This is "Onbekommerd"!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why the blog suddenly stopped

The last time I wrote on the blog was almost a month ago, in Medemblik. Now I know I have not been all that good in updating this year, but a month? So here is the story:

We left Medemblik and decided to take the inland route to Amsterdam where our next 'appointment ' was. We spent a night at a little jetty near Oudkarspel and continued to Alkmaar the next day. Alkmaar is always enjoyable, not only is it a nice town but the previous owners of Onbekommerd live nearby in Heiloo and we enjoy catching up with them. We had a small but annoying diesel leak at the primary pump and Ed, who knows everyone around Alkmaar, put us in touch with a mechanic who got upside down in the engine compartment and fixed it. Perfect!

Then it was off to Zaandam. Here one finds Dekker Watersport, a very big and well stocked chandler. We needed a small life jacket (more about that later) and also had our own life jackets services. Plus I bought a new depth meter..... A visit to Dekker is never cheap.

Next stop was Amsterdam. Our friends Michael and Annemieke joined us and we had dinner at the 'Mandela huisje' near the harbour. On the Saturday, we expected our niece Rachel, her husband Mathew and their 18 month old daughter Grace. They were to join us for a 4 day 'cruise'. On Friday I decided to step ashore for a shower and I stumbled and hit my side on a railing stanchion with a lot of force. I still don't know what happened, most likely I stepped onto the shore power cable which rolled away making me lose my balance. My left side hurt a lot, so instead of taking a shower I went to bed.
The following morning the pain was still bad, so Lyn went off to fetch our guests from the airport and I started to organise a visit to a doctor to get good painkillers. I called Michael, who took me to the nearby hospital. Without going into the detail of it: they discovered I had 4 fractured ribs and blood in my chest cavity.... No wonder it was painful!
A drain was inserted, morfine prescribed and I spent 3 nights in hospital. Poor Rachel, Mathew and Grace ended up with a floating hotel room, but no cruise.

Lyn visited me daily, getting to and from the hospital by Uber (what a great service) and on the Tuesday I was discharged.

As the hospital wanted me back for a checkup on Thursday the following week, we had to change some of our plans. We visited the boatshow and the next day cruised from Amsterdam to Lelystad and after that to Stavoren. Here we had a 'Cobb' barbecue with Jur and Aafke.

Then on to Woudsend, where Hayo and Maaike live in the old church. We had a crowd of 11 Valk Yacht Club members there and had a great time together.

Then it was a longish trip to Franeker where we left Onbekommerd in the care of the yard where she was built. She will spend the winter there whilst Valk will do some maintenance.

Marinus was kind enough to drive us to Leeuwarden station, this made the train journey to Amsterdam much easier as I could not really carry luggage with my left arm and a minimum of transfers was called for.

After the last checkup at the hospital and some discussions with the travel insurance which insisted I needed an escort (never travel without good insurance!), I was allowed to fly back to Cape Town with a medical doctor next to me!

So that's the story why the blog suddenly ended.

So far for now, till next year!

Location:Marine Drive,Blouberg,South Africa

Friday, August 18, 2017

Busy times!

Since our last blogpost, 10 days ago, we have been quite busy 'socially '. During the year we every now and then meet people we know, either from long ago before our 'Onbekommerd ' days or those we met 'en route' during previous trips. But the last 10 days have been busy in this respect and we have enjoyed it a lot!

After leaving our quiet spot on the island in the Lauwersmeer, we went to an equally quiet place between Eernewald and Grou. Here our friends Hans and Jet joined us for a chicken on the Cobb. They both are friends from my university days (and I was a witness at their wedding), so we go back a long time and still enjoy meeting up.

Next was a quick stop in Grou, where our Valk Yachts Club friends John and Louise and Anna and Johan joined us for coffee.

The same day we continued to Sneek. We met Rob and Nienke last year in Surwold, on the K├╝stenkanal. We were both on our way to the Baltic. They live on a typically Sneek location:

They invited us for dinner and had 'reserved' a mooring in front of their house.

The next day we together went to an island in the Gaastmeer, where Jan Dirk and Dorinne, whom we also met in Surwold last year, joined us. We had a Cobb session together on the swimming platform of Rob and Nienke's boat.

Lyn and I both had a sail in Jan Dirk's 12 foot dinghy. We worked out that this was our first sail in about 15 years but we both still knew 'the ropes'.

Then we had a night in Workum on our own and the next day in Hindeloopen we met Herman and Estelle, ex South Africans whom we met in Vlieland a few years ago.
In Hindeloopen we also had our annual 'fix' of cooked mussels.

Herman and Estelle had just come from Medemblik, and told us that there was a big regatta on there, with South Africans competing. Some searching on the internet showed that this was the Laser Radial Youth Worlds and the daughter of friends of us was competing. We found out that her parents and older brother were also there so a trip to Medemblik was quickly planned and we enjoyed seeing Mike, Gill, Brennan and competitor Michaela.

We watched the racing from Onbekommerd for two days, which was great fun. These big international youth events are unbelievable, some 300 very capable 'kids' (under 19) from almost 50 countries!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Dutch canals

The last two days, we have been making our way through the north eastern province of Groningen in a very relaxed way. Typical Dutch landscapes with sheep and cows on the dykes, birds against a nice summery sky.

We spent the night tied to a few mooring posts on the side of the Reitdiep and were rewarded with a nice sunset.

This morning, we carried on until we reached the Lauwersmeer, where we tied up on a little island in the 'Stropersgat', which is translated as "poachers' gully". It's raining now, so no nice pictures to show. There are a few other boats here, but it promises to be a nice quiet night.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

The canal trip back 'home'

As announced in the previous blogpost (and I am very remiss in that this one is much overdue), we decided to take the 'canal route ' back to the Netherlands.
First we had to get from Wangerooge to the start of the canal in Wilhemshaven. Leaving Wangerooge as soon as the Telegrafenbalje, the watershed south of Wangerooge was deep enough, then to the Jade and with the incoming tide to Wilhemshaven. Relatively easy, but one needs to pay attention to the shipping as the container terminal needs to be passed.
In Wilhemshaven we went to the Neptunis Hafen outside the lock as our friends Ike and Marinus (and their friendly dog Kees) were there with their Hoogaars, a traditional Dutch sailing ship. We only arrived just before 9pm, so we had a few glasses of wine and a good chat.

The following morning both of us left at 9, Ike and Marinus to Hornumersiel, we to go through the big lock and into the canal.

The canal trip was relatively uneventful. The big sea lock opened as we arrived, which was great!
From then on, once you are 'in the system', it's a very relaxed procedure. Each bridge or lock is ready for you as you arrive. The bridge keepers operate a few different bridges and accompany the boats on their bicycle or in their car. At the end of 'their' stretch, they call the next operator who then takes over. The only snag is when there is a breakdown, which tends to happen (in our experience) with the two railway bridges over the canal. This time the delay was an hour and a half for us, but another boat had already been waiting for over three hours when we arrived. They were unimpressed!

Otherwise, the canal is a pleasure to navigate as canals go.

Due to the delay at the railway bridge we could not make our normal stop, Aurich, before 17:30 when operations stop, so we had a relaxed extra stop in Marcardsmoor. Then two nights in Aurich and yesterday the last stretch to Delfzijl. The shortest way would be to go through the big lock at Emden, but as we (and others) have bad experiences with exceptionally long waiting times (over 4 hours on one occasion), and one also needs to catch the infrequent opening of the railway bridge, we took the detour via Oldersum, which worked out fine.
The 'wind against tide' situation on the river Elbe was not bad, and by 16:30 we were tied up in Delfzijl. So for the first time since 18 May last year there is no courtesy flag under our starboard spreader a we are in our home country.

We had a rest day today, tomorrow we'll start moving inland. I'll try to do the odd blogpost. I'm sorry not to have been very good with daily posts this year.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Strategy? What strategy?

Soon after I posted yesterday's blog, we looked again at tides and weather. Now, I did not mention yesterday that there is an additional tidal complication: the difference between spring tides and neap tides. Around 2 days after full or new moon, the tidal difference is significantly more than in between (at what is called first quarter and last quarter). This means that at springs, the high tide is higher and the low tide lower than average. At the moment, it is close to neaps, springs was a few days back. The shallow watershed ('wantij' in Dutch) south of the island of Baltrum cannot be navigated (by us) at high tide when it is neaps. So our choice was yesterday: leave Spiekeroog, pass Langeoog, go over the Baltrum watershed on the last possible day, spend a day at Baltrum, go to Norderney and sit there in strong winds for a couple of days before going to Borkum ( the harbour of the island of Juist in between is silted up too much). We don't particularly like either Northerney or Borkum, so that did not seem a good idea. Or we could just sit in Langeoog and wait for springtide and hope that by then the weather is good. Or.... go back to Wilhemshaven (via Wangerooge) and take the easy option, going through the Ems - Jade kanal to Emden. We chose the latter and are now on Wangerooge, will take the late tide to go through the 'Telegrafenbalje', the watershed south of Wangerooge, to the Jade and on to Wilhelmshaven. We'll get there after 9 tonight and look forward to meet friends from Franeker there!

So here are a few unexpected pictures from Wangerooge:

Location:Am Leuchtturm,Wangerooge,Germany

Monday, July 31, 2017

Life on Spiekeroog (and why we are here)

One of our blog followers asked us why we went to Spiekeroog and it is probably worthwhile to explain a bit.
We want to be in Amsterdam by the 24th of August. Now when you are far away, as in Mariehamn or Stockholm, getting back can seem quite daunting as there are so many variables: big crossings, weather, tide (once out of the Baltic) are the main ones. So we are conservative and use good conditions to move ahead. Now that we are relatively close (5 motoring stretches away from Delfzijl, where we plan to enter the Netherlands), we have changed our strategy a bit. We could, after Bremerhaven, have taken the inside route via the K├╝stenkanal or even after Fedderwardersiel the northern inside route via the Ems - Jade kanal, but then we would have been in the Netherlands already with 4 weeks to 'wait'. As we like the 'Wadden' islands, the string of islands to the north of the Netherlands and Germany, we have opted for this route. The weather is pretty unstable so the timing is not entirely our own, but we have plenty of leeway and are happy to choose the nicest islands for prolonged weather stops.
And Spiekeroog is our favourite. We walk through the dunes, over the dike and to the really pretty small village which has sort of a 'Hansel and Gretel' atmosphere. There is a really nice ice cream shop too.....

Here are a few impressions:

Location:Am Leuchtturm,,Germany

Friday, July 28, 2017

Moin moin

The title of the post is the greeting you get all day from everyone here in the North Western part of Germany. 'Hello' is probably the best translation. People are very friendly and helpful. And talking with the locals has great benefits! Whilst still in Fedderwardersiel, we asked a local skipper if and how it was possible to get to the island of Wangerooge in one tide. He showed a rather adventurous route, outside all marked fairways over the shallow grounds (which we would only do when following a local like himself). And then he mentioned that the best way to do it in two sections was to stop in Hormersiel. Now that's a little harbour on the Weser that we would otherwise not have chosen. But we took his advice and it was a delightful stopover.

There too we talked to someone about getting to Spiekeroog instead of Wangerooge, Spiekeroog being the second of the North Friesian German islands (counting from the East). He confirmed our calculations that it was possible and we set off with the extra leg past Wangerooge to Spiekeroog in the plotter and in our mind. At the entrance to Wangerooge we decided that all was going to plan and continued.

On the way we saw plenty of seals and some small dolphins.

We are now on Spiekeroog, where we will stay for three or four days. The weather is not good, with strong winds and this is a very nice island to be weather bound! More details in a later post!

Location:Am Leuchtturm,Spiekeroog,Germany