Den Helder Naval Yard
Day's run. 64 nm. Not much sleep last night as we struggled northwards away from the coast an d closer to our destination. The wind never let up and as the night wore on the sea was a short nasty chop making the vessels motion torturous. For th e whole time the engines were on full throttle and as we rolled the high si de prop came near the sea surface causing cavitation and a great deal of no ise. I could almost see Alan wincing every time the vessel rolled severely. This area is also very busy with regards to shipping as all vessels procee ding from the English Channel towards the Kiel Canal pass along this coast and we are right in the middle of them. Making only two knots against the t ide we are a bit of a sitting duck for all of these ships and that adds to the worry. At 0200 Greg calls me to check courses and speeds, the tide has changed and is now with us making life a bit easier, we are approaching the Texel Traf fic Separation Scheme which has a number of Gas platforms in it. More Navig ation hazards for us to negotiate. At least with the tide changing we can e ase back on the engines and give them a bit of a rest, they have done well and we are now only 21 nm from Texel. At 0530 Alan calls me, we have reached the entrance to the shipping lanes a nd it is time to make the decision as to whether we stay out here or take t he risk and make for the entrance to Texel roadstead. The idea of staying o ut in this weather struggling to keep off the coast working the tide as it sweeps us up and down the coast and avoiding the shipping is not attractive Conversely while it may be quieter once in around the Island of Texel we w ill still have to deal with spring tides running at nearly three knots and as the land is very flat we will still have no respite from the wind. The o ther major factor is running onto a lee shore to make a channel through san d bars is one of the hardest landfalls to make. Not an easy decision but in reality I do not have a lot of choice, staying out in the North Sea is jus t testing disaster every moment as the wind only needs to pick up a bit mor e and we are in real trouble. I make for the sea buoy at the entrance of th e channel. The seas are large and as we close in towards the shore the shal lower water cause the sea to become shorter and steeper. Difficult for the helmsman to keep course as we swing either side of the desired course. I ru n in on chart and GPS alone, as there is not a feature to be seen on the co ast, in fact I can only just see the land. Things become tense as we close in towards where the sea buoy should be and it is not until we are within a mile that I spot it from our low decks. The sea is causing us to roll and pitch dramatically as we run in towards the land adding more to the drama. I call all crew on deck making sure that they have wet weather gear harness es and Stormy Seas life vests on. This is all in the event of a tragedy, if I get this wrong I want all people ready to get away from the vessel safel y and not be trapped below. We line up the channel beam on to the sea causi ng us to roll violently and our steering to be all over the place it is a b it scary as we power along at full speed committed to the channel, there is no turning back now but I can see the buoys clearly and there is plenty of room. The 'Duyfken' makes a fine show as we barrel along between the marke r buoys and in the end it is all pretty easy. Alan has been in contact with Den Helder traffic control and they have aske d would we like a berth in the Naval docks for the night, that is a request that is music to my ears, as it would make life for us so much easier. We are given a north south berth and offered the windward or the leeward side as well as the help of a tug and linesman, its all a bit too much and I bri ng the 'Duyfken' in on the leeward side with ease. Once along side we have a break and then get stuck into the last of the sma ll jobs needed to make our vessel show worthy. The work is made all the mor e difficult by some very heavy falls of Hail, welcome to the North Sea. Whi le the crew are painting and cleaning I am getting on with the paper work i t is amazing how much builds up for the last minute. Such things as the log , Service Statements, references, service logbooks and hand over notes. It all takes time and I would rather be sleeping. As the day progresses it slowly dawns on us that we are in Holland after al l of this time spent getting here. It is nearly over and we have done it. In the evening we have a few quiet drinks and listen to some of our favouri te music. It is still damn cold and of course we are getting showers. After a couple of drinks it is time to turn in but not before we have a ren dition of the voyage summary by Cian it is in prose form and is quite hilar ious.