3 countries, one day – Dunkirk to Cadzand

First things first – Day 4

Our first job in the morning was to top up our diesel at the fuel pump. Except it wasn’t.

Our first job was to get a drunk Frenchman out of the water… At about 3am, we were woken by the sound of people in the water in the marina, and then someone trying to climb onto our boat.

Andrew was out like a shot, and realised it was two of the young men from the French boat opposite, who had been partying hard earlier in the evening. Suffice to say they were skinny dipping and were attempting to get out using their own boat ladder, but failing miserably, so thought they’d try ours. It’s a lot harder than it looks. Andrew directed the chap to the marina ladder, strategically placed for just such eventualities, and finally he got himself out. No drama, but not what you’re wanting when you have a tide to catch early the next morning.

So it was that about 10am we finally slipped past that most poignant of breakwaters at Dunkerque.

Everywhere you go always take the weather with you

Have you ever listened to the shipping weather forecast? Heard all those strange sounding names and wondered what on earth or where they are? Well we are now in the shipping weather forecast area of German Bight. The weather we had today was hazy, mainly hazy – not sure that’s a term they use in forecasts. The haze was such that we didn’t really get to see too much of Belgium as we sailed past it. We acknowledged it by raising our Belgian courtesy flag, and then dutifully changing it over to the Dutch courtesy flag when we left their waters.

Another day, another country

It took us about 4 hours to sail the coast of Belgium. Say hello, wave goodbye. Wish we could have dropped in for some dark chocolate… another time maybe. The one bit of excitement it did give us , was the sighting of our first black seal – all shiny and sleek, like a lady in a black rubber dress.

Water, water everywhere

At Zeebrugge we saw a Spanish naval ship turn into port, as we sped past making 8 knots. We monitored channel 71, just in case there was any traffic that we might impede or get taken out by!

The wind and tide were against us, and spray was covering the boat, front, side and back. This is heavy going. With shoals and banks all around, we have to keep a close track of all the buoys to keep us in safe water – and studiously colour them in on our chart as we pass them by.

Andrew went to check the bilges and realised that we had taken on water. One reason being, he’d forgotten to close the hatches, so water was getting in that way into the saloon. He cleared that, but could still hear water sloshing when he came back up to the cockpit. He checked the gas locker and it was full of water. With his arm deep in the locker, he dislodged the blockage with a wire coat hanger. More bailing out ensued – and would continue for sometime to come.

Michelin Star Cadzand

Our British and Moody-owning berthing neighbours at Dunkerque had very kindly recommended Cadzand marina to us. It is small, and new, and very pretty. We arrived around 7pm, and dropped onto a free pontoon. There was no one in the marina office, so Suzanne gave them a call. The very laid-back harbour master came to greet us on his scooter.

The marina was busy with families disembarking and heading back home. We moved berths to be closer to the facilities, which were very swish, with sliding glass doors and unisex showers.

Above the marina office was an achingly beautiful, stylish, hip looking restaurant, Air Republic, which we were reliably informed by the Belgian skipper of the boat in the berth next to us, has a Michelin star and is run by a famous Chef. Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to try it out, as it was closed, and apparently you need to book up three months in advance. Oh well, something to plan for another visit sometime. I rather liked their planting – might need to borrow their pallet plant box idea….

Tired and hungry, we opted for a starry mezze of our own, using our Abel and Cole hummus, tapenade, olive and feta mix and french bread, with some dolmades and greek bean salad, finishing off with some of their brownies.

We watched as couples and families took their evening stroll along the breakwater surrounding the marina. A beautiful spot, which we’ll come back to again.

Our daily stats

We were underway for 9 hours, sailing for only 45 minutes and motor sailing for the remaining time, making 49 nautical miles, at an average speed of 5.4 knots. No wonder we used so much fuel, around 7 gallons.

At one point we had 2 reefs in the mainsail – as the going was that rough. Under sail our best speed was 8 knots.

You can see the course we steered below, taken from our AIS tracker, which you can also follow from the Crystelle Venture page.

Until next time – happy sailing!

France, Belgium and The Netherlands – all in one day

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