We as are about to depart the visitor's pontoon at Oostmahorn I get the idea in my head that it would be good to practice springing Grace off the pontoon. I always struggle to get her off and away without drama and loss of fenders when we are alongside. I blame it on Grace's fat bottom but it is probably my incompetence! I put on a slip spring from the stern cleat to one at Grace's mid point on the pontoon. I then go astern and her bows are gently pushed outwards to about 45 degrees, pivoting about her stern fenders. I then go forward for a perfect gentle exit!
Sailing in the Slenk
We are soon out into the Slenk. It is clearly buoyed and we soon have the sails up and are down the 5 miles to the Schildhoek and into the Zoutkamperril and through Hunsingsluis.
A fishing village at the start of the Reitdiep, it looks Scandinavian!
We play at being Dutch and sail down the canal on our Genoa.
It is not long before we are sailing in the Reitdiep towards Lemmerburen. For the next 7 bridges we follow a large blue motorboat that sounds it's horn at the bridges – a completely useless exercise as they are all unmanned and controlled from an central office in Lemmer. We VHF the lock keeper on channel 85. Very soon I am on friendly terms with the controller and despite my terrible pronunciation of the bridge names he starts to anticipate us and the bridges are ready and waiting for us and we fly through! At Garnwerd he even warns us of lots of boats queuing to go to a restaurant on the other side of the bridge!
Another bridge and we are on the outskirts of Groningen and we go into the Reitdiep Jachthaven. This has an incredibly tight access through a very narrow channel and under another bridge! Once in it opens up into a large modern and empty Marina with all facilities including a very blond harbour master with incredibly short shorts! It really is a good place to stop to prepare for the 16 bridges you need to do to get past Groningen!
Safely in Reitdiep Marina, Groningen
Also a good place to restock vital supplies!