The wind dropped and seemingly every boat on holiday in the Netherlands dropped lines and moved, the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet amongst them.

MBM Zeeland cruise Day 13: strange tales of lock rage and sticking gearboxes on the way to Goes
The wind dropped and seemingly every boat on holiday in the Netherlands dropped lines and moved, the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet amongst them. For the 26 motorboats of our group it should have been all pretty simple and incredibly well organised.

From our overnight stop at Tholen, the relatively small Bergsediepsluis (34m long and 6m wide) was just around the corner and would give useful access to the southern of the Oosterschelde’s two inland branches. Because of its size, we had a lock plan which allowed for a modest level of local traffic (based upon our experiences of 12 months ago). Tom Gregory and the crew of our Broom 10/70 control boat White Rabbit would push through early, alert the friendly lock-keeper of our intentions and then move on to organise moorings at Goes. Piers du Pre, owner of the Princess V39 Play D’Eau, along with his son Toby and Toby’s friend Robert Prouse, would run air traffic control at the Bergsediepsluis to avoid any unnecessary hanging around for craft at Tholen.

For our part, we were due to check that everything was okay at Tholen before setting off on the other control boat, a Sealine 410 called True Blue, to take first lock through and then loiter in the Oosterschelde to provide safety cover. Given its angry demeanour of the day before, we weren’t sure how its mood would be now only 12 knots of westerly wind was tickling its surface and didn’t want to take chances.

White Rabbit locked through as planned and was able to give us an early report of the Oosterschelde’s psychotic switch to a calmer nature. But the plan then rapidly unravelled when we saw British, Belgian, German and Dutch yachts and motorboats take off in every direction like a startled flock of pigeons. Those moored at Tholen also had an inkling that we were headed for Goes (pronounced ‘hoos’) and were wise enough to try and stay ahead. Within a short space of time the inner waiting pontoon at the Bergsediepsluis was stacked out with craft, hardly any of them ours. And thanks to the westerly blowing boats onto rafts and gluing them there when it came time to move, the mood was rapidly curdling.

Within minutes of seeing what was evolving we hatched a plan to halve the fleet. The Play D’Eau flotilla would comprise those boats already at the Bergsediepsluis, plus the mostly slower and smaller craft still at Tholen. Although facing delays, once locked through those boats would only have nine miles to run to the lock at Goessche Sas before cruising the three miles of the Havenkanaal to Goes itself.

True Blue would head back to Tholen, hold a quick briefing and then take the larger craft still there back the way we had come the day before, gaining the northernmost branch of the Oosterschelde via the Schelde-Rijnverbinding, the Volkerak and the much larger Krammersluizen lock complex. The distance to Goessche Sas was 25 miles, but some of that was in waters with unrestricted speed and we could expect a faster lock-through.

The result was pure hare and tortoise. The boats that cleared away from Tholen at 1300 to run the longer route had all arrived at Goessche Sas by 1700. That included a couple that cruise at 11 knots, although most were capable of 20 knots or more. Those that had been on standby at the Bergsediepsluis since 1200 or earlier pretty much pulled in at the same time, or slightly ahead. Everyone had endured a perverse mix of weather that started to burn the heads of the follicly-challenged, only to then switch off the lights and dump great quantities of stinging rainwater at the most inappropriate moments.

That pattern was to have one more twist once the last of the fleet had suffered another bad-tempered bout of queue jumping and gained the serenity of the Havenkanaal. We progressed through the first lift bridge without delay, then picked up on moorings for a 15 minute wait for the main road bridge on the outskirts of Goes that lifts on the hour.

MBM Zeeland cruise hits perfect weather 
A fleet of 26 motorboats ranging in size from 26ft-52ft and in cruising speed from 6-25 knots have made a successful start to the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Zeeland lakes of the Netherlands (29 July 2001).

MBM Zeeland fleet enters the Veersemeer 
A light southwesterly breeze tickled the transoms of 26 motorboats from the MBM Cruising Club as they departed from Nieuwpoort in Belgium heading north along a haze-shrouded coast yesterday (30 July 2001).

Lazy days in Kortgene for MBM Dutch fleet 
Yesterday (31 July 2001) provided a welcome break for the 26 boats of the MBM Club cruise in company to the Zeeland lakes of the Netherlands at Delta Marina, Kortgene (1 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland boats arrive in Herkingen 
After the scorching and benign start to the cruise, this morning’s livelier breeze called for a few moments of consideration before crossing the tidal Oosterschelde from the Veersemeer to the Grevelingenmeer (2 August 2001).

Breezes whistle for the MBM Zeeland cruise 
A busy pattern of low pressure systems has been throwing quite a breeze over the Grevelingenmeer, but the 26 motorboats of the MBM Club cruising fleet are on schedule and now located in the modern Port Zelande marina and holiday complex (4 August 2001).

Short hop and no police stop for MBM fleet 
There is not a shorter leg anywhere on a Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club itinerary than the micro hop from the modern marina facilities at Port Zelande to the traditional town basin at Brouwershaven (6 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise Day 12: weather dominates 
After a schedule change that saw the 26 craft of the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet take an extra day in Brouwershaven to avoid torrential rain, all are now safe in Tholen despite F7 SW winds (8 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise Day 13: strange tales of lock rage and sticking gearboxes on the way to Goes 
The wind dropped and seemingly every boat on holiday in the Netherlands dropped lines and moved, the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet amongst them (10 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise day 15: the wind arrives early and the fleet seek refuge in four separate ports 
The promised squeeze between a ridge of high pressure and lows to the immediate north have arrived earlier than expected; a 20 knot south-westerly and local gale warnings have lead to necessary diversion tactics (11 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise day 17: ducking and dodging F7 winds 
Some crews on the homeward leg of the Motor Boats Monthly Club cruise to the Netherlands have taken to ferries and watched from a lofty height the effects of a 30-knot wind promoted by a low versus high squeeze; others are hedging bets for a return on own bottoms via various routes (13 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise day 18: the great escape (pt 1) 
The weather is a drama queen, that’s for sure. From blowing old boots, the sudden transition to carpet slippers and a white veil was mostly welcome for the expectant boats of the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet (15 August 2001).

MBM Zeeland cruise day: an update from the Dover Strait 
The scriptural statement that the first shall be last could have been written for displacement cruiser owners, but those on the MBM fleet have at least been blessed with calm seas and blue skies for their Channel crossing (15 August 2001).