Our summer vacation is a little different than usual. We are guided by the plans of the daughters and most decisive are the plans of Marinthe who will fly to Bangkok for six months on 5 Aug and will be on board with us for the 3.5 weeks before that. Her own room is sublet, so the boat is her 'home' for those 3.5 weeks. Fortunately, Eline can come along for 10 days during that period and the four of us spend most of them in the Solent, with a night's sailing there and back. We will spend the next 1.5 weeks in Rotterdam and Scheveningen together with Marinthe and also part of it with Sam, so that they will have some time together and we can do the last shopping before Marinthe's departure.
Because of the nice weather, it mostly feels like a vacation for us, but different than usual, with less peace and beautiful nature as we are used to from sailing vacations. Anyway, very nice to spend this time together with our daughters before we won't see them for a few months 😊.
On Friday morning, July 15, we sail with Marinthe from Bruinisse to Breskens where we pick up Eline (who comes by car from Maastricht). There is little wind, but it is against us and also the current is against us on the Westerschelde. We then have the idea to perhaps sail in a few days to Camaret. At 15.30 hours Eline gets on board and from then on we have current along the Belgian coast, but still light wind against. It is immediately cozy with the four of us on board, it was a while ago. We have the idea of sailing through the night, but at 11:30 p.m. near Dunkirk the current is against us and the wind gets a little stronger and is still against us. So we decide to spend the night in Dunkirk. At the same pier as where we sailed in 2017 when we had just had the collision with that weird platform. We were already getting apps from friends ... you guys aren't having bad luck, are you 😎?
Stopping at Dunkirk is a good decision. Do we really want to sail that far now that we only have a short time? No, we don't think that's a good plan and we focus on the Solent, sailing 1 night from here.
That Saturday afternoon until well into the evening, it's great sailing with light wind half to hold and our purple gennaker 😃. Halfway through the shipping lane the wind dropped and we started the engine. This is how we spend the night cruising along the south coast of England, with the girls on watch. In the vicinity of Wight, the current starts to be strong again. We have been so spoiled by the last two summers in Sweden and Denmark where we did not have to think about the tide ☺️. Once we are on the Solent, we hoist the gennaker and sail between many other boats before the wind to a nice anchorage in Totland Bay on the west side of Wight. The weather is lovely and warm, so time for a BBQ overlooking The Needles.
The next day we slide up a bay to Alum Bay, near The Needles. A nice place to take some pictures with the drone. It's a very warm day (in London it gets around 40 degrees, it's never been this hot there). We spend most of our time on the boat swimming and taking a dinghy ride to The Needles. Eline and I take a chance with a walk on the shore and that is quite doable in the breeze.
Early the next morning we were rudely awakened by a 'thump'. Probably the keel has briefly hit a shallow rock. Later, we see a dotted circle on the chart, which means that 'foul ground' has been observed by others. From now on we will pay better attention to those circles. We immediately raise the anchor and sail with a good wind for 2-3 hours to Studland Bay near Poole. Good tip from the Calanche! There we submit our C1331 form and report to customs. It takes a couple of hours with a couple of phone calls before we have 'clearance'. Turns out we shouldn't send that C1331 form to the central mail address (which is in the form) but to the local mail address of Dorset. How would we know? In the evening we have a delicious dinner in 'The Pig', a fantastic restaurant in a top location! A great opportunity to toast to passing Eline's bachelor and Marinthe's second year 🍾🥂😊.
What are we going to do the next day? Move up another bay towards Weymouth? That fits well into the schedule, but we don't want to get up early for currents. Maybe we can do it right along the coast where the current is not so strong? Well, no way ... we quickly turn around and set our course back to Yarmouth on Wight. Then we have the current with us and we can still sail a little. Once in Yarmouth, Eline and I go for a nice walk; Toine and Marinthe stay on the boat and laze about.
On Sam's recommendation, we go to Lymington to visit the New Forest Park. Our neighbors in Yarmouth give us the tip on where to moor, after we have had a nice conversation about exciting adventures across the Atlantic in less than perfect weather. The 'crossing' to Lymington is easy; within the hour we are moored next to another boat. In the afternoon we explore the town, the ladies buy some clothes and we reserve mountain bikes for the next day. During the night, we discover that we are not an excellent anchor; the strong wind at the back of the boat causes an enormous sloshing. Especially in our sleeping cabin, there is an enormous noise of sloshing waves on the stern, with a consequent bad night's rest 😢.
The bike ride is fantastic! We cycle 47 km through the New Forest Park, mostly on quiet roads, gravel roads and a kind of hiking trails up and down. It's great to do with these good bikes in the middle of beautiful nature with many New Forest ponies around us. Suddenly I remember that my pony Patrick used to be a New Forest pony too 😊. We enjoy ourselves to the fullest with two moments of rest to eat something. Only at the end Marinthe falls badly and that hurts a lot. Fortunately, we are almost there by then. We end the day with a delicious BBQ and fries on the boat.
We have to be back in Breskens for Eline on Tuesday 23 August. We could stay two days longer on the Solent but decide to leave Lymington on Saturday morning with a night passage to Nieuwpoort. Now the wind is good so we might be able to sail a large part of the way. That is a good decision. It is a wonderful trip that we can even do entirely sailing. The first part down the Solent with half wind, then along the English south coast until crossing the shipping lane in clover mode with the genoa on the boom. Then the SeaQuest was very stable 👍. The girls are once again able to run their watches perfectly. In my morning watch we cross the shipping lane sailing close to the wind. That goes very well, but when we are ready to cast off after the shipping lane and I want to loosen the genoa, the line almost slips out of my hands and my finger is caught between the winch and the line ... 'Toine, help me' ... immediately Toine and Eline come out, startled. I have some bruised fingers and some minor injuries, but fortunately it's not too bad. It could have ended much worse. The problem was that the line wasn't wrapped around the winch often enough and then there is too much force on it 🥲. From Dover to Nieuwpoort we had the current with us and made good speeds. Just before Nieuwpoort the wind is gone and we start the engine. We are in the harbour just in time for the start of the F1 😎.
We stay in Nieuwpoort for the day as the wind is too strong to go out to sea. Then we can do some shopping (clothes and shoes for the girls) and go to the cinema to see Top Gun II (one more time) 😎. The next day we sailed from Nieuwpoort back to Breskens with the tide. Until Zeebrugge it is just too high to sail and we don't feel like tacking on this sloshing gray North Sea with quite a few waves from yesterday's strong wind, so we do that bit by engine. After Zeebrugge things improve and it is easy to sail to Breskens.
Mooring in the playpen is a disaster. The box is actually too small, but with some creativity we are fine. Marinthe takes the polo to the storage facility in Breda to get the things she wants to take to Bangkok. When she is back we have a very nice 'farewell dinner' in an amazingly good steakhouse in Breskens. It won't be until the end of December in Asia before we see each other again. Eline has made a very nice little photo book with sweet texts for Marinthe as a farewell gift 😊.
Eline disembarks and drives the polo back to Maastricht. We continue with Marinthe to Rotterdam and Scheveningen where Sam will arrive next weekend. We take a shortcut to Rotterdam because the wind is against us and we are looking forward to two quiet anchoring nights on the Volkerak and the Haringvliet before we enter the bustle of the city. That is very relaxing with delicious food from the BBQ, lots of reading and enjoying the Zeeland and South Holland nature. We had dinner on the first day in the Krammer Lock. We had plenty of time for that.
Relaxed, except for a stuck lens at the very top of my eye. Even Toine can't get it out this time 😥. I'll just have to visit an optician in Rotterdam tomorrow.
On Friday we sailed via the Spui and the Oude Maas to the Veerhaven in Rotterdam. We were moored at a nice spot at the back of the harbour. I quickly find an optician because it irritates my eye. The first one tries hard but still can't catch it after 15 minutes. The second is a skilled woman who folds up my eyelid and catches it within a minute 😃.
Marinthe will disembark very early Saturday morning to meet Sam who will arrive by bus in Utrecht. They will stay in Utrecht for the weekend and come back on board with us on Sunday evening. We had thought of making a 'quiet' bike ride along the Rotte to the north. Unfortunately, it won't be that quiet. It turns out to be the Summer Carnival in Rotterdam ... in the morning, it is still doable to get out of the city in between the crowds. The cycling north of Rotterdam is very nice along the water. Unfortunately Toine's foot hurts (tendonitis that suddenly appears, already had it before, so familiar but also vicious pain), so we turn around. Cycling is okay but walking and standing on the foot is very painful. Unfortunately Toine gets a flat tire 3 km from the Veerhaven. What now? Cycling on is impossible, Toine can't walk either. So we decide that Toine will continue on my bike and I will walk on his. So far so good. But I don't walk in such a nice neighborhood with such an expensive bike so I decide to take the streetcar. Then the folding of the bike fails and the chain falls off with all my hands and pants covered in grease. Meanwhile, Toine is trying to get through the crowd of the carnival parade and I find out that the streetcar does not go to the center because of the parade, only to the Oostplein. From there I can take a metro, but then Toine has to come to my final station (Eendrachtshaven) to help put the chain on, otherwise I won't get the bike back on the boat for the last km. So Toine back through the crowd. Nice chaos and we are so happy to be back on the boat after this huge crowd 🥲☺️.
Sunday is a quiet day. A bit of messing around on the boat, having coffee with our neighbors (who turn out to be a nice colleague of mine), and watching F1. Around 22.30 Marinthe and Sam are back. Great fun!
On Monday we continue to Scheveningen. Sam is amazed by the port of Rotterdam. We just fit on a fine spot in the passerby's bowl on the shore, which a little later is completely filled up with boats arriving after us. A pleasant lot, with a nice harbor master, but also early activity every morning of departing boats with the tide with us 😅.
We stay in Scheveningen for three days. For the time being the last days that Marinthe and Sam will see each other. Very nice days but also with the sign of saying goodbye and preparing Marinthe's exchange to Bangkok. The four of us are going out for a nice Japanese dinner 👌. Their last evening, Marinthe and Sam will eat together at a cozy restaurant in the harbor.
Toine is going to work for a day (biking there 😎). Marinthe, Sam and I walk a lot ... a lot. Walking a day in The Hague with the streetcar there and back. And from our place in the harbor everything is far walking 😛.
On Wednesday, we say goodbye to Sam. He is going to his parents in London. Marinthe and Sam will meet again in Asia in early October. We won't see Sam again in Asia until the end of December, at least that's the plan.
On Thursday we go back to Rotterdam. The first bit on the North Sea is great sailing with bft 3 slightly less than high. The part through the port of Rotterdam we motored against the tide, but fortunately the current was not as strong. We sailed past the Eemhaven, where we saw the enormous Bezos yacht, where the masts were just being put up.
And so we are back in practically the same place ... a strange feeling, also because the port is very quiet (probably due to the warm weather). Marinthe is mainly busy sorting everything out and packing her backpack and suitcase. In the evening we have a drink and dinner at Loos ... the last farewell dinner ☺️.
On Friday we mess around until we leave at half past 3 by subway and train to take Marinthe to Schiphol. Fortunately it is not busy and we can even walk with her to check in. Off she goes ... on her way to a new adventure 😃😅.
And then suddenly it was just the two of us again. It was nice and special to spend so much time with especially Marinthe and also Eline and briefly with Sam. But a kind of peace also descends over us after the last intensive week ☺️☺️.
Marinthe arrived well in Bangkok and we sailed quietly back to Bruinisse with an anchor stop overnight on the Volkerak.