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.