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Holland 2010 by Wil Pretty and Bryan Wright

I had previously taken Chica to Holland in 2002 in company with Brian and Ines Hayes. I had got 3 weeks holiday booked so 2010 looked good for a return visit.

Bryan Wright with Sunny also was looking to go further afield and Graham Hemingtion joined me as crew albeit he could only do the first 2 weeks.

Thus 2 trimarans set off for Foreign waters in mid August .

Day 1, we didn’t get far, it was easterly and strong so we ended up in Sharfleet. It was still easterly so our next destination was Faversham where we holed up for a couple of days till the wind turned to the SW.

Faversham is a good place to visit if you have a shoal draft and it is not a neap tide. They have a new visitor booking system via the Albion pub. We got the first mooring receipt.

Once a SW was forcast, off we set for Ramsgate / Dunkerque. We made excellent progress to N foreland, so carried on. However halfway across the channel we run into a series of squalls. Also we were ahead of schedule so the current was SW going, wind over tide. The waves really built up and we found ourselves surfing down waves much faster than we wished.

Chica recorded a new record speed of 13.7 and Sunny had 14.5. This was a bit hard on the boats and the helmsman so I hove too and dropped the mainsail. Life was much better from then on. As we headed up the coast to Dunkerque, the wind abated and the tide was with us so the sea state calmed down. Chica had fared quite well, however Sunny’s rudder had started to delaminate so Bryan effected a field repair. Chica’s tillerpilot had broken so I got a replacement from the local chandlers.

The following days journeys to Ostend and then Vlissingen were more pleasant with plenty of wind but off the land. In Vlissingen we entered the lock to the canal system. We motored along the canal and waited for bridges to open. Sometimes a painfully long wait. Our first stop in Holland was Middlebugh, we found this to be a great place, so after week 1 we had finally made our destination. We carried on to the Veerse meer (A large landlocked estuary) This was a brilliant sailing place and we found a lagoon on an island in the middle of it and moored there. It is very boat friendly, there are free mooring jetties in many places and adjacent to them are portaloos and rubbish bins.

We were stormbound here for a couple of days and then headed off to Delta Marina at Kortegene. This was a nice town and marina and it was here that we found shops with polythene bags full of water hanging from their door lintels. The Chinese shop owner told us that this reduced the number of flies entering through the open door. He didn’t know why.

We took the next weather window to start returning, however the wind was on the nose and therefore we had to tack up the lake which was only about 200 metres wide at this point. It was here that we learnt that the 2metre depth marking lake edge markers needed to be heeded. Chica found its centreboard knocked up swiftly when I strayed beyond them and Sunny lost the foam ends of both daggerboards. The edges were rock, not the mud we were used to touching in the Medway. We were being followed by a 60 ft home constructed wooden yacht that looked very much like a traditional gentleman’s yacht. The owner came from the Orwell and was sailing by himself (with a self tacking jib) He was gaining on us steadily until he strayed off limits and ran aground. He decided to motor the rest of the way.

The forcast was suggesting that the wind was going NW so we made our way to Vlissingen Marina on the Schelde estuary ready to dash home with the favourable wind. We got up at 05.00, however the wind was still a strong SW. Finally at 07.00 it dropped and went to the North so off we went. However the wind picked up to a 7 and we found ourselves on a close reach in some really large waves. Things were still Ok until Sunny was clobbered by a large wave and his leeward float filled up with water. (the one that was stopping the boat from capsizing) We aborted our plan to head for the UK and decided to divert to Dunkerque, this put the wind behind us and was a familiar port. However we had been 1/3 way across and this diversion was still a 5 hr journey. Also there were all manner of sandbanks to miss and the waves over them were breaking.

Chica stayed close to Sunny so we could offer assistance if needed. However Bryan managed to maintain his concentration and we made it to dunkerque without incident.

Graham Hemington was able to get a lift on a motor boat returning to Rochester the following day and we layed low in Dunkerque whilst the storms that battered the HNYC boats in W Mersea, battered us also. Bryan repaired Sunny and when the winds abated we had brilliant sails back to Ramsgate and then to Hoo.

Sunny was the centre of attention wherever we went. One little lad summed it up in dunkerque “c’est magnifique”.

I had set myself up with an AIS engine and a laptop so I could see if there were any collision issues with shipping. On the way over, we were going so fast and it was so rough that there were no decisions to be made and I would not have wanted to go down below. On the way back, conditions were good and visibility was excellent and we were the only yachts in the Dover Straights. As a result the shipping could see us from many miles away and seemed to steer around us. I never did get to use my AIS. However it was good to know it was there in case of fog or of being becalmed.

Holland is a brilliant place to visit and since there was plenty of wind, I only used about 10 litres of petrol in the 3 weeks.


Wil Pretty

Date Published 30th Sep 2010