We left Aurich not all that early, around 9:30. The plan was to go to Oldersum, spend the night, take the early morning outgoing tide tomorrow to Delfzijl and continue to Appingedam, where there is a nice guest harbour right next to our favourite supermarket, Albert Heyn!
The trip to Oldersum was uneventful, we did have to wait out the lunchbreak at one bridge, but we took the opportunity to have our sandwiches ourselves too.
By 3pm we were tied up at Oldersum. As I am a compulsive planner, I decided to take a walk to the lock in order to negotiate a 7:30 lock time. The lock was deserted....... After some searching I found a 'notice to mariners', stating that the lock was out of order until further notice. Rats! Or some slightly stronger words.... The only option was to go back 9 KM to the Borsumer lock, into the Emden harbour and through the Emden big sea lock. Now the only reason we took the detour to Oldersum was to avoid that Emden lock which is notorious for long waiting times. Two years ago we ourselves waited there for more than 4 hours....
But as there was no alternative way out of Germany, we started the engine and went back. The friendly lock keeper at the Borsumer lock was aware of the 'problems' around the Emden sea lock. He advised us to call them on the VHF and try to negotiate something. If there was not going to be an option in the next hour (6pm was our locking deadline to get to Delfzijl before dark), we were allowed to tie up on the jetty outside 'his' lock. So I called the 'Emden Seeschleuse' on the VHF and very politely asked if there was any chance for a 'sportboot' to be locked 'out to sea' in the next hour. Now normally, 'sportboote' (that's us) can only lock with commercial traffic which is few and far between so we did not expect the reply we got:
"Where are you now?"
"At the Borsumer lock"
"Just come over"
We got to the Seeschleuse 20 minutes later and reported we were there.
"You may enter the lock"
They operated massive the lock just for us, which for Emden is completely unheard of.
By 7 we were back in the Netherlands (its the Northern province of Groningen, so definitely not 'Holland'). The starboard side spreader is bare of any courtesy flag for the first time since 26 May. We are 'home'!
But we are also very tired. A good rest and onto Appingedam tomorrow!
Just a quick addition: Why not spend the night in Emden and go to Delfzijl tomorrow morning? Answer: to get to the guest harbour you need to go through the railway bridge. And it is...... broken..... See earlier notes about everything in Germany always working.....