The day after the storm promised a light north westerly which should be ideal to drift up to Harlingen via the lock in the afsluitdijk at Kornwerderzand. Unfortunately the wind didn’t materialize in anything other than a couple of knots so after hoisting the sails in hope the wind would suddenly wake up and help us out, it didn’t and the flies came down and covered us as we slowly motored up the ijzelmeer, it was worse than I had ever encountered, in fact I opted for using buckets of water to wash them of the boat but by the time I had gone round the deck I could begin all over again.
Made a ghastly mess of my new sails as it was impossible to lower the sails without crushing lots of flies leaving green smudges everywhere, after a few miles we motored into Makkum to clean the boat which took several hours and much scrubbing to get rid of them, we weren’t alone other boats around us were also busy, and the next door boat had inadvertently left the fore hatch open and had found that there bed was thick with flies, it was really a shocking experience, and one I shall hope to never repeat, apparently this happens mainly along the East coast of the meer, but is restricted to a few weeks only.
Makkum is lovely and it has several marinas and some easy access town mooring on a large jetty which is a nice spot to moor to visit the town.
Next day we took the tide along the coast to Harlingen, wind was against unfortunately so we motored it but with the tide under us it takes no more than hour and a half to reach the port of Harlingen where we proceeded through two bridges to moor in the town harbour nicely central for the festivities of the coming days.
Finally in Harlingen ready for the arrival of the tall ships the weather could not have been more ideal ,many of the ships were able to sail in with the light wind from behind, my sons ship had come in in the night so I had missed his arrival as he was earlier than expected, he had an amazing experience and made lots of new friends and was already planning his next trip.
As far as the race was concerned it was a bit of a shame that after a delayed start because of high winds they had started with light winds but with the ugly swell from the day before and after 38 hrs the wind was gone and they had to stop the race so they could motor to Harlingen to arrive on the appointed day, the race app I had been following was still giving race positions all the way to Harlingen so it looked like they were winning when in fact the race was long over and they didn’t feature very highly in the positions, I must add that that vessel had previously won the race on two occasions but anyway it was never about the race but about the experience.
We greatly enjoyed the open days visiting the ships and the crews parade through the town, the final evening climaxed with a spectacular firework display, I was delighted to have been able to be there for the event.
It had been an amazing few days and Thomas had shipped back into his cramped quarters in the forepeak so with the still settled weather forecast we sailed wind behind the 25 sea miles to Terschelling and moored in the marina for a few days. It is always delightful being on the island and we rent bicycles and cycle to all the extremity’s, there is also a cycle path along the shore which is sometimes nice to do. The temperature was unusually high in the mid thirty’s and with little wind it was actually rather suffocating hot on the boat and on land there wasn’t much relief.
Well it couldn’t last forever and after a couple of lovely days a storm with following storms was forecast, you have to watch out you don’t get stuck unable to make the mainland for a week or more, and the tides are quite crucial as you don’t want to be fighting both wind and tide back down the buoyed channel to the Mainland.
In the end we had to take a very narrow weather window which I would not normally advise but if we missed it we would certainly have to wait three or four days more. We Headed off in about 6knts of wind behind in the sun around lunchtime to catch the tide up to Harlingen, forecast was supposed to be NE backing E to SE 5 to 6 occasionally 7 later force 8-9 SW, we were hoping to be tucked up in harbour by the time it reached 8-9, but as always it’s about whether you trust the report or not, well and hour into the trip the wind had swung round and was blowing 5-6, I had lowered the main as it was on the nose and I didn’t want to tack in a narrow buoyed channel, then came the rain, good progress was made although it was getting pretty lumpy approaching Harlingen, you can turn right and go down the channel to the lock from Harlingen so because the wind was going to be favourable we carried on and sailed then against the tide but wind behind down to the lock where and unpleasant half hour was spent waiting in driving rain and strong winds waiting for the bridge and lock to let us through, after which we made a quick run into Makkum and tied up with extra lines waiting for the severe storm to hit, luckily the jetty was holding us head to wind, so I just had to make sure there was enough lines to cope with any surges of waves and guard against chaffing .
Well it was a rough night and the following day it was still blowing 7-8 and rain squalls from the direction we needed to go to leave, so we were kind of grounded for a lazy day looking round Makkum.
Next day SW 8 later 7 dropping to 6-7 in the afternoon, not really a weather window but under the 7 and we were off reefed down with the small staysail we motored out of Makkum into a very lumpy sea, for a moment I asked myself if I really want to be doing this ! Lots of water over the deck and off went the boathook for a second I contemplated whether it was worth trying to pick up a € 29 plastic and aluminium boat hook in this sea, no not worth the risk!
As soon as we could bear away slightly the wind was on the nose it became an actually very exhilarating sail, we were at times a little over canvased when the gusts came but I could easily spill wind the haul it in again, I was impressed with how this modest little craft was handling battling into a gale of wind on the nose, my son was out in the cockpit and we both were actually enjoying the exhilaration of pounding over the waves and roaring along at near hull speed, in fact the larger 40 footers were not really making better progress than us . We made Enkhuizen in four and a half hours which was pretty good.
Next day was again strong SW winds forecast and I couldn’t face another day of fighting head winds over a lumpy markermeer down to Amsterdam so we left the boat and went home by road, to return a week later with my son to sail back to Amsterdam, checking in to go through Amsterdam in the night there was around 45 yachts to go through which made it a huge challenge to fit them all into the lock at the other end, they do need to be locked in before the rail bridge can open and the next opening is the next night so and effort was made to squash us all together to get the last two boats clear of the rear gates.
On reflection it was quite an adventure and the conditions were with the hot weather very extreme, the wind was either a lot or nearly nothing it was mainly against us, the experience I wouldn’t have wanted to miss, Harlingen and the Tall ships lovely sunsets etc. was hard to beat. Seems to me there is a lot more extreme weather around these days and we seem to always end up on the boat in it, maybe someday we will get a week or so of normal conditions as most of the time when we’re not sailing the weather seems rather boring and nothing happens?