after it closed, and so had to mill around for 25 minutes waiting for it to open again.... which it duly did.... again, a mad rush by every boat bearing a Dutch ensign for the gap.... it seems to be a competition to get through as quickly as possible! We passed through the gap, and turned into Zierkzee.... a short leg up the canal entrance into the harbour itself.... and shrieks of delight from C, as she saw her first windmill.... for which she had waited a good few days! In the harbour we went right into the town centre to the niuew haven, and were directed by the harbour master to a pontoon berth, alongside which was a result given that boats were already rafting up... clearly the request for 2 nights helped! So we tied up, quickly hooked up shore power before the scarce sockets vanished.... and went to explore the town.... very quaint.... a lot like Middelburg, but if anything, even prettier... although perhaps a tad more touristy... When we got back to the boat, we were on the inside of a 3 deep raft, with kids on both outside boats, so grins allround... Soon an active campaign was underway to rid Zierkzee harbour of every crab it had ever nurtured.... By 18h30, we slipped off for something to eat... a bit touch and go, as we had limited cash left, and every cash machine seemed to be out of order... however, we scraped enough together, and went to eat at the 'Eetcafe de Banjaard'.... superb.... really well priced, and excellent food... cost just 65 Euros for the for of us including drink, deserts and coffee, and was very nice food, especially the side salads... When we returned to the boat we were 5 deep.... one boat 3 out had deemed it appropriate to put on a shore line on the bow only.... good job the winds are light.... Earlyish night tonight..... although not sure what we are going to do tommorrow, as it seems that Zierkzee, touristy or not, shuts on Sunday!

Miles logged 14nm
Miles logged this trip 132nm
Miles this season 541nm
Miles since this blog started 1,322nm

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