Tuesday, October 14th, 2008
Sorlandet and Christian Radich joined us going down river from Bremerhaven towards the North Sea. At the approaches to the Weser River, after cheers back and forth, they pulled off to starboard, sailing towards the north and home to Norway. In the Picton Castle we would make our way down the coasts of Germany and Holland bound for Ipswich, England across the bottom of this North Sea. The weather was not looking so good. We would duck in if we had to. There were a few spots to hide if needed.
We were almost all the way back down the coast of the Netherlands and to Den Helder when the sky became darker and head winds picked up in force. Not so bad but then the tide turned and with everything working together against us; wind, seas and tide we came to a virtual stop. It seemed that the winds would get worse before they got better so we turned into that grim spot (with good holding) at which we had anchored before, Terschilling, and let go in almost the exact same place. It worked and was good holding before. It looked as if it was going to blow for awhile. Winds were piping up pretty hard as we came to anchor in this flat open bay. Put down the big port bower anchor with over 300 feet of heavy chain with the starboard anchor standing by – didn’t want to set it unless really needed as with all the current the two anchors could foul. Now we would see what the weather would bring.
We were in for quite a blow. For the next three days it blew a steady force 8 and 9 at times, maybe more. The very strong currents, flooding and ebbing around these vast estuaries, dictated which way the bow pointed sometimes putting the gale-force winds abeam. Every tidal change brought the ships head into the stream regardless of the force of the wind. When it did this we would brace the yards to the wind to reduce windage. These days were something to behold. Again, it seemed as if were transported into one of those ancient marine oil paintings from years ago depicting unrealistic waves and small ships being tossed about with raggedy clouds scudding close overhead – looks just like that with pale weak sunlight splashing through here and there.
Finally, it looked like we had something of a weather window coming up, more like a small attic window or maybe a port-hole but the weather predictions had been very accurate lately so we hove up and got going towards Ipswich. There would be another three days of gales here pretty soon, we could put into Den Helder or other ports down the coast if we needed to. We got underway with draggers coming in as we were headed out. Normally this would be of some concern but we had seen them all put out at the height of the gale so didn’t figure it meant much – it didn’t, they just follow their schedules, come what may. We pushed along.
Right off Amsterdam we came to starboard, struck away from the coast and crossed over towards the approaches to the Thames. We had quite a night, lots of ships everywhere. More oil rigs. Of special note was the Russian 3,000 ton four-masted Bark Kruzenstern which was sailing north-east up channel with a fair wind astern under full sail. She was making 11 knots. She was the last built (1926) commercial four-masted Bark, then named PADUA of the Flying P Line. She made a magnificent sight for our crew. Too bad we were not sailing the same direction, we could have tagged along for awhile anyway until she left the Picton Castle far astern…
We had a pretty bouncy ride from the coast of Holland to the coast of Suffolk, England across the approaches to the Thames, but we scooted right into Harwich/Felixstowe harbour with a fair tide and up the river Orwell just in time for the Mayors reception, hosted for this ship and crew in the wet dock in Ipswich.