Our ocean

Monday, May 30th, 2016.

Sailing is often seen as something luxurious. The sea is seen as recreation. Both is connected to holidays and good times. Today, when biking from the “Seaport Marina” located in the very last corner of the port of IJmuiden into the city, in search for some parts, i realized this “misconception”. And it’s not really our fault. As a society we completely black out, systematically neglect the two aspects that dominate our use of the oceans. It’s industry and cargo transport.

90% of everything we consume is transported by cargo ships. And every year the 16 largest cargo ships produce as much sulfur pollution as all cars on the world combined. Yes, ships are the most economic (and “environmentally friendly“) way of transporting goods. But it’s the masses of goods that we ship which cause a problem. And i am not talking about over-fishing yet…

Pleasure and industry - a dune appart
Pleasure and industry – a dune appart

Of course we do not make holidays in industrial ports but prefer nice sandy beaches and thus do not (want to) see the dark side of the sea. But the industry is still there. Sometimes out of sight literally only by one sand dune, as here in IJmuiden.

Behind the dunes at IJmuiden beach
Behind the dunes at IJmuiden beach

I think we should be a bit more aware of our exploitation and pollution of the oceans (and the world). For me it was hard to avoid seeing it, when i’m passing 3km of industrial port before reaching the city. And also there is always “big traffic” on the sea here in the north of Europe.

Anyhow, tonite i woke up all sweaty. And i mean literally soaked. I don’t remember a nightmare being the cause of it. But i assume that my planning of the next legs of my journey were the cause for it. Cause from here it is either England (100nmi directly westward) or south along the coast towards Belgium. The latter means only few harbors (roughly every 30-40nmi) and crossing the entrance to Rotterdam – speaking of industry at sea.

Not so charming weather forced me to wait a day
Not so charming weather forced me to wait a day

Due to today’s weatherforecast being wind force 6-7 from N and fog, i did not move out. The next harbor (Scheveninge, basically a part of Den Hague) is “dangerous to enter in winds of force 6 or higher from N” and crossing the entrance to Rotterdam can be “extremely hazardous in fog or at night with bad visibility”. So “all” i did is go shopping (groceries, pillows and a broom-stick which will put my AIS-antenna over 1m higher ;), work on the boat and do a bit of office work. And i was invited by Manon, who i met a few weeks ago in Amsterdam for dinner, which was really nice 🙂 ).

But tomorrow it’s off to the south.

IJmuiden port control in the fog
IJmuiden port control in the fog

And some pictures of my days at Texel… 😉

Oudeschild gravel bike track with green grass and white sheep
Oudeschild gravel bike track with green grass and white sheep
(Not only) German’s paradise
(Not only) German’s paradise
Texel’s fishing fleet seen through sunglasses
Texel’s fishing fleet seen through sunglasses

(Cover image: the industry and port of IJmuiden during my approach)

Escorting Nordlys

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016.

Today was full with experiences…
The day started with getting up early to be ready for Nordlys’ departure/escort from Den Helder. The tug boat was scheduled for 9:00, so by then mala moja and i had to be good to go. And we were. Only the tug boat took a bit longer to come.

Captain Gerhard just before Nordlys’ departure
Captain Gerhard just before Nordlys’ departure

We finally started our trip through the harbor. With a lot of wind it was not easy to tug out Nordlys, but it was uplifting to escort her through the lock and bridges on her way to the sea. Four people from Fair Transport joined mala moja for this.
Waiting in front of the lock we tied up for a cup of coffee with the Nordlys’ crew. Was a really nice experience and farewell 🙂

A cup of coffee before the lock
A cup of coffee before the lock

Exiting harbor the force 6 wind hit us right on the nose. By the time Nordlys had her sails up half the crew was salted. And so were we on mala moja. To make the experience complete a submarine of the dutch navy also left port with us. Made for a good scenery – i’m looking forward to the video of it (it will be posted by FairTransport – you can follow them on facebook 😉 )

After i dropped off the Fair Transport crew i was heading for Texel. But before i could leave i was visited by the police who inspected Rêverie and registered us. They said that future inspections would see this entry and be quicker.

Dutch navy boat passing by
Dutch navy boat passing by

The trip to Texel, where i had an appointment with the sailmakers, took longer than expected, as the current was stonger (unfavourable 2-3kn) than anticipated. On the way it seemed that there was a maneuver of the Navy in which i found myself. After the sub from the morning several navy boats passed me by and helicopters were circling over the area.

Fairly tired i arrived in Texel and had a challenge to park, as the wind was blowing unsteadily. With the sailmakers i arranged the works for the 3rd reef and i’ll bring in my main tomorrow morning. After that i tidied up the boat and tried out the “cockpit tent” from which i had learned just minutes before from Niek, the previous owner. It makes quite a cool cockpit-cover! With the downside of not being able to stand in the cockpit any more 😀
And i realized that it would have had been better to park in the other direction – this way the cockpit would have been a bit better protected from the wind. But i guess that’s all lessons to be learned.

Testing the (just discovered) cockpit tent
Testing the (just discovered) cockpit tent

After supper on my boat, second supper with Saskia and lot of snacks (i seem to be very hungry the last days) i had a skype-meeting with my colleague with whom i was working on a (really cool ;)) data-story for the ORF on the refugee migration patterns (note: as the story will be online only a week or two, i will not link to it).
Good night for now. Quite some work to be done tomorrow. The journey is waiting, tasks need to be done!

(Cover image: Nordlys with set sails on its way to Oostende)

Salt water

Monday, May 23rd, 2016.

Den Helder. The place where it started. Sort of.
Where, last year, i took off from to go on my first big sailing journey. Where i met Andreas who’s input gave the final touch to my idea of going sailing. Of buying mala moja in the Netherlands.

On Saturday i passed the last lock to the salty water. From there my first trip took me to the beautiful island of Texel. With a force 6 wind i sailed through the channels of the Wadden Sea and had also a favourable current. With speeds in excess of 10 knots i surfed down the waves to the fishing port of Oudeshild. It was great to be in salty waters. Mala moja loved it. The waves, albeit significantely higher than on the lakes, were coming in greater intervals.

The fishing fleet of Texel when entering the port of Oudeschild
The fishing fleet of Texel when entering the port of Oudeschild

The last days on the lakes i spent in Enkhuizen, which is one marvel of a city. I thought that Hoorn is beautiful, but Enkhuizen beats it with ease. It was one of the major ports used by the East India Company and apparently got wealthy through that. Enkhuizen was basically just around the corner from Broekerhaven. Or once through the lock, to be precise. So i had a hole afternoon to spend there and also used some of the next day to bike trough the city.

View from mala moja lying in one of the three old harbors in Enkhuizen
View from mala moja lying in one of the three old harbors in Enkhuizen
One of hundreds of impressions of Enkhuizen
One of hundreds of impressions of Enkhuizen

From there i crossed the IJsselmeer in just one day. It was a gray and rainy day with fairly strong wind, so it took me long until i decided to leave (until the rain seemd to level off). The wind was coming from N (where i had to go) so it was (very) close hauled sailing with a tack or two to avoid coming too close to “no-go areas”. The night i spent in front of the lock of Den Oever. The following day was already Saturday when i travelled on to salty water and Rêverie was jumping from pleasure…

Oudeschild’s harbor
Oudeschild’s harbor
Two ferries between Den Helder and Texel crossing in the fog - and a sailing boat
Two ferries between Den Helder and Texel crossing in the fog – and a sailing boat

Sunday Saskia joined me on the trip from Texel to Den Helder, where i was to escort the Nordlys to the sea on her “second maiden voyage” (she was rammed on her original one and had to undergo months of repair). The trip was really good with fair wind, calm sea and the current carrying us rapidly. The slight fog made for a great atmosphere (also see cover picture). Unfortunatelly Nordlys could not depart on Monday. They will leave port for their westward journey tomorrow 9:00 instead, and so i am still here in Den Helder.

Entering the lock to the port of Den Helder
Entering the lock to the port of Den Helder

I was using today for office work that needed be done and also tried to get the boat more orderly. I arranged an appointment with a sailmaker on Texel who i want to add a third reef in my main sail (Explanation: the main sail right now has two reefs, which means i can make it 2 steps smaller than fully opened, this is used in case that there is a lot of wind). And i went shopping and treated myself with some calory rich dinner. Which was the best that i could do on this rainy, windy and cold day.
Except from that it was also a good day because Austria avoided, by a narrow margin of a few thousand voices, to have a right-wing extremist as president. Also it is the second day off power for me and tomorrow will be the third – which is a good test as i get to see how long my batteries last. By calculation i should be able to go for 3-4 days without falling below the 50% treshold under which lead batteries start to take damage. But we will see tomorrow. And at night i hope to be lying at Texel due to my appointment with the sailmakers.

Nordlys’ crew on its deck
Nordlys’ crew on its deck

So tomorrow i will be the escort of Nordlys. We will do some filming for Fair Transport and have some volunteers on board who worked hard to get Nordlys seaworthy again during the past months.
Just before starting to write this blog Gerhard, the captain of Nordlys on this voyage (the guy with the great beard on the left in the picture above), came by and presented me with a good cup of outstanding Tres Hombres rum. Writing is even more fun now 😉

Drilling plattform on repair behind Nordlys’ sails
Drilling plattform on repair behind Nordlys’ sails

(Cover image: a sailing ship in the fog between Texel and Den Helder)

Untie the lines

Thursday, May 19th, 2016.

I’m gone.
Yesterday i untied the lines (using the name of Nike’s video-blog as a title for this entry) in Muiderzand for the last time. And started heading north.

But before that i had to go south. From Marken, where i spent Friday and Saturday. Saturday i had a cup of wine with the family (Birgit, Eric, their daughter Nienke, her friend Linde and their dog Pepe) that went alongside me on their catamaran. Which was a really cool boat. Just the sailing basics. No fancy knickknack.
They invited me over into their “tent” which creates a half-open salon on the bridge between the two hulls of the boat. Later we transferred into mala moja where we shared our dinners. And another cup of wine. We talked about sailing locations (Brittany, Kornati, …). After a longer time of solitude i very much enjoyed their company. And for mala moja it was the first time that neighbor sailors came as guests 🙂

Birgit and Eric moving their catamaran to the pier
Birgit and Eric moving their catamaran to the pier

On Sunday i left for Amsterdam where i stayed in Sixhaven again. The sail was fine as the wind had leveled off a bit. Sixhave, as alwas, was great. This place is simply cool. In the middle of the city, but still so unpretentious.
With Monday being a holiday (Whitsun), Sunday was a going out evening. And a quite cool one too. Got to know a few new places and people and had a great night on the town.

Entrance to Sixhaven
Entrance to Sixhaven

Monday was an official holiday, but for me it was a busy working day. I had to prepare a video conference and thus spent the whole day and night in front of the computer. After the video conference i took off to Muiderzand where my last delivery has had arrived. So when i came in the evening (i was sailing butterfly a long stretch there – and was quite euphoric about it) i picked up my dinghy, the outboarder, binoculars an anchor-rope and two (smaller) austrian flags. With this i was ready to go.

Somebody is crazy over butterlfy sailing ;)
Somebody is crazy over butterfly sailing 😉

Nevertheless it took me a long time to depart yesterday. Buying another fender and two hailyards – one for my boom (which i could use as a main-hailyard backup if that one breaks) and the other as backup for the Genoa (the name of the front sail if it is an “overlapping” one). And of course i tried to get the stuff for the outboarder (motor oil, gear oil and a backup-spark-plug). The last two i did not get, so i also did not inflate the dinghy.
And then it was time to say goodbye to Mariëlle and Stephan from Yachtingcompany. One more big THANK YOU! for the many things that you helped me with!

And so here i am now. Lying in the very original harbor Broekerhaven to which i arrived yesterday night. The sail up was first just under engine, as it was totally becalmed. Later the wind picked up a bit and came from a perfect angle. Close hauled mala moja made good 5-6 knots in an apparent wind of only 10kn. I don’t know what the true wind was, but as the apparent came from just a bit over 40° starboard, i would estimate that it was below 10 knots.
I was pretty much the only sailing boat around and besides crossing the traffic lane there was no traffic at all. So finally i could relax and let be sailed. A timer for a 10minute check and a book. Perfect.
But of course. Perfect is never for long 🙂
I discovered that the port i was heading (Wijdenes) to was too shallow. So i had to go further north (as south was not an option for me) and the slight rain that had started turned into a downpour. Faced with the decission, i chose not to go through the lock of Enkhuizen but to stay south of it. Which made it Broekerhaven.

Traffic in Amsterdam during working days
Me in Amsterdam’s working day traffic

(Cover image: fishermen in the morning mist in front of Broekerhaven)

Gale warning

Saturday, May 14th, 2016.

Having a cup of morning tea in the harbour of Marken. I came here yesterday, and a ride it was. Before leaving Muiderzand i checked the weather and the most extreme forecast i found were gusts of up to 27kn. Gusts and significant wave hight are always specified as the average of the highest third. This means that the highest waves/strongest gusts can easily exceed the specified numbers. Knowing this i was not totally sure whether to leave or not.
On the sea i would have stayed in the harbor, but here on the Markenmeer i was considering it as a strong but not dangerously strong wind which would be good practice for me. So i left for Marken which lies some 15nm (if travelled on shortest path) to the north of Muiderzand.
With it being really warm (20C) i left in shorts and shirt, with a fleece prepared to put on in the wind. But just after leaving the marina i realized that i would need my rain jacket, as there was spray coming over pretty frequently. Later on the wind picked up a bit and i had to sail close-hauled. So the waves came splashing on board at frequent intevalls. Which made me remeber that my rain jacket was not really waterproof any more. So i had a wet rain jacket and as the water was draining down my body i was also sitting in it. Thus another change of cloths. This time into my foul weather jacket. I figured not to put the pants because i’d be there in 1-2 hours anyhow. And it payed off to put on that jacket. There was quite some water that came splashing over me…
Just a bit later the dutch coastguard issued a gale warning. Not that it changed anything for me, it did make me a bit nervous. And i decided i would not tack another time, but use the engine for the last two miles until the channel into harbor. But, motoring this last piece in a very steep angle against wind and waves was unpleasant, especially as the engine was making only limited progress – at high revolutions.
Parking the boat with a wind of 20+kn and gusts way above (the highest reading that i got on my wind instrument were 32kn – apparent wind) proved difficult. The harbor at Marken is fairly small and the smaller berths were quite tiny. After trying to enter one for 3 times, another sailer told me to go and lie at the pier instead. He then also helped me turn the boat into the wind, so that i have some protection behind my spray hood and can sit outside as well 😉

View of the harbor from the "Land en Zeezicht"
View of the harbor from the “Land en Zeezicht”

After fixing the boat i went to one of the two bars in Marken (the one recomended by that sailor) and had a great fish and some wine.
On my way back to the boat i saw a rescue boat drifting in the harbor. And when i reached my boat it went out, to aid a second rescue boat that was towing a yacht. They came into harbor and i helped them tie the yacht up. It’s engine broke down they told me. Which has been (after my experience the other time) just what i was afraid of the whole trip.

So, now i’m sitting here, the wind is making my boat dance alongside of the pier and i’m not sure if i should leave today into this weather or stay another night in Marken.
The weather forecast for today is better than for yesterday (wind 18kn, gusts 22kn) and the wind would also be coming from the back, which makes for much more pleasant sailing, but i’m right now still tired and not in the mood to be in the cold again.
Maybe that will change after breakfast.

(Cover image: boat following me in increasing wind on the way to Marken)

UPDATE: Took it as a sign of kismet to stay another night when a family pulled up with their catamaran alongside and tied themselves to mala moja.


Tuesday, May 10th, 2016.

Some days are better. Some are less.
Today was leaning towards less.
As i received my absentee ballot and subsequently had to find a post office to cast my vote. The next office is some 8km from the marina, so i used it to make a short field trip with my bike (and also buy some groceries). On the way back i was fairly irritated by the back wheel of my bike. So i decided to stop by a bike shop along the road to get it fixed.
It took the expert 2 seconds to see that it was not worth fixing. And i saw it 10 seconds later. Basically half of the spokes were broken. To replace the wheel would be at least some 70€. And then the rest of the bike would still be in the shape that it was (i.e. bad). So i will buy a new folding bike…

At home, i went to hook up the wind instrument. For this i needed to connect the wind vane (sensor) with the instrument. And, to be able to compute the “true wind” i also need to connect the (old) speed instrument to the wind instrument.
Short explanation: when sailing/moving the wind that you feel (called “apparent wind”) is a combination of the wind blowing (“true wind”) and the wind created by driving. While sailing only the “apparent wind” matters to you, as you have to set your sails into the wind that you feel and experience. But when you want to change the course it is quite nice to know where the real wind is blowing from. Also it is great to know how strong the real wind is, so that you can reduce the amount of sails and not be surprised by it’s strength. To compute the “true wind” the instruments needs the information about the “apparent wind” and the information how fast you are driving (and in what direction – usually it is assumed “straight forward”, which is not 100% precise, but close enough).

Well, so i went to connect everything and then powered it on. The wind instrument started beautifully moving. But only showing the apparent wind. As i have a really old speed instrument i need to use a converter to translate the old signal for the new instrument. And apparently there is no signal coming to the converter.
In addition i also only have screwdriver’s with a diameter of 8.5mm. And the cable for the wind instrument has a diameter of 11mm. So i could not drill from the deck into the cabin. Even worse: my drilling machin only fits drills with a diameter of up to 10mm.

So without having accomplished much, and also with my bike “gone” i went to bed. The state of my ship made matters worse. After having finally got order into it and woken up to a tidied boat, i went to bed in total chaos again. And chaos for unseccessful work it was.
Let’s hope tomorrow turns out better.

(Cover image: chaos on board after an -unsuccessful- repair attempt)

Update (11.05.2016):
Oh yes, and i manged to buy a homoepathic salve. What a shame. I think i do have an allergic reaction…

Growing wings

Monday, May 9th, 2016.

The last week with a home port has begun. My berth here in Almere/Muiderzand is paid till the end of the week, so i have a countdown running. If my last shipment of equipment (dinghy and some other stuff) and my absentee ballot arrive until then. Which i hope.

The weekend i’ve spent for another trip to Amsterdam. This time into the heart of the city – including passing a draw bridge and a lock. It was really great to drive with mala moja through Amsterdam. And the marina Sixhaven, located in the very heart of the city, is a marvel. I so fell in love with it.
Nevertheless, on the way out i had trouble pulling out with the wind and slightly touched another boat. Seems that pulling out is harder (at least for me) than driving into a berth.

In a lock towards Amsterdam
In a lock towards Amsterdam

It does scare me a bit, but the boat is almost ready. Today i bought the cables to set up a (very) rudimentary NMEA 2000 bus system so i will try hooking up the new wind instrument with the old depth & log tomorrow. The sat-phone went active today too and i brought some order into the boat. Not that it’s perfect, but i can store the most things away safely now.

Of course there is a bunch of “small stuff” that still needs to be done. But for that i do not need to stay at this place (service the remaining two winches, measure and mark the anchor chain, check the furler of the fore sail, fit the water-absorbing mat under the bed, …).

(Cover image: Boats passing when leaving from Amsterdam for Muiderzand)

A glimpse of spring

Friday, May 6th, 2016.

Today in the morning i was lying in the marina Ijburg (eastern part of Amsterdam) where i sailed to yesterday to visit a friend of mine, who happens to be visiting her sister in Amsterdam. Was a great sail on a great spring day.
Finally warm weather!
And sleeping with an open hatch!
Though i know that the cold will be back. But it was great to experience a first topless brunch on deck today.

Lying in marina Ijburg
Lying in marina Ijburg

A few days ago i did a first night-sail. Actually i started shortly before sunset to experience that on the water too. It was really great to have this calm sail in the night with the star sprangled sky above and waves lightly clapping against mala moja.

And just now i registered and requested activation of all my electronic safety-/backup-systems (EPIRB, PLB and SatPhone). And i have to say that mounting the PLB to the life jacked made a very uncomfortable feeling crawl into my guts. I really, really hope that i will never ever need this stuff. Ever.

(Cover image: Sunset on the first night sail with mala moja)