2017 May 23, Flying Cat Launch, Lelystad, NL

A foiling, racing Catamaran was placed in front of Goldilocks in the boatyard for some modifications and maintenance.

http://dnaperformancesailing.com/ is the website. It looks gorgeous. Today they launched it. The big task was installing the new main foils, which, as I understand were redesigned. They were a good 4-5m long so the crane picked up the boat (4 tons) while the crew manhandled them into place. A mis-move on the crane operators part and I heard a couple yells and an unnerving “crack”, but it seemed to be OK. It doesn’t look like they’ve done it very many times, but it was not too bad a show. This is the third boat/prototype. Apparently it is bound for a Megayacht in the Caribbean to be a rich-man’s toy, carried on deck. Soon all the megayachts will have to have one!
I was told they got either 27 or 37 knots of boat speed with 14 knots of wind out here on the Markermeer!! Either is pretty impressive.
Very cool looking boat, heavy on the carbon fiber and synthetic rigging. Not a boat I’d like to take across the Atlantic, except the trip would be so short I might not mind the spartan, racing accommodations! Apparently one of these has done a transatlantic already, and it was fast. What a gorgeous and expensive toy!

 

&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL
&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL
&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL
&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL
&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL
&dna Foiling Cat at Lelystad, NL

 

2017 May 13, Eurovision Song Contest. My first!

in Almere, NL

I’ve mainly heard of Eurovision from old Monty Python, so was not very familiar with the concept. It’s a talent (amateur singers) show that’s been around longer than any other I’m aware of. Started in 1956!! Europe only.
We prepared appropriately with a fine meal and two great bottles of wine after a long day of working on Goldilocks in the boatyard. 🙂
Most of it’s a blur, but here are a few pics and thoughts. This year it was held in Ukraine. Russia did not compete. The singer was banned from visiting Ukraine for three years by the country’s security services for touring Crimea in 2015 after it was annexed by Russia. Sad to see it get political.

 

Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. Fun show, Wine helps 🙂
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. Poland …He said he’d be fiddling with his sister during the song. Heh heh heh. He said fiddle. heh heh.
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. The Dutch girls.
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. The Dutch girls. Yes, we’re sparkly. …?? Placed 11th
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. Gorilla costume??
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. I never did understand the gorilla costume!?!?
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. Layla Style!
Eurovision Song Contest May 2017. Layla’s digging it!

2017 May 2, Dolphin Swim Time!! Christmas Cove, USVI

I got to swim with Dolphins for the first time! I’ve seen them many times playing in my bow wake, but never got a chance to get in the water with them.

Dolphin Swim Time!! Christmas Cove, 2 May 2017

I was sitting on deck having a Pizza Pi when a pod of Dolphins swam through the anchorage. Once I realized they weren’t going to leave right away I jumped in with mask and fins. A couple big pizza slices in my belly did not make it easier. There were 8 individuals, 2 young ones and 2 appeared to be yearlings. As a family unit it was more about the babies playing so they didn’t pay much attention to the humans trailing them. Mostly it was me and a woman swimming after them, but later a couple more joined the paparazzi.
I clicked in my snorkel and got a little attention. One turned toward me and got closer, but not for long. It was all I could do to keep up with little breath left for diving down, but I managed it a couple times and they paid more attention when I did. Very fun, but I wish they’d been a little slower.

Dolphin Swim Time!! The Paparazzi are gaining!!

2016 Oct 11, Plans For The End of Hoy/Europe 2016

At Walton on the Naze, moored in Walton Creek.
It is cold and frequently dreary. Some rain, occasionally blue sky. Enough wind to make it feel colder, so we mostly spend time inside. Today, serendipity happened, and I got to rescue a friends’ dinghy and he in turn used his car to get me some Paraffin (Kerosene) for the heater to keep Laylas tootsies warmer. Not warm, just warmer.
Unfortunately the fan meant to circulate the hot air drooped down on it’s mount and melted. That fan has been nothing but trouble and now it’s dead. Good riddance.
The Walton & Frinton Yacht Club has been our sanctuary. Very nice people, great showers, terrific wifi, good price on pints of IPA (Greene King), and a good place to tie the dinghy and walk into town for groceries. We can only access it at +/- 2 hours of High Water, so we get a bit under 4 hours to get everything done, IF we get there on time.
We got our flights sorted out and will get to St Thomas 3 Nov. I’m still nervous about wind to get us back to IJmuiden, Netherlands, but we have two weeks to get everything done, so we should manage it.
First we need to sail back to NL no sooner than 18 Oct, since I have 14 days left on my Schengen visa. I have been told if they discover I’ve over-stayed when I fly out of Amsterdam, they can fine me and restrict my entry in next time. With my boat on the hard in NL, it would be a great inconvenience if they did not let me in the country.  I don’t know what the odds are of that, but the Dutch Immigration seem to be pretty officious, and I don’t want to trust to luck.
We clear in, take the boat to the marina in Lelystad, take the mast out (marina requirement) haul out, winterize the boat, repair what there is time for, and fly out 1 Nov.
If we get good winds for crossing the North Sea about the 18th, it should be no problem, but winds are predominately E and often strong. i.e. over 20 knots.
The North Sea is shallow, about 60 to 140 ft deep, with strong currents and can build up fast and steep. Also heavy shipping traffic. It appears nearly a quarter the distance will be crossing shipping lanes! In general you have to cross them perpendicular, or they can fine you!
It will be cold, and likely wet, and should be 24-28 hours. Let us hope the weather gods are with us!

2016 Sept 26: Goldilocks Goes To London

Layla, fooling around on our way up the Thames
Layla, fooling around on our way up the Thames

In the River Blackwater there are not many places to hide from the strengthening winds. N and S are OK, but E and W are very exposed unless your boat can dry out on the mud flats. Also, all the marinas and many protected moorings can only be accessed near High Water.
Bradwell marina, while good protection had no working wifi and no cell signal, so it was a communication wasteland. Not much for grocery access either, so not a place I want to go back to.
…So with the strong winds coming in, Layla and I decided to go to London!

18 Sept, we headed out of Bradwell Marina just after High Water and carried the ebb out of the river very nicely. Unfortunately once you are out of the river, the ebb current runs north, so we were fighting current all the way down. 2 knots SOG (Speed Over Ground) and wind west about 8 knots.

Just south of the River Blackwater is the River Crouch. I had hoped this might be a place we could go into, but it turns out he mud/sand flats extend at least 8nm out from the land. Being the ebb we would have been fighting the current all the way up and no way would we have reached it before dark. Too far off our course.
Instead we simply sailed south until dark and anchored out of the channel, amongst the many bars off the E of England. Disturbing to be in 20ft in the North Sea nearly out of sight of land, but as close to it as we can get. Light winds forecast, so no problem, just a little lumpy.

19 Sept, we woke to find commercial fishing boats dried out on the banks not far away at Low Water.
We sailed on down, and this time with the flood current helping us we made the River Thames just in time to catch the flood all the way up into London!! I had not expected to fall in so well with the tides, so we went in straightaway. I’d always heard about how much ship traffic there is on the Thames, but we had no problems. About a 1-3 knot current helping, but wind was light so we relied on the engine a lot. It is illegal to have sails up when going through the Thames Storm Barrier, so we rolled up before that and motored the rest of the way.

Construction in London. Busy contractors!
Construction in London. Busy contractors!

We were stopped by London Port Authority and entreated to keep to the right side of the Thames and warned of heavy commercial traffic ahead. (I was cutting the corners pretty freely, but there was not much traffic.) At least they were friendly and gave us a (relatively useless) brochure.
We had hoped to go to St. Katherine’s Dock which is the “premier” marina next to the Tower of London. Very popular…and expensive. Unfortunately (or fortunately) they were reconstructing docks and had no space. Lime House marina was also full so we ended up reserving a slip at South Dock Marina, just past Greenwich.
The river was very industrial to start, then nearing South Dock Marina, we passed the Greenwich Maritime Museum, which is very impressive.
The marina warned me the current runs very strong and to compensate when entering the lock. Several boats, I was told, had hit the quay when entering. They were full of shit. I did have to compensate for the current but that was no problem. After getting into the tiny lock however (felt like a bathtub) I hit reverse to stop the boat and bring it alongside. Not sure if it was my prop wash or a wave entering the lock, but suddenly and unexpectedly the wash slammed the stern against the wall. Talking later to some other people they all experienced the same thing. I think the lock is so small that it was my prop wash and the act of reversing spun the water around, so wait 20 seconds and it pushes you sideways. Very strange.
We met a nice couple on SV 20/20 Osprey, a British man and American woman that sailed across from USVI about  a month after I did last year. We were anchored in the same cove in USVI, but never met. They skipped Bermuda, and spent 45 days in Azores, whilst I spent only about 30. They loved the Azores too.
Funny thing. I was tied up behind SV Geronimo in Horta. Tony Arrow was the captain and its a school vessel. He was head of rigging on the “Master and Commander” movie. The captains of two of the masts were Ian McIntyre, my old Captain/owner on the Hawaiian Chieftain. The other mast captain on the movie was Andrew Mckee. He was 17 years old and Bosun on the Hawaiian Chieftain when I was engineer in ’98-99 on our winter tour down the coast of California.
Osprey tied up right behind Geronimo when they got there, so they must have been in the same spot I had just vacated. Small world!
Very cool to meet them and lots to chat about.
They are British flagged, so I still have the only Stars and Stripes we’ve seen this summer in NL and UK.
About 43quid/night and a great place to visit London from.

 

 

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It's cold, but not enough to put on shoes.
It’s cold, but not enough to put on shoes.
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Industry and culture.
Industry and culture.
Training Tallship in London.
Training Tallship in London.
Old and new.
Old and new.
London
London
The rare White Backed Hedgehog in it's natural habitat, London.
The rare White Backed Hedgehog in it’s natural habitat, London.
Huge gondola ride.
Huge gondola ride.
Layla looks frightened of the Thames Barrier! ??
Layla looks frightened of the Thames Barrier! ??
Layla is excited about the Thames Barrier!!
Layla is excited about the Thames Barrier!!
Thames Barrier
Thames Barrier
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July 3 2016, Hoy: not such a good name here!

in Dintelmond, NL at the Jachtcentrum (marina)

Woke this morning with a start, adrenaline flowing, fight or flight response to the sound of rapid beating on a boat and a woman yelling “HOI”!!
It turned out a young boy was running down the dock and making the wood slats resound like banging, and “Hoi” is a greeting, like “Hi” or just a shout to get someones attention.
Whew!, no emergency, but not a good way to wake up. 🙂

Yesterday I had breakfast with a Dutch couple, Hans and ….on Isabella, a 39ft Naiad.
They are starting a circumnavigation Sunday! I gave them some extra guides and charts and a little information on the eastern Caribbean. They bought the boat three years ago for this trip and have been preparing ever since. They are naturally excited.

It’s been pretty dreary weather. Rain several times a day and mostly heavy cloud cover. Every once in a while the sun peeks out. Chilly too. Highs of 16-17C.

Ducking Gales, Teignmouth, England

After leaving the Yealm River, I thought I would be able to make it to the Solent, by the Isle of Wight. No such luck. Rocky sailing and on the VHF radio they kept forecasting Gale warnings. I’m still not familiar with the forecasts here but the warning is for within 6 hours. That would hit me before my target and no safe anchorages on the way. I decided to tuck into Teignmouth. On hindsight I should have gone to Dartmouth, but it worked out OK.

Teignmouth is a very small harbour. It’s a circuitous inlet rife with sandbars. I entered on the ebb and and had to steer 70 degrees off my bearing to counter the current. Even the deepest is not much more than I draw and I have to enter near high tide. There is a low bridge 1/4 mile from the mouth that prevents any but the smallest boats from going up river. Most of it is shallow and dries out at low tide. It is full of fast moving water, sandbars, moorings for locals and little room for visitors. Luckily, being past high season the one place I could go was vacant. It’s a pontoon (dock) anchored in the river and it was available. I tied up, a little worried about having to get off the boat in the swift current. If she got away from me I might have to watch her careen down river!!  Goldilocks behaved like a lady, I was able to tie her up without a tantrum. It was cold, dreary, windy (Gale warnings after all). Since I was after the high season nobody approached me to pay. I met some very nice people in the pub whilst taking care of my internet needs. I got to overhear an old gent who just moved there talking about the damage in London during the Blitz, when he was a child versus the damage in Teignmouth. Not much longer may we hear first hand accounts of WWII.

A couple nights there and I had the winds I needed to get east. Just.

2015, Sept 27, Yealm River, England

Sunset from mouth of River Yealm
Sunset from mouth of River Yealm

I sailed from Plymouth to the mouth of the Yealm River, a bit SE of Plymouth harbour, to hide from some strong easterlies. Naturally since I want to go east all the winds are from the E. It never fails!
There is a fairly wide mouth with a long sand bar that dries out at low tide, so the entrance is narrow. Tall cliffs to the E and S give great protection from all but SW-W winds. I draw 1.8m, and of course the depth at low tide is about 1.8m  at the deepest. I found myself bouncing off the bottom a few times during Spring tide lows. The other thing here is, there are a half dozen boats and not that much space. The tidal current is pretty strong up and down the river. With the current varying speed here and there, and the wind eddies from the tall hillsides, the boats dance all over the place. I don’t know how I survived the first night without a collision, because the second day three of us were moving all over and had to fend each other off several times. Good thing everybody was on deck and awake. It was a beautiful, sunny day to be on deck, and warmer than usual.

Hoy on Goldilocks, Yealm River, England
Hoy on Goldilocks, Yealm River, England

I had met Terry Williams a few days before in Plymouth, and here he was again with his wife out sailing for the weekend. His son, daughter and friend were on another boat, a classic workboat style with a varnished hull. I can’t imagine the work to keep that shiny! I saw it in Plymouth and it really caught my eye.
Jove introduced himself. He paddled by in his canoe with a dog that kept whining. I thought the dog was afraid of being in the boat, but he was upset at not being in the water, and later just jumped/fell in. “Howl, whine, howl, whine, whine, howl, splash!” You had to be there. We had a nice chat about sailing.

River Yealm, Anchor dance
River Yealm, Anchor dance
River Yealm, Anchor dance
River Yealm, Anchor dance
River Yealm, Anchor dance
River Yealm, Anchor dance

One of the guys doing the anchoring dance was John, aka Blond John on “Westerly Dream”. He had sailed to Azores and left his boat there a few years. He loved Azores and we had a good talk about sailing. We also took my dinghy up river to the town and got wifi at the pub and veg at the little Tesco market. There is a concrete walkway across Newton Creek just off the river, and you can walk across it at low tide to another pub, but a couple hours after low you have to walk a couple miles around to get back to the dinghy dock.
At the pub we met a couple, Chris (English) and Oksana (from Estonia) who were hiking the coast from London to Lands’ End, the farthest SW point of England. Being the coast it’s a pretty circuitous path. More at www.takeachallenge.org
During the day there is a small water taxi to take people from one side of the Yealm to the other. It was too late for that and it was getting dark, so we gave them a ride. 200 meters in a dinghy saves many miles, and a chance to pitch their tent outside of town, rather than the middle of it.

Oksana and Chris, Yealm River, on their way to Land's End, England
Oksana and Chris, Yealm River, on their way to Land’s End, England

Teignmouth to Deal, 9 Oct 2015

I needed about 3 days of winds not-from-the-east to make it to Deal, which represented the east coast of UK, to get around to Walton-on-the-Naze where I intend to haul-out. That’s about 300nm non-stop. I’ve been waiting at least a couple weeks for it and here it was. I had hoped to stop off by the Isle of Wight, but no time. I sailed non-stop to Deal and suffered much sleep deprivation. It’s one thing sleeping on watch when you’re in open ocean and not in a shipping lane. When you are along the South coast of a place like England, with so many fisherman out at all hours, and recreational boaters during the day, and some spot with fast ferries plying to and fro, it’s a whole different story. Paranoia and fear serve you well here.

I got to Deal about midnight 8 Oct, dropped anchor in near complete darkness, put on the anchor drag alarm and slept soundly.

2015 Oct 2 Falmouth to Plymouth

Anchored in Falmouth. Sept 19 used my dinghy to push Paddy ashore to clean the muck off his hull. Paddy sailed this boat around the world a few years ago and wrote a book. It has no engine. He was prepared to sail it ashore, but there was no wind and I volunteered. With dead calm wind, and a current, I would like to have seen him sail, but I couldn’t put him through that.

Towing Paddy ashore to scrape his bottom. (no rude comments)
Towing Paddy ashore to scrape his bottom. (no rude comments)

I have been mostly searching internet trying to find where to store Goldilocks for the winter. Dintelmond, Netherlands is at the top of the list right now!
Wifi is in the pubs. I have to order Ale to be in the pubs, so it’s Ale for internet. Oh, the Humanity! (sometimes I have to buy Pastys)

Sept 24 I sailed from Falmouth to Plymouth. Great conditions, broad reach about 15 kts. I left with David on SV Rustler, who I met in Horta, and Richard on his bright yellow boat. Nice broad reach most of the way. Easy sailing. Netherlands is the goal now and no safe anchorages E of Isle of Wight.

The wind shortly turned E and strong, up to 30 kts. To find a protected anchorage I sailed down to the mouth of the River Yealm. A bit shallow and I bounced off the bottom a few times at low tide, but otherwise nice and very well protected. We did have a dance early on when there were more boats anchored though. With the wind against current boats were all over the place and luckily everyone was aboard to fend off when they got too friendly. Collisions averted only by extreme diligence!

2 October. I plan to sail east tomorrow (Saturday) morning. Wind is finally going S (It’s been E for more than a week) and I can start moving east. It was looking good for several days, but the forecast has just changed. Tue the winds are going to kick up horribly. Lee shore plus strong current plus limited safe anchorages= not happy. I may not make as many miles as I’d like, but I’ll get somewhere. (In the Passageweather graphic, I’m on the south coast of England about 1/3rd along from the lower left tip.)

Passageweather forecast for Tue
Passageweather forecast for Tue
Windguru forecast, Tue a little stronger!
Windguru forecast, Tue a little stronger!