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  • Writer's picturePeter

The Value of a Reliable Engine

From Stellendam to Vlissingen.

The distance from Stellendam to Vlissingen is 48 nm, so with a sailing speed of 6 nm/hr the time it takes to get there is estimated at 8 hours. This does not include the time to move between the locks, any bridges where we must wait, in and out of marinas and the significant effect of the capricious wind and tidal currents.

Departure from Stellendam with water that were as calm as a mill pond was a different world from our arrival when the waves breaking over the shallow next to us. Once out of the channel and into the open sea, the wind was light, but coming from the right direction for our planned journey. Stormy rain clouds came and went - we kept dry for most of the time. As the day progressed, the winds varied and at times dropped to almost nothing. The boat speed varied from almost 10 knots to negative numbers when the wind was light and the tide against us - time to use the engine to stay safe and in control. 

Arrival in Vlissingen amongst the traffic for Antwerp Port a little later than scheduled, but safe and sound.


The actual “problem”, at least for me on the Dutch coastline is that there is a lot of motoring required through the long channels between the open sea and the harbours that are tucked away in safe corners. We are thankful for our powerful 110 HP diesel engine that can cope with strong tidal flows and keep us safe, though I wish we could sail more.

When we were looking at selecting the right boat we did not realise how important a large fuel tank (650 litres) and a powerful engine could be – I am so thankful that we made the correct choice as this removes a level of stress – Having sufficient power and never running out of fuel.

The powerful engine is also good for avoiding boats like the "Victory G" from the previous day and also for making sure that the dash across the shipping lanes are safe as we avoid those massive tankers and containerships with a good margin of distance.

In Stellendam we saw a sailboat being brought in by the rescue services. It was full of water below deck and totally crippled.When it was lifted out of the water a rope was found twisted around the propeller shaft – rendering the engine unusable. It probably picked up the rope while sailing and when the captain wanted to motor along the narrow channels to the marina, the engine did not operate. The sailboat was blown onto the shallows which can be treacherous, as we saw on our arrival to Stellendam. Here the waves cracked the joint between the keel with the hull, allowing water to flood in, making a bad situation even worse. Luckily there was no loss of life and the rescue service did a fantastic job.

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