The best laid plans …….

Our plan was to leave Festina in Copenhagen for two weeks and come home to enjoy the British summer , help Ben in the Impala championships and spend some time with our new grandchild. The trip back from Copenhagen was then to be done by Jaap and myself , but on arriving home I went down with a nasty attack of cellulitis , spent most of the two weeks convalescing and it seemed unfair to saddle Jaap with the responsibility of sailing Festina with a far from recovered crew mate. Luckily another friend , Ken Munro, stepped into the breach so that if my problem were to take a turn for the worse , the two of them would be more than capable of coping without me.
In the event the only problem was the embarrasment of my two crew mates at my eccentric attire of shorts and a single support stocking, and it was a revelation how easy passage making is with 3 instead of two. It is perhaps stating the obvious that increasing the crew by one doubles the amount of sleep each crew man gets . Whilst Lynda and I have over the years become used to a routine of 4 hours on , 4 hours off, doubling ones rest time was wonderfully relaxing. This , plus having an extra pair of hands when things got hairy made the trip an absolute doddle.
Well perhaps not quite a doddle as the forecast of gale force westerly winds after 4 days prompted us to sail non stop to get into Holland before they arrived . For a while it looked as if we would slip into the shelter of the Waddenzee before the wind came onto the nose , but it was not to be and the last 5 hours of our passage along the N German and Dutch coasts was spent bashing into both wind and tide. , finally taking a rest in the harbour on Vlieland. The next days passage running for the shelter of the Ijselmeer in 30 to 35 knots and minimal vizibility (courtesy of horizontal rain) perfectly illustrated the advantage of three crew. Jaap navigated leaving Ken and I free to sail the boat through the intricate channels of the Waddenzee: had it been just Lynda and I life would definitely not have been easy.
That little blow was just the first of many that were forecast to sweep over Northern Europe for a while so we left the boat in Amsterdam for a further week , after which Ken , Lynda and I sailed her back to the Hamble in a little over 48 hours. Once more it was brilliant to have an extra pair of (very competant) hands as the first few hours out of Ijmuidan were fairly hairy, but once clear of a nasty little thundery front we were able to get back into our 3 man watch system and bring the boat home in relaxed and companiable style.
There is no doubt that sharing our summer with friends has been very enjoyable, both exploring the archipelagos of the north and benefitting from the experience of Jaap and Ken on our passage home. Maybe we should do more of this in the years to come.

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