Cruising Preparation Trips
When we were small kids we used to listen to 'Robinson Cruiso' on the car taperecorder (yes I'm that old...) which triggered something within me.
My uncle, being the captain of an old tallship cruising the world, made that dream touchable and my mind was set; I would sail the globe.
Years went by as I build my wooden box ships in the garden pretending to conquer and roam the seas. As we lived in Libya my ships sailed on sanddunes, years before Jack Sparrow did.
I exchanged Africa for my English Boarding school near Swanage (Dorset) and in summer we practised sailing in the English Channel. Back in the Netherlands I finished my school and joined the 11th Air Mobile Brigade. In 1999 I bought my first schip and spent my time living on a boat.
In 2009 we bought a small yacht called the 'Swallow' which is a tiny 6 meter sailing vessel (Neptune F20) with limited resources and just enough sleeping space for two adults with two small kids.
The 'Swallow' came with one set of sails and a 4 horsepower Yamaha outboard engine which we swapped for a 9.9 HP Susuki outboard. It took me some time to figure out how to sail this mini yacht but we had great fun preparing for our world tour the last couple of years. Check out our preparation trips below.
Ijsselmeer Cruising 2010
After getting the hang of sailing a little yacht on a small lake, Stan, Dieye and I made our first sailing trip in 2010, encircling flevoland, a massive man made provence and island (450.000 people live there) in the former Southern Sea (Zuyder Zee) which hasn't been a sea for over fifty year's but it does sound way better then cruising the IJssel Lake which it is now.
We dropped our mast and left our practise lake through the vecht river with it's beautiful houses and wind mills and used our engine for a couple of hours untill we reached the Muiden Marina for the night. This marina is situated at the base of the Muider Slot which is an ancient castle and one in perfect condition. We went to the exhibition and walked the castle grounds, went shopping for grub and provisions after which I nearly broke my back by slipping on deck, walking around barefood, hosting jerry cans with fuel along. We made a quick dinner and watched a movie online by attaching my phone to the laptop and called it a early night.
The next day we rigged the mast (after we lost the main mast bolt and replacing this with the main bolt from our rudder...) and hoisted up the sails, cruising along to the Isle of Pampus, which is an artificial island and late 19th Century sea fort.
The fort was commissioned in 1895. It was armed with four massive Krupp 240mm (9.5") L35 (35 calibers long) guns deployed in two hydraulically operated cupolas of two guns each.
We had a good time exploring the fort and had our lunch before continuing our sailing quest, arriving at the Shell island late in the afternoon. We went for a swim, took a crap in the woods, lit up the bbq, roasted a cow and drunk our bears (well I did and Stan and Dieye enjoyed their coke's).
The next morning our journey continued with some easy going winds, heading for Almere Harbor to find us some breakfast and icecream. Back at the boat we witnessed a motor accident and assisted the wounded victim until the ambulance arrived.
After our good deed for the day we pushed off and set out for the dead hound island, where we made a fire with use of lots of fuel, had a bbq and met some nice people.
We went to the Eemshof Center Parcs Marina and spent the day swimming and had a welcome proper dinner. Dieye managed to cut his toes pretty badly running along the marina. After wrapping his foot in bandages we had some fun playing games and me emptying the bottle before hitting the sack.
The next two days we had some beautiful sailing weather and we stayed our first night at the RCN Marina in Zeewolde and the second night in the Harderwijk Marina next to Sea World - Dolfinarium. My father Jan Spaander joined us for the day to explore Sea World and we had a lot of fun.
It was less fun to find the molten cheese, meat and other dairy products floating through the yacht as I had attached the powercord for the 12 / 24 Volt Cooler / Heater the wrong way around when we left and why instead of cooling, it was set on heating... It took some days to not noticy the funny smell.
The day after we sailed right into the medieval town of Elburg and bought fishing rods and had lunch, went sight seeing and after a couple of hours continued our great adventure sailing through fields of swans.
After a long and rainy day we were very happy to arrive at the Schokkerhaven Marina were we took a long hot shower and had hot cholate milk and french fries with saté.
Waddensea Cruising 2011
Us pirates packed our little ship again and set off for another three week tour this time pointing our bow north. Last time we survived the Ijsselmeer trip and we were up for our next challenge seeking real seas.
We had to cruise the Ijssel River running our engine for two days and stopped for fish and chips or ice cream at Zutphen and Deventer.
The first night was spend in Zwolle but not before we hit the bridge with our mast just as we tried to sneak in front of a passenger ship.
Embarrassed but undamaged we walked the last mile into Zwolle to raid the Mac and bring free Coke glasses back as our bounty.
The next day whiles waiting for the drawbridge at Kampen our engine broke down and slow but steadily we were pushed down the river towards the bridge. I jumped into our small dingy, fired up the 4 horsepower engine and started to tug our sailing vessel away from the bridge which was coming nearer and nearer. Suddenly the dinghy engine stopped to and a quick assessment concluded that the rope between the boats had come in the prop.
Not knowing what to do else and getting ever more worried, I dropped the Anker not expecting it to hold but it did. Quickly we uncovered the prop and where very happy to reach the shore.
It took me another hour to strip the main engine down and find water in the carborateur. We had a quick lunch, filled up our fuel tanks and continued our adventure. Within the hour we were sinking…
As we reached the Ketelmeer sipping my beer, all of a sudden my feet where in water. Opening the bunks it hit me we were going down. Stan and Dieye took out the kitchenware and started hosing out water with pots and pans while I searched for the hole in the boat. There wasn’t any hole to find but water was getting in fast as the engine cooling outlet tube had slipped out of its attachment while I was fixing the previous problem… and was now pouring hot water into the hull of the ship. After this near sudden Death experience (okay, it wasn’t that dramatic) we hosted our sails, went fishing and had a great dinner with hot chocolate at the Schokkerhaven.
The next day we sailed into the Ijsselmeer and stopped at Urk which is an authentic Dutch fishing village and the boys had a blast with the dingy. We wondered around the town for a while, had dinner and called it a day. The next morning we left early and had splendid sailing weather which consisted of a strong
breeze pushing us along towards the Afsluitdyke which determines the border between lake and sea.
We stopped for the night in Harlingen and didn't leave the next day as the winds where to strong which was probably for the best as one of the boats attempting to leave the harbor was blown onto the rocks and the waves completely trashed it within minutes.
It was already in the afternoon the next day before we reached the locks at Kornwerderzand and the wind was building up and so where the waves. A bit worried I walked over to another sailboat which was four times our size and asked the guy and his crew if he could advise me if it was wise to continue with our little ship and two small kids in the boat trying the WaddenSea for the first time. The guy sounded convincing enough assuring me we wouldn’t have any problems reaching Harlingen so that’s what we did…
Within the hour the winds turned into a near gale and we couldn’t see 10 foot because of the pouring rain. After a couple of stressful hours we arrived at Harlingen harbor where we lost the battle as the force of the wind on our bare mast was stronger than the reverse of our engine. The only way to stop the boat before crashing into the end of the harbor was by slowing it down hitting and holding on to another boat while a completely over crowded harbor was laughing their heads off and the guy who had advices us in the locks came to apologize for his failure in judgement...
We took the day of to get our confidence back and prep our craft before we were going to cross the Wadden Sea to the Island of Terschelling.
Leaving Harlingen with strong winds the first couple of hours went by pretty fast and we only got run over nearly once by the ferry when our engine butted out again while crossing it’s path and in need of some extra speed to clear it. Two hours later we almost (and I still have nightmares about this event) capsized being run down by a collapsing wave which caused our trajectory to change within a split second giving the wind a clear shot at the sails and the combined force of wind and wave tipped the scale and for a short moment we balanced at a capsizing angle. It was by far the most scary part of the entire trip.
We stayed a couple of days on the Island of Terschelling which is a beautiful place to be. The boys chased crabs and we padded baby seals, went cycling, met nice people and enjoyed our holiday for a bit.
The boys made some friends and we agreed to follow them on an expedition to Vlieland, the Island next door. Of course we miscalculated the tides and needed both our main engine, the dingy engine and every inch of sail we could hoist to fight the current. Inch by inch we reached Vlieland & we hit the narrow entrance of the harbor with great speed sliding into safety.
We walked Vlieland for miles and trotted on the beach for hours until the four teens where fed up. No problem sleeping that night as everybody broke down and we hit the sack pretty early.
Crossing the Wadden Sea once again wasn’t any problem as we had managed to exactly calculate the best time and route. We flew like the wind and even nearly arrived at the same time as our new friends who had departed two hours earlier but got stuck with tide and shallow water.
While waiting for the lock a massive and very new sailing boat screwed up and hit our boat causing severe damage to the bow. As it had hit the wall first the damage to our boat was minor compared to the destruction he had encountered himself. The insurance had to pay 1600 euro’s to fix our boat again but for the time being we could still continue our way. Sailing is quite dangerous as you can see...
Saying farewell to our new friends after a last night together we sailed on crossing the Ijsselmeer Southwards heading for Amsterdam. It took us two days but we finally reached the Sixhaven harbor which is located in the centre of Amsterdam on the river ‘IJ’ opposite the Central Railway Station.
We took the ferry across the IJ River and conquered Amsterdam and had a great couple of last days and left the boat for the week as we had destroyed the prop of the main engine during the route and now had to wait for a replacement. A week later we picked up the boat again and motored her back home.
At the end of July 2013, Stan, Dieye and myself undertook the last Dutch World Tour Preparation trip. We set the Islands of Zeeland and the North Sea as our target.
The previous trips were under sail but this time we dropped the mast and brought a massive 13 meter (North Dyno) kite with us as our main propulsion system. I got the kite boating idea after searching for alternative power systems for the Orion-3 and found out we weren't the only Dutch guys connecting a kite to a sailboat.
The previous weeks we had our trip to Thailand and I should have taken some Kite training then and there but it didn't come to that and so we set of motoring down the Waal river from the German border towards the North Sea.
The first day took us without major accidents or incidents to the city of Tiel. The second day brought us to Gorinchem were we did visit the town, had a luxury breakfast, bought our compass and books and took off for the Biesbos. We arrived in Spieringsluis in the afternoon and took the Canadian canoe which we sunk within 10 minutes after departure and thirty seconds after I had put the phone / camera back into the watertight locker. After a couple of hours paddling around the Biesbos, killing thousands of stingy flies, we had a BBQ and called it a day.
The next day we arrived in WillemStad a beautiful, small historical town with well preserved fortifications. We ate our French fries on top of the German bunkers and had a stroll around the town. The next day we stopped at Middelharnis on our way to Stellendam which wasn't all that interesting.
At Stellendam we tried the kite for the first time and within 20 seconds, I managed to crash the thing into a tree ripping the kite in the process. We packed up our gear and had dinner at the Delta Works Museum Restaurant
After two days it was still pretty windy but we decided to give the North Sea a try. We had to plow through massive waves heading out to sea and filling the outboard engine was a near life threatening experience which we had to undertake every two hours. The only ship we encountered that day was a Dutch Fisher. In the afternoon the winds died down to a bearable strength and the waves shrunk back to normal. After a couple of hours we arrived at the third island. Although being more than tired and the salt was still stuck to our face, we went out for fabulous pizza. Back at the boat we crashed into a deep and well earned sleep.
The next day we gave the kite another shot which turned out to be a major disaster. The previous attempt had ripped the kite which I managed to fix with the kitekit but this time I ripped the flesh of my finger trying to control the damned thing. Blood all over the deck and a monster kite that couldn't depower (as all the lines were tangled) made up my mind to cut the kite loose and only Stan's advice to just keep pulling one of the strings, saved me 800 euro's. We managed to haul the kite back in, patched up my hand and set off for Zierikzee. It was foolish to think I could just wing this kiting thing and I agree it was a stupid idea to try this without training.
A Seal popping up his head and the day being beautiful and a couple of beers later the kite disaster was forgotten and we arrived at Zierikzee which again is a beautiful historic little town where we stayed for two days.
Trying to leave Zierikzee was a rough experience as the winds had stirred up stirdy waves, bashing our little ship all over the place. We had a beautiful motoring day over the Oosterschelde, the Veerse lake and the channel through Walcheren where we saved and towed a yacht at Middelburg four times our size with engine problems.
Middelburg was yet another beautiful old town with many harbors. We planned our night there but my little brother thought it would be a better idea for us to motor up to Vlissingen as he was going to visit us with his girlfriend Maxime and he had found the perfect camping spot near the water there. Of course I should of checked this, as Wouter is what we call in the Netherlands a 'nat nek' (wet neck). Arriving at Vlissing (already pretty tired) we found his preferred spot to be a massive industry harbor without any shelter or place to leave the boat.
After another half an hour of motoring the Westerschelde we entered the North Sea Fishing port of Vlissingen where we were granted a emergency spot in the harbor as we should of reserved.
My brother managed to end up in Belgium on his way to us. Arriving late at night they had no place to go and we build them a Josef and Maria bed in the Cockpit.
The next day the five of us motored up to Terneuzen. Within half an hour we were stopped by the Dutch Police Force with silly questions: Where are you going? Are you sure you're going there? Do you think it's wise to go there with a 4 Horsepower engine? etc. etc. Yes we know where we're going because we've got a map. Yes we're going there with the 4 Horsepower engine as we've got an extra 10 in the bonnet and yes I've got a full license and yes I've got a fire extinguisher and lifejackets for everyone aboard...
OK, then where is your mast? (we've been asked this question at least a dozen times but it was pretty hilarious in this situation) You're going to attach a kite to your boat? That’s funny because I do some kiting myself, he goes chatting away. They send us off with a warning as we were zigzagging the waterways. We weren't zigzagging at all. We were going in a straight line towards Terneuzen. It's the Westerschelde river that is zigzagging below us...
We had French fries in Terneuzen and one hour later we left for the small harbor of HoedekensKerke were it took is two hours to fire up the BBQ and less time to finish of a few too many wine bottles. After dinner a massive rain pour washed away all our sins and left us all wet behind the neck. Wouter and Maxime took another shot sleeping in their cockpit crib and the next day Maxime had to leave us for a funeral. The four of us continued the journey through the Channel of South-Beveland up the Oosterschelde to end up at Stavenisse for the night.
The next day we had to leave my brother behind as his girlfriend wanted him back home so the three true pirates left for Grevelingen lake were we were going to meet our internet date (pirate captain German Phil) at Den Osse harbor.
The other objective was the Kite Training Center at Brouwersdam to help us tame our beastly kite.
Phil had a mutinous crew member (his cousin) so we left for Brouwersdam. Stan and Dieye spend the day at Seaworld having fun with the slides and I managed to finally get the kite up in the air. Another boat was rescued from the rocks by us and ten minutes after that heroic deed we towed another lost boat with a mother and her kids having engine trouble. We stayed in Den Osse and Brouwersdam for all week and had a nice BBQ at Phil's who had to leave for England the day after.
After three weeks in Zeeland we had to head home again and so we left Grevelingen lake into the Volkerak and up the Dintel river. Late at night we sneaked up into a harbor and left very early in the morning following the Dintel up into the river the Bergsche Maas. The next day we motored up two Channels and three rivers before we ended our tiring but very rewarding prep World Tour Journey.
Prep Trip Index
What should we do without a ship? Sailor up as deckhands and hitchhike our way around the oceans. We need a vessel!
What should a ship do without a crew?
We need a crew with knowledge, determination and a sence of humor :)
Although sitting on the dock of the bay ain't that bad with beers & friends, we would like this ship & crew to see places besides sea and old faces. We need destinations & waypoints...
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