Friday, 21 October 2016


Exciting plans in the pipeline for next sailing season.

Vlissingen is the southern gateway to a canal route through Holland called the Standing Mast Route. As the name implies, this enables sailboats to navigate the canals through inland waterways, lakes and man made canals right through Holland. The route is approximately 150 Nautical miles long and ends in Delfzil near the boarder with Germany. From Delfizl it's a short hop up the Ems, round the corner and into the Keil Canal. This canal is, 58nm long and yachts use it to travel still further north through Germany and into the Baltic Sea. Negating the need to tackle the unpredictable and potentially nasty North Sea route.

Part of the waterway at Middleberg

There are numerous locks and bridges on both routes which need to be opened so travelling is fairly slow. The idea is to spend a few weeks getting north thus allowing the season to warm up and to provide us with the opportunity to enjoy some of the Dutch countryside.

Once in the  Baltic there are endless sailing options, Germany, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Finland and potentially even Russia. Just how much we can squeeze into the 3 months allowed under the Schengen agreement, remains to be seen. Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the UK, not parties to this wretched agreement, will be our backstop and a hopping off point on the southern UK coast for a crossing to Northern Spain then a cruise down the coast of Portugal should take care of 2017.
New Awlgrip on the companionway stairs

Meanwhile here in Vlissingen we are still attending to cosmetic work aboard and honing our painting and varnishing skills. 

On the 29th of October the Battle for Uncles Beach is remembered here in Vlissingen with a parade and pipers marching through the streets. A comprehensive range of restored military vehicles follows the marchers. 

Vlissingen was an important strategic point on the Westerscheldt, the entrance to the port of Antwerp and during 1944  the island was the site of a fiercely fort battle for control of this waterway, by predominantly Canadian Troops against intrenched German lines, 

Antwerp and its port in Belgium, was retaken by the Allies earlier and there was a pressing need to use the intact port facility to improve the supply lines to the front. The British, in a controversial move, eventually bombed the dykes flooding the island and the Germans were defeated and surrendered at Middleburg but not without great cost to both civilian and soldiers alike. Over 12500 Allied casualties injured wounded or missing and 180 civilians in the flooding caused by the breaching of the dykes. Apparently not a house in Vlissingen was without bullet holes. There are several memorials and an excellent museum in Vlissingen.

Vlissingen beach seen from the warmth of the glass solar train.

Today Zeeland is sometimes referred to as the Dutch Rivera. It has beautiful beaches and lots of holiday infrastructure. The season has closed for winter, however the unseasonal sunny autumn here in Vlissingen is still attracting day trippers, walkers and holiday makers in limited numbers.
We, on the other hand, are taking advantage of the sunshine to complete some deck painting. No rest for the wicked!!
More photos from Vlissingen.