Wadden Sea

We were about to enter the Wadden Sea, a momentous event for Detour upon which re-entering the salty sea meant that this ship had crossed a continent!  The lock through the eastern end of the Afsluitdijk, the dike separating the Ijsselmeer from the Wadden Sea, would raise Detour (due to the tide) into the ocean.  From the Mediterranean Sea to the Wadden Sea a total of 265 locks were transited including this final lock for the transcontinental count, Lorentszsluizen.  IMG_7629IMG_7635IMG_7634IMG_7636Through the accompanying bridge and into a dreary, yet bustling Wadden Sea! IMG_7639 IMG_7641 IMG_7645But with a wide, open sea why does all the boat traffic seem to be in one place?  In the Wadden Sea it is very important to utilize the marked channels.  The Wadden Sea, actually listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest unbroken system of intertidal mud flats in the world.  It is a coastal wetland extending along the Netherlands, German, and Denmark coastal borders.  Tidal channels snake between mud flats, sandbars, and salt marshes; the ecosystem hosts numerous plant and animal species.  We’d spotted several seals swimming and lounging during our travels.  IMG_7664We had exited the Lorentszsluizen on a falling tide, our chosen route held enough water for us, and the current was in our favor.  Sailing was pleasant upwind with a moderate 10-12 knot breeze and fortunately during the beginning of the trip we stayed mostly dry despite rain showers looming in every direction.  We referred often to our paper charts, and had the Open-CPN with GPS running on the laptop.  It was important to confirm where the bouys belonged, especially when navigating into new channels, because the underwater topography of the Wadden Sea is so convoluted that it made it difficult to know whether the channel was marked as heading towards the sea or the mainland. IMG_7647Just near the end of our 31nm day, we were dead center beneath a thunderstorm.  Brian doused the sails while I steered, keeping to the outskirts of the channel while two ferries passed in opposing directions.  Visibility was terrible, buckets of rain poured down from above.  We navigated into our final channel thankful that it was wide enough for ferries to pass because the next obstacle was an oncoming ship.  As the storm subsided, we exited the channel and turned toward our final destination the island of Terschelling.  I hailed the harbour on the VHF to inform someone of our arrival and get some suggestion as to where we could dock.  I was referred to the harbourmaster, on VHF31; but as I do not have that channel was unable to talk with the harbourmaster.  Instead, as we entered the marina we were directed via loudspeaker.  This was a first!  “Hello, can you hear me!?” came the voice over the loudspeaker.  We waved, shouted yes, and gave the thumbs-up signal to the harbourmaster in the sky.  He proceeded to tells us when to turn down a row of docks and we found ample space to dock without difficulty.  Saltwater under the keel, islands to explore, boat plugged into shore power…I could get used to this style of cruising!