Sailing past the shipping lanes to the English Channel

After our short visit in Amsterdam we woke up early to leave the canals and head back out to the sea. Our next planned leg was to sail to France past the big shipping lanes around Rotterdam and Belgium, and from there continue to the English Channel.

We first motored from Amsterdam towards IJmuiden, where we would pass through the last lock.

In the last lock in Ijmuiden before entering the North Sea once more.
When we reached the sea once more we got company by a lot of small birds.

Through the English Channel and North Sea the big ships travel along the TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) which we didn’t need to cross (as we where just going along the coast). Where there are TSS zones there is usually an ITZ as well (Inshore Traffic Zone) between the commercial shipping lane and the coast. Staying in the ITZ is no problem but every now and then the commercial ships will leave their zone and head into land, and then you have to cross their path.

When sailing past Rotterdam, at Maas Entrance, there is a recommended crossing for leisure craft. When you cross the shipping lane you should cross straight over or with a right angle. Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe and the ships going in and out are HUGE, so don’t want to be in their way.

Sailing shipping lanes english channel
The recommended crossing for pleasure craft outside Rotterdam.

We approached Maas Entrance in the later afternoon/evening. The sun hadn’t yet set but was soon about to. Just before our crossing four ships passed on their way to Rotterdam and after that the entrance was empty so that we could easily pass. Not short after we where safe on the other side three or four ships passed. So we where really lucky with finding a good window to pass.

The next challenging shipping lane, we thought, was the ones outside Zeebrugge, as there where several in different direction and as we would pass there by night. But it went fine, we passed the shipping lanes fast and well away from any big ships.

In our opinion it was more work avoiding the dredging and fishing vessels as they move in the ITZ and suddenly can change direction. The big ships stay in their zone and maintain their course.

Other than that our night sail from Amsterdam to Dunkirk offered pretty strong winds and at times, pretty high waves. As there was a lot of job steering the boat and navigating, we both got really tired. We tried with shorter rests for the both of us but it was a really tiring and cold night. Next night sail we will probably be able use the autopilot or windvane more so resting will be easier.

When morning came the wind died out and we started the engine and reached Dunkirk in France just before lunch. We ate lunch at a restaurant and after that we want back to the boat and fell asleep. We had a calm evening with wine and serie watching before falling asleep once more.

The following day we visited the market in Dunkirk, went food shopping and fixed some things on the boat. We spent another night in Dunkirk before continuing through Dover straight.

Walking around in Dunkirk.
Visiting the market.

Sailing through Germany

After our Kiel canal transit we entered Cuxhaven, where we had a nice dinner with fellow sailors, Marine and Bruno onboard Waterproof. It wasn’t a late night though as we where going to go up really early the day after to go with the tide out to the North Sea. We left Cuxhaven about 6 in the morning and got a nice current with us.

We sailed for a while in the morning but as there was barely no wind we started the engine after a while so that we would make it to Norderney. The harbor in Norderney is located on the inside of the island at with the tides and current and all we didn’t want to enter between the islands after sunset.

Our first sail on the North sea was very calm, barely no waves and very calm. It was sunny all day and life was good. We reached the entrance to Norderney a bit before sunset with almost at low tide, so we had to be careful navigating to not hit land. It was an amazing sunset and we where surprised to see so many people on the beach, haven’t seen this many people in a while.

We found a berth in the marina but the harbormaster was not there so we paid the day after. We took a walk into the town and ate a cheap pizza and where once again amazed that there where so many people out in the town.

The following day we first did some engine maintenance, which has worked well lately and not given us any more trouble so far. We really hope it stays that way, and in order to help it stay in shape we changed the oil and the oil filter.

Oil change to keep the engine happy.

After some work we went to buy some groceries, as we bought a lot of food before our departure we so far only need to buy fresh food, like meat, dairy and vegetables. This has been really nice so far as we don’t have to carry so much.

After all work was done it was time to explore Norderney, so we set out for a run to the beach.

A run to explore Norderney.

sailing germany
Very nice beaches.
When we arrived to the beach we took off our shoes and walked along the beach in the waterline. We regretted not bringing our swimming clothes as it was very warm a swim would have been really nice.
Trying out on of the “beach sofas”. We have seen them everywhere here in Germany.
sailing germany
Long, wide beach.

After exploring we had a chill evening with some nice dinner and prepared for our departure to the Netherlands. As there was some pretty strong winds coming in over the North Sea we had decided to take the Fixed Mast Route through the Netherlands instead of sailing the North Sea.