After a long day the fleet arrive in Bruges

Wednesday 16th May

Brugge at last

It was a grey and windy start to the day at the Royal Yacht Club Oostende, Today the fleet would move to Brugge via the Oostende Demey Sluis and inland canals. Radios on and boats ready to go at 0900 hrs was the order of the day.

The Demey Sluis only operates twice a day 1030 and 1500. At 1105 the call came on port control VHF channel 10 to expect a lock through in 20 minutes. Boats were called off one by one to mill around and wait in the basin. At 1130 hrs the lock keeper announced that there was problem with the gates and they were unable to open them, so the MBM team had no choice but to call the boats back on to the berths at the Yacht Club. Would the fleet get through today at all, was the question on everyone’s lips?

Luckily the lock problems were quickly resolved and by 1230 hrs all boats were assembled in the lock. While the water level dropped a metre a lock fee of €13.50 was to be paid by every boat. Just as the gates were opened the Police officer arrived and asked Neale whether his training staff could practice a spot check on ships papers and passports. Four boats were checked in the lock and the friendly policemen were very impressed with the organisation and the amount of paperwork everyone was carrying. The fleet finally exited the lock at around 1400 hrs. With Calm Voyager leading, the line of 19 boats slowly snaked its way along the canal inland. The delay at the first lock had cost the fleet dear, hitting rush hour of the edge of Brugge causing long waits for countless lifting and swing bridges.

A friendly welcome awaited the fleet at Yacht Club Flandria in Brugge. It had been a very long day for everyone; tired and hungry participants wandered into town or strolled into the Yacht club. Tomorrow is a public holiday in Belgian, and in Brugge there is fair and carnival at 1500 hrs. Unfortunately for the ladies on the cruise this means the lovely chocolate and lace shops will be closed all day (sorry ladies; the men are breathing a sigh of relief!)

The MBM would like to thank friendly and helpful Harbour Master, Didier at Royal Yacht Club Oostende and Commodore Albere and staff at Yacht Club Flandria for his organisation and warm hospitality.

Photo Captions

MBM Fleet in the Demey Sluis, Oostende

Smile for the Camera! Rowena & Ron Stevenson, and Margaret Winters aboard their Broom 39 Sunniva of Boston, the previous ‘Calm Voyager’