Gladlee of Guernsey
May 1991 – June 1991
10th-12th May 1991
10th of May was the all-important day on which Nigel finished work and we could start Phase I of our career as liveaboards. Brother Robin gave Julie a lift down to Ramsgate in the Ford Orion (which he was to borrow while we were away) and helped unload the outboard engine and a load of other assorted goods and chattels before returning to London to pick up Nigel and the folding bicycles in the evening. By the time Nigel arrived Julie had managed to stow almost everything away, and we still seemed to have a fair amount of spare space. Rob stayed overnight before setting off for Carrie’s school’s Maying celebrations, and we set about completing preparations for six weeks’ cruising in the Netherlands.
A brief hiatus ensued the following morning when Nigel discovered that his wallet had gone missing (probably left at “Seagear”, which didn’t open on the Sunday morning) but fortunately it had been turned in to the police and we managed to get away as planned, on the afternoon tide to Dunkerque. With a very light SSE wind we managed only an hour under sail before starting across the shipping lanes, but in calm seas and brilliant visibility it was a pleasant enough crossing, completed at 23.30 after 7½ hours underway.
13th-16th May 1991 - We had a pleasant day in Dunkerque, indulging in lunch and dinner ashore and a mildly lunatic expedition to a supermarket in order to drag an armful of beer each a mile and a half back to the boat. We also got the dinghy out and gave the outboard motor it’s first trial run – no problems, except how to flush the thing out with fresh water (conclusion: most people probably don’t, and we need a bigger bucket). Nice to get away from hosepipe bans, too, and to give the deck a decent wash. The next day saw the start of a long stint of northerlies, but we set out for Oostende in the hope that (as forecast) the wind would stay W of N. It didn’t – we made Oostende in four hours under power with a fair tide, but it was quite a rough ride in a F4/5 and a matter of endurance rather than any pleasure or satisfaction! We had already more or less decided to go to the Mercator basin on arrival, and with building works in progress beside the Montgomerydok moorings this seemed a wise decision, so we embarked on the lengthy process of clearing Mercatorsluis. Once inside it took two attempts (after a careful recce) to get into the narrowest of spaces on a pontoon just behind the maxi yacht ‘Rucanor’ (late of the Whitbread Round-the-World race) which we’d seen in Ramsgate at the weekend. In the end we managed it quite well, but unfortunately at the cost of another scratch on the hull.
We had planned to visit Brugge (or Bruges) from somewhere along the coast, and we caught some nice sunshine for a trip up there by train and a wander round the spectacular city centre of mediaeval buildings and canals. Remarkable, too, to see the complete absence of any sign, advertisement or even newspaper in French in this part of Belgium. With strong northerlies still forecast we decided to sit tight for another day in Oostende, discovering its rather pleasant pedestrian shopping precinct in the process.
17th-19th May 1991 - More moderate wind forecast, though still N, so we decided to take the tide to Vlissingen – a great success, as it turned out. We made an impeccable exit from Oostende and had an excellent sail, interrupted only by an hour’s motoring as we were headed approaching Zeebrugge. With a following tide we raced up the Westerschelde to Breskens, timed the crossing to Vlissingen entrance perfectly and were in the VVW Schelde marina by opening time. Only one problem (to be encountered again at Middelburg) was discovering that “Gladlee” doesn’t fit the average Dutch ‘box’ mooring – we got wedged in the on we were offered and had to back out again!
VVW Schelde proved a delightful spot to linger, as we had to for rather longer than planned. We had arrived too late to clear Customs on the Friday, and when we got down to the lock on Saturday morning we were told that they didn’t open on Saturday (or Sunday, of course). Monday was the Whitsun Bank Holiday, but Flushing Radio helpfully assured us (correctly as it turned out), that Customs would be working on Monday. So we got our folding bikes out for their first serious outing and went into Vlissingen for a food and chart shop, then on Sunday up the canal to Middelburg for a beer and a recce of the yacht moorings. A very nice atmosphere all round, from the VVW clubhouse (nice cold beer and wonderful showers), to the shops in Vlissingen, the bridge-keeper who gave us opening times for Monday and the friendly waves from all and sundry. Great, too, to cycle in a country where this is the preferred means of transport and is catered for accordingly – and our rather unusual bikes turned not a few heads in the main square of Middelburg! (p.s. Julie delighted to spot a Black Redstart at VVW).
25th May 1991 - Cleared Customs (having finally spotted that they’d moved to the other side of the lock and returned to VVW Schelde to make our leisurely way up the canal to Middelburg in a small convoy of yachts led by an impatient Customs launch. An unnecessary attempt to hitch up to a pile while waiting for the Stationsburg cost us our bow light, for the second time – though making good would eventually set us back £70-odd, the accident did at least convince us (at last) that we would have to get a more sensible mounting fitted so that we didn’t lose the light every time we rammed something.
Having reached the waiting pontoon at Middelburg by 12.30 we found that the advertised opening times for the pretty little bascule bridge into the inner basin were quite flexible – the harbourmaster had left a note to say he would be back at 16.30 (we were able to pass on this intelligence soon afterwards to a senior member of RTYC in a boat across the way, who delighted us by asking whether that would be local or UK time!) Eventually, after a sandwich lunch on deck and a stroll up to the main square to look for a suitable place for dinner, we moved into the Binnenhaven – the Havenmeister had offered the widest ‘box’ available, but we failed to get in by about 2 cms. and had to settle for the pontoon on the other side. Enormous ‘Rijstaafel’ at a Chinese/Indonesian restaurant.
21st-22nd May 1991 - After a leisurely mornings shopping in Middelburg we set off to cover the short stretch up the canal to the Veerse Meer. We drifted gently at 3-4 knots in pleasant sunshine, with a few other boats for company, getting into Veere lock at 15.30 with the fine English barque “Astrid” (also seen in Ramsgate ten days before). She followed us out of the lock and anchored off Veere as we headed up the Veerse Meer in a gentle breeze and sunshine to find a mooring for the night. Perhaps as a result of the long weekend the water was fairly busy, with lots of windsurfers cutting across at high speed, but as the afternoon wore on we found ourselves increasingly more space, as we headed up towards Veerse Dam and an empty pontoon ½ mile short of the dam itself. Moored up just after 17.00, with nearly five hours more of daylight to enjoy on a beautiful evening. After a very peaceful night we set about various jobs on another fine if quite nippy morning – notably the marking of our new anchor chain and a bit of laundry.
We strolled up to the dam before lunch, and then sailed off our mooring down to Veere, mooring to the visitors’ pontoon outside the harbour entrance for a walk round the delightful little village and a couple of beers at the surprisingly substantial yacht club while we wrote post-cards. Then off for half an hour’s run down under genoa to a deserted inlet on the tiny islet of Bastiaan de Langeplaat. Landscape reminiscent of the Norfolk Broads, with only the occasional sail or barge passing in the distance. Within a few hundred metres of the boat we could see oyster-catchers, lapwings, a pair or terns, a pair of shelducks, reed bunting, coots and reed warblers. It made for an idyllic setting which Nigel tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to get into a photograph – the last effort (below) at dawn the following morning.
23rd-26th May 1991 - We left the island shortly before midday and headed along the narrower eastern stretch of the Veerse Meer with a gentle wind behind us and some occasional glimpses of sunshine – the whisker pole made a successful debut as we approached the narrows between the marinas of Kortgene and Wohlphastsdijk. After a quick passage through the Zandkreeksluis (which divides the Veerse Meer from Oosterschelde) we emerged into tidal water again, with a view of the long and graceful Zeeland bridge to port and of a wide and rather scummy expanse of estuary to starboard and ahead of us. A short distance to the east we found the end of the Goes canal at Sas van Goes, passed through the lock and turned sharp right into the small marina that is based on the old lock. Directed into a box mooring we got a helping hand from a friendly lady who turned out to be the (Belgian) harbour master’s wife – we had a pleasant chat on their motor cruiser later on and were presented with a copy of the Belgian sailing federation (VVW)’s monthly magazine. Once safely tied up we got the bicycles out and cycled down the canal into Goes to do some shopping and to recce the facilities in advance of the arrival of Nigel’s mother, uncle and aunt two weeks later. We inspected the famous little Jachthaven on the outskirts of the town centre but decided that we should go for the picturesque Binnerhaven (closer to the shops and more space). First impressions of Goes were of a fine town square, beautifully kept old buildings round the harbour and an impressive pedestrian shopping precinct. Back up the towpath into the wind, and we enjoyed a couple of beers in the evening sunshine outside the café at Sas van Goes.
The following morning was sunny again, although cool in the familiar northerly wind. After a morning spent phoning UK, housekeeping and cooking/eating lunch we motored against the wind across the Oosterschelde to the opening section of the Zeelandbrug, thence up the short canal to the port and fishing harbour of Zierikzee, where we found a berth alongside the town quay and made the acquaintance of “Mr Fisher” (Visser), the chatty Havenmeister. Pleasant evening walk followed by an excellent dinner at the “Auberge Maritime” notable not least for the serving of rhubarb as a vegetable with fish.
Saturday morning in Zierikzee was thoroughly enjoyable – a delightful old town with narrow streets and interesting shops, including a source of Schweppes tonic and a superb butcher and fishmonger alongside each other in a little street with several well-stocked antique shops. The town hall has a tower with a most graceful gilded onion dome which seems to belong several thousand miles further east. We picked up our first holiday film just before leaving in the early afternoon, but the new one started in Zierikzee eventually turned out never to have started winding on – hence the lack of illustrations for a page or two! (rafted incidentally, alongside a beautiful nearly-new Fisher 37 whose friendly Dutch owner offered us liqueurs after dinner in the restaurant the previous evening – too full to accept).
In the afternoon we beat up the channel on the north side of the Oosterschelde towards the tiny harbour of Burghsluis, where we hoped to combine some bird-watching with a visit to the “Delta Expo” in the middle of the Oosterschelde storm surge barrier. A pleasant sail ended with a warm welcome from the Havenmeister (lodged in a picturesque little conical look-out post on the seaward side of the harbour) and a walk along the road to see lambs and a wet field full of redshanks and oystercatchers. Indulged in some smoked eel before Julie’s excellent premiere of “Potato Cod Bake”.
Next day, relatively early, we cycled along the flood barrier to catch “Delta Expo” at opening time. It seemed rather expensive when we seemed to be getting nothing more than a film, but eventually we found our way to the magnificent exhibition on two floors of the control building, covering every possible aspect of the Delta flood control project, including a model of all the waterways showing how the water is actually controlled and managed. We skipped the boat trip (also included in the price) since we had to be on our way to the Grevelingenmeer, but one could easily have spent the day there.
Back to Burghsluis and a comfortable sail down to the Zeelandbrug, interrupted when we were flagged down by a small motor boat with a duff outboard – towing it into shore caused us to miss one bridge opening, but we had an uneventful and fast sail up the Keeten and Mastgat channels, arriving off the lock into the Grevelingenmeer just after 18.00. There we found double red lights, and on enquiring on VHF soon confirmed that the lock had closed for the night (the danger of relying on an out-of-date almanac!) This proved a blessing in disguise, since we found an easy anchorage behind the Grevelingendam, just off the beach full of Brent geese and a pair of water snipes amongst the usual flocks of gulls, terns and oyster-catchers.
27th-31st May 1991 - Having negotiated the lock the following morning we paid the first of several visits to the Aquadelta marina outside Bruinisse, a nicely laid-out complex with every facility one could wish for, linked with an equally attractive holiday complex over the road behind the dike. No charge for a few hours’ mooring during the day, and we did some shopping and had a beer in the holiday village before making an appointment with Willem at the boatyard to have a sensible fitting welded on for our new bow light. By mid-afternoon, when we headed on up the Grevelingenmeer, the clouds had thickened and we ended up motoring into a persistent drizzle in order to get to our chosen destination as quickly as possible. This was Stampersplaat island, NE of Brouwershaven, where we found a cove on the sheltered side, equipped with pontoons and rubbish bins, in which there was room for about ten boats to moor round the edge. The other occupants were obviously looking for peace and quiet as well, and apart from some atmospheric accordion-playing from a little converted tug across the way our neighbours left us entirely undisturbed through a rather dull (weather-wise) day and two nights. We wandered round the island a couple of times but found nothing very exciting by way of wildlife except the herd of ponies, tame enough to come to the boats for scraps of food, and innumerable caterpillars and chrysalises.
The weather was still dull when we left Stampersplaat, but we had a pleasant enough sail round the western end of the Grevelingermeer before coming back past our cove to make our way into Brouwershaven. This proved a favourite place – an erstwhile fishing port cut off from the sea by the damming of the Grevelingermeer which has turned itself into a sailing centre without in the least spoiling the character of the village. A marina has been built between the old lock and the original inner harbour, but visitors can moor in the inner harbour, with the usual facilities available on either side and the main square of the village as a backdrop to the rows of old houses on the quayside. Supermarket, excellent fish shop, two butchers, bank and several café/restaurants are within 100 yards, the last including the splendid “T-Swarte Schaep", whose famed spare ribs we sampled that evening. (Two minor irritations of an otherwise delightful location – no paper in the loos, and water available only at rather low pressure and requiring the continuous pressing of a button to operate the hose, which proved rather boring for the 15-odd minutes it took to fill “Gladlee”’s tank !) After a leisurely morning the next day we had an easy sail back to Bruinisse in the still-persistent northerly wind, found Willem at Aquadelta too busy to tackle our bow light, arranged to call in early the following morning, and made off to Mosselbank, a small and very flat pair of islets equipped with pontoons, a mile or so offshore. The sun broke through briefly, and we cooked turbot with shrimp sauce, followed by fresh strawberries – too windy, sadly, to think of eating on deck. Back to Aquadelta on a hazy morning for our 08.30 date with Willem, who installed our bow light with a deliberate and patient attention to detail, despite two impatient owners waiting to be hauled out at the same time. Then out through the Grevelingensluis again, along to the huge Krammersluizen (even the separate yacht lock is immense, with the road bridge above clearing our mast comfortably) and reach for two hours up the Volkerak in weak sunshine, with lots of not particularly remarkable birds to look out for, not to mention quite heavy barge traffic. The Voleraksluizen at the other end are equally vast (though the Krammer locks are unique in that they separate the salt water of the Volkerak from the fresh of Harvingvliet and Hollands Diep – literally, since they actually change the water as traffic locks through). A little way beyond the locks we came to our destination for the weekend, the picturesque fort-town of Willemstad, and were directed to the first box-mooring we’d managed to fit in, just inside the yacht harbour entrance to the north of the wall protecting the town harbour.
1st-3rd June 1991 - Wilemstad proved to be one of the busier venues on our route, and judging by the number of yachts that packed in to the two harbours on Saturday evening it must be impossible at the height of the season. Our berth was a little noisy, thanks to the harbourmasters’ loudhailer and the barking of several dogs, but we were lucky to get it. The town is pleasant, with no particular striking buildings but an attractive harbour area and a pleasant walk round the seven-pointed fortifications (not unlike Sandwich in parts). On the Saturday we biked along to look at the barges going through the Volkeraksluizen, and on the way back walked into a small wooded lake area where we found a large colony of grey herons and saw a cuckoo in flight and a pair of blue-throats, as well as goosanders and pochards. Dined well off asparagus and roast chicken after exercising the outboard to and from the shower and toilet block and to the chandlers on the quayside of the inner harbour (Nigel nearly ramming the harbourmaster’s launch on the way in). We also gave the engine a full service – a busy and very enjoyable day.
We had toyed with the idea of staying a third night in Willemstad but both the weather forecast and the sky suggested bad weather on the way, so we decided to get on to Middelharnis, a few miles west along the Haringvliet. This involved another couple of hours’ motoring and the passage of the motorway bridge (of which more anon), but we eventually moored up safely on plenty of pontoon space at the end of the canal leading into the little harbour at Middelharnis. Weather distinctly gloomy by the time (18.00) we arrived, and first impressions not great – the very attractive quayside was awash with litter, and various bars seemed to be hosting the end of a rather noisy party (it subsequently turned out to have been a “harbour festival” weekend, and things did look rather better the next day). Next day was damp and windy, as expected, and what we saw of Middelharnis lacked the charm of the harbour, so there was not great incentive to linger – a bit of a disappointment, on the whole, though the cheapest mooring charge of anywhere we visited (£3).
4th-6th June 1991 - After battling across to Hellevoetsluis into a F5 to visit a chandler (didn’t find what we were looking for, but Julie did find a baler which she converted into a vacuum-cleaner storage bracket!) we ran down the Haringvliet on the genoa to catch the 16.00 opening of the motorway bridge – which didn’t happen. Since it wasn’t due to open at 17.00 and there was nowhere to go back to (into a freshening wind and roughish sea) we stooged on engine and then a scrap of genoa for the next two hours, getting decidedly cold and occasionally wet. Having eventually got through, we negotiated the Volkeraksluizen reasonably quickly and decided to try our luck at Ooltgensplaat, a mile or so down the Volkerak and up a very narrow and shallow canal. After creeping across a shallow bar we inched up the canal, ending up in 1.2 m on the wall of the tiny harbour – the café/restaurant at which we were directed to pay our dues (and hoped to have a beer) was firmly shut. Mooring in Ooltgensplaat proved memorable for the antics of a remarkably un-shy heron, which flew about the harbour occasionally striking poses on top of mooring posts. We had a wander round the village and did some shopping – it would have been a nice quiet place to stay for a day, but we had to get on to meet our visitors in Goes at the weekend, and we wanted to stop at Bruinisse on the way for a further consultation with Willem (worries about smoke and oil from the exhaust). This we did after a rather drizzly three hours motoring against the wind now turned SSW – Willem was busy but booked us in for 17th June, and we settled for an overnight stop at Aquadelta (notable for Julie’s second, and highly successful, pressure-cooker-made treacle pudding). On another showery day we reached down the Mastgat and Keeten in an easy breeze, motored into wind down the Brabantsche Vaarwater across the Oosterschelde, and fetched up in drizzle outside the lock at Sas van Goes at 16.00. It took 20 minutes to get through (a big rise to the Goes canal), in the company of a couple of chartered sailing barges, crewed by German teenagers, which chugged along ahead and astern of us all the way through the bridges and into the picturesque Binnerhaven at Goes – plenty of room in wide boxes, though reversing in (for the benefit of the visitors) wasn’t quite as elegantly done as it might have been with more room to manoeuvre!
Thursday evening turned out to be late shopping day, and the local youth was out in strength all over the main square (and rather noisily at first). Sadly, we were able to confirm that the film Nigel had loaded at Zierikzee had never wound on and was quite blank.
7th-10th June 1991 - With Nigel needing an hour to finish cleaning the upper deck (the annual Minute Cut job) it was inevitably pouring with rain for most of the next day – but we had plenty of time to get dinner ready (seafood pancakes) in spite of an unscheduled welcome break for lunchtime beers with the Cookes from Felixstowe, two berths down. Bill turned up on the quayside as Nigel finished the last pancake, having ignored his instructions and led Jo and Betty to the wrong yacht harbour. The party was duly reunited, and after inviting the Cookes back for a pre-dinner Scotch we settled down to eat while Nigel took a quick look through the mountain of mail Jo had brought out from Pickwick Road. We agreed that Bill and Betty should press on to Zierikzee by car the next day, having dropped Jo off to ship as passenger on “Gladlee”.
The morning was dull but dry, and we left Goes to catch the 11.00 bridge opening, waved goodbye at the Ringbrug by the very friendly and efficient Havenmeister. On the way down the canal we first noticed a knocking from under the stern which was to cause us increasing concern, but otherwise the trip to Zierikzee was notable only for our first (and last) relatively crowded lock, and for the fact Nigel’s mother had another 2½ hours on board without seeing a sail up – the last of the northerly wind, as it turned out. We were lucky enough to get almost the last inside berth at Zierikzee, with Bill turning up on the pontoon just as we arrived and offering soup and (in our case) beers at the “Auberge Maritime”, where we were to go for dinner later. Our planned menu for Sunday evening had to be scrapped when we found the butchers all closed early, but we found some cod for Julie’s “bake” instead. Good diner, though slightly marred by Saturday night full house and consequent slowish service. Rain in the air again.
Intermittent drizzle the following morning, and the wind had inconveniently backed SW and freshened. The race off the shallows outside Zierikzee was quite rough, and once through the Zeelandbrug we had to push into continuous rain – Jo, though increasingly damp, seemed to enjoy this rather more than we did. A series of heavy showers finally cleared as we went through the lock into the Veerse Meer, but in a wind still freshening and now veering west (and with heavy traffic in the narrow channel) we had to settle for motor-sailing until Veere came insight and we could get the wind on the beam at last. With crowds of windsurfers and yachts crossing in all directions we had to keep a sharp look-out on the way down – a little too crowded for comfort, and certainly a far cry from the Dover Strait. The short sail down to Veere was quite brisk, and we had to stooge for a while before finding space on the short-stay pontoon: eventually we settled for staying overnight, Bill and Betty having found comfortable lodgings in the village. After a drink in the yacht club (and an entertaining chat with a large and slightly drunk Belgian) Julie’s cod bake went down very well. With brighter weather and the departure of the weekend crowds it turned out to be a lovely, if breezy, evening.
Having cleared Veerse lock the next morning (with its resident swallows and swans) we motored down to Middelburg into a wind showing an occasional gust of F6, but once inside the inner harbour and in shelter we had warm sunshine for a final sandwich lunch with our visitors. Bill and Betty had only managed the passage from the waiting pontoon to the Binnerhaven at Middelburg, but they obviously enjoyed exploring old haunts by road – and Jo perhaps got a slightly better impression of “Gladlee” and her crew than on the ill-fated Sandwich excursion nearly two years ago! We inspected most of Middelburg’s restaurants on Bill and Betty’s behalf in the course of the afternoon, and eventually chose well, for them to entertain us to a very pleasant dinner at the “Copper Kettle”.
11-13th June 1991 - A grey blustery day saw us retrace our course to the Veerse Meer. After a brisk sail up to the dam we headed for Bastiaan de Langeplaat, but after spotting a mast or two over the trees we decided to settle for a pontoon we had passed on the leeward side of Haringvreter, the largest of the islands and the only one reputed to have four-legged wildlife. We were welcomed by a pair of belligerent swans with a cygnet, who seemed to get more aggressive the more bread they ate. The weather cleared a bit in the early evening, and we had an eventful walk round the island, spotting a variety of geese and ducks, several hundred rabbits and an eagle owl, which we stalked along the edge of the woods and eventually watched from no more than 30 feet for a minute or two. The following morning was wet and windy, but we decided to go across the channel and up to Kamperland in the dinghy to restock the larder – sadly we left it a bit late and found Wednesday was early closing. Back to the marina on the lake shore just as the heavens opened, so we stayed for a snack lunch before driving back to “Gladlee”. We had one or two problems with the outboard during the round trip (not least because it wasn’t properly secured to the dinghy), but on balance we felt more confident about it after this outing. A fruitless search for the eagle owl before dinner, but in the evening sunshine after the showers the island looked beautifully fresh and green, and the rabbits were out in force again – plus the odd duck. Thanks to our abortive sortie to Kamperland Julie had to improvise dinner from packet spaghetti with cheese sauce, but the result proved very edible. One of our best stopovers, in spite of the weather.
Leaving Haringvreter in mid-morning we raced up the eastern half of the Veerse Meer with a freshening SW wind behind us, stopping off for a couple of hours to investigate the facilities at Kortgene and do some shopping. When we left Kortgene the wind was a definite F6, and by the time we had cleared the Zandbreck lock started up the Brabantsche Vaarwater across the Oosterschelde we were registering gusts of 35 knots. With two reefs in the genoa (as it were) there was no need to set the main at all, and we made 6-7 knots all the way, practically surfing on the wind-driven tide up the relatively narrow Keeten and Mastgat channels towards Bruinisse. Julie enjoyed herself thoroughly on the helm, though some of the shipping coming the other way looked to be having a less comfortable time! Once in the relative shelter of the Grevelingenmeer we decided to stay at WSV Bruinisse (the “poor relation” of Aquadelta) for a change: only marginally cheaper, as it turned out, but quite adequate.
14th-18th June 1991 - A leisurely lunchtime start from Bruinisse gave us an excellent beat along the Grevelingmeer to Brouwershaven, with two reefs in the main for a westerly F5/6 – for once it was sunny and quite warm, particularly as we short-tacked along the narrow stretch past Stampersplaat. Brouwershaven was as before, and we found a berth just in front of the accordion-player we’d met on Stampersplaat a fortnight earlier. Just time to visit the fish-shop, so it had to be smoked eel followed by sole for dinner. Sunday’s photos give no hint of Saturday’s weather, which was so wet that we scrapped plans to bicycle across to Zierikzee to have another look at the antique shops.
We settled for a quiet day of pottering about the boat, followed by another gargantuan plate of spare ribs at “T-Swarte Schaep” – and breakfast there on Sunday morning, after which we enjoyed warm sunshine as we reached gently across to De Punt, at the NW end of the lake, where we sailed on to the visitors’ pontoon and rewarded ourselves with a beer. In the afternoon we coasted back SE in light winds, fetching up at Mosselbank, ready for our morning appointment with Willem at Aquadelta. Julie had taken a look under the boat at the WSV marina before the weekend, and we seemed to have traced our mysterious knocking from the prop shaft area to a loose bit of the rope cutter behind the propeller. Having hauled the boat out Willem obligingly fixed this for us (by removing the cutter altogether), and having settled our bill we set off for the Grevelingensluis –only to turn round with hearts sinking as the noise reappeared as strongly as before. We had to wait till the next afternoon before Willem could haul us out again, consoling ourselves with a fish supper in Bruinisse and trying to enjoy a beautiful hot sunny morning as we did our usual odd jobs. With the boat out of the water again it did not take very long to discover that there was vertical play in the ‘P’ bracket, but after consulting Westerlys by telephone we decided to live with the problem until we got back to UK. It was some relief, at least, to have identified the problem, and the boatyard were good enough to charge us the minimum rate possible for the second lift out.
19th-21st June 1991 - After a second night at Bruinisse, preceded by a pleasant bike ride to a bird reserve and a picturesque village along the lake, we had a wet but uneventful drive into the wind down to the Oosterschelde and up to Zierikzee again, where we carefully took our oilskins off to go shopping in a downpour. Found a present for Phil and Debbie’s wedding and (unusually) a half leg of lamb for dinner. Nigel was despairing of getting any sort of photograph of the place for the diary, but the weather improved slightly by morning and there was even a brief glimpse of sunshine. We decided to go up the Oosterschelde to the Zoom-meer and set off at midday in drizzle and a light ESE breeze – both soon died, and we motored SE past Wemeldinge and Yerseke in a flat calm under an extraordinary complex of different cloud formations. We cleared the tiny Bergsediepsluis just before 16.00 and emerged alongside the “crossroads” where the channel to Bergen op Zoom cuts across the Rhein-Schelde canal, then headed two miles north to Tholen, a pleasant place with old walls and a fine windmill, a carillon in the towers of the town hall whose repertoire included “Three Blind Mice” and “The Entertainer”, and a remarkable amount of wildlife in the harbour – notably clouds of (harmless) midges and a family of ducks which woke us up later by pecking their way round our transom. We also met some more former neighbours from Stampersplaat and, most improbably, one of the girls we had towed into Oostende in May 1990 – she had married a Dutchman and settled down locally, and her boat (“Kudoso”) was moored just down the way.
Superb sail down to Sas van Goes the following day (7½ miles in just over an hour), and warm enough for shorts for a time. By the time we got into the lock, though, the rain was pouring down and Julie steered down the canal to Goes under the ship’s umbrella!
This is the end of the first written diary for “Gladlee of Guernsey”. Volume two continues….