The journey towards the Baltic Sea; via France, Belgium and Holland.
Hello I'm Mithril. Don't I look clean and shiny?
All ready to go . . .
That's it then, tomorrow we get launched and the dream begins. We hope to get to
St Petersburg in Russia by mid summer and return to perhaps the Channel Islands
for winter. Do read the travelogue below and see what we did and how we did it.
This first page deals with our journey from the point of our leaving the UK and
sailing to France, then on past Belgium as far as Breskens in Holland.
Our progress is deliberately slow as we are still seeing ice warnings for the N.
Baltic. You will see, within the following pages, that we regularly download weather
info from Hamburg using our onboard HF radio installation. You will discover that
the radio is both a weather tool and a hobby.
And by reading between the lines you wil find out which of our onboard systems work
and those which do not and whether our 38 foot Endurance is the ideal liveabord
On this page:
Calais (27th to 30th April 29 miles from Ramsgate)
We left Ramsgate for Calais mid morning, all very civilised, especially following
a splendid breakfast, as the trip did. The sun was shining but the mist had yet
to clear so we had 1M visibility, enough. We went out side the Goodwin Sands and
then down tide, arriving at the Traffic-Separation-Scheme (TSS) just upstream of
Calais and so able to cross without being incessantly buzzed by kamikaze ferries.
For once the shipping lanes were also quiet, maybe that's how it is on a Monday,
and so we crossed easily to Calais and were allowed in promptly after Janet called
Calais Port. 30 minutes of waiting on the buoys by the lock saw us through on the
first lock opening at Calais HW-2 hours.
On the trip down the Goodwin's were high and dry and a playground for more seals
than the average seaside beach has day trippers, we also saw a couple of porpoise.
The visit to Calais was mainly to stock up on ships stores as they are rather expensive
further East and we wanted an economic supply for the next three months. Interestingly,
although Tesco Calais stocks all the wines we Brits enjoy, going to the local wine
merchants in Calais yields a far greater variety of cheap and excellent wines, so
much so, it's the only place we shopped for wine. And they delivered to the boat
I cannot imagine the cost to build this today.
I've seen this Town Hall many times but this year was the first time we went inside.
And I can tell you, its just as impressive inside, particularly the stained glass
windows overlooking the staircase. The stone is also superbly carved throughout.
Its a shame to walk past it so next time you are in Calais do call in and see for
Distance logged. (Miles)
Hours at Sea. (Hours)
Engine Hours. (hours)
Average distance per day.
Figures for April 2004.
These figures actually include our trip to the CA in Limehouse basin, London. So
one day motoring into London and one day back to Ramsgate.
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Oostende (31st � 2nd May, 50 miles from Calais)
The trip East began with us leaving Calais at 0800 into a NE 4/5 occ. 6. The sea
was horrid and the wind right on the nose until midday when it backed to the North
and we were able to turn off the engine for some peace and quiet. We then had a
gentle sail as the wind dropped lighter, and backed a little more, allowing us to
reach Oostende and the Royal North Sea Yacht Club for late afternoon. Robert the
harbour master was as vocal as ever and welcomed us with his foghorn like voice
from the top of the restaurant, he asked where the rest of the Shotley gang were
as our previous visits have always been with them.
We stayed in Oostende 3 days over the first May bank holiday weekend and were pleased
to see another Shotley pennant as the new and shiny power boat Wreckless and crew
came over on their maiden voyage, champagne and all.
On the Sunday we cycled along the very busy bank holiday prom for about 10 miles.
It was a lovely warm and sunny day and we could not miss the opportunity for a ride
out and to burn a few calories.
Breskens (3rd � 4th May, 23 miles from Oostende)
On the Monday we had an early start and headed for Breskens. Here we are waiting
for the harbour master to allow us to leave. It started as a motoring session but
quickly became an idyllic sail in warm sunshine past Zeebrugge and into the Westerschelde.
We arrived at Breskens whilst being carried along on a 3 knot tide and we had to
make a very speedy right turn behind the harbour mole to get into the Marina.
Breskens� Marina is immaculate and I think the average boat size is over 40 feet,
some real smashers as well, although many looked as though they hadn�t moved in
years, sad really. The town is also immaculate as are the new tower blocks of flats
but it all seemed without any character, and the shops were all closed. We wont
Ijmuiden (5th � 6th May, 79 miles from Breskens)
From Breskens we planned an 80 mile trip up to Ijmuiden and sadly had to rise at
0430 to catch the 0500 ebb tide out of the Westerschelde, but as it was still dark,
even after breakfast, we had another half hour kip and left at first light. We crossed
the estuary and on the N side found the NW tending channel out to sea. Some of the
buoys were less than 50 metres from the beach but as the depths were 15m+ and used
by sizable ships, we had no worries. We were carried along on a super 2.5kt tide.
Out in the open sea once again we had 1-2 kts against us for the next 4 hrs but
by midday we were at the Hoek of Holland and waiting for a gap in the ports inbound
traffic to let us past. Once past, full sail and a following tide took us on past
Scheveningen at 9.9 kts COG. This had been our original destination but as the day
was still young we carried on to the massive promontory of Ijmuiden�s huge harbour.
We were granted immediate entrance and followed the huge leading lights through
and then into the Marina. M-pontoon was for visitors, it was empty and had pontoons
with huge posts for stern lines. The posts also carried a steel tube and invited
us to tie into it before we approach the pontoon. We had 2 goes before realising
that if we simply tied up on the pontoon we could then reach the, now superfluous,
Booking-in, paying and receiving the bar-coded ticket for re-entry to the marina
was all by machine, and was very efficient once we realised we must use it or else
we couldn�t return to our boat thro� the secure entrance gates. That had us going
for a while and it�s a good job Janet had the cash on hand.
Ijmuiden has a very new town centre with all amenities and a splendid library with
an internet centre right at the side of a wonderful coffee shop. From the marina
it�s a 30 minute walk, a 10 minute cycle or a 15 min bus journey and worth visiting
if only, for us that is, to find the ferry terminal for the following days trip
on the hydrofoil to Amsterdam.
The speed the ferry travelled at (65 kph) might make power-boaters of us yet; well
maybe! An excellent day out but what a strange culture, the C&A �naked� dummies
in the shop window were covered with plastic bags but the live waitresses had far
Den Helder (7th � 9th May, 37 miles from Ijmuiden)
From Ijmuiden Den Helder was 37 miles up the coast to the large navel harbour with
its small marina in one corner, within the naval complex. We had a cracking sail
in a free and easy F4 wind, passing a �square-rigger� out of Amsterdam on route.
Imagine tacking that lot. Ready about . . . .
It looked a fantastic site but can you imagine tacking that lot? You will not be
quite able to see but there are about 50 people on the aft deck. This ship is some
The marina is at the Koninklijke Yacht Club, and the harbour master is most friendly
and welcoming. Showering involves a visit to the officers mess and so is a little
daunting, we always had to carry our passports and our harbour receipt at all times
in case we were challenged by security. We were never challenges but we did have
our first visit from Customs officers who, in Janet�s words, were two very fit young
men. I think it was the uniforms!
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