To the German Watten
Monday 10th July - to Borkum 35 nm
Quick way, slow way? Decisions, decisions. The wind is East and so is Germany, so we could lock out to sea with lots of lovely wide horizons but we'd end up motoring. Or we can chug along more canals and negotiate more bridges (loads of them in Groningen) and possibly take 2 or 3 days to get to the same place.
One slight complication is our lack of a German courtesy flag. I bought a Danish one in Middelburg but they didn't have a German one the right size and then I forgot all about it. After toying with the idea of flying a Belgian flag on its side (no good, same colours but in a different order) we decide to fuel up and look for a chandlery.
Our well travelled sailor friend Brian Hammett has recommended Lauwersoog marina for fuel and the outside route to Borkum so that's what we do.
I'm not sure what Brian's criteria are for a "good" place to fuel up but ours are i) sufficient room to turn (tick) and ii) cheap fuel (definitely no tick!). We have seen diesel for less than 1.20 euros but these robbers are charging over 1.40 so with tanks refilled we are over 20 euros down on the deal. Luckily the chandler in the commercial port over the dyke supplies a courtesy flag at a good price though I have to hussle Howard past the pump advertising diesel for 1.14. Grrr.
Still no camera photos available for the blog (though the small electronic part which may solve this has started its long and tortuous journey here). To add insult to injury my mobile devices won't let me drop a photo into the text here, but below is a photo I took, with the phone, of the road markings on the dyke which sum up our next move: from Meer to Zee.
We lock out and it's a motor all the way. Our ship's log, which is as random as this blog (same author), mentions distant views of Ameland on the port side and close-ups of Sciermonnikoog to starboard as we pass between those 2 Dutch islands. In fact the latter (don't make me spell it again) is with us for the next 3 hours.
After some complex calculations we cut the corner (NW corner) of Sch...oog to save a few miles. Our depth sounder has been behaving erratically and our lead line is at home in a box (clever) so we do check the depth a few times with the long boat hook. OK so far.
If that doesn't sound very random, the ship's log next details the sewing operation I perform on my favourite pink and grey bubbly top to stop the hemline curling up. Re-hemming takes a couple of hours during which Howard concentrates very hard and I supply bucket loads of coffee and a pretty good lunch. (Log doesn't specify the lunch menu but they're all pretty good).
Our timing is not great but we knew that when we set off so it's no surprise to be slowed by the tide for the second 3 hours. With the camera I snapped a view of Borkum with a cardinal mark in the foreground. Between the two runs the River Ems and we have to cross that strong current before we can put in. (Photo may follow later!)
Now I get to swap courtesy flag from NL to DE and in we go. The yacht harbour has a neglected look about it and sure enough about 2 metres before we reach the pontoon we are hard aground on a bank of silt and it is 2 and a half hours before we can tie up properly and step ashore. The chart very clearly gave us enough water here but come to think of it a yacht ahead does also appear to be stopped at a strange angle to the pontoon. Aha!
Howard feels that Borkum Yacht Harbour is not the place which inspired the slogan "Vorsprung durch Technik".