The trials of a wooden mast.

A wooden mast should be a thing of great beauty, mine was a rather matt mars bar brown, in fact you might think it could be mahogany, instead of the lovely spruce or pine.

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With a full overhaul of the rig and sails planned for this winter, I thought I’d better take the bull by the horns and get started stripping my chocolate-brown mast down too bare wood for re-varnishing in its naturel colour, was also a little apprehensive as to what was hidden or disguised by the brown varnish, needn’t have worried it was lovely!



First giving an ample coat of paint stripper to a two mtr section of the mast I enthusiastically scrapped the worst of the varnish of with a sharpened triangular scraper before turning on the sander with 80 grit to remove the last traces of residue, lovely close-grained timber spruce I think although could well be Oregon pine, extremely well-built and high quality  spar, amazingly after more than sixty years the joints are still completely solid and in most case barely visible, no idea what kind of glue they used in the fifties ?


had to remove the fittings .


there is a joint there still strong after 60 years!


Was quite a marathon preparing this mast for re-varnishing but at the end of the second day after  a second sanding with 120 grit and then a further sanding by hand   I was ready to get the first thinned coat of primer onto it.


These are the worst black marks !!


marks under the boom fittings.


It is quite important when working with bare wood to re seal it as soon as pos as it will otherwise absorb a lot of moisture from the air which will need to escape by cracking the new varnish treatment when the weather warms up.


Thats gona look good!

Applying the first sealing coat it turns very orange which will mellow to a lovely golden hues when the light gets to it.

I’m planning on coating it with Altura varnish from Boero, but first three coats of biowood, then poly wood, and then a few coats of Altura gloss varnish.

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Sails and Bilges


Interesting Dutch poster celebrating Dutch Anglo Treaty of 1814, new revised version to follow?

With the uncertainty over our trade relation with the UK I thought it a good time to get a nice set of  sails made in the UK before the terms may be changed, not to mention the low pound. Having been reasonably happy with the old set, as it was very difficult to judge the shape of them from below, did notice I wasn’t  pointing high enough on the wind, and on closer examination from photos I discovered that although my mainsail appeared nice and flat in the lower panels the depth of the round in the top half was huge and the leech hung a long way out of line  when the sail was fully in!!

img-20160727-wa0009The shadow on the sail demonstrates my point

Note the shadow on the sail, it should be a nice shallow aerofoil curve


V 35 with narrow panel sails

After receiving 6 quotes from diverse sail lofts in the UK and NL decided on a well-known sail loft in Poole UK, I have had several sets of sails from them for previous boats, and have always been happy with both the price and the quality and it’s  tax free!

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The build quality and materials of new sails is vastly superior to the older cotton versions, but one of the big differences is in appearance is  the width of the panels being much wider at around 24 inch, however for not much extra you can have your sails built up out of narrow panels and in cream cloth which having studied countless pictures on the internet really does look stunning, although its ‘debatable whether it is actually better or not, to my mind if you spread the form of the rounding over more seams you are decreasing the stress’s in the sail, although the expected stretch is only in the diagonal direction, if you look at the classic racing yachts many have opted for this combination, don’t think I’ll be racing at Cannes though!


Cannes Royal Regatta

Decisions made and ordered one mainsail and two foresails staysail and working jib ( Genoa will have to wait), sails should last me 20+ years, guess the old set was at least 30 yrs old, looking forward to seeing the finished sails and fitting them .


Freshly painted chain box, 37mtr of chain checked and marked every 10mtr with cable ties.


Some extra primer applied to the orignal paint wher the water had collected under the chain box.



fully painted in Grey Danbolin bilge paint

Further despite some quite low temperatures here have been working on the bilges painting, and interior doors have been scraped clean of sixty yrs build-up of old varnish, ready for some fresh stuff.



Tricky painting out the main bilge.


few coats of primer over some concrete in the bottom.


Time consuming stripping these interiors doors!!


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Amateur footage of a Vertue sailing

After a few software and format issues I have finally managed to join a number of average to poor video clips together and make a distinctly homemade and slightly amateur  video complete with the rather typical accompaniment, the type of music that gets into head and won’t leave for a week or so, you’ve been warned! Tis probably my best attempt till now, and yes I did actually trim out all the worst bits, but consider it a learning curve, from here on things may get better, anyway it should hopefully enthuse maybe a few prospective Vertue owners to take the plunge?


I made an extra perspex ring to cover my rust holes.


The extra ring will be painted with deck paint to match the rest.

Further I’m still fixing some very minor issues on the boat such as the  double spreaders which had been collapsing due to some rather dodgy repairs by a previous owner, where they should have been real strong on the mast bracket there were several blocks of wood glued into them and then disguised by painting the whole area white.



The old spreader is left taped together weher it broke!!


Four new spreader’s shaped up and coated with ipregnating epoxy.

Anyway they are kind of important  spreaders they kind of stop the whole rig from collapsing and falling overboard, prefer to have no wood joints in that area so have chosen to rough out some new ones in oak, shaped up with a slight curve on the top so the water runs off them.


The outward end re enforced with fibreglass cloth and epoxy.

The end grain  is always the Achilles heel of these thing and you often get water ingress where the bolt pass through them so as an extra protection have added a layer of fibreglass cloth and epoxy to seal the ends.






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More lingering rust !!


Time to tackle my boom gallows, I had my suspicions that the splits and warped blocks of wood on the bottom posts of the boom gallows were hiding some nasty rust as the slight seeping rust stains had indicated on the stern deck every winter, so it was a little apprehensively that I took a chisel and mallet to split off the base  hardwood pads to expose the real issue.

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Not surprisingly the rust was in quite an advanced stage, no holes though just severe pitting in places luckily have caught it in time, was another very awkward job grinding the rust out of all the surfaces before treating with owatrol oil.


Now busy re making the blocks from two halves this time maintaining the possibility of removing to access the metal underneath.

It’s nice to sort these minor issues as after more than sixty years of corrosion it is certainly overdue, hopefully they’l be then good for the coming sixty years!


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Oh no more rust!!

Now turned cold here in NL and glad to have the boat tidied up and covered for the Winter, time to check off a few jobs that aren’t too urgent but still require tending to.

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There’s a couple of ventilators and a Sampson post that seem to produce a small rust stains on the deck after every season, so guess  I better lift them and seal and re-bed them.


Now that’s not exactly what I expected!!


Does explain the rust stains on deck!!


Shock horror the front bronze ventilator did sit a little high on one side, now I see why there’s a 3mm cake of rust under it, the stainless bollard is not much better, but the aft ventilator mushroom was the worst having removed it a lump of deck fell out revealing a very moth-eaten hole with thick encrusted rust all round it.


That is awful rust!!!



This black rust has to be completely ground out to get to good metal to re prime and paint, I used grinder a dremel and pneumatic de scalar to remove it , horrible job doing the aft deck with your head through the aft locker and the grinder directly above it, makes a huge mess with rust dust getting everywhere!

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Here endeth another sailing season


Down with the mast.

Been a great season, had quite a lot of meaningful trips  and experiences this summer and a great holiday in Zeeland, and It’s rather sad to be taking her all apart and returning to my winter berth, especially as it still so mild and on the water it is now so quiet and the harbour are all empty, maybe next winter I’ll keep going through but for now there are further upgrades and adjustments planned for my Vertue this Winter.One of the big tasks I’ve been putting off is the stripping of the awful mahogany varnish on the spruce mast, was hoping that after I had relinquished the mast of most of its standing rigging I’d be able to potentially lift it off the boat and get it into my garden to strip and re-varnish it, it was without the rigging still a huge weight and on further inspection have concluded that it’s not at all hollow but solid timber so that explained why I can’t lift it!!


30 kilos of rigging!!

Change of plan and I’ve left it in the mast storage at the boatyard where for 30 euro’s I could store and work on it in the dry without breaking my back!! After craning it down we discovered that the starboard lower crosstree had broken on an old repair which was a little surprising,  so I have in mind to replace all four as I don’t like any kind of joints in crosstrees I wouldn’t want that bloody heavy pole falling down !


A mastless Vertue.

This is an interesting boat we saw passing through Zeeland, a centre cockpit Hilyard on a cruise from the UK was built for famous author Arthur Ransome, who sailed her for a few seasons before progressing to his next boat.

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Here is some Zeeland locks, had been warned for busy locks but it was generally quickly passed, could take and hour though if it was really busy, two tips watch the prop wash of the larger ships that have the annoying habit of leaving the engine in gear with the helm over creating a strong side current at one brief moment we were caught and thrust into the wall sideways earlier and harder than planned!! Second tip you have these bubble curtains to keep the salt water from mixing with the fresh water, we inadvertently had to stop over one at one point and got the bubbles up our bottom! What I mean is the engine intake sucked up the air bubbles and created an airlock which made the engine alarm go off that the water was not circulating round the engine, was remedied by opening the water trap to let the air out, just the kind of additional excitement you don’t want in a lock!

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Episode 4 Virtue in Zeeland


Having enjoyed our stay in Veere we set sail once again at 9am to sail back down the Veerse meer and lock out back onto the Oosterschelde and cruise over to Zierikzee. Forecast was for rain and strong South Westerly, strengthening for 6+ later in the afternoon and light rain, at least the direction was favourable! We had till now had predominantly SW winds and as we were travelling roughly SW it was always against us.

We had an invigorating run wind behind and clocked 6 knots at times, moored up with a little difficulty and a lot of reverse to stop the boat before entering the lock, seeing the gusty and apparent strengthening of the wind we all decided to add a reef before sticking our noses out onto the tidal Oosterschelde.


We had the tide against us on the Oosterschelde and the rain made visibility restricted, ideally you would time the tides to take the tide down to Zierikzee but that would have meant waiting at least till 3pm and then the strengthening wind against tide could have turned out rather unpleasant chop, not to mention the lee shore arrival at Zierikzee, anyway was no big deal and the wind turned out to be a lot less strong than the predictions and only strengthened significantly after we had arrived at our destination.



Zeelands bridge is 5km long!

We sailed under the famed Zeeland bridge which at 14mtr was no concern, the tide does fairly rip through between the pillars under it, but once we were through it was easy to drop down to leeward and through a slight chop around the entrance to Zierikzee, there was a rather unfortunate mortorcruiser in the entrance on the starboard side, we did for a moment wonder whether to try and pass him on the starboard but in the end passed him to port, as it turned out he was anchored having had trouble with his engine and had called out the lifeboat to tow him back into port.


We had phoned ahead to reserve a place in the harbour and we had a spot immediately next to the facility’s, with directly behind the high bows of a couple of intimidating millionaires motor yachts, the wind was blowing directly down the harbour but we sat just behind the shower block and were remarkably sheltered.


5 berths en suite, in Zierikzee.

Zierikzee was another unexpected delight, we did the walk round all the monuments of interest, museum , pony and trap ride through the town, went up the Lieve monster tower, ( sweet monster), fantastic view from the top over the Oosterschelde, in the evening we walked back to the mouth of the harbour to watch the sunset. dsc01661


Next day we were planning to move on but the weather was predicted to bring still stronger winds and what was worse was the particularly strong nature of the gusts from time to time, on the same day in Friesland at the Sneek regatta a number of boat broke there masts, that’s pretty extreme, it’s also difficult to rig for because your either under canvassed for the standard strength or struggling with too much sail when the gusts come, I must add that the Vertue is a remarkably well-mannered boat in all conditions and her sail wardrobe has an answer for every wind strength, for example I have a working jib which I use in most conditions up to 25knts, the normal Genoa is best used up to only 15knts, for up to 10knts I have an oversize light weight genoa which works a treat, anywhere approaching 25knts and above the tiny foresail on the fractional forestay is a good combination with or without a reef, for above the 30knts you can first add a second reef, then later drop the main and use the trysail and maybe the storm foresail, I do tend to prefer to anticipate the stronger of the predicted winds and start off with the reef in as its easier to reef before it gets really windy, usually work on the basis that the wind peaks in strength around 3pm and before that is likely to be building up!!

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Historic boatyard.


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Next day Friday, we were rapidly approaching the end of our holiday as I planned to be back at work on the Monday and we still had to get all the way back to the Westeinde, the rest of the group had a few more days so planned to head off to Bruinisse and onto the Grevelingenmeer, for a little island hopping.


So with regret we had to take advantage of a little weather window of two days of yet more strong SW wind before it blew a real hoolie on the Sunday, 9 am we said our goodbyes and took off under a moderate strength wind behind back through under the Zeeland bridge, against the tide again! Still made good progress 3-4 knots and was at the Volkerak lock a couple of hours later, straight through and a swift sail wind behind no tide through to the next lock and after that around 3pm we took a right and back into Willemstad, a good run Zierikzee to Willemstad including two locks in around six hours!


Looking towards Rotterdam on the Nieuwe Maas.


Next morning we left at 9am again in order sail the Hollands Diep before the wind strengthened as the tide runs in one direction only towards the sea, coupled with the SW wind make a surprising lumpiness which builds up over the whole length of the water, hour and half later we turned into the Dordtse kil and took the tide at great speed wind behind up to and through the hourly opening of the large railway bridge, with a rather large ship bearing down on us, not sure exactly how we managed it but the tide was with us all the way to Gouda which we entered the small sailing club berths for the night, had a delightful meal in the historic central square to celebrate such a good run in one day!


Now shall I go through the bridge first or shall I wait for the green monster, na throttle down let’s go for it!


Next day it was as predicted pretty blustery but we had already done the open water stretches the day before so we tagged along on a chain of about 20 boats through the rail bridge at Gouda then later a succession of bridges through Alphen an de Rijn, was nesesarry to use nearly full throttle as the majority of the boats were motoring at just over 5knts at around 3000 revs that is just about ok on my boat but the Marieholm in the rear of the group on his slightly smaller powered engine was having great difficulty keeping up with the group can be a problem as the bridge keepers, can’t wait for you if your too far behind the rest.


Original Eskimo kayak 18th century!! in the museum in Zierikzee.


Early afternoon saw us pulling onto the Westeinde and back into her berth and an  adventure the richer!!

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Veerse Meer with fireworks! Episode 3

Veerse Meer with fireworks! Episode 3


approach to Veere

After a couple of days enjoying Goes we headed back down to the lock and went left and again left again and into the next canal through a different lock into the Veeres Meer, which again has a completely different character to the previous waters, free from tide and fresh water it is a delightful meandering lake with many attractive islands to stop and overnight safely on.

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What must be noted is that the channel is buoyed much as the other waters are there with larger port and starboard markers for ships then further smaller markers for the smaller craft, in other areas these were pretty much to be trusted as within the buoys the depth being sufficient for modest depth vessels up to 1.5mtr, not always the case here as we discovered merrily enjoying the stronger breeze that day till then when we hit a very hard sand bottom where I could swear 3 seconds earlier is was 7.5mtrs deep, and we were not outside the buoys, panick stations 5 ton of Vertue at 12 degrees hard aground is not easily freed!!



I have a quant pole for such times, and usual procedure is to lower sails and motor in reverse while hanging the crew from the boom out at right angles to tilt the boat enough to lift the keel from the sand, with my son already on the boom and I was in the process of joining him when luckily a large motor cruiser graciously offered to throw us a line and pull us off, which thanks to his substantial engine power he tugged us free.

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youve been warned the buoys are not all that accurate on this meer and the sand bottom is so carved out that it varys a great deal in depth and shelves very quickly on some curves next to the islands, shall certainly set the alarm on my depth sounder to around 3mtr as you need a good warning when approaching sudden shallow areas!!, I hasten to  add that Annemarie and Jan also had a similar  problem also within the marked channel.

DSC01894Finaly we entered Kamperland which is opposite the more desirable destination of Veere, which was of course full by late afternoon.

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In Kamperland we found ourselves immediately next to a noisy fairground which we had thought would interest the kids with us, but it fairly well failed to amuse, but what amused me was that at 11.15 pm the opposing shore about 50mtrs away became the launch pad for the firework display, so with the fairground right and the fireworks left  we enjoyed a late night sundowner watching the fireworks!!

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Thats pretty busy.

Entering Veere the next morning on time as the boats exited the harbour we again had our pick of the moorings and lay in two rows of three which later became rows of five! Veere is simply beautiful!! And was probably the prettiest and most memorable harbour encountered, was delightful to dine on the harbour quay overlooking the bustling harbour that filled to such and extent that you coud have crossed to the other side just walking over the decks of the boat all stacked abreast of each other.


Harbour by day


Magical night lights in the harbour of Veere!

The next day we had a friend  visiting with a car so we were taken off on an excursion to see Vlissingen on the other side of the island, which was nice to see as we had no intention of taking the boat further south on this trip, and later we took a bus excursion to Midelburg which is easy to visit with the boat also if on the way to Vlissingen being on the same canal.


Pilot boat at Vlissingen


Looking towards Breskens over the Westerschelde.





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Further adventures in Zeeland Episode 2


Further adventures in Zeeland Episode 2

DSC01448Having arrived at the lovely town of Willemstad on the Hollands diep , we took a left and went through a lock into the Volkerak which is fresh water in lurid green, separated at either end by a lock with bubble barrier, more about that later. DSC01449DSC01456

We tacked to and fro again up this lake in a light SW 3 nice conditions, progress was slow so the engine went on to bring us into the next lock, which duly spugged us out into the Oosterschelde tidal influenced inland sea, tide took us down at great speed under full sail on a reach till we reached the turning for St Annaland which we took between the sandbanks running wind behind and into our second port marina in Zeeland.


Sailing the Volkerak with Thomas on Violin and Suzanne on sandwiches!


Although less impressive than the last, we ate out on Lobster and mussels which were beyond my expectations, very good the Zeeland seafood! , later we enjoyed  ambling round the village and along the coastal path we had a lovely sunset to enjoy.


Suz on the helm!



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The following day greeted us with a rather stronger SW wind and a rather grayer backdrop, after various wildly differing weather prognosis’s from are various apps, we decided to suck and see and headed off down the somewhat sheltered channel back down to join the Oosterschelde to fight the wind albeit with the tide under us in the direction of Goes Sas, as we emerged onto the Oosterschelde the full strength of the wind was apparent at 23kn and gusting to 27kn force  5-6, considering some of the apps had forecasted 11kn to 16kn they had proved to be wildly inaccurate! In fact the coming days proved that the inshore reduction of wind strength was rarely correct as we had most days a similar strength to the coastal forecasts. Anyway we hoisted our smallest foresail on the inner forstay and tacked to and fro again!

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Watched with incredulity as a large 40 something Beneteau kept getting out of control trying to sail with his  full sail up he was alright in the teens but when the big gusts came he kept rounding up in the wind and flapped out of control.


Carl and Miranda on Old Fellow

We tacked to and fro over  the channel till we reached the corner close to the Zeeland bridge where we hoisted the main and took off at great speed then with the tide down to the Goes Sas lock.


Enjoyed the sail on the Oosterschelde, it has the nature of the open sea and needs to be treated so, wind against tide causes significant waves, there is a nice rhythm to the waves which is preferable to what we get in similar wind conditions on the IJsselmeer.


More seafood please!

Locking through the tiny shell encrusted Goes Sas lock we moored immediately next to it in the  club moorings, it was too late to try to reach the popular town of Goes, and it was wet and pretty windy so up went the cockpit cover and off came the oilys, we later all met and ate together in the one restaurant which was formally the horse stable for the pulling horses that pulled the barges up and down the canal to Goes.


Passed Bob and Anita going the other way, shame we missed them the evening before.

Leaving at 9am the next morning we motored the short distance and as the bridge into Goes town basin opened at 10am and a number of boats exited the small compact town harbour basin we slipped effortlessly into  the vacated berths coveinaintly situated next to each other “Klaar is Kees”( Bobs your Uncle).

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An unexpected delight is Goes, quite a large picturesque  town, plenty of shopping facilities for those that must, and otherwise museums and monumental walks round the sights, we stopped an extra night here, was so pleasant.


A delightful town !!


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Sailing Virtue in Zeeland Episode 1


View from Dordtrecht church tower

Have just returned from and invigorating two and a half week cruise around Zeeland in southern Holland. From our berth on the Westeinde there is two possible routes to get to the south of Holland one via Amsterdam which would involve going first North for a number of hours motoring, through Amsterdam in the middle of the night, then left ten miles till Ijmuiden then out to sea and South down the coast and in by the lock at Stellendam, would have preferred this route had it not been for the route through Amsterdam being closed during our departure date, and anyway we would be in Zeeland a day earlier if we just dropped down via Alphen on the Rijn , Gouda and Dordrecht, known as the fixed mast route.


Down hill all the way !

Loaded up with a full tank 35ltr and three reserve cans containing a further 30ltr diesel, being unsure of our requirements, water tank full, beer, wine and spirits and of course my wife and teenage son and an accompanying three + large barrows of luggage, we were more than a little surprised when everything disappeared into the cupboards bilge etc, which looked an impossibility!!, still weren’t down on the water line !



Heading off late in the afternoon we made it down to the Brassemermeer and had a quiet night on the hook before heading off down to Alphen on the Rijn, we couldn’t believe are luck when the long line of bridges all opened on approach as if we were royalty, so far so good, lastly we dropped through the train bridge at Gouda and took a left into the historic town moorings going through a tiny rather picturesque lock before tying up to the quay in an ideal spot for a stroll around the town and supper in a waterside restaurant, at this point Annemarie and Jan in the Beu 4 had caught up with us for the trip South, eventually there would be six boats in all to meet up in Dordrecht.

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Next day after coming out of Gouda we locked through onto our first taste of tidal canal, luckily we took the tide with us down, was worth 1.5kn in speed, later we took a left and had to fight the tide on the huge Nieuwe Maas and a wary eye open for the huge amount of large ships toing and froing!!


Think it’s best if Jan and Annemarie go first here!! we should fit under but you never know!


Noah’s ark, on the Nieuwe Maas.

Under the bridge by Amblasserdam we’re 12mtr and the bridge is at least a half mtr clearance, then arriving at Dordrecht where you enter a small channel between the houses and through a small bridge into a lovely little harbour surrounded by historic building, tranquil and a complete contrast to the large shipping route a few metres away!


Entrance canal in Dordrecht



Dordrecht was delightful stop well worth an extra day so we stayed two nights and that suited us as the other four boats could catch us up, original plan was to meet up at Willemstad .

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Train bridge opens on the hour in the weekend and every 2 hr in the week


View from tower


Next day we all left together went through the gigantic train bridge at the lower end of Dordrecht turned left at the junction with the Dortch kil and with the tide down till it joined the Hollands Diep which is wide and also busy with shipping, tide goes always towards the sea on this stretch so it was with us which was good as the wind was SW and against us force four, desperate to sail after three days motoring we tacked to and fro over the water, with a few shorter tacks when a ship got in the way!, arriving in the charming port of Willemstad , after a good look around we had a party on the marina staging to celebrate our safe arrival and the beginning of the Zeeland tour!


The harbour of Willemstad


Now that is a pretty mill !!


The sunset through the masts at the marina.


Note: Amount of diesel consumed by 20hp 2gm Yanmar about 35 ltr running at varying speeds up to or  around 3000 rpm, speeds up to 5.5knp.

Although we did it in three days, it is easily done in two, tides permitting!

It is a pleasant trip and not particularly arduous weather and tides permitting!

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