Road Blocks

Good thing we’re sailing aboard Detour, which helped us get ’round two recent road blocks during which our cruisers’ flexibility was of the utmost importance!  We set sail from Andijk with a fabulous forecast, 20-knots of south wind behind us breezing us across the IJsselmeer.  Approaching the Lorentzsluizen (locks through the dike separating the IJsselmeer from the Wadden Sea), the wind increased to 30-knots with rain clouds close behind.  We bailed at the lock entrance to wait out the squall, taking shelter behind the lock breakwater and the dike.  This was the perfect opportunity to test our new Spade anchor which promptly dug into the IJsselmeer’s mud.  While enjoying an unanticipated lunch break at anchor, we became suspicious of the lack of lock activity.  No chatter on the VHF and no ships moving through on the AIS.  In fact, hardly any ships were en-route toward what we’d recalled as having been a busy lock durign September 2015.  “Oh, sugar-booger!  Remember what Wayfarer said…”  Weeks ago while still docked at Sixhaven in Amsterdam our new-found, American friends aboard Wayfarer had warned that the Lorentzsluizen would be closed this spring for construction.  We’d completely overlooked this, yet also had no update on our ANWB inland charts for the Netherlands nor any rumor from fellow Dutch sailors or harbormasters.  UGH!  IMG_8821As the squall settled it became clear that the Lorentzsluizen was cluttered with cranes rather than ships.  We headed into Makkum where the harbormaster confirmed, “You didn’t know!?  Closed until May.”  Fortunately we’d had a fantastic test sail on the new rig that day.  We waited at Makkum, now pinned on the wrong side of the lake with a 25-30 knot south wind forecast, until the wind settled.IMG_8822At our first opportunity we took an early morning departure to motor back across the IJsselmeer all the way along the dike; not exactly our most scenic 2-hour cruise.  IMG_8830The Stevinsluizen (locks at the opposite end of the dike) were functioning; but during a stop for diesel at Den Oever, the harbormaster forewarned that these locks would also be closed for construction during September 2016.  Fortunately for us, we were green for GO and would be long gone in open water by then!

Approaching Stevinsluizen

Approaching Stevinsluizen

Bridge accompanying Stevinsluizen

Bridge accompanying Stevinsluizen

Into the Wadden Sea, reunited with salt water once again, we motored along the back side of the dike from which we’d just detoured from Makkum.  The incoming tide was in our favor and so we continued through the winding channels of the Wadden Sea to anchor behind the island of Terschelling having completed a 65nm day.  This would be our first night anchored since we’ve moved aboard Detour, and it was peaceful and fabulous!  IMG_8839Timing was perfect the next morning; leisurely we sipped our coffee and lounged while we waited for the incoming tide to grant us passage through the Wadden Sea.  At noon, we hauled the anchor and motored through a narrow, marked channel with the centerboard raised so we could achieve a head start.  Detour‘s hull skimmed the murky bottom, often our sounder blinking, “1.3m,” when it could no longer accurately measure the depth.IMG_8605 IMG_8608 IMG_8613Much of the day’s planned passage would be though channels that dry at low tide, mud flats, and although Detour is designed to safely sit on her hull when dry we weren’t anxious to try.  Instead, we admired the seals who were content to dry out in the mid-day sun.  Cruising along on schedule for the day’s tide, we encountered our second road block. IMG_8612The working barge was buoyed.  We attempted to pass to the barge’s port side, and ran aground.  While sitting patiently, afterall the water was still rushing inbound, a man on the barge began signaling to us.  We tried to hail the barge on VHF 16 but received no response.  Soon, a smaller motor vessel was deployed and made a beeline for us.  The man continued signaling to us as he navigated the small motor vessel.  When finally within hearing range, after establishing that we could only understand English and not Dutch, he shouted that the channel was closed.  “Don’t you have a radio!?” he asked.  I responded, “Yes!” holding my handheld VHF for him to see, “What channel!?”  We then made contact on VHF 10 and another man, presumably still aboard the barge as the small motor vessel promptly steered away, explained that the channel was closed for cable work and that it would be appreciated if we would contact the Terschelling Lighthouse on VHF 02.  I remained calm, professional even, thanking the man on the VHF and then afterward in the cockpit…”APPRECIATED!! IT WOULD BE APPRECIATED IF THE ENTIRE CHANNEL WAS NOT CLOSED!  Can’t we just go around!?  With a little more water we’ll float right past!”  I then hailed the Terschelling Lighthouse, three times, not really knowing why or what to even ask. There was no response from Terschelling.  Meanwhile Brian and I were reviewing the charts and checking channels to see how we could possibly detour around this cable work business.  We couldn’t get very far, it was now mid-tide and we had a long route to retrace to even begin at any alternative channels.  I started to have a mild panic attack.  First the closed lock, now the closed channel.  I knew the day was drawing to an end and I knew our only outlet to the sea was already behind us between Terschelling and Vlieland.  I felt totally trapped.

“What was the forecast?” I asked, pointedly.  I knew the wind speed predicted was moderate.  South-southeast would keep us away from the islands.  I had a plan.  This was the last straw.  We were on the move and not moving; provisioned boat, new rig, all the bells and whistles and no where to go.  Enough!  Brian was not thrilled, but he entertained my request to review that morning’s downloaded wind forecast.  “…and how many miles…” I continued probing, calculating, as we reviewed the chart once again this time looking on the outside of the Wadden Islands.  We both weighed the options; return to anchor at Terschelling and start again tomorrow or go outside of the islands where channels and tides would not restrict our progress.  “Let’s go!” I exclaimed. “We know how to do this, let’s just GO!”  We motored back toward Terschelling, preparing the deck and the aft cabin for an overnight passage…

4 thoughts on “Road Blocks

  1. Nightmare ! Your experience reminds me of a book I recently read, “The Riddle of the Sands” by Erskine Childers, a pre-WW1 spy novel where the two heros sail around the Wadden Sea area, chasing German spy ships through the sand banks and channels. This also goes hand-in-hand with the blog of Little Cunning Plan at the moment, where Melissa (sailor and psychotherapist) discusses ANXIETY all month ! Bon Courage !

  2. Funny, “The Riddle of the Sands” is still on my reading list although my husband has finished it so all the while meandering in the channels I joked with him…,”what is the answer to the riddle!?” He merely smirked and suggested I keep a sharp lookout for a German flagged vessel and be wary of any beautiful daughters that might be aboard.

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