The Oosterschelde and its underestimated tidal streams

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N 51° 36.173  E 003° 50.686′  | Marina WSV Noord Beveland . Colijnsplaat

After a month hanging around at Delta Marina on the Veerse Meer, MILVA is excited to enter new seas. The weather forecast looked reasonable to go out at 3 Beaufort with less wind expected towards the evening. MILVAs former owner Jogi joined me on the trip, as i didn’t dare to mess up the manoeuvre alone in Zandkreeksluis lock, and felt enough challenged after having again touched the ground two days before and being unable to reef the main sail. So, this time more preparation.oosterschelde 1 Beaufort

My last night’s lecture about reefing in Steve Sleight’s Complete Sailing Manual gave me some idea, that the yellow rope coming out of the boom’s end might be the solution. For the first time I prepared life jackets and life buoy to be at hands immediately in case of an emergency situation, the line bound to the bath ladder (just to avoid the crew searching for it, and finally found – throw it out without having tied the rescue line somewhere on the boat) and the main sail prepared to hoist in a reefed state. The black cloud over Kortgene made me asking the harbour master for any weather warnings, which he assured being no problem, so finally we left Kortgene at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, two hours already after low tide at the lock, which I knew would be suboptimal, but having enough wind should work out, as I only saw a difference of half a knot in speed going out the Zandkreekpassage one week before at a similar point of time. This however turned out to be a misconception. 

It is always a question in front of the locks to decide to berth on the available berths, or to make some turnarounds until the bridge and lock are going to open. As the comfortable berth was already occupied by three boats, and four more boats more or less optimally bound to the dolphins plus a big tank vessel waiting in front of the lock, the decision was easy to make, but cost in the end 20 minutes of waiting and 25 minutes to get inside and out of the lock.

It is always a good advice to keep some distance to big vessels, as the water masses moved by a starting ship’s engine make quite some turbulence, thus difficult to hold a small boat and its spreader away from the lock’s wall.

ZeelandsbrugWe left the lock and set sails to get out of the small passage with the wind coming from behind in run and broad reach direction. The maximum speed of 5.2 knots over ground we made just during this short trip, competing against bigger yachts and regretting that we had reefed the main sail. At green buoy #Z1 we turned to beam reach towards Zeelandbrug, intending to take the path on the left side of the channel along the green buoys. Zeelandsbrug zeelandbrug-8462Until a red buoy appeared and wind and boat speed decreased rapidly. After a while we reached the green buoy again but still didn’t make any progress into the intended direction towards Zeelandbrug. Checking the Navionics app on the IPad showed 2.5 knots less speed over ground than what the log instrument displayed, and revealed to us having sailed a big circle instead keeping a straight course  towards the final destination. As Freddy – le vibrateur is meanwhile running without any issue, that was finally the solution to reach Colijnsplaat harbour within the expected time around 7 p.m.