Josefien was released from the hospital and we all drove back together. Much rest and sleep were ahead for her, but quiet the opposite was awaiting us. Daniel and I had decided to help my dad for a while with building the masts for his boat. We've been here for nearly a month now. The aluminum pipes that were laying in the hall when we got here have slowly transformed into a mast. I have always loved to see these kind of things grow. Every time I am amazed at how much humans are capable of making just by going step by step, day by day. I loved to see dad's boat growing out of a pile of wood - and later the walls that made rooms, then the interior and now slowly the masts. It's a dream that is coming true - slowly but surely. And I feel very happy to have been and still be a part of it. It's been so much fun working with dad again for a longer time. Thinking about plans to make things work and dreaming about sailing this boat. We've had some small breaks from working, in which we went to Sliedrecht with dad's boat to tow back a heavy tug that had a broken engine. We started heading to Sliedrecht just after sunrise, but we never saw anything of the sun.. the clouds were creeping around us while I was standing on the bow peeking through the thick mist - trying to find the next buoy. The water was rustling quietly at the bow as the boat was gliding through the water. Without any radar or chart plotter it was a real challenge to find our way across the Grevelingen towards the locks. Once we were at the locks we decided it would be too dangerous to keep going in this thick mist without any good navigational equipment. So we called a friend who has a maritime navigation program on his tablet and asked if we could borrow it for a few days. That made live a bit easier. But we had lost a lot of time by going through the fog that slowly, so that we had to keep going full speed to get to Sliedrecht before dark. The "Havorn" doesn't have any navigation lights yet - they have to be mounted on the mast and in the rigging which is still in the making. So getting there before dark was a necessity. We were doing well for the rest of the day, steaming along at almost 10 knots, even overtaking some of the inland freighters that were steaming along the rivers. With only one more hour to go we were hopeful to make it, when a police boat pulled up along side suddenly and made signs that they want to come aboard. We had a little chat and they checked our papers. When we asked them for the reason for their visit, they said that we weren't in their system. Otherwise all was fine and we could keep going. That had slowed us down a lot and sunset had already started. We hit the gas again to make up for the delay and had still some hope left, but only 10minutes later that hope was challenged again - by the port control this time. We told them that the police had just been onboard, but since I didn't know the name of the police vessel they couldn't do anything with that information. Again we had to slow down and explain where we were going (without them coming aboard). In the end they decided to stay next to us to serve as navigational lights, because darkness was becoming an issue by that time. Half an hour later we finally got to Sliedrecht. After mooring the Havorn the port control left us in peace.
The next morning was clear, freezing - and early, as there was work to do. We had to tie the tug next to the Havorn - and what we thought would be an easy job to do, turned out more challenging as we found the ropes frozen. Stiff like steelwire. After one our of fighting we had the tug next to the Havorn and the journey began. The sun even accompanied us for most of the day on our homeward trip. Towing the tug went well and we also had some good laughs when going through the locks. The "Bruinvis" (the tug boat) always got called on the VHF before they tried calling the Havorn. Guess it's a strange picture to see a tug boat being towed. Although it was rather obvious that nobody was aboard the Bruinvis and it couldn't have towed us the way it was positioned on our beam - the ghost skipper of the Bruinvis got the first calls! :D Again we tried to push on hard to get home before dark and even managed to squeeze ourselves into a lock with some other freighters. Sadly for the freighter behind us it had to wait for the next turn. He wasn't to pleased with this, and made that clear on the VHF. "They should have gone through the smaller yacht locks" he said. I explained to the lock operator that we were to deep and also to wide for these locks and that there was no other way for us than to go through the commercial shipping locks - which kindled the next discussion… "How could a boat from 65ft possibly be 3.40m deep?" Nobody seemed to understand and they came to the conclusion that only 3000ton freighters would have such a depth. After listening to that whole discussion via the locks' VHF channel, I decided to tell them about sailboats… That sailboats need this depth, and that it was very well possible for a 65footer to be 3.40m deep. All we heard for the next 10minutes was complete silence. The freighter behind us had to wait and we could go through, which was really necessary because we were still racing the sun at 7,5 knots now. The tug boat and Havorn both got home safely!
A cold but very nice trip over the rivers and through the locks. I loved seeing Daniel's face every time he saw a bridge that opened in yet another fantastic manner. Some went sideways, some up, or rotated. And I started to realize that so many bridges and locks are very unusual outside of Holland.
The following morning was an early one yet again, no sailing anywhere this time though. We were on our way to the Dusseldorf boat show. I have been working with Minicat on a new boat. Early on in my trip I got a Minicat 310 onboard. This is an amazing small inflatable catamaran. This way I could fold it easily into two bags and store it on my boat for a crossing and do some sporty sailing when I was at anchor. Over the years of sailing with the 310 version I gave Minicat some feedback and we decided to make a Laura Dekker edition. It is based on their standard 420 edition. But it has many upgrades. The boat is also stronger - because it will have to stand the way of sailing that I like! …with lots of wind and rough conditions ;)
The first boat has been build and was standing on the Dusseldorf boat show. I was very exited to see it in real live of course. It looked great with the many colors in the sails, carbon rudder, boom and bowsprit. Even with my name embroidered into the trampoline. Fancy :) I have enjoyed the Minicat 310 a lot over the years and really can't wait to sail this bigger, faster and stronger edition!