After a schedule change that saw the 26 craft of the Motor Boats Monthly Cruising Club fleet take an extra day in Brouwershaven to avoid torrential rain, all are now safe in Tholen despite F7 SW winds.

Weather is an increasingly dominating factor in this, the magazine’s second exploration of the lakeland waters of Zeeland in the southern part of the Netherlands. Few boats were inclined to take advantage of the Grevelingenmeer’s islands – indeed the sight of many yachts seeking the safe sanctuary of Brouwershaven was enough to convince us that we were best off exactly where we were, tied up in the southernmost basin close to the village square and its surrounding restaurants and shops.

Some crews instead exchanged twin props for twin wheels, pedalling bicycles as far afield as Zierikzee on the Oosterschelde, three hours away by boat but just 11km by road.

For the MBM control boat crews the extended layover provided ample opportunity for catching up on the few maintenance jobs that have arisen on this trip. In particular, the Broom 37 Vulcan came in for close attention as the stop solenoid on her starboard Sabre diesel was not working and the port engine was running warm, at least on the gauge. After solving the former (the relay and wiring loom had become dislodged and sawn in half by the belt pulleys) and checking the latter right through from intake to gearbox heat exchanger, we were pleased to receive the following poem penned by Antonia Leach:

Spock’s progress

You’ve heard of the solenoid system
Where Vulcan can orbit a sun
Where weeds caused the overheat symptom
And boating no longer seems fun?

Today Kim and Tom found the answers
And brandishing crimpers galore
Attacked our munched cable with gusto
Which meant we could put back the floor

So thank you so much for your efforts
To put our ship back on the map
And hope that signals the end
Of any more engine room…

Looking at the wind for this morning’s run to the barge village of Tholen, we too hoped that would be the last of any more engine room for the whole fleet. After traversing the length of the Grevelingenmeer, we would need to lock out onto the tidal Oosterschelde for the short stretch up to the large Krammersluizen lock complex, thence onto the wide reaches of the Volkerak before heading down the Schelde-Rijnverbinding canal.

Our wishes weren’t granted, for one engine on the new Sealine S48 Deucalion failed to start in a lock (due to a crimp on the main starter motor power supply coming loose), although it did at least prove that the shaft drive sportscruiser handled well on one screw. But everyone made their way safely in winds touching gale force at times. As we emerged from the Grevelingensluis onto the Oosterschelde, the view out to the main body of that inland sea, westward, was of a solid sheet of white water and had we been planning to go that way, the trip would certainly have been off. Even the mile or so that we travelled in the opposite direction between locks was noticeable for the spindrift blowing off the waves.

By mid afternoon, all boats were safely secured alongside the quays in the Gem Haven at Tholen. Our visit here last year was marked by a scorching and wind-less afternoon that gave the deserted area around the harbourmaster’s office something of the feel of a wild west town. Arrivals this year came exactly as rain marked its threat by great gusts before it dropped with vengeance. As a consequence, berthing was a bit of a trial for some and the mood was close to matching the cloud colour.