Groningen to Hamburg
Finally after one week the damn bridge between Groningen and Delfzijl was repaired. I just got back from a visit to my brother in Emden by train when I learned that the bridge is open again.
So I went straight to Delfjzijl and the next day to the little village Petkum on the banks of the river Ems where my father has a holiday house and where is a little harbour with a still active ferry for cars, biciycles and pedestrians to Ditzum on the other side of the river.
Now back in the tidal waters I could only get into the harbour 3 hours before until 3 hours after high water.
At low tide SeaBelow was sticking high out of the mud with the keel completely sunk into it. I am still always amazed that the water comes and retreats, and each time the sea / landscape looks different.
It is a lovely place, you sit in the middle of a nature reserve with sea birds all around you, picking in the ground for food, screaming seagulls flying over your head and large swarms of geese (Gänse) making a lot of noise when taking off.
The weekend my father and my step mother came on board and following the Eastfrisian tradition we had tea, sitting high and dry on the mud.
The next morning my father and I went up the river Ems to Leer where his father went to school and where after the Second World War he went to the same Ubbo-Emmius-Gymnasium as his father.
This is the part of the Ems which is retained (aufgestaut) when the Meyer-Werft in Papenburg delivers a new cruise ship for which purpose a large barrier was built at Gandersum through which we had to sail.
After one day in Leer I went to Emden where I met Barbara, the press officer of the German blue water sailors Trans Ocean, who is refitting her boat together with her husband in a Do-it-yourself-boat yard, a boat yard where you find all sorts of crazy and less crazy sailors. One was building his boat since 14 years, meanwhile living and working on it but it still lacks the masts. I hope he finalises the project in the foreseeable future.
Here in Emden Eva came on board again and we enjoyed a calm and beautiful sail into the sunset to the Eas – Frisian island Borkum across the Dollart. We walked the beach of Borkum which is really vast at low tide with hectars of fallen dry sand banks where you can walk for miles and beach sailors with kites dash along. We had good intellectual talks about work life balance, differences between Caribbean and European culture and current politics. On Norderney, one of the neighbouring islands and our next stop, her short stay was already over and I went the 60 nm to Cuxhaven single handed. Again there was not much wind but I even hoisted the spinaker but was only hanging down fluffily into the water, half the way I had to motor. The second half up the estuary of the river Elbe I was lucky to catch a fair wind and together with the tide got to Cuxhaven, though late. On the roadstead (Reede) between Jade and Ems I got the view of a majestic tall sailing ship at anchor, one more was sailing up the Weser and a third one, the new Alexander von Humboldt, was moored at the quay in Cuxhaven. They all went to the sail Bremerhaven that took place on the weekend 14/16. August.
Here my sailor friend Christoph visited me on board and showed me his newly refitted boat which now looks like new from the boat yard.
I was also greeted by my club mate Elmar on his J80 with his sailing companion Karl-Heinz. They accompanied me from Cuxhaven to Glückstadt. Well, actually I left earlier than them because they have a real racing boat which despite it is shorter than my boat she sails much faster. At the port entrance of Glückstadt we met again.
Then the leg before the last leg came, from Glückstadt to Finkenwerder, which is already a part of Hamburg.
There my father awaited me with my nephews Bent and Niklaas and the next morning before leaving for the last miles to Hamburg we all went for a swim in the river Elbe. The boys tried out their skills in rowing the rubber dinghy and had great fun in swimming with their life jackets.
Unfortunately there was literally no wind when we went to Hamburg, so we had to motor. But the two boys cheerfully screamed standing on the bow which bounced up and down in the harbour wash caused by the numerous ships, tug boats, ferries, barges etc.
And then as we got closer to the new philharmonic orchestra we saw the City Sporthafen where my sister and a club mate greeted us and the harbour master guided us to the last free berth.
Soon after we had fixed the lines to the pontoon many friends and family arrived until the cockpit and deck were packed with people, so soon the 8 litres of rum punch where emptied but thanks to the good preparation by my brother we still had beer, sparkling wine and wine brought along by the guests so that we partied on until sun set.
I was very happy to be welcomed and greeted by so many friends and family and want to thank them all for having been there. I am happy to be back home, even if it means that this journey has come to an end. But my journey of life goes on and as for now I can say it looks as if I will sail on a different course then I did before the sailing trip.
We will see what the future brings.
From now on I will switch back to write in German.