Grace is all at sea……at last!

Friday 4th August

It is a bit blustery but we exit smoothly from our very tight berth at the Groningen Oosthaven, no megaphone advice from the harbour master was required! As it is 1100 we have plenty of time to make the last of the city bridges before they stop for lunch! The time ticks by and the group of yachts waiting for the bridge to opens builds up and dodging about starts to become more exciting when you add 18 knots of wind! It is here that we also meet our namesake, we keep running into people saying they have met us and Grace before! She is a motor barge and her SSR number (small ships register) is only two digits different. We say hello as we dodge past!

Now the German has arrived in his big motorboat, it has got plenty of big scratches and dents down the hull. He is weaving about quite a bit and we hang back in the canal basin in front of our berth which we left 40 minutes earlier! He whirls about on his bow thrusters and we try to keep out of his way. Finally the bridge finally opens but he has not seen it and is facing the wrong way across the canal and we cannot get past him….we are going to miss the bridge again! Suddenly in a panic he realises the bridge has opened, he opens up his engines and races towards the bridge, we follow drawn along in his wake. Everyone is shouting at him to slow down as he has created a mini tsunami that is making all the boats on the bank rock violently! The bridge light has changed to red, we slow down but the German powers on, the bridge keep realises what is happen and changes it back to a flashing green so we follow and are through!

Following our German friend!

Immediately after the bridge, our pathfinder suddenly slows and disappears of the bridge, the boat heads for the bank but he reappears just in time, coffee in hand, to avert disaster! We can't decide whether it is better to have him in front or behind! But at the next bridge he disappears off into Groningen Motorboat Club and we have a free run ahead of us!
We are now on the Emms canal, it is big and wide and very deep. We are high up above the countryside and look down onto fields and villages as we pass by. With 18 to 20 knots of wind behind us we fly down it on the genoa alone at 6 knots and we have soon left all the other boats behind us. After 5 m we reach the Bloemhofbrug, I use the vhf to call then up when we are about 0.25 miles and it is opened for us as is the Woldbrug and Eelmerderbrug at Appingdam. We are now almost at Delfzijl and the sealock out into the Emms.

Flying down the Emms Canal on the genoa alone!

Once in the sealock there is about a fall of a metre back to sea level, the port itself is very busy and there are plenty of fast moving tugs and barges to avoid as we cross to the far side of the channel and head to the west end and the marina's wave breaker.

In the Sealock at Delfzijl

We pick a suitable berth and go for it and make as graceful entrance as the gusting winds allow! Putting away our Now very battered Staande Mastroute Atlas away for the last time and we leave the boat to explore Delfzijl.

We can put away our well thumbed Canal Atlas!

Grace safely in Delfzijl Marina

We meet the hafenmeister on the pontoon and he pulls out of his pocket a credit card machine and pay him. It really is the simplest yet! After visiting Lidl, which seems to be the highlight of the town we return to Grace to prepare for the sea again after 5 weeks of canals, Germany and Borkum in the morning.

Delfzijl as was, only the gateway through the dyke remains!

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