I obviously wasn’t in the mood this year for expansive blogging on our holiday, so this is a brief (ish) summary of our trip to North Holland.
Having failed to persuade anyone to come with us Elizabeth and I set off on board Millie on Monday morning, 1st July. We had planned to leave Sunday evening, but after a busy weekend and a poor overnight forecast we decided to delay 12 hours. Setting off on the morning tide in light winds and fair weather, we motored most of the way to Ijmuiden, the autopilot doing most of the work. We had been apprehensive about a night crossing with just the two of us, but in the end it was relatively easy – the only challenge being to dodge the ships that seem to come from all directions in the Rijnfeld crossing area off Rotterdam – not to mention the windfarms and gas rigs.
We arrived in Ijmuiden around 6am and took the rest of the day easy, with a little exercise cycling around town followed by a good meal at one of the beach restaurants.
On Wednesday we entered the North Sea Canal and continued into the centre of Amsterdam, mooring up at the excellent Sixhaven marina. This is directly across the canal from the Central Station with the free 24/7 passenger ferries to get across. This was incredibly good value, costing just 26 Euros a night!
After three nights in Amsterdam, we moved on into the Markemeer (effectively the southern section of the Ijsselmeer), next stop Hoorn. then to Enkhuizen, Marken Island and finally a night in Vollendam marina. We particularly enjoyed Enkhuizen, with the Zuider Zee museum which included an outdoor village built of houses and other buildings rescued from around the former inland sea and rebuilt and furnished in a dedicated area.
On the return trip we left Vollendam around 9.30 in the morning intending to spend the night in Ijmuiden before our return crossing. But on reaching the locks at Ijmuiden, and studying the forecast, we decided to carry on straight across the North Sea. We stopped for an hour or so on the waiting pontoon at the lock to tidy up and prepare some food, then set off, literally, into the sunset! There wasn’t a great deal of wind, but unfortunately what there was was mostly due west, so we weren’t able to sail much.
After an hours sleep, I came back on watch at 23.00 and decided to try sailing. It was a beautiful night, light winds, warm, moonlit under full sail. Our heading was ok, but with the north going tide and a bit of leeway we were heading directly towards a very large gas rig, so after an hour or so I had to give in and start the engine again. The final drama of the crossing came as we approached the English coast. We were approached by an officious guard boat from a nearby cable laying vessel and told we had to turn around, they were about to set off an underwater explosion. This meant going the long way around the Bawdsey Bank, but we didn’t want to be blown up! After listening to a dramatic countdown, which occupied VHF Channel 16 for the best part of 2 minutes, we were treated to … nothing. No water spout, not even a ripple. Very disappointing. At 16.00 Friday afternoon we were at anchor off Felixstowe beach, waiting for the tide, and 2 hours later back on our mooring.
Maybe some photos to follow soon!