The 28 boats of the MBM cruise in company to the Netherlands are filling to capacity the town basin of the Delta port of Goes.

Motor Boats Monthly cruise packed into Goes
The 28 boats of the MBM cruise in company to the Netherlands are filling to capacity the town basin of the Delta port of Goes.

For the second time in 24 hours the cruisers, which vary in size from 32ft-62ft and in beam from 10ft 6in-21ft, found themselves indulging in a delicate ballet to fit the jigsaw pieces into place, having done so the night before on the quay of the walled town of Willemstad. However, given the quasi-circular shape of the Goes basin compared to the linear wall of Willemstad, the positions of boats were more complex for the second performance and the old women of the town are rumoured to have come down for knitting lessons, such are the quantities and angles of ropes used.

Since our last report it has once again been a question of dodging some exceedingly bad tempered bursts of weather, with a few welcome interludes, among which was the13nm run down on Monday, from Dordrecht to Willemstad, accomplished under sunny skies.

MBM’s main control boat, the Broom 39Calm Voyager,had a much longer day in prospect given that Kim Hollamby and Claire Frew were using her to tow the other control boat, the Humber 8m RIBTime Flies, to the Volvo Penta agent at Delta Marina on the Veersemeer. As the day wore on cloudy skies gave way to freshening winds and sun. The evening then produced a glorious sunset before an ominous black cloth dropped in back stage and flashes of lighting appeared in frantic bursts. Some 14 hours after leaving DordrechtCalm Voyagercrept into the unlit entrance of Willemstad, deck drumming under the percussive beat of the storm’s jumbo-sized raindrops. The Broom’s crew slept well that night.

It had been hoped that a Tuesday move would allow everyone to find a gap betwixt front and trough, but although the wind was judged okay for the move across the Oosterschelde to Goes, a brisk but manageable south-westerly, everyone was to experience yet more thunderstorms with squalls that briefly turned the sky dark and the water white as they rattled eastwards. Most boats used the planned route through the Volkerak and then the Keetan Mastgat to the Oosterschelde, with the displacement cruisers diverted through the Schelde-Rijn canal around the back of Tholen Island to the tiny Bergsediepsluis that gives access to the quieter southern end of the Oosterschelde.

Nothing can be more of a contrast than locking in from the Oosterschelde through Goessche Sas onto the quiet Havenkanaal with its sentinel rows of trees either side looking like a little slice of France. The rain stayed away – for the quiet bits – only re-appearing when there was any significant deck work to be done. Answers on a postcard please from any person that can answer why it always tips down, or for that matter why the mobile phone rings, when entering a lock or approaching a mooring.

By early evening everyone had gained the sanctity of the Goes basin and, upon swapping notes, it became clear that the general consensus was that all had experienced a good passage. The couple of technical glitches that had occurred along the way were solved on arrival and so the job list looks strangely empty.

The fleet briefly numbered 29 yesterday when we met up with long-standing MBM club members Terry and Veronica Hughes and their NordWest 900Papa Dip. It was good to catch up on news and pick their brains on facts about their local cruising area here in the Zeeland region of the Netherlands.

Today (Wednesday) everyone is strangely quiet, with scarcely a murmur heard from boats until well into the morning. Perhaps it is the knowledge that we face some tricky weather calls leading up to the weekend. Perhaps it is the various different social and nautical activities of the past few days provoking a need for battery recharges. Perhaps it is the hypnotic patter of the rain (sorry to mention it again but up to an hour ago it featured strongly). Perhaps it is simply that the town basin is, by nature, peaceful. Whatever, everyone has that slightly lethargic look redolent of people that suddenly realise they have a few hours free and are not quite used to knowing what to do with that commodity.

Tomorrow we unravel the knitting and move again, unusually for an MBM fleet, in one great gaggle, back down the Havenkanaal, out to the Oosterschelde for the briefest of flits around the corner to the Veersemeer. What happens after that is very much in the hands of He who controls the weather.

Racing the storm 
The Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands has successfully stayed ahead of unseasonable bad weather to reach Ijmuiden on the North Sea coast and the relative sanctity of the inland waters beyond (19 August 2004).

MBM cruise reaches Dordrecht 
The 28 boats of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands have reached the attractive city of Dordrecht at the crossroads of some of Europe’s busiest waterways (22 August 2004).

Motor Boats Monthly cruise packed into Goes 
The 28 boats of the MBM cruise in company to the Netherlands are filling to capacity the town basin of the Delta port of Goes (25 August 2004).

Split ends for MBM Netherlands cruise 
The closing acts of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company season have provided a graphic illustration of the way in which modern, fast motor cruisers can exploit weather windows (30 August 2004).