17 boats gathered at Berney Arms on the evening of Wednesday 22nd July ready for the passage to Holland. After a few drinks and a meal, James gave a skippers briefing. Everybody was excited if not slightly apprehensive but the forecast looked good for the 102 mile crossing.
The following morning we awoke to sunshine and light winds. After a VHF briefing confirming the forecast, the fleet slipped their lines at around 0830hrs ready for the 0930hrs Haven Bridge Lift.
The passage to Roompot was largely uneventful. Conditions were good as the fleet crossed the North Sea and into the large lock, Roompot Sluis.
Many of the crews gathered on the pontoon to share a few beers and talk about their experiences before going ashore to the marinas restaurant for a meal. They were treated to a fabulous sunset over Roompot Marina.
The following morning the fleet split into two groups and the first group left bound for Delta Marina at Kortgene. Group two left Roompot around half an hour later at 1145 bound for an island on the Veerse Meer. The two groups were not apart for very long as Speedo and James studied the extended outlook forecast. With strong winds and rain due they decided to take both groups to Delta Marina and then to Middelburg rather than risking uncomfortable conditions on the islands of the Veerse Meer.
After a pleasant afternoon and evening at Delta Saturday dawned with wind and rain which lasted until mid afternoon. Not that the weather stopped anyone going into town and enjoying themselves.
With the forecast still poor for the next few days, the two groups stayed together and moved across the Veerse Meer and down the canal to Middelburg.
We stayed in Middelburg for the next three days due to windy conditions. 3 of the fleet ventured down the canal to Veere after two days whilst the rest took in what Middelburg town has to offer until the wind abated.
Leaving Middelburg on Tuesday, the whole fleet met up in Oostwater on the Veerse Meere and the 53 strong crew enjoyed a fabulous BBQ laid on especially for us at the marinas Yacht Club – a good time was had by all!
The following morning the fleet split into four groups with some going to Goes, some to Zierikzee and some to the Islands. The sun came out on Thursday evening and stayed out for the remainder of our cruise. The fleets occasionally crossed paths and socialised as they travelled. Some enjoyed a super BBQ cooked by Japasha’s skipper on an island on the Grevelingenmere followed by a game of rounders. Some of the players were more competitive than others – super fun.
Weather wise, it was certainly a cruise of ‘two halves’ but as always with our cruises, much fun was had, lots of boating experiences were enjoyed and many new friendships formed. All were amazed and delighted by the scale and quality of the cruising available in Holland. Some, initially daunted by the massive locks and sheer numbers of boats, felt a great sense of achievement having mastered them successfully.
The fleet delayed the return to Norfolk, waiting for ideal conditions and departed Roompot at 0530 on Friday 7th August. Conditions were pleasant with just a residual swell as the fleet passaged home.
All in all, a great achievement for the skippers, crews, boats and our Cruising Club.