Westerly winds of up to 20 knots off the Belgian coast today have provided a useful excuse for the Motor Boats Monthly Zeeland Cruise fleet to stay one more night in Goes.

Westerly winds of up to 20 knots off the Belgian coast today have provided a useful excuse for the Motor Boats Monthly Zeeland Cruise fleet to stay one more night in Goes.

If you dig back far enough into history you would find that Goes (pronounced ‘Hoos’) was once a tidal harbour with the sea not very far away from its doorstep. In more recent times it has been connected to the tidal waters of the Oosterschelde by the 2nm long salt water canal. The whole navigation is owned and operated by the local council at considerable expense. The payback comes from a constant stream of visiting yachts and motorboats looking to snug down within the intimate environs of the town basin. One cannot help but compare this to the sad state of affairs with the Exeter Ship Canal in Devon and wonder why it is not possible to see similar enterprise replicated in the UK.

One answer surely comes in the form of the harbourmaster. Cornelius might always wear a white shirt, epaulettes and black trousers but you won’t find a more laid back and helpful man anywhere in the Netherlands. On the one hand his responsibilities extend to making sure that the leisure facilities and industrial wharves work correctly; on the other you are likely to find him cycling up and down the quay or walking up the impossibly-angled length of the counter-weighted bridge that guards the end of the town basin in order to lift or drop it, every hour, for several hours each summer day.

At this stage it also has to be said that we happen to be particular fans because Cornelius always clears the town basin for our fleet when we visit the Netherlands and this year it was just as well; our 27-strong flotilla filled most of the available space. Despite a request by the previous incumbents to stay an extra night, 24 large motor vessels of the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club and an assortment of other craft to make way for our visit.

On previous occasions we have been prepared to put up with just a few shorepower sockets and a single water hose in exchange for the undoubted charms of Goes but this time around there were a few surprises. A major multi-million euro improvement programme over tha previous winter has seen the replacement of worn sections of the quay, the installation of mooring staging around the basin’s edge and the addition of many more shorepower sockets and several water hoses.

The weather delay has meant a total of three nights exploring many fascinating restaurants and two days for the shopaholics to explore adjacent stores and the funaholics to use a nearby swimming pool and indoor go-kart circuit.

Sadly there are to be no further holiday extensions. A high pressure moving up to kick Scotland’s nasty low into touch should bring fair winds tomorrow and we are set to retrace our steps to Nieuwpoort. Tonight we have 20 boats still in port. Ian and Norma Hornsby’s Bénéteau Antares 10.80Edward Gibsonhas already left to make for home. Bob Butcher’s new Corvette 320Costa Bobwith former MBM control boat skipper Paul Berger aboard has gone roaming again – the restless pair made it as far north as Hoorn in the past few days. A quartet comprising Alain and Edith Tiquet’s Stevens Vlet 1300Marie Jean, Sarah and Paul Brown’s Botnia Targa 27Imposta, Chris and Donna Dawson’s Broom Crown 37Dawn Capersand Steve and Georgina Thurbin’s Project 31Relaxare in Middelburg tonight, having taken the decision to cut the journey length tomorrow.

The rest of us are leaving on a specially arranged bridge opening at 0800 tomorrow. Once out of the Havenkanaal we will take a short run along the Oosterschelde before turning down the Kanaal door Zuidbeveland and running down to the lock at Hansweert which gives access to the Westerschelde and coastal waters beyond. After several lazy calm days inland it will take some adjustment to get used to the sea again but we are currently hoping for favourable conditions to see everyone home.

OnCalm Voyagerwe are somewhat pleased with ourselves this evening, having used the extra layover day to catch up on some remaining snags. Despite having assisted owners with snags and questions on around half the boats in the fleet at some stage or other, there has been an unusual amount of time to devote to our Sealine F37 and the latest item to benefit is the boat’s QL bow thruster that is working again after we stripped down the relay and cleaned up badly burnt contacts. The contacts are somewhat thinner and still a bit pitted after removing the worst of the burns so the repair won’t last and a new relay will be required but we have altered the wiring loom to make a swap-out easier and it feels good to have ticked off another task.

More news later in the weekend.

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