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Delivery Trip

Georgeous II
Georgeous II

On 5th May 2017 Jan Anderton joined the crew of a delivery company who were required to deliver a Contest 48 from Medemblik in Netherlands to Cascais in Portugal.

Setting out again on another delivery, this time a Contest 48 from the builders brokerage at Medemblik on the IJsselmeer ( pronounced Isellemeer) I've only added the pronunciation as so many skippers say similar places like IJMuiden or IJeiland in so many ways that I actually thought there were a dozen different ports until I happened to go there.

We, Jan and his fellow crew mates, motor out and away from the berth, it's late on Friday evening but we need to clear a lock that prevents an early departure if we are to catch the favourable tides out from Den Helder and into the North Sea. The Dutch lock keeper motions us into the lock which is in the middle of a village, quite surreal to be in amongst it, rather like the Albert dock cut straight through the middle by your high street. High masted Dutch barges, of at least a hundred years old, sit gracefully alongside modern cruisers, cutters and power boats alike. Over looked by homes of previous centuries that seem to welcome the hustle & bustle and the variety of life.

Map of Delivery Trip
Map of Delivery Trip

We seem to think that we, the British, are the seafaring nation but travel shows you that others too have spent just as long at sea and perhaps are just as adept at knocking a few planks together. I recall reading that the Dutch once sailed up the Thames when we had a mighty fleet and stole our flag ship!

"Danke vell" we raise our hands in thanks and motor on.

Fuel Port
Fuel Port

We spot the fuel barge, port side too along the canal bank and moor up, its a tight fit and I hear the skipper praise the bow thrusters. We hop ashore and secure lines and springs. We check the opening times on the doghouse only to find we're a half hour late!
"Hoot de moot de heife keiiken" calls a cyclist all in red overalls as he passes us all sit up and beg style. He's pointing to a shop over the road. I enter a heaven of a chandlery where there is every item you could wish for aside from the radar reflector that we need but it does have a volt meter! An elderly gent nods at my weak German and heads over to fill us up.

Its late so we ask if we can stay moored up to the fuel berth for the night as we are leaving at 5.00 am, he nods again with a smile saying he has finished for the day and he wouldn't be any the wiser if we did.

Crew Motor Out
Crew Motor Out


We motored away from the fuel berth early morning & headed for the locks at Den Oever, an easy passage but the Ijsseelmeer is a huge inland lake and looks a very interesting place for future exploration.

We follow the channel out into North Sea on the morning tide with a stiff easterly, affording us a constant 8kts on a beam reach passing Holland, Belgium and a distant France in little over 24 hrs. The North sea is a pretty boring place to be, we encountered little wild life, sea life or vessels aside from an angry rig patrol who charged toward us in a cargo vessel but as we bore away we left them in the distance, where after a mile they hailed us to say thank you, you can now proceed on your original course - most odd.

Well heeled
Well heeled

We approached the South coast of England with the cliffs of Dover, ethereal in the mist. Here was another super sized wind farm that seemed to suck the air from our sails and blot the view, again. We bore away and headed toward Ushuant, off Breast and our entry point to the Biscay, the wind speed building and veering north westerly. After 3 days we had settled into the routine of our watch systems. Chris, the skipper & masterful chef had set shifts of 3 hours on and 6 hours off. Unluckily for me, being the last on board, I had the forepeak - a complete no-no! Sometimes waking in mid air or as others have said before, like sleeping in a washing machine on full spin whilst doing the hula hoop, The G forces are something else and unlike a fighter pilot we have to sleep on board. 

 
 

Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay

Biscay passes, occasionally steep seas and strong breezes but the Contest handles them effortlessly, shimmying on top of the waves before racing on. We are told to stay 80 miles offshore from Finnesterre to avoid a storm but its seems to have passed us to the west. Catherine, our Scottish first mate happened to be vegetarian but amazes us with every dish she cooks up, never have I tasted such wonderful dishes that, despite her reticence she still fried, roasted or grilled a subtle meat additive that was added later! Even her Macaroni cheese was to die for!

Getting low on fuel & water, despite careful rationing and huge tanks, the decision was made to head closer to land and check the weather. There was no gas on board, the hob was ceramic and the oven electric too. Using the generator only which required a litre of fuel per hour just couldn't hold its own against the power usage, this could have been old batteries or a faulty sensor was kicking in, but it meant we had to run the engine burning 4 litres an hour. A midnight brew was a costly affair!

 

Map of Baiona
Map of Baiona

On watch through Biscay you know the dangers, fishing vessels and lobster pots, & objects floating just below the surface are just a few. Well tracking toward A' Coruna, Northern Spain and the night is clear, a stiff breeze and little to report other than unusual lights in the distance, there's a red, a couple of whites and a green but not vertical and very confusing. The moon is lighting the horizon, sometimes I prefer the dark as you can see more than in daytime. I reach for the binoculars and try to make out what's 4 miles away. There's a tower affair and a flat platform with very low freeboard, so close to the water. A bright light casts down on what seems like a deck but its a hazy view. It points toward us, red and green, is that red & green, men are on deck, 3 miles! Go astern of her, hmm. Green, just green? Our AIS is down, normally I would hail the vessel but another scan of the horizon and I knock off 40 degrees to port and bear away, the wind kicks us to 10 kts and we broad reach away. I check again and realise its a submarine! watching the sub and all about, 3 miles I start to bring us back on course 10 degrees at a time and curving around her, plenty of room and an incredible realisation. "Brew?" says the skipper “much happening?" "Just a sub" I reply, the moment gone "better than lobster pots"

Baiona castle
Baiona castle

We head into Bayona or Baiona, I'm on a night-watch again and hear a drumming that's getting louder and louder, there's nothing around but the lights on a still distant Spanish shore. I check, raising binoculars getting slightly worried of running into a small unlit boat, buoy or even another sub. The next I know is a helicopter hanging off the stern, flood lights blinding seems they've never heard of losing your night vision! I wait, maintaining course & speed, they rise, dip and hover even closer, the clatter quite deafening with the downdraught seemingly pushing us away from Spain. I tried to raise them on the VHF but they don't reply, I hail again as they suddenly lift off and clatter away, darkness descends, vision returns and the skipper pops up and we're both wondering if the German ensign has either annoyed them or scared them off.

Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset

Baiona is a wonderful castled city, where food and drink is remarkably inexpensive but fantastic. We spend a couple of nights there, hampered by an incoming gale. We walk the walls, feast on tapas on dinner plates, were 5 potions stuffed us silly.
The locals amazing smiles seemed in tune with the beauty of the area. The yacht club is a must see as the sailing history goes way back. They set sail from here to America, to fight the Royal Navy at Trafalgar & the area used to home the Spanish Fleet of war.

 

 

 

 

"til next time" Jan
"til next time" Jan

We beam reach to Caiscais, Portugal. The coastline still amazing, whatever the weather, the rias & rios beckoning exploration but for another time. The sun sets & rises, these are gracious days as we know the trip is almost over. The local fishing fleet set about us off the Ilhas do Berlenga, the cat and mouse game far easier to play at night and with AIS but today its binoculars and outflanking. A final tack, we drop sails, engine already on and we gently moor up on the waiting pontoon. The skippers off checking in with the harbour master, the sun's up and the journey is over so we grab a beer.

Pictures © Jan Anderton

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