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First sailing of the year
-- April 22nd / 23rd 2011 --
April 22nd 2011 : Stad - Helletvoetsluis
Here it is: we have received the new valve and the harbour master had time to crane the boat and change the broken part. We had asked professional guys to take care of this critial part of our worklist so that we could trust the result, we really hope to be fine now...
Our new and bigger valve, mounted on an alu adaptor

We can at last go for a short trip on the Haringvliet, the river branch where the boat is. It's been a long and frustrating wait, as for the last 3 weeks the weather has just been perfect: 20 degrees, 3 beaufort easterly winds, and we were stuck because of our water leak!

Of course we had spoted the small dark cloud over there, but it was in the middle of a nice blue sky that pesuaded us to wear shorts and sun glasses...

The engine runs, mooring ropes free, off we go ! Last check on the cloud, all good there is still a boat spiing below, it should not be such a big deal.

Just after the sails are up, the wind gets a bit stronger and we take a preventive reef to stay comfortable. During the maneuver the wind suddenly turns by 30 degrees on its right (this is all but good news...). Under the cloud all the boats are running on their engine now. Is there no wind at all ? or too much for sailing...

We bear away as the wind keeps pickng up, after all the west part of the Haringvliet is nice too. We furl more genoa in, winds still gets stronger... Just a glance backwards and we discover a very nice rainbow (euh, let's wear our waterproof gears...) as we get ready for the rain, the water gets all white 100m behind us. We drop the main sail off, furl even more genoa, we have only 1/3 of the front sail.

Well, I thought we had ordered the 3 beaufort & nice sun menu ?
And actually we were right to be cautious as we are now passing through a true thunderstorm, with 30 knots wind, intense rain, thunder and we just sail west full speed directly towards the solid Haringvliet dam.

A big hour later, the wind gets a bit down but the sky is still worringly grey. We give up the idea to anchor in the nature and just shelter in Helletvoetsluis harbour, well protected from Northerlies and Westerlies.

The dark cloud will stay here during the whole night, which is quite strange for a thunderstorm... That was a good first sail of the year: short navigation (only 2 hours) but quite intense !

This cloud is very static compared to the wind it creates...

Sheltered in Helletvoetsluis
Avril 23rd 2011 : Helletvoetsluis - Stad
The cloud disappeared during the night as it kept hailing from time to time, and we can at last enjoy the nice weather.

Helletvoetsluis's lighthouse

It's the tulip season in the Netherlands, the fields get colored in pink, blue, purple, yelow, red. The Haringvliet waters also get spring colours, covered with pollen! Check out the following pictures: it's really pollen and not oil spills !

Conditions are just ideal to try the spi and its new sock! The preparation on the deck is a bit complicated at first: our sail bag is not adapted (the real one is being repaired by Laure's father), the sock's rope is an extra rope to manage, we are not really used to it yet. But as we haul the spi up in its sock, the maneuver is quiet, we can spot quickly any problem and solve it calmely without wind pressure in the sail. Once the deck is clear, the halyard stored, the pole prepared, we haul the sock up and the spi gets filled.

Getting it down is easy also, just need to loose the sheet in the beginning and the arm on the end and the spi is stifled as the sock gets down. Then we have the time we need to nicely bring the spi / sock sausage back on the deck and store it nicely.

Good first impression then, it seperates nicely each phase of the process. However it's probably safer to wear a harness when the sea is rough as both 2 hands and attention are focused on the sail.

The sock is stuffed at the head of the spi, which is thus a bit lower that usual
Finally we sailed for 2 days, not so intensive but reinsuring: the boat works well, partly thanks to all the work done during the winter, it's ready !

Let's get back to work for a few days, then we still need to move out, and we will be free from any engagement on May 15th...
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