It makes life so much easier for sailors having reliable weather forecasts. Fortunately for us the UK certainly gives an accurate forecast for at least 24 hours. Yes we have had a lot of wind and rain in Ramsgate, but now we are leaving Ramsgate for the last few passages back to the Netherlands. Our first destination is Harwich on the north side of the Thames Estuary. Until Roland had read the "book of the words" on the estuary, we were blissfully unaware of the number of sand banks we would have to navigate around to reach our destination.
With the passage plan carefully prepared we depart from Ramsgate in glorious sunshine and 12 knots of breeze. After an hour of sailing the wind drops and we are forced to motor-sail the rest of the way. The current is with us all the way and we arrive at Harwich well before dark, in fact we are a little too early to get over the sill at the lock by Shotley Marina. It is a short wait and in due course we find our berth, go to the local pub in the marina "The Shipwreck" and are treated to typical English fare: ham egg and chips washed down with a pint of bitter.
The following morning our departure time again is governed by the tides and currents 11:00 for a 40 mile run north to Lowestoft. In fact we really want to go to Southwold, but can not profit from the northerly tidal stream AND high water for an entrance to Southwold. Our trip to Lowestoft brings us along many sights from Roland's youth: Orford, Aldeburgh, Minsmere and Dunwich. We arrive in Lowestoft at low water and as we enter the marina at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club we run aground 2 meters from the pontoon. Fortunately a group of Belgian students come to our help and take a line ashore and pull us free. The harbour master laconically said "yes it is a very low tide today and the harbour has silted up at the entrance since it was dredged in April this year".
The dress code at the Royal has been changed since our last visit and we can dine without evening attire! Apparently the minimum requirements are shorts and a polo-shirt.
After a good sleep we leave Lowestoft and head south for 10 miles to Southwold - which was of course our first port of call at the beginning of our adventure. In our opinion Southwold is one of the most charming little harbours on the English coast. Just after 14:00 Max joins us on board as the third person for our return journey to IJmuiden. We enjoy a lovely afternoon and evening together and start the next day with the final preparations for our 105 mile passage across the North Sea.
We slip our lines at 22:30 in the evening and weave our way along the River Blyth and out to sea. The moon is clear and helps us orient ourselves. By the time we are ready to hoist our mainsail the wind picks up ..... as does the sea-state. We sail with a reef in the mainsail making great speed. Whilst Roland is having a sleep below the auto-helm which steers the boat fails and refuses to re-engage.
This is where the passage takes a bad tun for the worse, the wind is up to force 6 to 7 on the Beaufort scale. The sea is getting rough with waves up to 4 meters and we have to steer the boat by hand. Unfortunately the sea conditions are too much for Leontine and in-spite of her Scopoderm sea-sickness plaster - she retires feeling really rotten. Roland, after a second attempt to have a sleep whilst Max steers, is also struck by a spell of sea-sickness but fortunately is not incapacitated.
The rest of the passage to IJmuiden is long and exhausting for all concerned. We arrive in Seaport Marina and are welcomed by friends and family. We are deeply touched!
And so this adventure meets its conclusion as we arrive the next day in the marina at Muiderzand.
What is next? For Roland the question what's next - what a lifestyle, how can we continue? For Leontine all is possible except another crossing of the North Sea.
In total we sailed 2,459.2 nautical miles (4,554 km).
To date we raised EUR 4,000.00 for Childrens Cancer Research KiKa. Unfortunately short of the EUR 5,000 we had hoped for, but still a great help for a fantastic charity. Hint : the link for donations will remain active on our website until further notice.
We are very proud of our achievement and are looking forward to more.