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The tail end of the storm... - part 3 - final part

Wind, wind and more wind… our return to The Netherlands

We had decided to leave Mandal at six in the afternoon instead of waiting for the next morning.

You may wonder why? Well, we had our experienced sailor Johan with us and the purpose of this return trip to Norway was to find out how the boat would behave at open sea with waves and wind. Not to mention how we (read Ingrid) would react to all these natural forces.

If we would have waited till the next morning the wind would have eased and both we and the boat would be less tested. Obviously leaving in the evening meant that our arrival in The Netherlands would be pulled forward and we had to prepare for a dark approach and arrival.

So yes, I had myself talked into it that the tail end of the storm + the extra set of experienced hands were ideal. Hence, we set sail!

What did the tail end of the storm actually mean? Around 23-25 knots of winds with gusts up to 30+. The charts indicated that the sea state would be rough with north eastern winds as the area just of the Southern Norway coast goes from very deep (500 meters +) to pretty shallow (< 80 meters).

How can you mentally prepare for that? Well, before leaving Abu Dhabi last year I had some private meditation lessons with Sundhar Pratab Singh and I tried to get into my Zen mode. The last thing I wanted to do was to distract Peter with my “little tantrums/panic attacks”.

Once we had left the protection of the marina, the open sea was definitely waiting for us. Both the main sail and genoa were well reefed and off we were. The boat was lifted up by the waves, pulled all the way to the right, landing with a big bang back onto the water, finding her (a boat is female…don’t ask why) feet and trying to find her original heading, only to be lifted up again by another wave from a different direction. This went on and on and on.

Amazingly, the boat could handle all these different natural forces. Once I realized that the boat was designed and build for these kind of circumstances, I then started to relax somewhat and was able to “enjoy” this roller coaster ride. But please don’t forget, I hate roller coaster rides. To be more precise I have never been on one and I have lived around the corner of Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi for many years…

Funny enough sailors call this kind of sea state as if you are in a tumble dryer. Well, I can vouch for that now!

Needless to say, that Peter was in his element and enjoying every minute of it. Looking at my sister’s face I could tell that she also had the time of her life. I wished I had their natural courage.

We had hoped that the heavy weather would only last for 3-4 hours. The weather gods, however, had a different idea and we enjoyed/endured this for about 12 hours. Let me tell you, not much of a dinner that night.

During this first night we had a little hick-up with our AIS (= Automatic Identification System). AIS is a system that allows boats to see you and you can see them on your chart plotter (= like an iPad screen). The AIS gives you information on how long the vessel is, the identification number in case you need to contact them by VHF), the speed, the direction and how long before you collide with each other. Hence this AIS is very comforting during the long dark nights. But for some reason we couldn’t get the AIS to work. We all had very intense and hardworking evening/night watches.

Waking up the next morning we were all happy that the wind had somewhat eased, but still much stronger than forecasted. We continued sailing with great speeds of 8+ knots per hour.

That evening we were all happy and hungry. A lovely pre-made pasta dish was in the oven. I opened the oven and instead of putting my oven gloved hands in the oven, the oven dish spontaneously was on the attack. NOOOO… Too late, the oven dish made a perfect landing on the carpet and the pasta was nicely piled up with the oven dish on top of the pile to keep it warm.

Luckily, I had just hoovered the floor and we all decided that we had to harden up our immune system. All the pasta went back in the dish and we enjoyed a fabulous dinnerf that evening.

After the second night (with again a lot of wind that didn’t allow us to sleep/rest very well) we woke up to a bit of sun shine. How lovely as we hadn’t enjoyed much of that yet. As the boat speed was well above our average calculation for this trip (5,5 knots per hour), we were about 4 hours ahead of our ETA.

After two nights and two day we finally left the North Sea and entered the shallow buoyed channel of the Waddenzee. We still had another 2,5 hours of day light after which we had to navigate this channel in the dark.

Once dusk set in Peter and I were totally focused. Peter helming (= steering) and my eyes were glued to my Navionics on my iPad to tell him exactly where to go. We were both delighted that we could bring some of our new learned skills into practice during this passage through the channel.

After midnight we finally were getting closer to the locks of Kornwernerzand.

Peter : “Ingrid, where are the locks?

Ingrid : “According to my screen almost in front of us.”

Peter : “Are you sure? I can’t see a thing!”

Ingrid : “I think I see something. Yes, 5 degrees to starboard…”

Yes, we did find the entrance to the locks.

Another new skill had to be tested: using the VHF radio. Let’s do it.

“Lorentssluizen, Lorentzsluizen, this is Ocean Deva, Ocean Deva, over.”

Ocean Deva, this is Lorentzsluizen. Go ahead over.”

So, I asked them to open up the bridge as well as the doors to the locks. Within a blink of an eye the bridge opened up and the lock doors were open. Back out on the other side and we were back on the IJsselmeer.

Sailing for over 56 hours as being without sleep for the last 30 hours we started to smell “home”. As there was not much wind, we continued motoring for another 2,5 hours and at 04:30 in the morning we arrived at the entrance of the harbor of Medemblik.

Our last obstacle was the waiting for the bridge & locks of Medemblik to open up at eight in the morning.

For the first time we let the anchor down of the Ocean Deva. Whilst everybody enjoyed a well-deserved rest I decided to be the anchor watch girl. After all, this was the first time that we anchored and I didn’t want to take any risk of drifting…

Just before eight we lifted the anchor, and made our way into the harbor. No wind, a promise of a beautiful sunny day, boats slowly waking up and the comforting bells ringing with the opening of the bridge. Almost there. Just another set of locks and Peter’s expert reverse mooring into our mooring box.

Engines off…

We made it to Norway and back. YEAH!!

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