Main Image: Blankenberge in Belgium

Crew: Kim Hollamby, Paul Oram, Sally Chapman.
From: Blankenberge Marina, Belgium.
To: Seaport Marina, Ijmuiden, Netherlands.
Port engine start hours: 512.5. Finish hours: 521.3. Hours run: 8.8.
Stbd engine start hours: 512.3. Finish hours: 519.8. Hours run: 7.5.
Log start: 5962.9nm. Log finish: 6095.2nm. Distance run: 132.3nm.

Navigation log (full commentary follows below)
0.5lt oil port, 0.5lt oil stbd.
1000: underway.
1005: sp 24kn. Sea: calm. Vis: 7-8nm. Sp: 23kn.
1040: wpt 513 51 30.00N 003 09.00E NE of WK13.
1130: 51 42.54N 003 28.52E.
1146: 51 43.76N 003 30.73E. Alongside ‘Watermill’ to investigate stopped engine. Drop in water and find some evidence of prop fouling although nothing now present. Also poss muck in filters.
1227: 51 42.87N 003 29.91E. Underway again. Sp:21kn.
1335: wpt 514 51 56.50N 003 50.20E NW of Adriana W Cardinal.
1353: wpt 515 51 57.80N 003 58.30E NW of MV. Start of recommended crossing track for Europoort.
1405: wpt 516 52 02.00N 004 02.50E End of recommended track. 1nm east of MN1. Slow down to check on progress of ‘Barracuda’.
1420: back with Watermill who reports further sluggishness on stbd engine. Slow to 15kn.
1520: SW of Nordwijk buoy.
1529: lost GPS fix alarm, fix back 1 min later.
1545: 52 19.32N 004 22.13E. Alongside Watermill who reports suspected fire. Prepare to take crew off but land Paul Oram to investigate and he finds problem to be a seized windscreen wiper motor heating up.
1550: underway again.
1625: wpt 517 52 28.30N 004 31.10E Ijmuiden entrance 0.5nm off.
1635: inside Ijmuiden outer entrance.
1645: alongside fuel berth. Diesel 348.1lt (not full tanks) HFL 574.35.
1710: underway again.
1720: out of harbour. Sp: 22kn.
1745: 52 18.77N 004 25.86E. Back with Barracuda. Sp: 7kn.
1910: inside Ijmuiden entrance.
1920: alongside G pontoon.

Commentary
Although we have organised a total of four cruises in company to the Netherlands, this would be only the second time the weather had allowed us to make short work of getting to the Amsterdam area by running up along the North Sea coast to Ijmuiden. And it was to be the first time we had managed to arrive there with all boats still functioning, but there was a bit of work to do before we could make that second claim.

The day started normally enough, if early, especially for the De Groot Barracuda V, her 7kn cruising speed dictating an 0500 departure. Not too long after our rafts of up to eight deep started to unravel themselves. Amongst the early birds was our Aquabell 33 control boat Castaway. Tom Gregory and Paul Berger would be riding near the head of the fleet; we would be sweeping up the rear.

With the last boat away just before 1000, it was our turn to point Missing Link seaward. The last time I had travelled these waters, my departure time was 0300 and all I could see of the numerous navigation buoys outside Blankenberge marking the approach channels to Zeebrugge and the Westerschelde were lights blinking all around. At the time I thought of the poor souls lost in the darkness just a few short miles and years away on the Herald of Free Enterprise tragedy and shuddered.

This time there was plenty of visibility to spot the navigation marks, the many fishing boats and the odd ship or two along the way that all had to be avoided before reaching the relative solitude of the waters that lie of Zeeland’s numerous sandbanks. We were not to be alone for too much longer though.