Monday, 10 October 2016

GOING DUTCH October 10th 2016

First we had to go Belgium, an easy 56 mile motor sail across the surprisingly quiet English Chanel from Ramsgate to Nuiewpoort. We had heard stories of the masses of shipping in the  narrow, current affected channel. There were only a handful of ships, all with AIS, and easy to  avoided in the clear crisp autumn sunshine. We only made one course change. Singapore was far worse! 
The Nuiewpoort Marina has over 1000 berths, most vessels look well cared for and there were many out sailing when we arrived. We arrived in the marina comfortably before dark. 
Nuiewpoort Belgium

The following morning we pulled out and headed off to Vlissingen Netherlands. Being a Saturday it was as busy as we have seen it anywhere with many sailboats heading out to enjoy the last sunny sailing days of the season. There were boats going in all directions and what a beautiful day. Sailing just on the wind in 15 knots offshore and Taipan was frisky. We clocked great time but arrived way too early and had to cool our heels for a couple of hours before attempting to get into the marina.  As there was insufficient water we made two abortive attempts before successfully passing through the bridges and the very narrow door, (just 6 meters wide,) into our berth.

Michiel de Ruijterhaven Marina is right in the centre of a great little town. Everything we need just a short bike ride away. Two and a half hours to Amsterdam by train, Three and a half hours to Paris by train. What more could one want. Ah the price? Just 560 euro for the whole 6 months of winter. Looks like this is where we stop for now.

One of the first things we noticed in the Netherlands is bicycles. Everyone, young and old is riding a bike. The Dutch all look fit and healthy and the local fare is likewise, healthy and lean. Our trusty folding bikes are enjoying a revival here. Not since Asia have they seen so much action. It was a little confronting initially to not don the compulsory helmet but no one wears one here and they all seem quite normal. Bikes are the primary mode of transport round the city and the roads and drivers reflect their priority.

Vlissingen is  just a small town but has some interesting architecture.

The next outstanding feature is the architecture. The variety and creativity in design is evident in both domestic and commercial architecture. What a blessed relief after the US.

Taipan moored right on the Cafe strip.

There's lots of maintenance to catch up on. Its been a long and hectic sailing year with 9 countries visited in 7 months. We have many small jobs to keep us busy here until it gets too cold, then we will  bolt back to  Western Australia until the Northern Spring.

Vlissingen city square was once a dock.

First job off the list will be sealing the toerails. This is a job which we usually do every 5 years but its a little overdue. Not a particularly big job but we need to be alongside a dock to remove the stanchions and bases, remove all the old sealant, repaint and re-seal. 

Stainless rails round the whole ship!
Taipan has 600mm high stanchions with stainless rail around the entire ship. These were installed before we purchased her and although we didn't think they looked great, and we even considered removing them, we are very glad we didn't. They offer immense security when one of us is forced on deck in big seas in dark and dangerous conditions.

There is always the inevitable varnish, gelcoat and paint touch up to do. A boat doesn't do as many miles as Taipan without getting some knocks.

John Penningtons book Orca available on Kindle is an inspirational read.

Just after our arrival we heard a knock on the hull and it was Kara and John from Orca, with whom we crossed the Indian Ocean in 2012. They have just purchased another larger yacht here in this small harbour and flew in a few days ago to take possession. It never ceases to amaze us just how small the cruising world is, and how full of inspiring and interesting people.

Winterising Taipan will be a new experience for us. We have been informed that Vlissingen harbour, in which we have chosen to leave the boat, doesn't freeze as its salt water and there is very little snow in this area of southern Holland. We will however take precautions with the fresh water system, including boiler, engine coolant, WC's and of course Water-maker.
So now the weather is holding and the work proceeds.