Atos Odyssea 2007 Westerschelde

3 days - Fri-31/8 to Sun-2/9 - with crew of 3 colleagues - Fréderique Vandenbroucke, Koen Voster & Patrick Hoornaert - challenging the Northsea aboard of the Croeso, a Westerley Storm of 10,11 metres, skippered by Stefan.

Below our actual route, intially we were mind-set to cross the Channel to Ramsgate or Ipswich, however a strong westerly head-wind forced us to change course. Instead we decided to head North over the Westerschelde to Vlissingen (Flushing), then through the canal ending in the "Veerse Meer", finally to exit into open sea again via the Oosterschelde. As winds and currents remained constantly against us, we turned South in Middelburg to return back in time.

Friday early morning Koen joined the rest of our crew - which already boarded the evening before - so we exited the "Mercatorsluis" around 9 o'clock sharp. Weather was great for sailing but a bit heavy, so there weren't all that many boats out in the open water. Near Zeebrugge we noticed flares ahead and overheared a mayday over the radio of a trimaran which almost sunk. Luckily it turned out to be okay, and the coast guard was able to tow the family back to safe shores. With gusty wind of up to 20 knots, our skipper decided to keep 2 reefs in the sail to remain on the safe side. Once across the Schelde river, we aimed for a series of windmills, which indicated the entrance of the canal near Vlissingen. There we lowered our sails, and motored to Middelburg passing a series of 5 lift bridges. Actually the Middelburg harbour - facing the "Lange Jan" tower lighted all in "disco" for the occasion - turned out to be extremely cozy + near the center, where we enjoyed our mussle & fries dinner. Back on board Koen skinned the rest of us - especially his own boss - in a protracted game of Texas hold 'em Poker.

Koen contemplating whether banner will raise itself Skipper Stefan deeply worried about the kind of guys he allowed on board

So Saturday we entered Belgian waters again, and docked quite late in the Blankenberge marina, past Zeebrugge. Blankenberge is not half as nice looking as Middelburg, in contrast there was far more nightlife to explore.

No point talking to Koen early morning

Canal direction Middelburg

Everything under control

Sunday morning at 3 o'clock our peaceful sleep on open deck got violently interrupted by pooring rain. After catching a couple of hours more sleep under deck, we leisurely sailed past Ostend and back (finally having some wind on our back). When entering Ostend's port, Xavier Monchicourt - an Atos Origin colleague on another yacht which we didn't know before - noticed our giant banner. As he's a very active member of the Nieuwpoort Yaching Club with his own boat, we decided over dinner that will certainly step up our company sailing activities in the year to come !!!

Fishing armada in Flushing Parking manoeuvre

Fréderique taking the helm once docked Blankenberge calling Beer to go with Team Building

2 more Sailing Lessons Learned

Lesson 1 - "Het Preekgestoelte" - The Harbour master in Middelburg instructed me to attach the label - indicated I paid for berthing - to the "preekstoel" (pulpit). This refers to the solid rails on the bow and stern of the boat (which prevent you from falling overboard).

Lesson 2 - The "quick mooring loop" - Once inside the Ostend watergate, you got to moor your boat on a vertical rope. Normally I pass the entire boatrope behind this rope, but I observed that Xavier moored on the opposite side used a smart loop. Just release the loop end and your gone again, whereas I used to struggle retrieving the rope again when accelerating. Nice !!!