Early in the morning whilst still in our beds in Harlingen, Roland is not only checking the weather forecast but also checking the availability of berths at Vlieland. At 08:00 the website covering all the Waddeneilanden shows that Vlieland is full, we realise that boats of course will leave Vlieland in the course of the morning leaving space for us. By 09:00 the site shows a limited amount of berths available. Although our original plan is to leave Harlingen around high water with a favourable current, we simultaneously desperately want to get a berth in Vlieland. So against the normal navigational principles we decide to steam out of Harlingen with the current against us.
I must say it does feel frustrating motor sailing along the narrow stretch of water called Pollendam with 7 knots of boat speed whilst the actual speed over ground is 3 knots slower. Fortunately later in the morning the current lessens and we take a more favourable course whereby we can switch off the engine and sail. The beauty of silence only disturbed by the bubbling of water against the hull and the wind blowing passed our ears.
We arrive at Vlieland simultaneously with several other boats and are told to berth amongst the 10 to 11 meter yachts, a bit of a squeeze but we find a nice spot on the leeward side of a dock.
The very same evening we are treated to a movie at the outdoor cinema in the dunes behind the harbour. We wrap up warm and sit down among the fir cones to watch "Two Lovers and a Bear" - a romantic drama. The film itself is certainly 'alternative' but maybe thanks to the bottle of Chardonnay the evening is a unique and successful experience.
Our plan is to spend at least one day unwinding on Vlieland before continuing our onward journey to Ameland and then the German Waddenzee. As all sailors know it would be very foolhardy for a skipper to ignore the longterm weather forecast and live by the daily 24 hour wind predictions.
Well this is exactly our dilemma: YES we have been looking forward to the trip to Helgoland for months, YES we do have a weather window in two days time to get to Ameland, BUT THEN for this coming weekend the weather models show winds gusting up to 48 knots and the following week (our second and final week of this trip) even more wind throughout the week. So if we are to proceed north, besides a very bumpy ride we would not have a safe opportunity to sail back to our home port Makkum to pick up our day to day lives.
Well that’s life on a sailing boat. We accept the forecast for what it is and agree that we will stay on the pretty island of Vlieland certainly until after the weekend storm has passed.
In fact this is not a bad decision what so ever as unknowingly our arrival at Vlieland coincides with the Horizontoer, being a music festival for young and upcoming artists who perform free of charge to gain experience. Leontine carefully draws up a plan of the different venues we are to visit and we settle down to a cultural afternoon enjoying the music in the sunshine. One artist in particular stands out as very talented: Eline Mann. We are so impressed by her afternoon performance that after eating on board the Whiskey Romeo 4 we return to the village and enjoy front row seats at her small intimate performance in the beer garden of the local pub.
The following day we double up all the mooring lines as the wind rises to above 30 knots. With the boat securely moored we set off for an exhilarating cycle ride into town with the wind in our faces. I must say it was close on impossible to keep balance on the bikes with such hard wind. We park our bikes at the entrance to the town and go for a walk behind the dunes well sheltered from the wind. Our walk takes us to the lighthouse which coincidentally is open to the public for the first time in a year since its renovation. The view from the top of the lighthouse is great but the real exhilaration is the hard wind blowing in our faces on the relatively unprotected viewing deck just below the light itself.
By the time we get back to our bikes the wind has picked up even more and we very nearly succeed in riding all the way back to the harbour without using our pedals at all (Roland admits to cycling three revolutions over the whole distance).
Safely back on board we record a top wind speed in the harbour of 50 knots! God we are glad that we stayed safe and sound in the harbour. Helgoland and the German Waddenzee will remain on our todo list for the next season.