In Dehler 32, from the Netherlands to Cotentin

It was in Port Zealand, in the inland waters of the Netherlands, that I picked up this Dehler 32, along with its new owner. The beginning of the route proved to be very exotic: narrow channels, country shores, two rocking bridges and two locks, the last shared with river trading boats next to which our sailboat felt very small.

Approaching the first bridge over the Zuid-Beveland Canal. In the background, the second bridge, whose apron is double: roadways and railway (photo F. Augendre)

After the second lock, it is not yet offshore, but we are rubbing shoulders without transition with the traffic of large merchant ships, which will be the almost permanent lot of our passage in the North Sea. Up to the mouth of the West Scheldt, tugs, barges, super-tankers and container ships are located among the largest in the world, going up to Antwerp or en route to the sea.

The North Sea calms as rarely, while further south France struggles in the remnants of the depression Nadine (photo F. Augendre)

The conveyance is usually a somewhat obscure exercise, leaving no room for fantasy or tourist attractions: it is a matter of carving the road without flapping from point A to point B, without other stops than those sometimes imposed by the weather, gas-oil supplies or technical stops.

In Nieuwpoort, acquisition of a spherical defense, very valuable equipment in cruise (photo F. Augendre)

When the owner is part of the game and wants to take his time and see the country, the pace can be less demanding. In a slightly more « cruise » mode, we landed first in Breskens (Netherlands), then in Nieuwpoort (Belgium), before attacking the crossing to the Cotentin with a stroke.

Curious marina atmospheres a little deserted, showers closed because of Covid-19 protocols, but at construction sites and shipchandlers to the cleat to catch up with weeks of confinement.  This is how we were able to replace along the way an electronic control box of the engine, curiously bugged, but also to raise the level of preparation of the boat for future navigations, and to complete its armament. This also allowed me to do seamanship at dock and in peace, to install the lifelines with Dyneema lashing, or to splice a textile cable on the anchor chain, in order to double the length of the anchorage.

Whether I cross in front of the shores of Dunkirk or – closer to home – the industries of Port de Bouc, I have the same impression of side-by-side with the backyards of our society (photo F. Augendre)

After I landed in Cherbourg, my client continued on with his family to his home port of Saint Cast the Guildo, not far from Saint Malo. When its owners are not on a cruise, this pretty boat with classic lines of inspiration, and quite generously veiled, will be available for hire. If you are planning a cruise to North Brittany, to Chausey and the Channel, the Cotentin, or even to the South of England, do not hesitate to contact me: I will put you in touch.