Usually I write each passage separately but the story of the passage from Norway to Germany would have been pretty bleak were as the passage from Germany to the Netherlands was extremely pleasant, therefore it only made sense to combine them in order to balance the gloomy experience with the cheerful one.
We set sail from Stavanger, Norway on a Sunday evening right after dinner. It had been a beautiful sunny day, the kids and I had been to the local pool so we felt clean and relaxed. Jay had prepared a few meals for our passage that I carefully put into plastic containers. I remember sailing away from the dock and darkness settling upon us but I don’t recall much more of the next couple of days, I must have blocked them out. On every occasion when I have gotten seasick I have recuperated, gotten used to it or “shaken it off” fairly quickly but for some unexplainable reason on this occasion I gave into seasickness like never before. It was a two day passage and it wasn’t until the very end of it that I was able to keep some food down. On this passage all of the Coconut crew, except for the Captain, got seasick, Caribe and I were the worst off. But it was also a tough passage for Captain Jay who not only had to tend to the boat but also to his barfing crew. Once again there was no explanation to why we got seasick on this passage, the sea wasn’t particularly rough and we didn’t do anything particularly different. This seasickness business remains a total mystery.
I believe that the saying “life is about the journey and not the destination” is a big misconception, I believe that the destination is more important than the journey, at least when it comes to sailing. So regardless of the journey or the passage our time spent in Germany was awesome! We arrived on a rainy and windy afternoon in Cuxhaven Marina which is situated on the shore of the North Sea at the mouth of the Elbe river, easily and desperately accessible to us. The entrance to the marina was down wind and it was blowing about 20 to 25 knots, our mainsail was double reefed and we had the staysail up, there was a strong current flowing into the Elbe river, rushing perpendicular to our entrance into the marina. There were many factors we had to think about and take into account while planning our “kamikaze parking”, as we call it. The entrance to the marina was narrow, about 12 meters, we couldn’t see what it was like on the inside, there was a 10 meter break water obstructing our view of the floating docks. Two other sailboats motored into the marina while we were getting things ready to come in, Jay sailed directly up wind from the entrance while I distributed and tied fenders and dock lines on both port and starboard, not knowing which side we would tie up to. As we pointed straight into the wind we toke down the mainsail and turned 180º letting the wind take Messenger straight down wind into the entrance, the tricky part was going to be the current which was ripping through, and made it seam as if we were crossing a busy highway with no breaks. Because of the current we left the staysail up to propel us forward enough to make it through the narrow entrance. At times like these is when we love Messenger, when we need it to perform and it delivers. We beat the current and sailed right in through the entrance, the docks all laid to our starboard and there wasn’t much space inside to maneuver, we came in hot right between a boat idling on our port side and a free dock on starboard, we made a very sharp turn putting our bow into the wind bringing us to a stop, Jay parked Messenger right up to the dock, I jumped off and tied a line. The older couple on the idling boat looked up with a face that read “what just happened?!” “This is how the Coconuts roll” was Captain Jay’s reply, “never a dull moment with the Coconuts” was my reply. It was raining, pretty windy and bumpy on the docks, as we tied our dock lines the harbor master came up to us, she was lively and friendly. She said she saw us come in “kamikaze style” from her office and went to our website to take a quick look, she couldn’t believe there were four kids inside, she had to personally come up to us in this lousy weather to double check, “yep all four kids are in there”. Her name was Petra and she made us feel welcomed right away. Our passage to Germany was 380nm in 50 hours, we had just landed and had already forgotten about the tough passage.
Most people have a romantic idea of what sailing is like, they believe it is pleasant and enjoyable, they imagine sliding softly through the water in a beautiful sunset holding a drink in their hand, enjoying the warm breeze but in reality this only happens maybe 2% of the time, actually in my experience it’s never happened but I’ve seen other people have this experience. Anyway sailing, even on Messenger, does have a way to fill you with joy and this was the case with our passage from Germany to the Netherlands. We left the marina at Cuxhaven after midnight, I was already asleep with little Ártico as were Caribe and Luna, the only ones up were Sol and Captain Jay. Winds were very light so as Sol drove the boat Jay ran on the dock pushing Messenger and hopping on at the last minute.
I woke up the next morning to clear skies and smooth sailing, the wind was offshore making our trip a constant reach, we were on the same tack sailing parallel to land the whole way. We all hung out on deck, snacked on whatever we felt like not caring what time of the day it was, we ate dry fish in the morning and pancakes in the evening, we listened to the radio change from German to Dutch as we sailed from one border into another.
Our passage to the Netherlands was 200nm in 32 hours, we arrived in the morning and were trying to beat Baba, as my mother is called by her grandchildren, who was flying in that morning from Atlanta, Georgia, USA for a visit. We saw her plane fly over us as we were approaching IJmuiden, our port of call, located at the mouth of the North Sea Canal to Amsterdam. We sailed right into the Seaport Marina which is a pretty large marina with many boats. It was a fairly easy entrance, we tacked inside the marina and found a long empty dock, although it was a long walk to the entrance and to facilities we just needed an uncomplicated docking experience this time.