We spent a good weekend in Egersund reading, eating good food and relaxing, while we waited for good northerly winds, scheduled to arrive on Monday. We did get a bit of bad news, because Frode had to return to work, so it would only be Lauren and I that would make the passage down to Amsterdam. Lauren was a bit apprehensive about it, because the only sailing experience she had was from the first attempt at getting to Ijmuiden, which had been no fun at all. In the end she agreed and we changed her ticket, so that she we wouldn’t run into time constraints. She was supposed to fly back to Maryland on Thursday, which could have been tough if no wind materialized or if we had another mishap. She moved her flight to the following Monday, which would should be enough.
The Monday started exactly like the one a week earlier had: We went grocery shopping, topped off the diesel tanks and motored out to sea in search of wind. I was keeping my fingers crossed that September 22nd would be the date I actually managed to set sail from Norway. The date is actually very special to me, because it was the birthday of my grandmother Ingrid, the person I was closest to when growing up.
We left Egersund at 10:30am and met a very docile North Sea. Tiny waves and no wind. It continued in that fashion till about 7pm, when I decided to put up the gennaker to see if we could utilize the almost non-existent wind you could feel on deck. With the sail up and engines off, we were doing between 3.5 – 5 knots in 4 – 7 knots of wind. We weren’t flying, but we were moving and any movement without engines is welcoming. The sun set at 7:30pm and though the night the wind and waves gradually grew bigger. I didn’t want Lauren to be outside at night, because a boat can be tough to handle on your own in daylight if you’re new to sailing and leaving it in her hands at night wouldn’t have been fair, so I had a LONG nightshift. The wind and waves were working with us this time, so we were able to point directly at IJmuiden. Progress was good, the wind peaked at around 15 knots and we were sailing at around 10 knots. I opted not to use the mainsail, because I lack enough experience with the boat, to confidently handle the main and and gennaker efficiently. Sailing wouldn’t have been a problem, but reefing or taking down one or both at the same time, by myself, could have been tough. Soon I’ll have that confidence, but not right now.
I was very happy that I only had one sail up at 11:50am the next day, when a loud whip-like crack rang through the air. I looked forward and saw my brand new gennaker slowly disappear away from the boat to lay down perfectly in the North Sea. The halyard had snapped. The sock started sinking and it looked like it would take the sail with it. I let go of one of the sheets and managed to winch the sail in with the remaining sheet, and then pull it onboard once I got a hold of some fabric. All in all I was lucky and only got a small tear in the gennaker and an even smaller one in the sock. I think the holes happened when I pulled them onboard, but if the choice was between loosing them and making a small hole, I’d make a hole any day.
My spirit sank a little, because my percentage now is 100%. On every longer passage a sail has broken. The big gennaker ripped with capital R when I was sailing to Norway, the jib on the first attempt to get to IJmuiden and now the second gennaker on the second attempt to IJmuiden. I fired up the engines to see what speed I could attain. Doing 2750 rpm I was able to do 7 knots. I was happy with that and set the course for IJmuiden and let Otto take care of the rest.
I haven’t had much luck with my sails. In my … or their defense I have to repeat what the sail maker here in IJmuiden said about them when he went over them before I sailed to Norway. My main and jib are racing sails. They are awesome for that, but they need to be treated like gold. Prior to me buying the boat they had just been hanging on the boat all year round for 3 years, which is kind of like leaving a dog in your car with all the windows closed during the peak of summer. The sails were hurting badly and the sail maker said that they could last one trip or a year or two, but he doubted that they would last longer. So it was in the back of my mind when they tore, but it’s still painful when it happens. The gennaker that went for a swim is brand new and with the exception of the little hole it got now, is in perfect condition and should last me a few years. I do however need to go over my halyards to make sure that this doesn’t happen again. The new jib I’m getting is in Dacron and to supplement my other older gennaker that ripped on the way to Norway, I’m buying a brand new one in the same size. The older sails I’m planning to repair and have as back-ups while I use the new ones as my working horses. It hurts to spend so much on sails, when I have so little money to spare right now. Still, I can’t let a broken sail or two (or three) bring me down too far, I need to roll with it. Lauren says that I’m good at making lemonade out of lemons and this has been a good confirmation of that.
To get back to the trip to IJmuiden: After I started the engines we motored straight down to the Netherlands, aided by waves, wind and current. I was actually surprised at how swiftly it went. Otto managed beautifully the whole time, so we spent most of the time inside, keeping watch from there. It’s great that we have full visibility from inside in all directions. It made the passage enjoyable, because we could chill out and relax while the nautical miles clicked by. We even watched Return of the Jedi while we were motoring along the Dutch coast. At 11:30pm, exactly 61 hours after setting sail from Egersund I jumped ashore on the dock in Seaport Marina IJmuiden and tied us up. We had traveled 365 nm and our average speed was 6 knots. I was unhappy about only sailing for 16.5 hours and motoring the rest, but we got here in high spirits and aside from the hole in the gennaker and the torn halyard there’s little to complain about. Now I’m docked in position: N 52°27.592 E004°33.708. The plan is to spend 1 week in IJmuiden. I’m putting on a new anchor (a Rocna 33), new anchor chain and a new bridle. I’ll also be fixing the broken halyard, the bilge pumps, along with some other stuff that needs to be done. Lastly I’m going to haul the boat out of water to give her a proper scrub underneath, change the zinc anodes and find out how much she really weights (this has been a big discussion on a forum online). I have my work cut out for me, but first I’m going to enjoy today and tomorrow in Amsterdam, because it’s something I didn’t really do the last time I was here. It is after all much more fun to party with someone, than go at it alone.