Borkum to Cuxhaven
‘Goldeneye’ had moved in. As the yacht that had moored behind us in the night departed, so the large motor boat arrived and with bow thrusters working over time, not so silently taken its place. Behind it lay a raft of about 4 yachts. All blocking a quick and easy exit from our berth beside the jetty.
With a tactical bit of springing off, we glided out past all the boats, and made a smooth exit out of Borkum harbour. Clearly this was the spot where German boats made to for the weekend. We thanked our good fortune in arriving a day earlier, and not having to jostle for a berth.
We put all three sails up, and beat in the light winds, under an azure cloudless sky. Suzanne took the opportunity to practice her upwind sailing, using the tell-tales to guide her steering. The going was slow, and the wind farm refused to be shrugged off. Eventually, around 3pm, we put on the engine and stowed the gib and the stay sail.
Knowing we were in for at least a 20 hour sail, Andrew took a rest around 5pm. At 6.30pm we reviewed our situation. We hadn’t been able to refuel in Borkum, as the nearest place was 8km by bus (or bike), and lugging two containers full of diesel all that way, hadn’t seemed like a great idea. However the wind shift that had been forecast, had not yet materialised, and it looked like it might have gone back to 6am. We needed to decide what to do.18 gallons – did we have enough fuel to get to Cuxhaven if we needed to motor all the way?
We started to move towards the island of Norderney, where fuel would be available, and at that point was off to our starboard side. Checking the chart more closely, we realised that the depth of water in the harbour was too close to our own depth – and the addition of tide still came up a little short. None of the other islands in between had fuel – due in part to some being without cars. We just had to hope that the westerly wind would come in due course. We would never run out of fuel, but we were keen not to get caught with a close to empty tank and a rough sea. We had experienced that once before, and the upshot had been a tow back into harbour by the inshore lifeboat….
On board dining
We dined on beetroot, onion and feta wraps – delicious. Another great recipe tried and tested. By 9.30pm we were crossing the river Jade estuary, the tide with us. Around midnight we started to sail, beating again, to save fuel and to let Suzanne get some shut eye! Around 1am the Jade tidal stream and sailing on a port tack wasn’t giving the progress needed. Starboard tack gave us good progress, but we needed the engine to cross the Traffice Separation Scheme. Back on went the engine.
At around 1.45 am the engine was off and we were back to sailing, and Andrew was treated to a phosphoresence display around 2am before it started to get too light again around 3.
Sailing with just the main, to keep our speed down to make sure we hit the River Elbe at the right time. At 4am, Suzanne brought Andrew a hot chocolate. The sky was glowing red with a crescent moon. The barometer continued to fall, and it was still 18 degrees.
At 4.15 were were on the edge of the Scharhorn Riff, just outside of the River Elbe – we put the engine on and followed the buoys. By 7am we could see the city of Cuxhaven, with pristine green lawns leading down to beach huts and sandy beaches. Nautical shaped blocks of flats, and new and old lighthouses. We paralleled the large container ships in the main lane until we turned, at last, into Cuxhaven SVC marina. We easily found a berth with a green sign, and were confident we would do, as we’d watched a stream of yachts exit as we approached – all heading towards the Kiel canal.
By 8.15 we were berthed, next to a Dutch ship with steering problems, and briefly to a British boat who took off not long after we arrived. I’m sure it wasn’t anything we said! We again donated a scratch of gel coat to the berth side – a lack of fenders and a speedy windy entry being to blame.
Our daily stats
We were underway 19 hours and 30 minutes, and made 111 nautical miles, averaging 5.6 knots. We managed to sail for a total of 5 hours, with the remainder motor sailing, using 7 gallons of fuel, and 15 engine hours.