Voltair’s Voyages, 2010


Click to enlargeWith Voltair in Harlingen in northern Holland, we weren’t sure if the first leg could be done in the time available: Robin had a deadline of being back in UK in time for his mum’s birthday on May 8th, but none of us could set off before 24th April.


Vaughan, John and Robin finally set off from Worcestershire with a car-load of paint, batteries, boxes of fibreglass to mend our damaged keel, and dozens of charts kindly lent by Jim and Paul on Saturday evening, 24th April. After a good run to Dover and thence Dunkirk, we reached Harlingen by breakfast time on Sunday morning. We then spent until Tuesday evening on the land at Atlantic Yachts, (a very efficient outfit they turned out to be), mending, painting and restoring Voltair to seaworthiness prior to launching in the afternoon.


On Wednesday 28th we began the first leg to Eastbourne. The plan was to use the “Mast Up Route” through the Dutch canals as far as we could go, to avoid having strong tides, shallow seas and possibly adverse winds to delay our passage. The timetable through the canals was dictated mainly by the train timetables, since the limiting factor was the opening times of various bridges along the route. The map on the right opens in a bigger size on a new Tab of your browser if you click on it. Our daily legs were as follows:


  1. April 28th - Robin and VJ set off from Harlingen, into the open sea, then through the lock into the Isselmeer and to Enkuizen for the night (JK going by car to Amsterdam, and then taking the train back to Enkhuizen to meet the yacht)
  2. April 29th - Enkhuizen to Amsterdam, via Volendam for lunch. We finished at a small marina called Het Jacht.
  3. April 30th - Amsterdam to Bennebroekbrug. After a big night out in Amsterdam, on the eve of the Queen’s birthday, we set off towards the south
  4. May 1st - Bennebroekbrug to Capelle aan den Ijssel
  5. May 2nd - 1 Capelle aan den Ijssel to Benenden Sasweg, a small village up a little river, and then a dinghy trip onwards up the river to De Heen for dinner.
  6. May 3rd - 1 Benenden Sasweg to Veere for lunch, and then onwards to Vlissingen, pausing at Middelburg for JK to jump off and catch the train back to Amsterdam to retrieve the car.
  7. May 4th - Vlissingen to Dunkirk. R and V sail the yacht around Belgium in strong winds, and have the misfortune to lose Hermione, the dinghy. JK does a marathon with the car, taking it to Eastbourne, and arriving back in Dunkirk in the early hours of 5th by bicycle. We all had interesting stories to tell that day, but fell asleep over a whisky, I think!
  8. May 5th- 6th  Dunkirk to Eastbourne. A beautiful days sailing with the tide as far as Cap Griz-Nez, then across the shipping lanes to Dungeness. Turning west as the sun sets and the wind drops, we picked up a lobster pot off Bexhill, which stopped the fun (and the engine). Coasted under sail to Eastbourne marina and used 2 minutes of engine to get inside and moor. A dive in the morning sorted out the rope and wooden post caught around the propellor.


We spent 6th looking for a new dinghy, and ordered one from a chandler’s in Newhaven. Thence, we packed up and drove home, arriving on schedule, in time for Robin’s Mum’s birthday party!

You can download our track and view it on Google Earth. To download the file, right-click on the link Voltair 2010 leg1 in your browser and select "save link as". This should start a dialogue to allow you to save a file called “voltair2010leg1.kml” to whichever location on your computer you choose.  Now start Google Earth on your computer and then do "File: open", find the file you just downloaded and click on it. Our track should then appear on the map and the program will zoom into it. You can then see exactly where we went, and also look at various photos loaded up by other people around the route.


Good luck with this – I’ll add some of our photos as soon as I can.     John K

Our next Postcard, 'To the Granite, Rose!'

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