Bouncing Around

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It’s Friday again, and you know what that means: another weekend of sailing adventures! We made it to the marina early evening, both super excited to get going. We got Bon Bini ready to go out in record time, and made our way west on the IJ canal. One of the things we love about our boat is how quiet she runs under engine, and we were enjoying the silent run down the IJ, as a massive steal monster appeared just behind our push pit. The big cruise ship was approaching quickly from astern, guided by tiny looking pilot boats to its side. We’ve decided to “pull over” and let the big guy pass, this gave us an opportunity to take a good look at this monstrosity.

To get to the North Sea one has to go through a lock, and we were a bit nervous as some of our previous attempts to go through the lock short handed were executed less seamen-like than we would like it to be. This time we had a plan though – rig a midships spring, put the rudder hard over and keep her in forward gear. We’ve played through this technique countless times over the past days, and we were confident that this time it would be our smoothest lock experience ever. Unfortunately I made the fatal mistake of walking forward with the spring after feeding it through the bollard, which kept our bow nicely tucked against the lock … by moving our stern way out, so that we ended up perpendicular to the lock. Images of us trying to do a full 180 in the confinement of the lock and pulling out of the lock backwards, all under the slightly amused/disgusted eyes of the lock operator flashed through my mind as we were able to give Bini a little shove and make it out of the lock ok. Lucky that we were the only boat in the lock!

We crawled into Ijmuiden marina with our tail between our legs and moored up for the night, ignoring the “big ships only” sign on the dock. In all fairness, this sign was impossible to read anyway, and we still needed to digest our disastrous lock maneuvering. The following morning brought a beautiful sunrise and a nice fresh breeze, which helped us shake off the last remaining feelings of noobishness, and we’ve decided to try our docking maneuver against an empty peer in the marina. It turns out that if you just do what the book says – tie up the line, put the rudder hard over, keep her in forward – the boat sits nicely tucked up against the peer and does not go anywhere. We’ve tried it a couple of times, and we concluded that it is a good idea to practice a new maneuver a couple of times in a marina before doing it in the wild – duhhh!

The wind on the North Sea was a light southerly, and we sailed a couple of hours on different points of sail. The little dolphin-like fin waving at us from in between the waves reminded us of how awesome sailing on the sea really is. It looked a bit too small for a dolphin, maybe a Porpoise? As the wind died down towards the late afternoon we decided to pull back into the marina. As we scanned the water for more waving fins, we were rewarded with very rare occurrence – right there, just in front of Bini’s nose, was the world famous chair fish! We got the boat hook out and executed a man over board recovery maneuver that would have made our sailing instructor Michael very proud! Safely back in the marina we set our new acquaintance free next to a massive garbage disposal unit. Fare well little friend!

Anybody who has been to the Ijmuiden marina knows that it is not the most inviting places, it looks like it has been build back when architects thought blocky concrete buildings are all the rage. We thought about eating dinner on Bon Bini, but then thought the accomplishments of the day deserved for something a bit more celebratory. So we ventured into the little strip of buildings just behind the harbor wall, and lo and behold – found a really nice little restaurant. The place was run by an American guy, who served us excellent food and adult beverages – which might be the reason why I can’t remember either the name of the restaurant, the guy who runs it or how he ended up there.

After a good nights sleep we woke up on Sunday morning, had a quick breakfast and made our way out of the marina. There was a bit of a breeze, and we were itching to get our sails up. As we left the marina, and still within the breakwaters, we saw a little day sailor put their sails up already. Now remember Ijmuiden is a big port, with massive ships going in and out. We looked at the little guy pulling up is sails and motor sailing through the middle of the channel even though his jib was violently disagreeing with his course, and we could help but “tss tss tss”-ing him a bit. As we left the breakwaters, ready to get our sails up, we realized why the guy had been smart to put his sails up inside … there was a decent wind outside the harbor entrance, and a massive swell. That swell combined with a changing tide really confused the seas, and climbing up to the mast to sweat the main halyard was exciting, but not the safest thing in the world. As we set the sails we had about 20 knots of wind, with gusts up to 25 knots, which made us decide to put in a reef. Putting in that reef while boat is bouncing across a huge swell was exhausting to say the least. We were both enjoying the sail, but moving about the boat in these conditions took an extra ordinate amount of effort.

This is when we realized that on a starboard tack, Bon Bini sails happily between 30 and 20 degrees off the wind. On the port tack however – trying to sail something like 50 to 60 degrees off the wind becomes a challenge. We could not completely figure out why that was, but it was obvious that the headsail – which is not in the best condition – had something to do with it. The shape of the sail was a perfectly round bow when we were on a starboard tack. On a port tack, it looked like the top quarter of the sail was actually being backed. The genoa formed a shape of a laying “S”, with the front attached to the forestay. Weird! The current working assumption is that it has to do with the big pieces of cloth that have come of the sail. The wind gets caught in these and pushes the top of the sail over to the leeward side. We’ll have to get that fixed.

After a couple of hours of bouncing around on the still quite pronounced swell, we decided it was time to head back. We made our passage through the dreaded Ijmuiden lock like some real pro’s using our new docking technique. What a difference it was! I think this was the first time that we made it through a lock without being so nervous that we were feeling sick. The motor back to Amsterdam was super smooth, we enjoyed a couple of glasses of whine cup of tea while sitting back and enjoying the warm sunset over Noord Holland.

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