Sweden to Belgium
Hooray we are finally out of Sweden! It has been a somewhat frustrating time so far. 19 July we hauled Alice out of the water and onto a gravel plain in Strömstad Marina. Here the friendly but totally overworked mechanics replaced the propeller shaft that was bent in the engine disaster in June (you can read about that earlier in the blog). The work itself took 3 days or so but we stayed on the hard for 2 weeks waiting for spare parts and available mechanics. During this frustrating wait we also visited Marks relatives on the nearby islands of Trossö and Kalvö.
Anyway on August 5 we finally got back in the water and set sail for Hirshals in Denmark. Since then we have sailed and motored on average every other day and are now in Belgium. The North sea lives up to its reputation by mainly offering a strong wind right in our face with rain liberally sprinkled in. I wouldn't say its been awful but it hasn't been very nice either. A bit like going to the dentist to find out your teeth are OK.
One interesting episode was when we due to a gale went on the Dutch canals instead. Alice is 1.9m deep and that also happened to be the maximum amount for the canal. We thought.
During the day we hit the bottom 8 times, it was like plowing a bloody potato field. Once we had to wait for a bridge to open, normally its a bit stressful to keep a 14m long boat in a gale in a 20m wide canal at the same position for 10 minutes but since we were completely stuck in the mud AGAIN we just relaxed and waited. I'm sure the other boats waiting with us was impressed and surprised we manage to keep our position so well even with the engine off and no one at the helm.
We had some good times too. The German island of Helgoland was surprisingly beautiful and all places we have visited have had excellent playgrounds for the children.
Speaking of the children: Molly and My are happy and enjoying the time on land, they spend all their time with their parent and there is always lots of interesting things to do. At sea they spend a lot of time sleeping and being sea sick, they are adjusting but its a slow process. I really hope they get their sea legs sooner rather than later.
A normal day at sea we get up early and leave port at 7. Maria is the captain and always takes Alice in and out of harbours. Once out of the harbour I take the rudder and just sit there for about 12 hours in the rain and hard wind. My rain clothes have become a second part of me, I so long for the tropics!
After leaving Hirshals in Denmark we encountered this lovely thunderstorm. There was nothing to do but hold on and listen to this. I must admit is was quite the kick listen to the music and feel the air shake with the thunder.
Happy girls at Helgoland
More dramatic nature in Helgoland. The birds are called "Havsulor" in Swedish.
One of 20 bridges we crossed in Holland. Cool shape on this one.
"Sisters at the dock" By an incredible coincidence we met Alice sister ship "Minna" from Germany. There was only around 50 yachts of the same model as Alice built and we met another who is also sailing to the Caribbean. Its been great sharing experiences with Minnas crew.
Tomorrow we sail into the English channel, hopefully to Bouleonge-sur-mer in France. The forecast is a strong following wind so with a bit of luck we will pop into the channel with both the current and the wind in the right direction. Goodbye for now, we miss you all!