Monthly Archives: August 2015

What’s wrong with this picture?

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2015-08-31 · 17:56

Landfall

Harlingen to Woodbridge, 195 NM, almost exactly 48 hours (including a 2.5h stop at Den Oevre for fuel and crew). An excellent run straight downwind in dry and quite sunny weather, except the last 10 hours which were cold and wet. Hebridean with temporary pendulum (with no balance) steered almost all the way in wind forces from 3 to 6, downwind, in waves around 1m (and a few 2m giants) without any problems. More details to follow after rest and sleep. Tammy currently in Tide Mill until plans get clearer.

Total cruise 674 NM, doubling my distance on Tammy Norie!

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Departing the Netherlands

Just a note to say that we’re departing from Den Helder about now and heading south west initially, to use the north easterlies while they last and keep us within ditching distance of the Netherlands coast. The general plan is to head towards the gas platform with racon Q west of IJmuiden then strike out more westwards in the direction of Harwich.

Right now there’s not enough wind. We’ll see what develops.

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The way back

I’ve spent two days in Harlingen making repairs to Tammy Norie, one very wet, one dry and so hot that I couldn’t touch some of my tools. I’ve been waiting for the winds to change, and now it looks like I’ll have north easterlies from Saturday night through Sunday. It’s time to get home.

Tomorrow I’ll sail to Den Helder. In the evening I’ll meet Martin Roberts, who asked to join me on the passage home. I’d planned to do it solo but with the Hebridean not yet reliable I think I’d prefer some back up on the tiller. What’s more I’ve achieved my goal of a 24h solo passage (and then some) on the way here.

If we get away promptly the tide and wind will help carry us south as we head west. I’m looking forward to being out at sea again.

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A temporary pendulum

I’ve recently written about my problems with my Hebridean wind vane self steering gear that I built last month. I can’t link very easily from this mobile app so scroll to find it!

I’m currently in harbour at Harlingen in the Netherlands. There’s a weather window that could get me home tomorrow. So I’m following plan B and building a simple temporary pendulum.

I have some 18mm ply from a friendly local shop and a couple of hardwood blocks for bracing. I plan to have no cut-out for balance, since that didn’t work well on the old pendulum, contributing to the eventual breakdown of the whole system. I can change this if necessary.


I’ll plane some simple bevels into the leading and trailing edges. Something I should be able to get symmetrical even working here on this dock.

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Stormy shallows

Last time I wrote I was about to lock through Den Oevre and in to the Waddenzee. The two days since have been quite eventful, and have given my friend Tahl something to remember.

Once through the lock we turned east and raised three sail panels. The wind was already strong from the southwest and as soon as we were out of shelter we were rocketing along with a force 6 on our stern. We skirted the shallows using the sounder and found our way in to the main channel that runs from Den Helder towards Harlingen, attempting to find a narrow channel I’d been told ran north behind Texel and to western Vlieland.

It was not to be. The waves on the Waddenzee were short and high, and with the wind now a force 7 from the west and a mid tide flood current running east there was no way Tammy could climb up the main channel. We made a few tacks but each time ended up at the same spot near some sort of fish pens. Time for plan B.

Turning downwind we accelerated to the speed of the steep waves. Tammy behaved herself very well, and with good timing and careful swinging of the tiller we were soon surfing and watching the speed climb even higher. Seven knots, then eight. I’d previously only seen 6.5 when running from the remnants of hurricane Bertha last year. And then suddenly we hit 8.8 knots! Our SOG would have been even faster given the flood current.

At this point we were in the Scheurrak channel and able to reach north towards the island of Richel and eastern Vlieland. The wind eased and backed and we made great progress, passing several vessels and some sort of platform of unknown purpose.

A large cat ferry passed us heading south. A few minutes later I received a text message from Antoine Maartens saying he was on the ferry heading home.

We could see the Vlieland harbour and Richel ahead, and in the middle of the water some sort of hut on stilts.

At this point I made a mistake. I told Tahl he could head straight for the harbour, south if Richel, as long as we watched the depth. It was high tide and there ought to be enough water.

I was wrong. The depth dropped very quickly and suddenly we were bumping the bottom. Turning gave no relief and soon we were beam on to the waves. Tahl tried to drop the sail while I started the engine. The yard snagged in the topping lifts and the sail would not come down. The prop then fouled on the Hebridean’s lanyard and stopped the engine. Neither of these was a major problem, but sorting then out cost us ten minutes of tidal height.

I tried punting Tammy’s bow using an oar, which is when I noticed that we only had one oar! I tried throwing the kedge anchor but it was very hard to get a good swing while Tammy was bumping violently on the bottom.

We were stuck. I considered our position. Tammy would soon be high and dry and we were in no serious danger. The problem was that we’d beached on the lee at high tide and been pushed further by the wind. The conditions at the next high tide could be much worse and we might still not be able to get away.

I made a pan-pan radio call. The Dutch coastguard responded well, but it was a local salvage company who came to our aid. They had been on the way from Terschelling to Harlingen and heard our call.

They approached us in the large rib Typhoon but found they couldn’t get close. Tammy’s draft was as little as theirs. One of their crew took the towing line and simply walked to Tammy, the water not even reaching his waist!

This is where local knowledge is key. I would not have dared step off the side in case the bottom was soft mud, as it is on the East Coast. But here it seemed to be hard sand and quite walkable. Later I realised that Tahl and I could probably simply have pushed Tammy round by jumping off, especially since she would rise quite a but without our weight on board.

An exceedingly tall Dutch guy climbed aboard with the towing line, hooked it to our big bow cleat, and Typhoon dragged Tammy to deeper water, no doubt making two nice grooves in the bottom.

The crew offered to tow us to Terschelling and I was happy with that at this stage. We ended the day tied up alongside their tug Orca which was herself alongside the giant tug Hunter.

Here’s a picture from the next morning.

 
The people of the Noordgat towing and salvage company were great: friendly, accommodating, and very reasonable. We had a lot of fun talking to them about their lives and business. 

Looking at their extra detailed charts showed that I’d sailed up the only steep slope in the area. That doesn’t excuse my mistake, only shows that you can’t assume all slopes are shallow just because most seem to be.

The food and beer at the appropriately named Storm restaurant in West Terschelling is excellent. And their kitchen does not close at 21:00 like most!

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Records

Tammy Norie’s log turned over the 1000NM mark a couple of days ago. That’s since I installed it early last year and is roughly how far I’ve taken her.

We’re currently on a broad reach in the Waddenzee in a force 6 and have just reached 8.1 knots. I calibrated the log in a canal using the GPS so I believe it’s accurate. We’re in tune with the waves and they’re helping us along.

Still, perhaps I should forget the Jester and enter the Transat!

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