Hooray! Depart Goole & cross the North Sea to France!

Depart Goole

Clear decks all secured for sea, Waterdog looks ready. This is us leaving Ocean Lock, Goole, sunny but windy, wind is forecast to drop by the time we reach Spurn in 7 hours.

Depart Goole

Introducing the crew, Peter - worn out by 4 days of hard work leading up to leaving, but relaxed enough as we steam down the Ouse. Little did he know...

At sea

Lorna and Tilly as we head out of Spurn! We predicted it would be a very rolly ride across the Wash so tried to get Tilly on deck early for her constitutional.

Clive

Clive, our friendly deep sea engineer, who is getting his own Dutch barge ready for cruising. Insurance rules stipulated that we had to have 4 crew including a skipper and qualified engineer.

Lawrence

Skipper Lawrence in the overalls which have been my home apparel for so long. Life raft is at the helmsmans feet and safety gear is all ready near each wheelhouse door with danbuoys and life rings at the back of the wheelhouse. Tilly is outside pining for the grassy shore already.

Sea on deck

Once clear of Spurn the sea showed its true size. It had been blowing from the North West for days at up to F8 so we expected some left over swell, but these seas were more on the beam than expected and bigger. Waterdogs decks were awash from the tops of the waves and she rolled alarmingly!

We had considered anchoring at Spurn to let the wind die down but the inshore forecast gave NW4 becoming Var 3-4 and then SW3-4. That should have calmed the sea a bit, but what we actually had was a NW5 and big seas. The boat seemed to be very stable though, even if the rapid rolling of a stiff boat was very uncomfortable for the crew and contents!

Windy

Looking windy from the port quarter with rapid rolling.

Lorna

Lorna pretending she was under a tree but failing. A bit of fear and a lot of motion made her consider the bucket as her best friend.

The rolling was relentless and just as we thought it might improve, a steep sea would come along and set off another set of heavy rolls. Down below you could just hear all the fridge and cupboard contents crashing about and occassionally the fridge would stretch its cargo starps and have a slap against the coaming itself. We gradually found all the remaining lose items and secured them. Sleeping was difficult in the lounge so Pete and Clive made nests in the remaining 'hold' under the wheelhouse and slept for short periods on air beds.

Lawrence very happy

It was somehow exciting for those too dumb to be scared, although cooking was out of the question as just moving about down below required holding on with 2 hands!

Crew asleep

Clive and Peter sleeping on their airbed nests with the throbbing engine just yards away to help them ignore the sounds in the rolling boat.

Shipping lanes

After the long hard slog down the east coast the weather slowly improved on the second day so that we could relax, eat and sleep. Then came the busy shipping lanes off Harwich and then the Dover Straits! This was the first ship we had to alter course for and then again on the 'motorway' crossing near Dover. We checked in with Dover coastguard who tracked us together with all the other ships passing through the straits. Darkness descended as we approached the first shipping lane of the straits with a string of ships coming from our left! Perfect, a night crossing of one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world!

The buoyed channel from the Dover Straits to Dunkerque was well lit but shore lights made it quite difficult to spot the buoys, still we shot along the coast at up 8 knots with the tide and entered Dunkirque. at 0330 BST or 0430 CET (local).