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Across the Channel! Portsmouth to North Holland, Summer 2019

It was a real pleasure to act as a pilot for Emmelène from Portsmouth to Lauwersoog in the north east Netherlands this summer. Chris was very accommodating and understanding of my disability — you’ll see plenty of references to me sleeping.

Emmelène performed admirably and her split junk rig sail was a joy to handle in the conditions.

Here’s his account.

Emmelène Voyages

262. Across the Channel! - summer 2019 title shot

Summary: In 2019, Emmelène had an excellent summer cruise from Portsmouth to Northern Holland, sailing approximately 400 nautical miles, or 735 km, in thirteen days, including two days of stops.  The boat sailed perfectly throughout, helmed, for much of the time, by “Edna,” the Hebridean windvane.

263. Across the Channel!  Title shot 2

“Sailing yacht Emmelène, you may leave from the east harbour entrance,” crackled the voice from Dover port control.  The little Honda outboard pushed us past the car ferries that were manoeuvring into their berths.  Emmelène nosed through the harbour mouth, which looks quite different from the cockpit of a 20’ Coromandel than it does from the towering deck of a ferry; and we were gone.  Above us, the white cliffs of Dover; in our wake, the line of ships stretched south, across the English Channel.  We had already been cruising for several days, but it felt as if the voyage was beginning for real.

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Emmelène’s first voyage

Chris Boxer has written an account of our tandem sail to Poole and back, where we met Amiina and many others. I’m very pleased to have helped him gain experience and confidence. The more junk sailors the better!

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Tammy Norie and Stern

I met Marco and Jan aboard Marco’s Wharram catamaran Stern when I was windbound in Rye at the start of my Netherlands cruise. They were waiting for the same wind change as me, and we had several long chats and meals together.

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Macro had bought Stern in Scotland and extensively rebuilt and improved her. Like Tammy Norie, she was a boat in the DIY spirit, and Marco had a lot of knowledge in common with me. What’s more, he too had a newly fitted self steering system — a Mr. Vane — and was just getting to know it.  Jan was an older chap with a friendly twinkle, and though we weren’t able to talk as fluently, he clearly had a great deal of knowledge and experience.  They gave me many tips for the Netherlands.

Neither Stern nor Tammy are particularly easy to handle through locks, and at one point we missed two cycles as numerous big white cruisers zoomed past us and filled them up.

“Typical Dutch,” said Marco, “always wanting to be first. Dank u wel,” he called to the passing yachts, with sarcasm that transcends national boundaries. “Friendships and marriages are made and broken in the locks.”

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We ended up sailing together to the Netherlands, through Zeeland, up to Amsterdam and through SAIL Amsterdam 2015, finally saying goodbye in the Markermeer as Stern headed home towards Oostmahorn.

Our journey through Zeeland was not very pleasant, with rain and headwinds a lot of the time. But after we came through the Krammersluis into the Krammer we had a couple of hours of downwind fun, and filmed each other sailing. Here’s some video.

Thank you Marco and Jan, for excellent company and new friendships.

Addendum: It turns out that this boat that I saw in Harlingen, the Bruinvisch, is owned by Jan and his brother. Jan did tell me he had a boat there, but I didn’t know which.

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