Enkhuisen to Den Helder: 10 August, 2014

Farewell to the fleet departing Enkhuisen
Farewell to the fleet departing Enkhuisen

As the forecast worsens, there’s concerns for smaller boats being unable to return if the fleet sails to Friesland as planned. After listening to an organ recital in the city church at Enkhuisen, the majority of the fleet made passage to Den Oever, a day earlier than planned, spending the last few days of the tour in Den Helder, where some boats remain, unable to make passage homeward.
Despite some sore heads from the Anniversary party, a good gathering of gaffers arrived at the church for an organ recital before the daily briefing, when the organisers decided to change the plan and sail straight to Den Oever.

After being towed into harbours since Durgerdam, but enjoying the opportunity to sail the Ijsselmeer, skipper and crew Mike and Dan Shaw of Solent boat ‘Susan J’ bade farewell to the fleet to await an engineer to repair the gearbox. Dirk Peeters and Florence Meganck, part of the organising team from Wemeldinge in the south had travelled up to join the anniversary party.

The forecast was beginning to look bad with storms brewing in the North Sea, making a passage across the Ijsselmeer to Friesland and returning a couple of days later unsuitable, particularly for the smaller boats. A few of the larger boats made the trip to Workum and thoroughly enjoyed both the sailing and the welcome at Wokum, but most of the fleet cruised to Den Oever in bright sunshine and light airs. The calm before the storm.

Friday dawned and some took part in the short race to Den Helder, passing through the salt and tidal waters of the Waddenzee and out into the North Sea, whilst others enjoyed the final cruise of the Cross Country Tour.

The fleet berth together in the marina, after passing through the numerous locks and bridges of the Dutch naval base, also important for servicing offshore gas and oil industries. As skippers study weather forecasts, ferry and train timetables in planning their homeward journeys there’s a few final activities the Dutch organisers have in store.

On Saturday afternoon, gaffers are invited to visit ‘Nordlys IV’, a restoration campaign based in Den Helder and managed by Fairtransport Shipping, operators of the engineless cargo ship ‘Tres Hombres’. There’s chocolate, rum and coffee to sample, all transported solely under sail.

The final presentations, awards and farewells are held in the NJoy restaurant and everyone starts to make plans for their departure.