Enkhuizen (NLD) – Kiel (DEU)
The “compass pole” in Harlingen’s harbour is notorious. According to our neighbours in the marina, sailing yachts that need their compass calibrated should only attempt to moor there at high tide, and even then it’s a challenge to throw a line around it because of its height and size. We go on inspection and see that it’s so big, (even) Floris’s line-throwing skills won’t do the trick. And we’ll be there at 8am – when the tide is at its lowest. How will we manage?
Calibrating the compass began as just one of the many items on the “to-do-list” before our departure. Welding and the new steel cabin structure (part of the Big Renovation) changed the magnetic fields onboard Lucipara2. As a result the compass was some 20 degrees off and needed calibration. Ivar never suspected this would take so much time that it would delay our departure from the Netherlands. Of course he should have known better after years of boat maintenance and renovations – there are no quick fixes. The 50-year old Sestrel compass is one of the few original parts left on the boat, which means that only a few specialists can fix it and spare parts are difficult to come by. “Your compass is mechanically dysfunctional” was compass master Ad’s verdict when he came to the Sixhaven in early June for what we thought would be a few hours of compass calibration. Instead, Ad and the compass left the boat and we were kept wondering where and when we would get it back.
This turns out to be in Harlingen, three weeks later. In the meantime, we had some engine parts in Lemmer replaced. Marijtje with daughter Enna and Menno and Marion, friends who couldn’t be at our Sixhaven farewell party, came to say goodbye to us there. It was a great way to combine the necessary with the pleasant. And our friend Margreet joined us for the daytrip to Harlingen in beautiful weather.
As the world anxiously awaited the outcome of the Brexit referendum, our eyes were on Britain for a very different reason, as a spare part for the compass needed to come from there. While we wait, more family and friends spontaneously visit us. We make new friends, such as the owner of the organic shop Niels and local plastic fisher Henk, who we meet while we clean the area around our boat from plastic waste. We also use the time to do research, make videos and write articles. Our friend Rob, owner of the Zeezeilers from Marken, generously lends us the key to the Zeezeilers home base, so we can do the laundry and use the WiFi.
After six days in Harlingen, Ad the compass master finally comes with the repaired compass. With more than 30 years experience, he knows a trick to get lines around the compass pole. After a few hours of doing his magic, Ad has calibrated our compass and we are finally ready to go!
We leave at the outgoing tide with a gentle westerly breeze. By the time we enter the Stortemelk – the passage between Terschelling and Vlieland – the wind decreases. For many hours our progress is minimal – we hardly get past Vlieland and Terschelling. At the start of Floris’s watch at 01:00 am, the current even pushes us backwards. Only in the morning the wind picks up. It eventually gains in strength and reaches force 5 Beaufort as we get closer to the mouth of the Elbe river. Darkness falls while we navigate through an area where some 20 big cargo ships anchor. Although they are anchored, it still feels uneasy to pass these large hulls so closely, so both of us are on watch. Shortly thereafter the tide turns, which means we are perfectly in time to enter the river Elbe with the incoming tide.
By then it is completely dark. The waves have grown larger in the last couple of hours and are running in from behind us. Huge commercial ships surround us: they are coming towards us, sneak up on us from behind, are left and right of us. There can be no doubt that we are close to the river Elbe. Under these conditions we cannot afford any navigational error and have to stay close to the buoys. We do our best, but the traffic controller still calls us via VHF to urge us to stay even closer. Well, at least he has seen us on this super highway on which cargo and passenger ships make their way to Hamburg.
The sea slowly turns into a river. We race along the Elbe towards Brunsbüttel at close to 10 knots (thanks to the current), until we reach the locks to the Nord-Ostsee canal at 5am on Sunday morning. After a quick lock passage, we tie up for a quick nap. Both of us have been awake for 18 hours now, and we fall asleep before we even know it.
Three hours later the alarm wakes us up on a sunny Sunday morning. This leaves us all day to travel the Nord-Ostsee canal towards Kiel. We set sail – officially not allowed on the canal, but we simply can’t let all that good wind power go to waste 😉 We enjoy the calm of the tree-lined canal, with big container ships passing us only occasionally. Later in the day the wind turns less favorable and we have no other option than to start the engine. It takes us all day to reach the locks towards the Ostsee, where maintenance works for once pay in our favour: as we are not allowed to use the ladders in the lock, we are told that we must not leave the lock to pay the canal fee. Just before darkness we reach Kiel’s yacht club. It turns out to be the last day of the Kieler Woche, so are lucky to find a free spot between the classic yachts.
As we enjoy an arrival drink and leftover chili, the thrill of having reached our first foreign destination fights off the fatigue for another hour. However, when it’s time to do the dishes, the battle is lost and moments later we doze off.
This video sums up our farewell from Amsterdam, final maintenance and trip to Kiel: