Towards Zeebrügge

04.50 the alarm clock rings!

Time to get up for a long day trip to Zeebrugge in Belgium, which depending on winds will take at least 15 hours. So we choose to get up early, arrive late the same day, and avoid night sailing. I have emailed the harbormaster who promised us a good place to go when we arrive. It feels good not to have to look for a place late in the evening.

At first, it is easy sailing, but when we approach Rotterdam I am happy to have experience of Bornholmsgattet and to have passed many separation zones, the ”highways” of the sea. Here it was not just one zone to pass, look left – get to the center – look right – get to the other side, but four. All on their way to the entrance of Rotterdam, and some kind of roundabout. So large cargo ships came from all directions at 15-20 knots of speed where we sailed in 5 knots.

As we approached, we were called on the VHF by a person who introduced himself as Maas Control, and who wondered which way we planned to take. We then understood that Maas Control was responsible for this intersection and had contact with all boats that passed, as an air traffic controller at an airport. Definitely a necessary job here too.

The picture is not from Rotterdam but shows what it might look like on a nautical chart.

We are the black boat, and the green boats that lie in clusters are anchored ships. The arrows show which direction the ships are allowed to go here on their ”motorway” north or south.

Later there was heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. The rain gear on, Grundén’s southwest on, and some successful photos on Jonas. Right then he looks like this, he does not show off when I take cards 🙂 But rain and cold do not make me very happy either.

As we approach Zeebrugge, we end a relatively eventful day with .. Tut-tut-tut..a howling alarm. The oil level is too low in the reverse gear/gearbox! Turn of the engine!

Just to set sails in only 6 knots of wind, must get some speed so we can steer the boat among all ships. Jonas goes down to the engine compartment, sees nothing wrong but still puts more oil in the gearbox. I slowly approach a shallow bank of 4 meters, where I should be safe from large ships that go much deeper than that. When we start the engine again, everything works fine. The next day we contact the company that did the engine service before we left, and are told that there is no indicator of a low oil level for our gearbox, so it must have been a false alarm.

At 23 o’clock we ask Port Control for permission to drive into the port of Zeebrugge, but have to wait a while as two larger ships are on their way out. The port turns out to be a huge work/container port.

Our marina is located far inland, where a quiet, easily accessible place awaits.

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