Category: North Sea Passage Return 2019 North Sea Passage Return 2019
Published: 09 July 2019 09 July 2019
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Tuesday 16th July Ref: 2019/23
A successful day, navigationally, as we cruised from Beverwijk through the IJmuiden Klein Sluis and across the North Sea to Lowestoft, but it was long and wearing day of endurance for Kathleen and I made more uncomfortable by a one metre beam swell and concerns about getting the mooring upon arrival. Lady Martina performed well without complaining, apart from a GPS failure on approach.
I was awake at 4:30am local time, getting dressed and preparing Lady Martina for an early departure from Beverwijk on a fine and mild, if dull, morning. I put the kettle on whilst I was getting myself and the boat ready and had taken the precaution of shipping the fenders on the starboard side to save time. I had the equipment turned on and functioning, the engines running and had slipped the mooring ropes after I had given Kathleen a mug of tea.
I set off back down Zijkanaal A, and turned to starboard along the Noordzeekanaal towards Ijmuiden. I called the Klein Sluis bridge keeper on channel 22 VHF, well ahead of time, and he prepared the lock ready for us; as was witnessed by the red and green combination of lights as we approached and the green light as we arrived. I moored the boat on the port side, using our existing deployment of fenders and we were soon through the lock and entering the Ijmuiden outer harbour.
Our progress was temporarily restricted by a huge cruise liner, going astern into the dock on the left-hand side but, once it had cleared the channel, I set off towards the harbour entrance. I had to decide whether to stick hard over on the port side, together with another yacht as is one custom, or to cross the channel make my way over to the starboard side in the same way. In the end there were 2 to 3 larger vessels inbound and so stayed fairly central and passed them port-side to port-side and made my way out to sea.
All had been going to plan with our progress and Kathleen had completed most of the other tasks inside Lady Martina, for I had already closed and locked the windows, put away the laptop and screens from within the saloon and did as much as I could before waking her. Once we were beyond the harbour moles, we started experiencing the swell, which was to plague us for most of the day. It was over a metre or so and of a fairly short wavelength coming from the north-east and, at first, was also combined with short sea; but both of them were forecast to decay after the calm weather had arrived, but this process was to take much longer than I anticipated. As I was committed to navigating the boat at 1300 revs, for fuel economy, and, even though this was delivering some 8.5 kn rather than the 8 kn expected, this was to result in a long and uncomfortable passage.
We approached this phenomenon quite positively to start with, having our drinks and eating sandwiches; even though this process was very difficult, but experiencing this all day led to our brains feeling quite ‘addled’ and bodies tired and disorientated! The wind calmed as forecast, to almost 0 kn at times, the wave component disappeared and the swell did eventually moderate. Also Kathleen did get some rest and several periods of sleep, but she became very tired and uncomfortable by the end of the trip. Although I continued to manage the boat throughout this duration of some 15 hours, I was also on the limit of tolerance for me. I had judged that, whilst a moderate improvement in speed would have cut an hour or two off of this passage, and even a large increase in speed would have only reduced our time by 3-4 hours from the time; neither would have made Lady Martina behave better in that swell.
The swell was not affecting Lady Martina's fuel consumption or performance and it made no difference to her structure/equipment, which was generally fine, it was the crew that were unhappy! As we approached Lowestoft, and reconnected with mobile phone signal, I could confirm my Great Yarmouth Haven Bridge lift request for 3:30pm tomorrow and could resume contact with the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk yacht club about mooring in Lowestoft for the night. I had called them yesterday and learnt that they should be able to accommodate us, but they had requested that I contact him again when ‘on my way’ to confirm, but this latter request was difficult when I was approaching from sea and not from along the coast!
By the time I was within phone signal range, their situation had moved on and the moorings were going to be very busy but, they still agreed to accommodate Lady Martina, if we were prepared to raft up. On the VHF radio, I was hearing lots of other yachts calling in upon arrival at Lowestoft port with request to enter the marina and the radio operator responding that space was limited in the marina and that the hammerhead had to be kept clear for a booking, Kathleen and I were therefore becoming worried about getting in at all and starting to review our options which included a Bascule Bridge lift into the Haven.
Once we entered the channel, my main GPS satnav navigation set failed which added to the tension, but I used other instruments to successfully enter the port and proceed to the marina. The main visitors moorings were already fully taken with boats rafted up but I went astern in front of the clubhouse to come alongside a very nicely kept Broom 44, whose Yorkshire owner did not have any fenders down and did not seem to be overly keen but I moored there anyway.
The evening was spent recovering and putting the boat back together, tracing and overcoming that GPS fault and showering ready for bed, as Kathleen went ashore and thankfully used the facilities.