19.04. – 26.04.2014 Antwerpen – Calais

Skipper: Florin und Andreas
Crew: Paulette, Leonora und Patrick

Through Flanders to the North Sea.

19-4-1014 Antwerp – Gent

The new crew arrived at the port of Antwerp promptly at 7:30. In the truest sense of the word, new, it’s Leonora and Patricks first trip to sea. The composition of the crew promises excitement. Skipper 2, Andreas wants to do everything right, the two novices who don’t want to do anything wrong come up against skipper 1, who wants to do everything perfectly.

The first day runs smoothly and without any major incidents. The first lock in the
port of Antwerp could be passed. Florin manoeuvred the boat, the rest of the crew were busy securing Rolling II correctly according to instructions. At the second lock, Merelbeken, It was Andreas turn to navigate whilst Pädi and Leonora received their instructions on how to properly secure a yacht in a lock. Also, the Waterways vignette for 2014 was purchased here. With that the lock keeper took 20 minutes to fill out the form. She was probably a little overwhelmed by the Swiss German words (street and city).

Our first overnight stop was in Snepdijburg, Gent. The debriefing was conducted with drinks at the bow. There, Andreas announced  that he thought it was a super day, had learned a lot, but it  was sometimes challenging and is glad that the Rolling II is located in the harbour and we can now go out to eat.

20/04/2014 Gent…

After a quiet night and a delicious breakfast à la Paulette, the crew decided that today, Easter Sunday, they would have a leisurely trip into Ghent. While the women listened to Easter Mass skipper 1 slept in the pews, at peace with himself. Andrew and Patrick on the other hand, preferred to visit some sights.
For lunch we went to a real Belgian “chip shop”. Lunch – spicy sausage with chips. To top off the Easter Sunday lunch there were Belgian waffles with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Satisfied, we took a taxi back to the marina. There, we decided unanimously not to continue on today, but rather continue our tour on Easter Monday towards Bruges.  The three men went to the harbour master to pay for another night (and to have a swift half in the local club). During this time, Paulette prepared a wonderful Easter dinner. (Mango salad, pork fillets with rice and ratatouille). While we were all sitting comfortably a different harbour Master came to charge us for the berth. After some discussion it turned
out that we had paid the wrong Harbour Master (The left bank is not the same as the right bank).

21/04/2014 Ghent – Bruges

7:30 breakfast, 8:30 left for Bruges. After a short briefing by the Skipper 2 we
could let the lines go and Andreas manoeuvred the boat towards Bruges.
After about 3 hours of driving without incident, but with far more traffic than the
day before, we steamed into Port Flandria, Bruges. The nice harbour master
showed us to space number 23.
After several landings and some artwork, Rolling Swiss II was moored at the dock and
the crew could be on their way to the beautiful little town of Bruges. Andreas had been tipped off, but only after a long search for a suitable restaurant, to chose the inn Raymonde. The younger crew teamed up for a Château-Briand amicably, while the elder ones preferred a fish dish.
The way back to the marina was a longer walk because we did not agree in which
direction we should go. Thus, it was a whole of half an hour longer. Tired and
filled up, the crew members disappeared early to their bunks.

22.04.2014 Bruges – (Newport) – Oostende

After careful route planning with canals and a section in the North Sea we left at 10.15. On this route we were eight bridges and three locks. It was impressive to pass all these swing bridges. Slowly we approached the turnoff to Plassendale canal. Just before we let a, hot headed and keen to overtake, freighters pass us. In order to do this, we approached the canal bank (sheet piling) whereupon suddenly, without warning an unpleasant rumbling startled us. Through the clear water we discovered the cause: “Two discarded concrete
slabs, similar to the ones used for the sheet piling”. Between Bruges and Oostende there are probably only two, but we have found them.
The rest of the day passed with phone calls and looking for a competent and willing
shipyard to investigate the condition of the two props on  RS II.
** A DAY to FORGET **

04/23/2014 Oostende

After a night moored at the dock of the shipyard in Oostende, we got up early to be
ready for the upcoming lift out of  RS II. After breakfast and a small tour of the factory buildings of the yard we waited a punishing 5 hours until the crane arrived through the streets of Bruges and Rolling Swiss II was lifted out of the water. After assessing the
damage to the props the shipyard owner, Florin locally and Marc on the phone decided
to replace both the screws and put the boat back to the water.

24/04/2014 Oostende – Dunquerke

After Florin and Andrew had discussed the route intensively to ensure that all quadrants are found, we set off around noon. The three men were well equipped with binoculars, maps and other material, so that we reached the port of Dunquerke without problems. After a delicious dinner on board all excused themselves and sought their cabins. Our skipper had ordered a departure the next day at 5 o’clock, so that we could avoid the weather that awaited us on the sea. Leonora & Patrick, the two greenhorns, had butterflies in their stomach due to the fact that this would be their first trip to sea.

25/04/2014 Dunquerke – Calais

As ordered, we left the marina at daybreak and headed into the North Sea, direction Calais. The wind was, to my mind, very strong and the waves bundled RSII rudely to and fro, so that after a good hour the two greenhorns where hanging their heads over the rails and….

As we entered Calais Harbour a fleet of ferries where leaving the harbour on their way to England. The Harbour authority announced “Rolling Swiss, Rolling Swiss Keep Clear….”.  And directed Rolling Swiss to wait at the side of the channel until the large ferries had left the harbour. This experience was very impressive and we forgot how bad we where.
Subsequently our skipper passed with flying colours. After an hour we moored up for the last time and had a drink on the foredeck.

Due to the unintended stay in Oostende, our lateness meant we needed to hurry to clean
the boat ready for the next crew.

A great and impressive experience, especially for the two greenhorns.

Leonora and Patrick

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