Showing posts from May, 2017

To Ostend at Anchor

Wed 24th May

It's only a short hop back down the coast to Ostend so we had no time problems, no tidal gateways to make or weather windows to make the most of. We could kick back and sail the whole way - so we did, along with our good friends on Maryll.

You see some funny things in the water but this one really had us puzzled:

We changed course to avoid it, in fact there's a north cardinal mark (not on our chart) suggesting you do so. As we pass it looks more like a dead whale.

We sailed right into the entrance at Ostend - just in case there were any cameras ready, and there were! Our friends Sarah and Clive who are here on their boat Distant Drum were walking on the beach and spotted us approaching. They headed for the breakwater, camera at the ready.
Here's how they looked to us:

And this is how we looked to them. Many thanks to Clive and/or Sarah for the lovely photos:

Once all the sails were down it was time for warps and fenders ready for the lock in to the Mercator Do…

Gravelines to Blankenberg

Tuesday 23rd May

Gravelines to Blankenberg

Our next scheduled stop is the Festival Ostend at Anchor but 17 gaffers from the Dutch and Belgian OGA will be attending a much smaller event the same weekend a few miles up the coast at Blankenberg. Many of them are friends of ours from our years of sailing over here and some will be arriving there today.

So we sail out into the sunshine just after 9am, set as many sails as we can (no topsail due to further issues up in the rigging) and pass Dunkirk West just after 10am (not for yachts). Even with the tide helping us along it is 11.30 before we pass Dunkirk East so we could do without having to skirt the firing range at Nieuwpoort. But skirt it we do - 4 miles out is what they request so 4 miles out we go. After all we don't want holes blasting in our sails.

We don't think we have ever sailed past Ostend before - always gone in - but this time we do, at 15.30, and by 17.30 we are tied up in the old fishing harbour at Blankenburg, bee…

Provisioning at Gravelines

Monday 22nd May

Bunkering and provisioning

We reckon Super U fuel should be better value than in marinas so now's a good opportunity to make a few return trips with the ship's trolley. It's for tramping about like this that Howard had to have the dazzling new Lild footwear

I provide dazzle with my snazzy shopping bag (thank you Kathryn) as we nip back and forward to Lidl for beer, boxes of red wine, bottles of sparkling wine and water, tinned food - and breakfast croissant of course.

We've been introduced to a new pastis: the usual aniseed flavour but with added botanicals. For special occasions only at that price

Better not start on all that yet - there is work to be done...

Parade of sail at Gravelines

Parade of Sail - Sunday 21st May

The parade of sail is early to catch the tide...

Once back in the harbour we put our flags up and enjoy the barbeque on the quay

Our contribution to the BBQ was a case of assorted Hobgoblin ales. The colourful illustrated labelling caused quite a stir and one young Frenchman insisted on buying a couple from us to keep unopened in his fancy bottle collection – for the record he went for the Halloween Ale and Dr Thirsty's. Shameful waste of tasty beer. Hobgoblin have it right with their slogan: “Afraid you might taste something Lager Boy?”

Escale a Gravelines

To "Escale a Gravelines"
19th May in Calais
Birthday girl had a lazy day. Not so the chief sanitation officer who had to deal with a holding tank which was living up to its name and not releasing our “you know” into the depths of the sea as and when required – hence it had filled up. Unspeakable! We piled our heaviest gear (life raft, anchor chain, buckets of water) onto the port side to lean the boat over a bit and Howard was able to remove his inspection panel from the starboard side of the tank without too much mess.

Anyone who followed us in 2013 when we sailed round Britain will remember we had problems with wet wipes causing blockages, this time it seemed to be scaled up. Once cleared, our troubles, and smells were not yet over as it transpired that the tank is cracked where there's a fitting for the exit valve. So it had now been by-passed and we are back to using facilities ashore as much as possible or pumping straight out into the sea. (Next logistical nightmare wi…

To Calais

Faversham to Calais Thursday 18th May 
Hindsight is a wonderful thing There's a clear difference between what we did and what we should have done today. I hope this does not become a recurring theme in this blog.
Nothing drastic, just a change of plan mid-voyage which would have worked better if we had made the decision earlier.
What we did: Got up at 4.45am to catch the tide down Faversham Creek (that part was unavoidable).  We then set off to get to Dover in one tide, changed our minds as we passed Ramsgate at 10am with most of the day still ahead of us, and decided to press on for Calais. Don't get me wrong, this was not a bad decision. Lots of wind was forecast for Friday so it was certainly worth getting on and getting over there today.
However what we should have done for a passage to Calais was to come further out of the Thames instead of hugging the Kent coast and to sail outside the Goodwin Sands (east of) instead of inside (west of). We'd have had a lovely line …

"Anchored" in the Swale

Wednesday 17th May - At last we're on our way! 

Bonify's ship's log entry for Wed 17th May starts "Harwich towards the Swale".
We think there's some ancient nautical superstition about counting your chickens before they hatch which requires this vague use of "towards". Similarly we have described our intentions this summer as being to cruise "towards Denmark".

The Swale might not seem an obvious waypoint between Harwich and Denmark, but then neither would Gravelines (France) or Ostend (Belgium) but they are on our planned itinerary too. In fact that is just about as far as our itinerary goes. Our friend Brian Hammett will be horrified to know that we have no specific plans after that and will be making it up as we go along. Shock, horror!

Day 1 is a case in point: if you'd met us in the sailing club the night before you'd have thought we were going to Brightlingsea first stop. We had intended to stay on the Essex coast and test the…

Last preparations in Harwich

Mon 15th and Tues 16th May in Harwich
It's only a 5 min walk from our house to the Ha'penny Pier where Bonify was moored but we'd walked a few miles by the time we'd finished toing and froing.
Spare bedding, more pillows, food and booze, clothes and boat equipment were loaded and stowed.
Heavier stuff including life raft and spare fuel came closer by car.
Work continued on the 'new' wiring cabinet (ex bathroom cabinet) as it re-acquired doors and slowly but surely the tangle of wires was tamed.

The new mainsheet is rather bright but that look won't last long. It's 14mm to replace the old 16mm. The rope seems to swell as it ages and had stopped running through the blocks comfortably.

The new mooring lines are also a bit dazzling. They are Tipto 12 which Howard first encountered on Ed's gaff schooner Drum of Drake when he sailed on her last year.  It's very light weight so the crew like handling it and it floats which could avoid a fouling of the…