Friday, 1 March 2019


Taipans Photo Albums 

Vessel Finder also has Taipans current possition. 

 Link to Taipans Anchorages and Map.

I will update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder will also be pretty accurate. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Leaving. Vlissingen Sea Lock.

Another Schengen quick step saw us having to make the dash across the English Channel from southern Netherlands to Ipswich, a mere 113nm, point to point. This wasn't actually because we had to leave the Netherlands, as we'd only been there 2 months and were allowed to stay 3, irrespective of our time in Belguim, thanks to an agreement between Australia and the Netherlands which predates Schengen and is upheld by the Dutch. Notwithstanding, we had to leave because we need to be out of the Schengen area for 3 months before we can return again. This means cooling out heels in the UK or Ireland. We wanted to return during summer so we can start making our way south for an Atlantic crossing later this year.

Anyway, believe me, if it wasn't necessary we wouldn't have done it. Crossed the channel in winter that is. Andrew and Christine had visited to spend a few days with us prior to commencing a summer job in Northumberland, and we had recently returned from a little jaunt in France and Switzerland, the boat was in good shape and we waited and waited and waited for a window.


We spied a promising window for the 27th of February. The morning dawned clear after weeks of dreary, cold, sleety, icy, windy, horrible weather. There was ice on the deck so great care was exercised as we crept out of the VVW Scheld at Vlissingen to the sea lock to get out into the Scheld with the right tide to make our way to sea. The locking business was accomplished with reasonable aplomb now that we are somewhat experienced with locks they pose less of a threat. Remember the ice though? So it was with great caution we moved around those decks.

Safely through the lock, the main was hoised, and Taipan nosed out into the busy shipping lane which passes close to shore here and with lines of huge inbound ships headed to Antwerp. Dodgems ensued as we crossed to shallower banks where the ships cant go, and we were off. 

The wind was a freezing number from somewhere in Siberia. North East at around 18 to 20 knots. Nice sailing but not much dodger protection from wind coming in from the stern quarter. Taipan was pretty frisky and by the time we got the headsail polled out and settled down, we were romping along in a sea of about a meter.

The day wore on, current went south, and current went north, and the wind steadily built. Several Traffic Separation Lanes were negotiated, with ships giving us plenty of room. One called and offered to change course to pass behind us as it was going to be close, just a couple of hundred meters, and as we were polled out, we didn't really want to have to make a big course change. He may have realized that. 

Should we reef or not... we were making great progress so elected to keep everything up and keep running. Our Genoa is only 95% so it's not a really big sail. We love our new one. It has a much better shape. 

We wanted this passage over with as soon as possible. Now we were getting more gusts around 25 with the occasional 30 and Taipan was thoroughly enjoying the frolic. Not so the crew who were, by mid-afternoon, thoroughly frozen. We had all our layers on, and our Fladen Suits on but even so, we struggled to stay warm.

As dusk approached we had Felixstowe and Harwich in our sites. We made it into sheltered waters just as the last light faded. Its just 10 nm up the River Orwell to Ipswich so we decided to keep going. As luck, or good planning, would have it we had a rising tide and were able to ride the current up. 13 hours, and 113 nautical miles since leaving the sea lock we were outside the Lock at Ipswich, at the entrance to the Ipswich Haven Marina our next encampment.

Taipan snowbound.

There was a delay at the lock because a ship nearby had a crane stuck on it and they were maneuvering so required us to stand off for a while. Brrrr. By the time we made it inside to be met by the teams off Red Roo and Sentijn we were pretty damn cold. Maree had salted the dock for us and we were tied off and very pleased to be here. Celebratory drinks or two were duly consumed and the heating was going flat out. Teams reunited and it was a good feeling to be back.

Snow on the decks and ice in the water. Sentijn. John and Kara Pennington and baby Dean below in the warm!

We had only been in Ipswich a week when the Beast from the East, a serious cold weather system, struck the UK and much of Europe. Snow again. Snowman on the roof and a week of white blanketing everything, It's following us!!  A week later we had another dose of snow and freezing conditions. We keep thinking spring must be coming but there is no sign.

The new Northern Lights 5kva Generator.

John and David. Mission completed.
The new Northern Lights Genset arrived at the beginning of the second week and in between showers and snow storms, it has made its way into the hole left by its predecessor. We removed the joiner between the dodger and bimini, used the boom to hoist it off the dock and over the rail, before lowering it into position. Now the captain is modifying the layout of exhaust and water inlet piping, fuel lines and electrical wiring to accommodate it. We hope it will be functional before Easter.

Midnight snowball fight on the way home from the quiz night

Socially, it has been a whirlwind of events. Wine and Cheese night, Deans first birthday party, a Quiz night, big family dinner with Sentijn's parents and James, Sally, and Audrey Tomlinson, at the Nelson. Several dinners aboard each other's boats and visits uptown to keep provisions in when weather permits.

There have been several sewing projects to while away some time below decks. 

Document bag for Sentijn.
Easter approaches and we've been back in Ipswich for 3 weeks, and in another couple of weeks we hope we will have the jobs done, all the mail received, and be ready to get out of here. The summer 
New life raft cover.
rates kick in on the 1st of April so we want to get moving.

The plan is still to head north to Scotland and then south down the Caledonian Canal. Maybe the west coast of Ireland. Stay tuned to find out!

Saturday, 24 February 2018


Winter has come to Paris

Boating in the Netherlands has come to a standstill as the weather gets really cold. The water on the docks is turned off so the pipes don't burst and David is carting Jerry Cans 250m each way to fill the tanks. 

The trusty Mase Generator, installed in 2003 has finally been consigned to the "no further use" basket and we've removed it from the boat. The waterline hardly noticed! The plan is to replace it in the UK during the coming months, before heading south, then across the Atlantic once again, and west towards Panama.

Soon after we arrived in Vlissingen, some good friends, and sailors, Dick and Anita off "Kind of Blue" offered to take us for a drive to the Flood Museum. 

On a freezing cold night at the end of January 1953, a huge storm from the North Sea combined with spring tidal conditions and extensive inland rains, caused a rise of over 5 meters above high tide, in the seawater level. There were 67 breaches of the Zeeland Dykes which protect the countryside from flooding. Being over 6 meters below sea level in places, it was a catastrophic event and 1836 people perished in the southern Netherlands area of Zeeland alone. 165,000ha of farmland was flooded with seawater in several hours. Countless livestock were drowned.

One of several links to more information on the Flood.

The Flood Museum is housed in several caissons, or huge concrete boxes, which were purchased from the UK and towed to locations in the Netherlands to shore up the dikes and stop the water. It took over a year to close the breaches.

Delta Works New Flood control barriers.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed, so we have that for another day, but suffice to say, it was a monumental disaster and as a result, there has been ongoing engineering works such as flood surge barriers, dams and monitoring systems in order to prevent a calamity such as this, ever recurring.

Adventures in the Antwerp city Market

Andrew and Christine, David's brother and wife, visited again from the UK for four days. It is always such fun and great to have the family so close. We did a day trip to Antwerp to show them the sights and pick up some treats at the excellent Saturday City Market. 

In order to break up the long winter hibernation aboard, we decided to take a quick break, and head to France and Switzerland to catch up with friends and see some countryside. Step one, research...step 2 buy train tickets. Easy enough here, and not too expensive for the shorter, more popular routes. 

Andrew and Christine's departure coincided nicely with ours, so we all piled in the Postpub Van for the trip to Rotterdam ,and lunch catch up with great friends, Evert and Janny. "Moby Dick" We then made our way to the Rotterdam Central Station to begin our winter sojourn.

French countryside.
Frantz and Libby our wonderful hosts in Paris. 
First stop, Paris Nord, past snowy pastures and towns. Libby met us at the station and we made our way to their Apartment in central Paris. What fun we had! How well did we eat! Fabulous French cuisine by Libby. Two days were filled with miles of walking. 

Paris had quite a lot of snow which surprised and delighted the children, some of whom had never seen it. It's not snowed in Paris for some years. Busses came to a standstill. What a picture. Even though it curtailed our exploration somewhat, it was still delightful. The Architecture Museum, filled with plaster replicas of reliefs, building motifs, and models of important architecture in France was fascinating and not full of tourists. And there was no queue to get in!

Notre Dame on a snowy winters morning.

All too soon it was time to board the Thalys Train for Geneva and on to Interlaken, Switzerland where we had booked 2 nights in the mountains. More snow and picturesque landscape. Photos through the train window frustrating as the windows were dirty!! Train change at Geneva was simple and Interlaken arrival, just 2 minutes walk to our hotel. The following day we took a local Cog Train up the mountain to Grindelwald. 

The Firste up the mountain from Grindelwald.
The more pretty scenery, beautiful turquoise lakes and snow everywhere. Then the sun burst through and we had a clear blue sky the whole day. Up the mountain to Firste on the cable car was just postcard perfect.

Moody picture reflection in the trains window.
The whole timing of this trip revolved around Carnival in Lucerne. Our good friends, and sailing buddies Sven and Gerda, also known as "The Mountain Goats!!" live in Lucerne and had invited us to come stay. They met our train and we started what was to be an unforgettable visit to this unbelievably beautiful city. Only 90,000 people, so not large. Centuries of architecture and culture. And Carnival!! 

David ans Kris. Ready to scare away the winter!

“Guggenmusigen”, (brass bands,) lead crowds of weirdly dressed people clad in fantastic masks around the narrow streets of the city to frighten away the winter. This medieval festival takes place annually, 6 weeks before Easter, and lasts for 5 days. The masks are scary! Really scary. With over 100 bands, plus other exhibits and floats, the Monday parade took 3 hours to pass our viewing position. 

Sven and Gerda. Our wonderful Lucerne hosts.

So it's huge! The city had snow on Sunday and more overnight, so in the bright sunlight on Monday morning, Lucerne was sparkling and filled with people enjoying the carnival. We were suitably attired by Gerda and Sven for the occasion and wandered transfixed by the spectacle!! I think we walked or stood for 5 hours, after which we retired to their home where we were treated to another Swiss delicacy. Fondu! When we arrived we had Raklet, a great Swiss cheese delight. And now we have our own Raklet maker! Thanks, Gerda and Sven!!


Three days passed in Lucerne far to quickly and it was time to move on to Vienna. Travelling through Zurich, where we made a very simple train change and headed on into Austria through some more spectacular mountain and lake scenery. Again, all snow covered, as Austria has had some of its heaviest snowfalls in years. Over a meter and a half in places. 

More photos of Switzerland and Carnival

Its always been a dream to see the Spanish Riding School and as we were sort of close.... we booked the train from Lucerne to Vienna.

We stayed just one night in Vienna and will go back one day. The Spanish Riding School was fun but we only saw morning exercises, as the Performances are on Saturday during winter and we decided not to stay the extra 4 days.  Vienna is a really beautiful city and easy to get around. Looking forward to returning.

No its a poster. No photos allowed. I did sneak a few though.

A flight from Vienna to Amsterdam and a train home to Taipan in Vlissingen took only 5 hours and cost total 130 Euro each. Not too bad. The train was way more expensive and took almost a day with many train changes.

Morning Excercises captured.

All told it was more of a toe wetting exercise to get a grip on traveling here and a great excuse to catch up with friends. It's pretty easy, not as cheap on trains as we thought it would be but they are fast and comfortable and you get to see the country. No waiting at airports and that irksome, but necessary, security is not present on trains.

St Stephen's Vienna

Photos from Vienna.

Since returning from break ashore we have refitted the damaged cockpit cover replaced a halyard, made a new snubber and ticked off a few other minor jobs. Now its countdown to departure. Schengen once again intervenes to dictate our movements, irrespective of weather constraints! On the next suitable weather window, we plan to cross the Channel to the UK and back to Ipswich.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Well, its that crazy time of year again and as usual, between boat jobs, we fit in the obligatory eating, drinking and making merry. Commencing the silly season with birthdays, this time in cahoots with "Red Roo's" Maree, and moving right along into the Xmas Market season. It would seem that a European traditional Xmas Market is erected in every City. British tourists are sold package holidays to visit Christmas Markets in Europe. In Antwerp it was in the Groet Market, a central space presided over by the Antwerp City Hall and surrounded by spectacular Flemish architecture. Gilded Galleons, fish, and famous figures adorn the surrounding rooftops. Every evening, to the accompaniment of Christmas carols, the local inhabitants, and tourist, promenade the square, eating seasonal delicacies and sipping on Glugwein and hot chocolate. Restaurants surround the square and they are always full. The life-size nativity scene in front of the wondrous Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady has an empty cradle. Skaters skim around the ice rink which is erected near by at Groenplaats. On opening night a spectacular light and sound show was projected on the City Hall.The atmosphere is one of fun and expectation and is not dampened by the ever-present sight of armed guards, their fingers always on the trigger of their automatic weapons.

Xmas Market Antwerp.

Our lead up to Xmas included some visits to local restaurants for a course here or there. Xmas day itself was a quiet one aboard Taipan but not a hungry one. We experimented with a Dukigeon. David ordered a duck and a wild pigeon from the local meat boutique and he boned them out and I stuffed them with, chicken mince, prunes, orange, and walnut stuffing and resewed it together. Pressure cooked for 15 minutes, bagged in the Wonderbag for 5 hours then BBQ to finish and crisp for 45 minutes. It was sensational, served with roast veg, cauliflower cheese and gravy. Preceded by prawn cocktail and followed by plum pudding cream and brandy sauce.

On Boxing Day everything is open so we strolled and we visited the Rubens House. This baroque master had a stunning house in the center of Antwerp. Built and expanded over a number of years it is a masterpiece of the era. The house is full of beautiful art and furniture from the period. Definitely worth a visit. 

On the 27th of December, we left Willemdock marina once again and headed down river towards Vlissingen. This was not one of our better-planned trips. Total about 40nm. It is easy to become complacent when tied up securely in the marina. There is very little wind as the surrounding buildings deflect it. We left with a forecast of southwesterly maybe up to about 25knots. Shouldn't be a problem. Wrong! We had a fairly pleasant trip for the first day with the current and in sunshine. 

Harbour Building

The overnight forecast was for increasing wind and the forecast strength was higher. We had anchored about 18 miles downriver at our previous anchorage on the change of tide. Several hours later we dropped out some more chain and waited. The wind built and the tide rose, we had less protection as the water rose over the banks to windward. Just before high tide we had several gusts over 50knots. The waves occasionally broke over the bow and we actually decided to sleep in the aft cabin. Something we usually only do on passage!. The wind settled after several hours and we were awoken by loud banging on the deck around dawn by a police boat. 

Canal barge with telescopic bridge. So he can pass under low bridges.

Thinking he wanted to check our papers we scurried around, getting presentable and opened the hatch. No! All they  wanted to know was.... "are you OK?" Satisfied that all was well they went happily off on other business. We learned from local friends that it is unusual for boats to anchor in the river. It is true. Most European boaters don't anchor, its marinas every night.

Fladen suites to the fore!

The leg to Vlissingen the following day was into 30 knots and the temperature was around 5 degrees out of the wind. Not altogether pleasant, and we were relieved to arrive, with friends Dick and Anita off "Kind of Blue" to greet us alongside at VVW Scheld inside the lock at Vlissingen.

Train to Central Station Rotterdam.

On the 29th we boarded a train to Rotterdam. Evert and Janny, ”Moby Dick”, had invited us to spend New Year with them. The train trip is only one and three-quarter hours to central Rotterdam. Here we met some English friends, Jeananne and Ray, also on a visit to Rotterdam. We lunched together and exchanged news and greetings at Nostra, a particularly nice wine bar, and then wandered to the MarktHal where we were picked up by Evert.

Evert and Janny have a lovely home overlooking the river and city and we were totally spoiled by them during our three-day visit. A visit to The Wereldmuseum Rotterdam, an ethnographic museum, where we saw a fabulous Mask Exhibition amongst other things. Being an amateur mask collector I particularly enjoyed this one. 

Happy New Year.
The fireworks on New Year's Eve commenced around 7pm with private crackers going off everywhere. It is legal in Holland to buy fireworks several days before New Year and the Dutch spent €74 million on fireworks this year!! They continued to light the entire horizon until around 2am. The city fireworks, fired from the Swan Bridge in central Rotterdam, were spectacular and the weather was clear, with an almost full moon overhead. Enjoyed in great company, accompanied by Oliebollen and Appelflappen and many other traditional delights.

Delfshaven. The Coat of Arms is Herring and Grain
A trip to Delfshaven, founded in 1389, when a canal was dug to give the city of Delft a connection with the Meuse and the world.   The Distilleerketel or malt mill and grain mill is a windmill built in 1986 to replace a mill which was demolished after a fire. There's a lot of lovely old architecture and of course the inevitable Dutch Barges in the canals offering such photographic opportunities. We did a tour of the Euromast, which at 185 meters offers fantastic views over the city and has extra good hot chocolate and muffins!

Our hosts. Taken at the Euromast.
After a wonderful three days of Dutch hospitality, we packed up and set off back to Taipan. It was a mixed day and one of lock failures. We put our luggage in the locker at the train station so we could do a little strolling before our departure and when we returned the mechanism controlling the locks had failed. It took some time for Railway staff to unlock the locker and return our luggage. Then, already late, when we arrived at Vlissingen, the Marina was totally locked up and we had no gate code. Luckily "Red Roo" were online and were able to supply the code as it was dark, about 2 degrees, raining, and blowing about 35knots!!!  Regardless of the day of locks, we had a fabulous New Year and look forward to 2018 adventures.

Delfshaven on a winters day.