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.

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.

The event commenced from Ramsgate on Saturday where a full complement of 100 people from 30 boats assembled in the Royal Temple Yacht Club for a briefing. This is the first time the magazine has run a two-week cruise into the Amsterdam region since 1999, the closer Zeeland area to the south having proved so popular. However, heading direct for Ijmuiden rather than the Westerschelde or Oosterschelde provides a fast-track to the Ijsselmeer and Markermeer and the attractive harbours surrounding those inland sea twins and it was considered high time that a visit was scheduled.

Given the exposed nature of the North Sea coast and the necessarily modest weather limits imposed by a fleet of mixed boats and abilities, weather holds the key to whether Ijmuiden can be attained at all. And weather was certainly causing some head scratching, to say the least. The Friday before departure had thrown an elemental fit of not insignificant proportions that kept most boats not already in Ramsgate tied back in home ports on the east and south coasts. Fortunately, conditions broke as expected late on the Friday night and all boats were able to make Ramsgate on the Saturday.

Close examination of synoptic charts revealed a potential two-day window, with the promise of a relatively calm crossing to Nieuwpoort in Belgium on the Sunday and the likelihood of needing to abandon a planned layover day on the Monday in favour of a passage straight away to Ijmuiden. The Cruising Club fleet would be racing the approaching storm promised for later in the week, albeit with a relatively safe margin of a day or so in hand.

The plot worked pretty much as anticipated. All boats made a safe and comfortable passage to Nieuwpoort and even the displacement cruisers in the fleet had gained the KYCN moorings by mid-afternoon after a tide-assisted run.

Rain hit overnight as a front passed through and there were still some downpours in the pre-dawn hours of Monday as the slowest boats cleared Nieuwpoort’s long pierheads. But payback for the early departure was uncannily quiet waters off the sometimes-boisterous Belgian coast and a couple of hours of favourable tide to assist everyone on their way. The fleet was already one less in number, with the Fairline 36 SedanLiberty Bellhaving to return to the UK due to an urgent business issue, and it was shortly due to become 28 in number when the Princess 435Ocean Eagleturned back to Nieuwpoort due to a bad shaft vibration.

Bad luck was also to strike the Sunseeker 42 MustiqueBuscandojust off the Roompotsluis, a raw water pump belt failure causing her port 3208 Caterpillar to overheat. The MBM Broom 39CL control boatCalm Voyagerwith Kim Hollamby and Tom Gregory aboard was nearby and soon alongside to lend some help and the decision was taken to proceed on one engine and leave a full inspection and repair until arrival.Buscandosubsequently spent the rest of the journey in close company with three of five displacement and slower semi-displacement boats on the fleet -Formanda(a Beecham Searider),Lotus(a Wellcraft Californian), andJayella(a Haynes 340 aft cabin). It seemed somewhat incongruous to see a Sunseeker trolling along like a trawler yacht but, aside from a little difficulty in maintaining a steady course in a slowly building quartering sea that was spurred by a sea breeze once the skies cleared, the Mustique looked strangely at home.

The rest of the fleet enjoyed a trouble free run through to Seaport Marina. Several boats had covered over 300 miles in three days to get to that point, an above average effort for many owners who rarely get the chance to log that kind of mileage in such a timeframe. Notable was the effort of Tim Atkinson who, despite being bereft of crew and leaving Nieuwpoort late, bought his 1970-built Freeman 32Liberty Londonthrough Ijmuiden’s looping arms and entrance swell not far off the backs of those ahead of him.

There was to be one more day’s effort to come before everyone could take some well-deserved time off. Tuesday saw a later start to move through the sea lock at Ijmuiden, onto the busy North Sea canal with its mix of leisure and commercial traffic and even a hydrofoil ferry, before reaching the not particularly attractive outer environs of Amsterdam.

Boating visitors to Amsterdam often use the tightly packed Sixhaven, when they can get in, or opt for the insecure moorings alongside Amsterdam Central railway station, but Motor Boats Monthly cruises have always pushed through onto the Markermeer and the attractive harbour town of Monnickendam from where the capital is just a short bus ride away. WithBuscandoback on two engines after some concerted effort the night before, it was 28 boats that made their way slowly around Marken Island in ones, twos and threes to approach our home for the next few days, Marina Monnickendam.

The fleet had beaten the storm but as this is written it has finally caught up with us. Control boat crews have tonight been rigging extra lines on the rafts of boats that are lying on the marina’s outer wall and a watch is being kept as the wind rises towards an expected Force 7. All things being equal it will stay west of south, which should not cause any great issues. The outlook for the next couple of days looks a bit grim in terms of rain and the Netherlands is likely to take on a monochrome pallor but the fleet has been blessed with sunshine today which has revealed the Gouwzee in all of its multi-coloured splendour. For that, and for the safe passage here, we are most grateful.

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).