It was midnight.
The mesmerizing lights were coming from everywhere. We were just about to enter the promised land, but which light should we follow?
Well, ok, the reality was less dreamy than that – we were standing in front of the lock that would take us to the Amsterdam canal and had no idea where the entrance was. It’s really hard to figure out with some many lights and neons, you know?
We finally managed to find our way, leveled down about 20 centimeters to the Netherlands altitude 😉 and followed the canal all the way to a cozy marina right in the heart of Amsterdam.
Whoohoo! Let’s hit the town!
Hey, we had visitors last night!Right in the middle of my shift the radio starter talking: “Tonic, Tonic, this is French custom officer, over!”. 10 minutes later there was a military ship following us and 15 minutes later there were three people in very serious uniforms jumping onto our boat from a dinghy.
Nils is generally not a big fan of being woken up an hour before his shift without an actual reason, but he agreed that having French military is a rather good motive, so he was there to welcome the guests with all honours and we spent two nice hours chatting about our trip and the beauty of Normandy, making sure there wasn’t anything illegal on the boat, analyzing passports (well, if a border officer is impressed by your passport, you know you’ve done something right!) and trying to explain that the facts that Nils work in a green house and Piotr is a chemist are not related and they don’t cooperate on any legally dubious matters.During the day the wind wasn’t gracious (again!), but the currents were, so we were still race-speeding with 8 knots on the plotter. This made us feel like we’re part of the highway – when we reached Rotterdam area and were navigating around the 700 other boats and ships – that looks pretty impressive!
As the weather ultimately refused to cooperate and offered us an overview of its best tricks, including sharp strong wind, biting rain and short, powerful and massive waves, Nils and Agata consulted a neighbour ship about the forecast. It didn’t look promising, so they made the call to turn south and wait the storm off behind the corner, or maybe even dock into one of the Normandy harbours.
After they had spent 4 hours sailing south, the weather decided to ignore the forecast and suddenly got much better. Oh well, in that case we should just turn back to course.
And on course we had the charming town of Dieppe, where we filled up on moulles mariniere, croissants and wine, had a hot shower, made all the laundry in the world, filled up on diesel and with new hopes and new resources left for Amsterdam at 6 pm.
Hello Europe! We have missed you so much!
Entering the English Channel was a whole new experience. So far we have tried to travel with the currents, they would usually give us an extra knot or two, but in the channel – without even trying hard, our speed went up to 10 knots! This didn’t last forever, though, because every few hours the current changes direction and soon we found ourselves going a dreadful 3 knots, and that’s with a little help of the engine…
We arrived to Jersey, one of the Channel Islands and felt almost like at home.
We explored the town of St Helier, grabbed a few beers, observed how the marina was preparing for the boat show that was just about to start.
Already on the next afternoon we consulted the currents and the weather. First ones said they would try cooperate but made no promises, the latter one – not at all. With wind directly into our nose and the tricky currents we began our struggle yet again.
As we are slowly entering waters way richer in traffic than the ocean, Nils has been briefing and instructing us about interacting with fishing boats, crossing highways and behaving in a lock. It’s a whole new sailing world – it happened that we didn’t see a single boat for a week and now there’s more and more of them on the radar!
The wind is rather sharp and strong, letting us sail at an angle, fortunately it’s the angle that allows cooking. And it gives us a pretty good speed too – the average on my shift was an impressive 7.7 knots!
On our first May evening we are starting to notice the first lights from French coast!
What is more –we even manage to scrape off some signal, call out close ones and get all our messages 😀 It’s so nice to know the world remembers you while you’re off sailing the ocean…
These are the days when time flies almost unnoticed, one wave follows another, fishing remains unsuccessful, sailing remains uneventful. We are starting to see the coast of Galicia – on the map, not the actual coast, but exciting enough 😉
Nils prefers not to enter the Biscay Bay, so many shipwrecks along the coast of Spain remind the sailors that these are tricky waters! So with a pretty impressive average speed of 6.5 we’re following the straight line to the edge of France while watching multiple movies and munching on the chocolate that’s still aboard only because we didn’t eat anything for the first three days of the passage.
I love the smell of hot engine in the morning…
Kidding, I don’t, but the engine keeps us warm on the cold nights, so who am I to complain?
We woke up to a beautiful, though almost frosty morning. The beams of sun were restlessly making their way to us, but with the water temperature of around 13 degrees we’re still getting more chill than warmth.
With such a peaceful, calm day we had the perfect conditions to clean up and do some repairs. We started with the boom that has been lying idly since last night and attached it back to the mast. Hopefully this time it will stay in its place.
After that Nils with the help of Piotrek took out all the windows, exchanged the old sikaflex and resealed them.
Of course after that procedure the whole cabin was coated in pieces of old sikaflex, so Agata and I dealt with the cleaning, which was a good thing because the boat really needed that and a bad thing because we had just taken a shower last night… Well, you can’t stay clean forever.
In the evening – apparently as a reward for our hard work – we were surrounded by hundreds of dolphins. They were coming in the same direction, a large field around us was covered by jumping creatures. Since we had absolutely no wind it took the dolphins about 10 seconds to take us over. Suddenly one of them jumped out, said – “Yo, guys, let’s go play with the boat!” – and they came back! Zigzagged in front of us, jumped right below our rusty anchor and had a great time teasing us and following around.
Yo, guys, thanks for making our evening (
It’s easy to get used to warmth. Like cats on a hot tin roof we almost cuddled around the engine area. We were coming back to our usual selves, food stopped being completely off-putting, the headaches started to fade away, the stomachs were climbing down from throat area to their normal healthy position. We took the chance and decided to prepare the best dinner we could possibly think of: baked potatoes, grilled veggies and fried chicken on top of it. We had to take the chance – if this dinner wouldn’t kick in after the major sea sickness incident, nothing would.
There it was, we finally overcame the demon of sea sickness. Let’s celebrate with a shower.
Once everybody went to sleep, I took the first shift and made myself comfortable. Not for very long, though. Smack and boom (nomen omen)! The naughty one decided to fall down again… This time the situation was way less dramatic than the first time when we almost lost the splinter, with no wind and barely any waves nothing was falling off the deck, so Nils – half asleep – made the call to leave the boom in its lazy position for the night and deal with it in the morning.
So we did. Yawn.
With the wind dying down for the past few days, the sea has slowly started to calm down as well. Our stomachs will still need a while.
Today felt like a good day for fishing, so the boys threw in the rod and were trying to catch something, but as far as I’m concerned it’s better that they didn’t succeed, because I honestly don’t know if anybody’s already in shape to gut and fillet a fish, not to mention – survive the smell.
The North Atlantic frost started to be biting, and need for heating + need for speed = engine. We started the engine and it kept us warm and cozy all night long.
Today was the day when heaven and earth switched places. Or so I think.
I was lying on the bed, thinking of all the time Piotrek and I have been travelling. 1000 days exactly today.
Oh, I even bought wine and chocolates for the occasion, silly me.
1000 days of travel and never before have I so badly want to be home. In a bed that is not moving. To be able to stand on my own feet and maybe even have something to eat or drink, something that would remain in my
I was lying on my back and looking through the ceiling windows. The waves were coming from above, like the sea was falling on us over and over again, banging on the roof. They weren’t that high really, only 3-4 meters, but combined with lack of wind, they made the boat wobble like the most wicked rollercoaster.
Supposedly, if you look at the horizon, you feel better. Well, not if the horizon is upside down.
I looked for eye contact with Piotrek or Agata, but they were as much in zombie-mode as myself. The only known cure for sea sickness is to sit under a tree. However, I’m starting to suspect that Nils has got a vaccination that he’s not telling us about.