German Bight…..bites again! Part 2

It is the 6th of August and we want to move onto Norderney as soon as possible as we have a gap in the weather of 2 nice days. We leave Borkum’s Burkana harbour early to catch the rising tide. We follow the channel back out to the Fischerbalje and then into the Ems estuary. It is here that we first start to feel the full effects of the wind over the tidal stream that the area is notorious for. It is only a force 3 wind but the waves are building, first 1.5m then rapidly between 2m and 2.5m in a short violent swell. Grace is pitching and rolling down the wave crests, plunging her bows deep in the water throwing up great plumes of spray that makes our hands and faces wet and cold. We are motoring hard but are making slow progress against the incoming tide and we have 10 miles of this to go even before we are able to make our turn for Norderney at the Juisterrif North buoy. It really is hard work, we are fighting to keep control of Grace all the way. By the time we make our turn towards Norderney we are feeling grim but know we must keep going if we are to make the tide at Norderney.
We are now running east towards Norderney, and the going seems a bit easier, a bit of genoa out helps to stabilise Grace but she is still pitching and rolling uncomfortably as we pass the Juist North buoy and onto the Schlucter buoy and the start of the Schlucter channel into Norderney and the Marina behind the island. It is 10 miles this way through the sandbanks. By now the wind is blowing force 5 and our Reed’s Almanac advises that we take the easterly Dove-Tief channel in anything over a force 4, but it is a further 10 miles round, we will miss our tide and we are both exhausted by the struggle so far, we need to get in and so must go for it!
Our passage through the Schlucter channel is horrible, the waves are so big across the sand bar that it really does feel like we are being tossed about in a washing machine. I cannot see the red channel marker buoys to follow and Anne is stood, lifeline on and gripping the Grace’s spray hood dodging the incoming spray and spotting where we need to go, keeping us (okay me) all calm.
As we start to get into the lee of the island, the sea becomes calmer and Grace is more manageable. She feels less like a roller coaster ride. Ahead of us there is a confusion of red and green buoys where the easterly and westerly channels meet, I am a bit confused and I start to cut corner toward my next red marker. Suddenly I am in the surf and the depth is falling rapidly, 2.2 m, 2.0m, 1.9m, 1.7m and we start to pitch wildly. Realising my mistake, I make a sharp turn to port and we are now heading back to the calmer water of what I realise is the actual channel.
Once round the back of the island the sea becomes still and calm, the wind drops and apart from avoiding a couple of ferries and after a trip of 39 miles we are soon comfortably berthed in the Marina. We decide to stay until Thursday to recover, explore the island and shelter from Wednesday’s forecast 25 to 30 knot winds!

Grace berthed safely in Norderney Marina.

I’m berthed safely in the Marina bar!

1 thought on “German Bight…..bites again! Part 2”

  1. Very demanding journey, but glad to know that you are safe and sound. The best bit is the Pimms at the end of all that excitement.
    Love Jan & John.


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