Day 82 Tuesday 22nd August 2017
Ostend to Vlissingen (Flushing)
Three countries in 2 days! A sunny morning but no wind and a flat calm sea. We leave at 10 am to get the fair tide from Zeebrugge to Vlissingen, sometimes we have up to 4 knots. Follow the buoys again but it’s quite shallow along the coast – 6-9 m depth.
We notice that the Dutch – Belgian border goes across after Zeebrugge, although the Scheldt Estuary leads to Antwerp in Belgium. Time to change the courtesy flag AGAIN!
We’re a little nervous about crossing the major waterway to Antwerp as there are many fast ships around and you have to avoid them, but we cross at right angles in a gap in the traffic. Phew!
A Dutch windmill greets us in Vlissingen.
Did you ever read ‘We Didn’t Mean to Go to Sea’ by Arthur Ransome , of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ fame? The children (the Swallows) accidentally cross the North Sea from Pin Mill on the River Orwell to Flushing (Vlissingen) on their boat. I read it to my class when I was teaching and we all loved it.
We have arrived at the very start of the Mast Up Route through Holland. First there’s a sea lock to navigate. Radio up the lock to find there’s an opening in 5 minutes. A French yacht comes in behind us and, as usual, they have a bunch of spaghetti not attached to the boat on the bow so the boat is only attached at the stern and swings out wildly. We, of course, have a perfect landing with a line from a central cleat, followed by bow and stern lines!
The next challenge is in the Schelde marina. In Holland, as all you sailors know, they have two posts which you have to lasso as you enter your berth, then you have to go over the bow to tie off. We thought we’d cracked this one by going into a corner with a pontoon but the harbourmaster was having none of it and sent us to no.13 berth. Fortunately he took our bowlines and patiently held the boat whilst we attempted to lasso the posts. Success eventually and just have to climb over the bow every time you want to go ashore. The new yellow bowsprit for the cruising chute is very useful!
Walk round to the station , the nearest restaurant, a brisk walk of twenty minutes, for something to eat but it’s 8 o’clock and they’re closing and can only do mussels. Forgotten about Dutch opening times after so long in France. Anyway they can do fish and chips for me so we both get to eat after all.