Back home!

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.


Wind mills on the German side of the Dollart, which is a big bight that forms part of the border between the Netherlands and Germany.

Fokko und Familie an Bord

My brother and his family welcomed me at my first stop in Germany, in the little harbour Petkum on the river Ems.


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.

SeaBelow im Schlick

SeaBelow in the harbour of Petkum at low tide.

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.

Petkum bei Niedrigwasser

The approach channel to Petkum at low tide

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.

Heyo und Jan in Leer

My father and me in the port of Leer

Ubbo-Emmius-Gymnasium Leer

The Ubbo-Emmius-Gymnasium where my grand father went before WWII and my father after WWII


Old streets of Leer

In the old town of Leer

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.


The barrier of the Ems at Gandersum, seen from inland

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.

ohen T-Shirt

East-Frisia can be like the Carribbean: Sailing without a T-Shirt (here on the river Elbe)


Another parallel between East-Frisia and the Carribbean: The jetskis are a nuisance in both places


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.

Volles Cockpit

After my arrival in Hamburg the boat was soon filled with people

Volles Deck

People where sitting all over the boat

Gespraech an Deck

I do not remember what I was talking about it looking into the faces of the listeners it must have been something very interesting of my trip.


My brother

Mit Josefine auf Arm

My little nice, daughter of my brother and Melanie, his wife

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.

Sunny Netherlands

Karte Niederlande

Map with the course from Bruinisse to Groningen. It is the tiny black line, I hope you can see it.

Saturday, 20. June 2015

After my father had left I also left Bruinisse.

Reading Newspaper

Reading Newspaper while waiting for the lock and bridge at Bruinisse to open

Due to the two locks and their bridges on the way to the Volkerak it took me two hours to cover the first three miles. The Krammersluisen between the Zijpe and the Volkerak were interesting because here for the first time the bridge did not lift up, it was just built high enough for the yachts to pass under. But there was not much distance left between the top of my mast and the bridge. On a big panel they give the distance between the water line and the bridge, before and after the rising or lowering of the water in the lock. In this case it was between 18,40 metres and 18,70 metres, which means I had roughly 4 metres air between the top of my mast and the bridge. But at first sight I had been worried.

The Volkeraksluis from the Volkerak into the Hollandsch Diep were of the same sort but now I had more confidence into the Dutch engineers that they would have taken into account the height of a normal sailing yacht.

And so afterwards I sailed happily along the Hollandsch Diep which is quite wide here with many barges coming and going presumably mainly to and from Rotterdam and Amsterdam. So all the time I had to keep an eye on them and stay out of their way. Most of the time I motored because there was not much wind or if it was from the wrong direction and I did not want to spend too much time on this channel.

Oil rigg supplier

Oil rigg supplier

My plan was to get to Dordrecht. To get into Dordrecht there is once again a lifting bridge to be passed but it only opens at certain times and I missed by only a few minutes the opening at 17:12 and had to wait at a waiting pontoon about half a mile away from the bridge for two hours. Also the opening at 19:12 I almost missed because I had an outdated book about the Staande Mastroute which said 19:15. I had prepared everything to be at the bridge by 19:15 but they started much earlier so I revved up the engine much more than usual to hurry to the bridge. The bridge master grumbled something through the querky loudspeakers in Dutch which I did not understand but it sounded like he was not happy with my delay. I am sorry for that and now I got the latest version of the booklet to avoid further problems like that.

Right after the bridge is the really cosy and truely little yacht harbour of the WSV Martensgat directly next to the church. You enter through a little hand operated turning bridge which the harbour master opens on your request if you call him on VHF.

Turning bridge leading into the little yacht harbour in Dordrecht

Turning bridge leading into the little yacht harbour in Dordrecht

As I passed the bridge he told me which place to take and to moor with the stern to the pontoon. This was not easy because the fairway between the pontoons and the quay is very narrow. But with the help of some other people I managed to back into the slip.
To moor this way round I found a very communicative way and because there was a finger next to the boat I could get easily on and off without climbing over the stern which is full with antennas, the wind self steering system and the lines holding the radar reflector in place.


Truely Dutch: Cosy harbour next to the church and a Grolsch Beer.

Truely Dutch: Cosy harbour next to the church and a Grolsch Beer.










The street next to the yacht harbour in Dordrecht, looking like some decades ago

The street next to the yacht harbour in Dordrecht, looking like some decades ago








I then checked out the city, in the evening I had beer in a little pub where I met two local Dutch men with one of whom I went later to another bar with a little dance floor where we stayed until 3 in the morning.

Sunday, 21. June 2015

Because the weather was rainy I stayed altogether until Wednesday 24. June and during this time walked around the city, had long chats with a young German women who was on her way from Hamburg to Greece with an International Folkeboat. I found her very brave, she had started sailing only two years ago and was already going single handed on such a tour. She had started only 4 weeks earlier with some very windy nights at anchor near Brunsbüttel in the estuary (Mündung) of the Elbe which sounded like pure madness to me knowing the place. She admitted that she did not sleep very much and was only lying in her bunk, waiting for the wind to calm down and was hoping for the best. But acutally not much could happen if you think about it. The anchoring ground is mud which usually makes an excellent holding ground. As long as the chain and rope do not break you are fine. The only exhausting thing are the waves which shake you all the time and make the whole situation feel worse than it actually is.
She wants to continue through the French Canal du Midi to the Mediterranian. In Greece she owns a house she inherited from her father and where she has lived long enough to speak Greek,
As this was the high time of the Greek crisis we had long debates on how to resolve the Greek economic crisis.

Wednesday, 24. June 2015-07-15

The weather on this day was super excellent, with sunshine and light wind. At first a little bit unstable but in the late afternoon and evening it was just the lovliest summer day you can imagine and being on a boat on a Dutch channel was one of the best places to be.

Bootslifte Boot vor Haus Gaense vor Bootswerft Haeuser am Kanal Kuehe vor Anleger




So I made my way again through various bridges and locks to Gouda where I was expecting Eva to come on board. We had met in the Carribbean on Martinique where she had been sailing with Knut and Susanne on their Shogun.
After some forth and back along the channel she climbed on board in the lock leading into the Grachten of Gouda.
We moored along one of the Grachten along a residential street. It looked like parking, right next to us cars were parked along the street.
The next day we spent on sight seeing in Gouda which included shopping of the world famous Gouda cheese and I also sent one as a gift to the 40th birthday of my brother.

Friday, 26. June 2015

Early that day we left Gouda to be at the Gouda railway bridge in time because it opens only twice during the morning and we wanted to get to Amsterdam the same day which required the full day. But we were far too early but this gave us plenty of time to have breakfeast.
Again this day was just superb and so we enjoyed a really perfect and relaxed day, though motoring all the time, on the canals leading to Amsterdam. In the evening we passed through Haarlem but were too late for the last opening of the last bridge on our way to Amsterdam so we stayed in Spaarndam.

The passage through Haarlem

The passage through Haarlem

Saturday, 27. June 2015

So on Saturday we covered the last few miles to Amsterdam and arrived in the Sixhaven directly opposite the central station of Amsterdam in the afternoon and spent two days in Amsterdam. The nice thing about the Sixhaven is, that it is not expensive, just 14,30 Euros for my boat plus showers, it is very quiet because there is the river between the yacht harbour and the busy centre of Amsterdam, but yet very central because there is a free of charge ferry every ten minutes leaving five minutes walk away from the yacht harbour and the ferry lands directly at the station. When you walk through the Central station you find the city centre on the other side.
At first we just randomly walked along the Grachten and bumped into the Spiegelgracht music festival. This was a very joyful incident with a stage swimming on the canal where various musicians where performing some of their pieces. The nearby bridge, the quaysides of the canal where packed with people and the water was full with boats and many of them had fancy buffets and a big crowd on board. This seems to be a major summer event in Amsterdam.

Spiegelgrachtfest SaengerWe spent some time watching and listening before we went on to the Rijksmuseum.
In the Rijksmuseum is a big collection of e.g. Rembrandt and Vermeer on display, among others the world famous “Night watch” (Nachtwache).


Rembrandts Nachtwache I am Amsterdam



The next day we had decided to go to the Anne Frank house. It was said in the tour guide book that in the early mornings the queues are not so long. So we got up early to be there at 8:30, half an hour before the doors open and thought to be among the very first to arrive. How wrong we were! The queue was already fifty or more metres long, twice as long as the evening before when we thought the queue was long.
However, here we were and determined to see the house and the exhibition. Eventually it took two hours (until 10:30) to get in.
As you can imagine an endless queue of people is moving in a constant flow through the house.
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl originally from Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Her family emigrated to the Netherlands 1933 after the Nazis had come to power. Her father was running the Dutch branch of Opekta, which is used to make jam.
When the Wehrmacht raided the Netherlands in 1940 and in 1942 the laws against Jews tightened the family went into hiding in the rear house of the house the company was in. They were supplied with food and other necessary things by their employees who were loyal to them. But in 1944 the Frank family was detected and all but the father died in concentration camps.
After returning to Amsterdam her father found her diary and published it.


Anne-Frank Haus Schlange Anne-Frank Haus



Tuesday, 30. June 2015

This day we left Amsterdam and sailed to Edam which also famous for its cheese. We met a Dutch man who is a retired art teacher now sailing the Ijsselmeer. He once again was an intelligent man to talk to.
During the Wednesday we used the free of charge bikes of the yacht harbour to visit the town centre of Edam which is a small cosy Dutch city but we just missed the cheese market.

Thursday, 2. July 2015

Today we wanted to see the sun rise on the Ijsselmeer, so we got up really early at 4 o`clock. Sunrise was scheduled for 5:25 and we wanted to be out at sea by 5.
And it really worked out, at 5:25 the sun came up over the horizon in a beautiful red ball.


Our destination was Hoorn, only 7 miles away but with the light wind it still took us until 8 in the morning until we had arrived. It was so early, most people were still asleep. When the harbour master came along in his electric! boat he thought we had arrived late the evening before.
But this time we were in time for the cheese market in Hoorn at noon. These cheese markets are a funny thing. They clearly a tourist attraction to market Dutch cheese. On the market square the central part is fenced of with ropes and when the show begins a bunch of men dressed in white cheese makers clothes with straw hats march onto the square to some popular rock music. The men then start to handle big cheese from one carriage to another, walk around with the carriages, weigh the cheese. Then some men in black suits and bowler hats come and they start pretending to bargain about the price. During this process each time one of the two announces his offer he slaps the hand of the other. If one accepts the other ones offer they shake hands.
Afterwards the cheese are loaded onto a horse carriage. The cheese they use are not real cheese, you can easily tell by the way they lift the cheese with ease which normally weigh something of 10 kg.


Pferdefuhrwerk Cheese on display Kaese tragen Kaeseproben Preisverhandlung





Friday, 3. July 2015

Following the recommendation of our Dutch acquaintance in Edam we sailed this day to the little island of Marken. It is again one of the best summer days and the Ijsselmeer is full of boats and a good look out is required, especially in the approach to Marken which leads two miles through a bouyed channel next to which it is not very deep.
The harbour of Marken is very nice despite it is a very touristic place. But the Dutch managed to make it a pleasent place to be.

Saturday, 4. July 2015

From Marken we went back to Amsterdam because Eva had to go back home the following Sunday. Generally speaking it was a nice summer day with a light wind but when we came around the light house of Marken suddenly the wind increased from 3 Bft. to 6 Bft and we had to reef the main into the second reef and also to furl in the Genoa by at least half. Only 20 minutes later the wind had calmed back again to 3 Bft.
The lock in Amsterdam was full up to the last space which was given to us. We just fitted in.

The lock into Amsterdam being full with boats

The lock into Amsterdam being full with boats

The evening we went to a nice restaurant on the top level of a structure that looks like an oil rigg. From the terrace on the top level we had a superb view into the sun set.

Sunset above the cranes of the Port of Amsterdam

Sunset above the cranes of the Port of Amsterdam

Monday, 6. July 2015

This Monday I changed the yacht harbour, I went a few hundred metres further east to the watersports club WVDS Aeolus because this harbour was a little bit cheaper than Sixhaven and I wanted to spend several days more in Amsterdam, although it meant five minutes more walking to the ferry.
During the following week I did some repairs and maintenance on the boat, like fixing the leaking toilet, oiling the wood in the cockpit and I tried to repair the cooker, both burners were not working correctly any more. One ceased to work at all, there was almost no gas coming out any more and the other side kept fauchen from time to time. I called the manufacturer in England who pointed me to the injector and to clean it with a toot brush bristle. So I did and it indeed made the one side working again and most of the time it works now. But the other side I could not get to the injector because the main screw which holds the enamel cover plate in place is not coming loose and I did not want to risk to damage the thread (Gewinde) of the screw. Because it is working sufficiently I left it as it is.
I went to the van Gogh Museum, to the Amsterdam Museum and also again just strolling around the city.

van Gogh Schiff Rotten boat in Amsterdam Gracht

The White Cars, the first electric car sharing project, already in the 1970ies


The electric White Car

After almost all together two weeks in Amsterdam I set sail to Enkhuizen. This was a nice sail, I set once again the wind self steering system and I sailed all the way from the lock in Amsterdam to the lock at Enkhuizen. In the old harbour in Enkhuizen I found a nice place along the harbour wall and I also met again an old Dutch guy I we had met in Edam.

Wednesday, 15.7.2015

This was actually a rainy day but it was promised to improve towards the afternoon. After it had at least stopped to rain at noon, after lunch I left the berth under sail! and sailed in less than three hours to Urk. The weather improved more and more during the afternoon and when I arrived in Urk it was sunshine.

Approach of Urk

Approach of Urk


I moored next to a boat called LuCa which belongen to a man you was also called Jan.
The next day afternoon Thursday, the former owner, Ben Hoekendijk, visited me because he wanted to see his “old love” again and how the boat looks like now. He had been following my journey via my blog and was impressed how I did everything.
The weather on this day was so nice, in the morning I went to the beach a took a swim, like many other people.

On the beach of Urk

On the beach of Urk

But the next day it was very windy and I decided to postpone my departure by one day, so on Saturday I sailed to Makkum. But I used the opportunity I to make an oil change and Jan helped me, in return I lent him my oil pump because he wanted to make an oil change as well. On leaving Urk, I had to tack a few times but for the rest I could sail a steady course up North and arrived in the late afternoon in Makkum. Makkum is a nice little town where many of the traditional Dutch sailing barges (Plattbodenschiffe) call. One can also moor at the canals (Grachten) inside the town but one has to go through a lock and bridge which costs 5Euros. But at the canals you have water, electricity, a garbage skip and you can use the sanitary block of the harbour.

Binnenhafen Makkum

Radfahrerin in Makkum

The Sunday I left again under sail to sail the 2 miles to the lock at Kornwerderzand which leads out of the Ijsselmeer and into the Waddenzee because I wanted to go to Harlingen to enter the inland canal system again. The lock was very full and when all the boats got out of the lock it started to rain which continued the following 1,5 hours until I arrived at Harlingen.
Here went through the lock and to the sailing sports club HWSV Harlingen which is literally right after the lock as you come out of it.
I spent another day in Harlingen eating the Dutch fast food specialty Frikandel speciaal.

Street in Harlingen

Street in Harlingen

Monday, 20.7.2015

From Harlingen I motored to Leeuwarden, it was once again a bright sunny day and I really enjoyed the landscape of flat pastures, old wind mills, little villages and the bridges all along the way.
I was really looking forward to stay in Leeuwarden because from a former visit I knew that you can moor in the city centre along the canal where there is a park next to it, you have electricity there and a little building with toilet and showers.
Because the canal is very shallow at its sides I could not moor directly alongside because about at one meter distance from the quay I got stuck in the mud, the echo sounder showed only 1,5m. That means the keel was already 30cm in the mud. So I tied my lines to the bollards and had to jump the distance to land. Later another German boat came with less draught (Tiefgang) which took the inner berth so I could lay outside where it was deeper.

SeaBelow mit Abstand zum Ufer SeaBelow in Leeuwarden

I climbed the oblique (schief) church tower which was never finished and I went to the Frisian Museum about the region, Fryslan (Frisia).

Stuehle im Fries Museum

Chairs in the Fries Museum

In the evening my friend Wilko arrived and the next day we motored from Leewarden to Zoutkamp, once again through a lovely day and landscape, again many bridges and before arriving at Zoutkamp through the Lauwersmeer. The Lauwersmeer is now shut off by a dam from the North Sea but it is also a nice sailing area with some yacht harbours but even more very idyllic mooring places, often without connection to land, so it is more like anchoring. But you are right the middle of nature.

Holzschuh zum Brueckiengeld bezahlen

The bridge master is collecting the bridge due with a Dutch wooden shoe

Plattodenboot unter Segeln

Flat bottom boat under sails on a Dutch canal



Pferde am Lauwersmeer

Horses at the Lauwersmeer

The next day we got up very early to go catch almost the first opening of the bridge of Zoutkamp in order to arrive in Groningen early afternoon so that we could see some of the city.
It´s a great passage through the city of Groningen along the old ware houses along the Grachten, past the gallery for modern art, the Groninger Museum, until we arrived at the Oosthaven were were had to squeeze into the last free slip between the motor boats.
We walked around the city, had a pizza for dinner and some drinks in a bar before we went to sleep.

Plattbodenschiffe Groningen

Flat bottom ships in Groningen

Hausboot Groningen

House boats in Groningen

Wilko had to go back to Hamburg the next morning and originally I wanted to continue to Emden that day but on departure of Wilko the harbour master told me that one of the bridges between Groningen and Delfzijl had been damaged during the night and that and it was unclear when it would be repaired.
So I decided to stay and used the opportunity to visit the Groninger Museum which I had attempted more than 15 years ago but failed because I was too late.
But this time I spent the whole afternoon in it and it was a really interesting exhibition of the contemporary Chinese artist Song Dong.

Song Dong Polizist

Art by the contemporary Chinese artist Song Dong with a model police man for whom he took himself as template

Besides that they have an exhibition of the Dutch artist Werkman, who was killed by the Nazi is 1945, only a few weeks before the liberation of the Netherlands. And they have a good collection of porcelain which had been imported from China and Japan over the last several hundred years, mainly by the Vereinigte Oostindien Compagnie (VOC).

From England to the Netherlands


Karte Dover Bruinisse

Our itinerary from Dover to Bruinisse in the Netherlands

Sunday, 14. June 2015

The weather forecast for the next days was north-easterly winds which was now good to sail to Calais which is in a south-easterly direction. We had planned to stay one day in Dover and we took the chance to visit Canterbury for one day as Dover is not a very interesting city. Canterbury was just half an hour by bus from Dover. Originally my father and I were planning to visit the world famous cathedral of Canterbury. But when we arrived there we had to notice that they are charging 10 GBP per person to get into the cathedral precinct and the cathedral. We understood that they need a lot of money to maintain such a big historic building but we were not prepared to pay so much for what would have been just another cathedral. We have seen many others before.

Looking around the city for interesting things to see we stumbled upon a (free of charge!) exhibition on the Magna Carta. The exhibition was mostly about the political development towards it and compared former similar agreements. Our main conclusion we drew from the exhibition is well described in this Wikipedia-article: “The Magna Carta was as such not a new thing and by far not guaranteeing personal freedom for the ordinary people but for the noble men. The political myth of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until well into the 19th century. It influenced the early American colonists in the Thirteen Colonies and the formation of the American Constitution in 1787, which became the supreme law of the land in the new republic of the United States.[b] Research by Victorian historians showed that the original 1215 charter had concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the barons, rather than the rights of ordinary people, but the charter remained a powerful, iconic document, even after almost all of its content was repealed from the statute books in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

Monday, 15. June 2015

The next day a strong north – easterly wind was blowing and we set sail to Calais, a distance of 23 nautical miles. The day we went to Canterbury the visibility on the English Channel had been very bad and I would not have left the harbour to mess around with the freight ships on the English Channel. But on our departure we had several miles of visibility and it improved during the day. With something of 5 and at times 6 Beaufort of wind the waves rolled our boat with the sails on broad reach (Raumschotskurs). Many ferries crossed the channel but because we were going the same direction as them they were no problem because they easily could just pass us. More important were the freight ships who´s course line we had to cross. Luckily there were not many, they were all well visible and there was always plenty of room between them to safely and without too close approach we could cross. Only in one case it was at the beginning a little bit questionable whether our course lines would keep us clear of each other but also this case turned out to be no problem.

The approach to Calais is a bit tricky because a sand bank blocks the direct access and an about one mile long passage between the sand bank and the beach has to be used and more worse to be shared with the busy ferry traffic. And on top of all we had to tack (kreuzen) up this channel. Of course during the half hour it took us to tack up this passage several ferries came or left Calais which forced us to tack more often than the wind and water depth would have required. One ferry captain go a bit nervous and  blew his ships horn to chase us more to the side of the fairway.
After we had entered the big harbour basin to my great surprise I saw a sailing yacht coming directly over the sand bank (it was almost high water) into the harbour thereby avoiding all the trouble with the ferries.

Trockengefallene Boote Calais

Dry falling dock outside the tidal door of the harbour of Calais

In fact the first person we literally ran into was a young Englishman having been raised and educated in France living on his boat in the yacht harbour of Calais. I asked him about the possibilities to short cut across the sand bank. He assured me that if I am there around high water it would certainly be no problem. We met with him later the afternoon over a beer in our cockpit and later the evening we went with him to a pub and discussed many aspects of french-english-european life.


Theater Calais

The theatre of Calais

Rathausturm Calais

The main shopping street of Calais with a view onto the townhall bell tower


Tuesday, 16.6.2015

The next day Heyo and me went by bus to the neighbouring city of Gravelines which has still a fully intact defence fortification from the 17th century. It is a nice little town and you can walk all around the city on the defence lines.

Festungsgraben Gravelines

The moat (Festungsgraben) of Gravelines

Bruecke Gravelines

Bridge leading across the moat (Festungsgraben) into Gravelines

Festtungseingang Gravelines

Within the outer defence walls there was another fortification

Marktplatz Gravelines

The market square of Gravelines

Wednesday, 17.6.2015

The next day when leaving Calais for Oostende we took the short cut across the sand bank and it really was no problem. We always had between five and six metres of depth. Thanks to the westerly wind and the sun shining we had a nice and pleasant sail along the French and Belgian coast to Oostende. The navigation was challenging because there were several more sand banks to be navigated around so despite the flat coast consisting only of sand dunes and high rising blocks of flats it was an interesting sea piece.

In Oostende we were warmly welcomed by the harbour master and we spent the evening strolling around the city which unfortunately was not very interesting because sadly enough it had been considerably destroyed in the Second World War.

Thursday, 18.6.2015

From Oostende the next day we sailed to the Dutch city Vlissingen at the estuary of the Schelde. Here we found a space in a little harbour inside the lock at the beginning of the Walcheren canal leading further north into the Netherlands.
Also this town is not very interesting, we only had a drink in one of the bars at the sea front and did not really regret that we were planning to move on the next day.

Friday, 19.6.2015

The next day we entered the canal system and it took us quite a long time to cover the first miles because we often had to wait at bridges to be opened, this involved several mooring manouvres so we got better and better at it.

At the end of the Walcheren Canal we first entered into the Veersemeer, which is shut off from the North Sea by a dam and therefore are now an inland water lake. This makes them a remarkably nice sailing area. It is calm water, no tidal streams, no differences in water level but yet still a big water area with many nice little places to explore. The draught of your boat should not be too much, around a metre would be ideal. SeaBelow with its 1,8m draught was not really suitable for such things but as this was not our intention it did not matter. The main fairways were always more than deep enough.

In der Schleuse vom Walcheren-Kanal

In the lock from the Walcheren Canal into the Veersemeer

Segelboot auf der Schelde



From the Veersemeer we got into the Oosterschelde which is still tidal a water but of which I had not been aware and only found out when we got there and experienced the current. Because the fairway was winding around a big shallow area we had to motor against wind and current for about one hour but afterwards we could continue almost until the next lock.

Auf der Schelde gegen Wind und Strom

On the Oosterschelde against wind and tide

Because the end of the day was already approaching we decided to stop here. The harbour I originally wanted to go to, a Vluchthaven on the Zijpe, turned out to be a strictly only commercial harbour for fishing boats and barges. Luckily around the corner but through another lock and bridge was a proper marina in the little town of Bruinisse. Shortly before sun set we got there and simply moored next to the diesel pontoon as no harbour master was around any more.
In the nearby restaurant in the yacht harbour we had a beer and some bitter ballen (deep fried balls consisting of a mixture of meat and mashed potatoes) and most important and the actual purpose of us paying a visit to this place, we got information from the waitress where the bus to Rotterdam leaves and we got the telephone number of a taxi company and reserved a taxi for the next morning. This was needed because the next day my father had to travel back home.

Saturday, 20. June 2015

The next morning we had breakfast and we called the taxi company again to reassure the appointment. This turned out to have been a very good idea because it almost sounded as if the taxi driver had forgotten the appointment or more likely was about to forget it because it seemed as if he had a more lucrative tour at the same time. Finally the compromise was that he would show up 10 minutes earlier than originally agreed but this forced us to hurry up with the breakfast. So this morning was not as relaxed as we had planned it to be but it anyway was a nice morning, not only because of the sunshine. The taxi arrived on time and Heyo got his train home from Rotterdam.

Back in good old Europe!

New York

After loading SeaBelow onto the freight ship I traveled the next day by plane to New York. That was already a very big change compared to the three months in the Carribbean. But already entering the plane I struggled with this different mode of transport. I had planned to get a pullover and long trousers out of my rucksack before I checked it in but due to a misunderstanding with the woman who did the safety check, it was gone before I could take something out. I had to pay for that mistake later.
The flight was uneventful but I got cold because the air condition kept the cabin temperature at too low temperatures for someone who had been living at minimum temperatures of 25°C.
So in New York the first thing was to get warmer clothes on. And honestly I enjoyed the cold evening breeze in NYC of about 20°C. No sweating when moving in the sun.
I easily found my way to the hostel called „The Local“ in a part of Queens. The area seems to be an industrial area that is now becoming a place for artists, galeries and other creative businesses but is still interspelled with down to earth businesses like car garages or a brick layer school. The buildings are unlike in Manhattan mostly only three stories high, with some newer buildings of several stories, but by now means skyscrapers. Nearby a small but fine grocery store with European like choice but at posh NYC prices.
The hostel had been around for only one year by now so it was all still new and shiny but it also had its price, $50 per night in a 4-bed-dormitory.But it was good fun there, I met nice people from Ireland, USA, Canada and the Netherlands.

Hostel The Local







On my wish list I had the Ground Zero, the Meatpacking District, The High Level Park and Greenwich Village.
Ground Zero did not exist when I was there last time, back then the two World Trade Centre buildings were still standing.

The World Trade Center

The World Trade Center 1990









Manhattan Sky Line 2015 as seen from the Staten Island Ferry









Now there are two big square black marble wholes where water is flowing into a big whole. I asked myself what this is supposed to tell us.


Ground Zero 9/11 Memorial


It looks so depressive and self pitying. It seems as if the Americans had lost there positive look on everything and as they felt as if they were sent to hell by the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.



The look of the fountains created a very cynical picture in my head: The Statue of Liberty being flushed down these wholes symbolising that liberty, freedom of mind and free speech, freedom of press and civil rights were flushed down the drain in the aftermath of 9/11. So many laws to control people and useless attempts to reduce the risk of terrorist acts have been released in the USA and Europe that they seem to bury the Western Freedom so that Al-Kaida can claim a full success in destabilising the Western World and Culture. But this „success“ has been implemented by our governments, not by Al-Kaida. And that is the sad thing about it all, that our governments did not withstand the terrorist pressure that was put on our societies. On 9/11 2977 people died, a very sad event. But at the same time over 11.000 every year gun related homicides are committed, that is almost three times the casualties of 9/11. 11.000 per year sums up to the terryfying number of 151.000 since 9/11/2011 to date (Source: Wikipedia: ) That is 50 times the 9/11 deaths. So why have all these wars been fought, soldiers and civilians killed, cities and cultural sites destroyed in the name of so called home land security when a much bigger death toll is created within the USA itself and could be largely reduced at almost no cost other than voting for a law restricting weapons in private hands?

But apparently even the Republicans in the US are starting to realise that they might have overdone it with their hunt for terrorists. The Republican Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul said this week „Those who say it is the end of the world and that the jihadists will overrun us, just want to scare us and step by step we allowed to loose our freedom“
So hopefully the world gets back to more reason.


A street in the New York Meatpacking District


The Meatpacking District changing from a work shop area to a posh dining and shopping area


A lunch place in the Meatpacking District


























The High Line Park. This is a park on the former elevated railway line going along the west side of Manhattan leading to the Meatpacking district. After it had been abandoned for several years it was turned into a park which is now extremely popular.


The railway tracks are still visible


Young and old are hanging out in / on the High Line Park


The history of the railway line is explained here. If you click on the picture it is enlarged and you can read the text.




































In Greenwich Village in New York









No comment!


We must not forget that New York is also one of the major ports of the United States where the biggest ships come to.

















From New York I flew in an uneventful flight to London in UK and stayed at my step fathers house. As I have been to London many times before I was not so into sight seeing and because he needed some help in his garden we worked a little bit there. But then the cold air from the flight from St. Thomas to New York got back to me and I fell ill with a cold for almost a week resulting in me staying at home most of the time. I only went to the eye department of the St. Thomas Hospital in London to get the retina of my right eye checked by a scan. Luckily it turned out that everything is ok.
And I was early enough fit to celebrate Brigitte´s birthday. She had sailed with me in France last year so I was very happy to meet her again and we had a great evening out first for dinner and then later in a club in Soho.

From Southampton to Dover

Unloading SeaBelow in Southampton

From London I went to Portsmouth to see my old friend Kathleen and her family. The next day I went to Southampton to pick up my boat.
I was quite shocked to see that my boat got a serious damage. On the starboard side below the stern cleat the deck was broken. A 2mm wide and 140 mm long crack had occured and the deck was dented downwards. The lashing (Spanngurt) which was attached to the starboard stern cleat had apparently been tightened too hard. The cleat was bent over and the deck cracked.


Crack in the deck due to an overtightened lashing belt










This picture shows how much the cleat had been bent over.









On the bow the lashing belts were put through the fairlead (Lippklampe) on the bow and also here were tightened far too much so that the the fairlead (Lippklampe) was partly pulled off the deck.


Fairlead partly pulled off the deck









The forward support on the starboard side was in between two bulkheads (Schotten)  dented the side of the boat. The support should and could have been put further forward where a bulkhead is. This would have prevented the denting.


The support that caused the hull to be dented inward.










Unloading of SeaBelow in Southampton


I immediately informed the load master of the ship who took photos and my insurances. As it was not a damage that prevented me from sailing on the Solent I first went to the Town Quay Marina in Southampton for the night.
Here I was very happy to find out that there was a couchsurfing meeting that very evening where I went and had some really nice chats.







Crossing my old course line

The next day I sailed to Portsmouth and moored at the pontoon of the Portsmouth sailing club directly in front of the Ben Ainslie America´s Cup Challenge Training Building.

SeaBelow vor Ben Ainslie Americas Cup Challenge

SeaBelow in front of Ben Ainslie Americas Cup Challenge

Also here I was happy to meet an old crew member again, Drew, who sailed with me from Portsmouth to Ouistreham in France last year in July. This means here I crossed my old course line from last year!
The PSC has a nice bar where I liked to go and on Saturday they had a barbecue in their boom yard.






I saw the boat builder for the repair and he gave me an estimate for the repair.
And yes, that evening was also really great. I had dropped a message in the Facebook group of the local Couchsurfing group whether somebody was up to meet for a drink. And I got a reply from Sam who turned it into a Couchsurfing event. Eventually about 15 people turned up in the pub next to my boat. After some beers in the pub we went to a club in Gunwharf Quays and when the club closed at 1 am I went with two remaining party goers to the casino next door. One of us was in the mood of spending some money so we had some fun with the Roulette and slot machines.

Monday morning after that weekend the surveyor (Gutachter) came to look at the damages and to tell what needs to be done. It turned out that only the crack at the stern at the cleat needed treatment. So after he was done I motored SeaBelow to the Southsea Marina in Portsmouth Eastney where the boat builder has his workshop.

Bucht vor Southsea Marina

Back in tidal waters, the estuary outside the Southsea Marina at low water

Strandhaeuser Eastney

Houses on the beach near Southsea Marina in Portsmouth

On Tuesday they started the work and by Friday it was finished.

Besides supervising the boat builder Sam and Aldara visited me on Monday evening with two GoPro cameras and made an interview with me about my journey.












On Thursday evening my father arrived and we tried out the Indian Restaurant at the marina which had been several times recommended to me. I have to say that it was average, after everybody had been raving about it I had expected more. But we had a great view over the bay and a nice sunny evening.

On Friday my father went to see the HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard and I urged the boat builder to finish the repair because I wanted to get going.

Portsmouth to Brighton

On Saturday at 1 p.m. my father and I set sail to Brighton.


A balloon seller in the Park of the Royal Pavillion in Brighton


Musicians giving a little free concert in the Park of the Royal Pavillion in Brighton

Despite the wind from the back it was a challenging trip because the strong wind against the tide caused a chaotic sea in which the boat was veering from side to side and my father on the helm had a hard time to get accustomed to such circumstances. Late in the evening at 22:30 we arrived at the Brighton Marina entrance. It was low tide and not all buoys in the entrance channel are lit and at one point we got stuck in the mud because at first we did not see where the channel was. But with some trial and error (i.e. getting stuck in the mud) we found the channel. Getting stuck in the mud at low speed is absolutely no problem because the mud is very soft and you just put the engine in reverse to pull yourself out again. Sometimes you do not even realise at first that you are stuck. You just wonder why the boat is not moving any more until you find out that your are stuck.

The next day, Sunday we went to look around Brighton. It was a lovely sunny day and the town was full of young people who had visited the Wildlife music festival
After some fish and chips, a walk through the park of the Royal Pavilion and the little alleys of Brighton we went back to the marina to meet Chris. Also him I had met last year through couchsurfing in Brighton. He lives on his boat in the marina and had just changed from a 22ft boat to a 31ft boat. We had a bottle of white wine in his cockpit, exchanged some seafarers stories and talked a lot about the economic and social circumstances in England and Germany. Really an intellectual conversation totally to my taste!


Brigthon to Eastbourne

The next morning, Monday, we left Brighton at 11 a.m. to sail to Eastbourne.


On the way from Brighton to Eastbourne

The wind was forecasted to be 3-4 Bft from north east and in the evening to increase to 5 –6. Bft. With the distance being only 21 miles we thought we would be easily there before the wind to increase in the evening.
But exactly until Beachy Head, the headland after which we had to turn north east the wind was 4 Bft. But from there it was 6 Bft, much earlier than forecasted. But SeaBelow once again proved brilliantly that she is a sea worthy boat. With no big problem we sailed close reach with her going nicely over the waves. Of course we got several times splashes of water over the deck up to the cockpit but other than that it worked out well. We found the fairway buoy (Ansteuerungstonne) and went into the entrance channel and through the lock into the harbour.

In Eastbourne we were stuck for 5 days because the wind was alway strongly blowing from north-east, exactly the direction to go to Dover. But finally on Saturday 13. June the wind changed to south-west and we got to Dover safely although admittedly at the headland of Dungeness it was quite bumpy.