The Last Bridge We Go Through in the Netherlands
is the Erasmus Bridge - we took the 1:30PM opening
Our stay in the Netherlands came to an end with our departure out through Rotterdam. We first had to leave through the marina opening bridge and time it so that we didn’t have to wait for the next scheduled opening of the nearby Erasmus Bridge. This bridge is one of the main highways here therefore it only opens a few times a day. In looking at the tides we decided it would be best to ready ourselves for the 1:30PM opening. The harbor master told us to call the bridge tender about 45 minutes before we wanted to leave and he will be sure to open the bridge to the marina as well. We called and were told that the bridge wasn’t working so we’d have to wait. This left us up in the air as to if we would make the 1:30PM opening of the Erasmus Bridge. If we didn’t make that we would have to wait until evening! He didn’t tell us when it would open so the harbor master decided he would call and find out. After his conversation in Dutch with him, he was told that he opened the bridge and that we needed to go immediately.
The Trip to the Mouth of the River at Rotterdam
was busy with lots of boat traffic of all sizes
Fortunately we had already warmed up the engine so we just had to drop the lines at the dock and go! We got out the first bridge and then found that the 1:30PM bridge opening wasn’t happening quite yet. There is a current in the river here, but there wasn’t any river traffic and plenty of space to wait so not a problem. About 10 minutes late the Erasmus bridge opened, we went through, past a cruise ship and into the mainstream of traffic. The bridge opening was on the far left side and we needed to move to the right side, but here there were lots of ship traffic so we waited for an opportunity to cross. Just as it started to clear up we heard on a loudspeaker “Tsamaya”. We looked around and it was the Harbor Police telling us we were on the wrong side of the river. We informed him we had just been waiting for a time to cross and he said that was fine. With this much commercial traffic on the river it is divided up into sections that you must check in with on the VHF (radio). It is an excellent system for
these busy “highways”.
Rotterdam is the largest port in Europe, but with the traffic so well monitored and with our electronic AIS (automatic identification system) we didn’t have any problems. It really was a simple exit from the Netherlands and into open water again. It was nice to finally be able to put our sails up again for a much longer time than we have done since entering the canal system. We thoroughly enjoyed our slow pace through the Netherlands, but it was now time to move on. We will always have very fond memories exploring this beautiful and friendly country.
Our original plan was to do a two day sail traveling from Rotterdam to Cherbourg, but Mother Nature decided to change that. We left on June 16th
in the afternoon. That night was an easy one with just a little rain now and again. The next day the visibility had gone down, but we were still moving in the right direction. We were into our 2nd
night but about 2AM the winds were on our nose and were picking up. It looked like it was going to be quite the “slog” to continue to Cherbourg. We checked
out our options and saw that we could make it to Dieppe by daybreak so changed direction and headed there. We could have continued beating into the wind, but figured we did have a little bit of a cushion in our schedule, so thought being a little more comfortable would be a better option. It also would hopefully allow us to save some on diesel! At 6:15AM on June 18th
we were safely docked and ready for some sleep. We had been in Dieppe back in 2013 so we knew it was a safe and easy harbor to enter at any stage of tide.
One interesting encounter we did have was with French Customs & Immigration. Janice was at the helm and Bob was resting when a very large military looking ship (yes, that very identifable battleship grey) was passing by going in the opposite direction when all of a sudden it took a 90 degree turn and headed right toward us which was a bit of a surprise. We then realized that they were going to stop us and soon heard “Tsamaya” being called over the radio. They informed us that they wished to send a boarding party
over to us. As we were sailing at the time we asked if they wanted us to douse our sails and they stated it was not necessary – they would be able to board us while we sailed. As this was quite a large ship they had to lower a boat to come along side. There were 4 men in it, 3 that hopped on to our boat while the other continued to drive along side of us. They were very polite, but thorough. They asked plenty of questions, checked all of our paperwork and then went down below and looked around. One of them did ask if we had a pet onboard as they saw a container for cat litter but it was only an empty container that we kept onboard for storage. They asked our cruising plans and we informed them that we were heading to the Channel Islands after Cherbourg in order to get out of the EU as our time was up with the boat. They discussed this point with someone on board the larger ship and we were told that this would not work as the Channel Islands were not out of the EU as
You Need to be Watching for Fish Pots
along the coast - difficult to see on night crossings
it relates to Customs. After our discussions with them they understood our concerns as well as that we have worked hard to remain legal in this regard. They suggested that we should talk to the Customs Office in Cherbourg to see if they could figure out what we could do as they stated we would have to go to Norway or Gibraltar to be out of the EU – we definitely could not do this in the time left till June 30th
. They wished us luck when they left after an hour visit which was nice of them, but definitely made us quite worried about what we were going to do. Nothing like a little stress to keep you up at night for the next few days!
After getting some rest the first day in Dieppe we did more research into our “customs” dilemma. We checked quite a few sources and everything told us that we should be OK with continuing with our plan of going to the Channel Islands. We also checked with friends that told us the same information. We knew that this had worked before when we did this son our way up the Atlantic coast
The French Customs Stopped Us On Our Travels
and sent 3 men over to board us & check our papers
a few years before. Once we got a few more reassurances from what we found out we started to feel better about things and could relax some. Our decision was to continue to the Channel Islands as planned, get there before June 30th, check in with Customs and Immigration and hope everything works out.
We were familiar with the area, but still enjoyed walking around the town. The 2nd
night we were there we found out that there was a music festival and some of the groups were playing near the waterfront. We went into town and checked out the various venues. Some of the music we really enjoyed while others were not our style. One of the last groups we saw was an excellent blues band which even got us dancing! We always look for a chance to dance so it was a great ending to the evening.
We had visited the Canadian Memorial the last time, but wanted to again as this is dedicated to all of those that lost their lives in 1942 in what is called the Dieppe Raid. The massive loss of Canadian lives is honored by the memorial located here. We are
all reminded of the huge loss of life here during this bloody battle.
One of the places we didn’t get to the last time we were here was the Chateau on the hill. It was built in 1188, destroyed in 1195 and then rebuilt in the 14th
century. The town walls were built in 1260. It was such a beautiful sunny day we decided to hike up to enjoy the view. We were well rewarded with a 360 degree view of this spectacular area. Many of you are well aware of the Dover Cliffs in the UK, but you may not know that the French coast is quite spectacular. This portion of the coast is called the Alabaster Coast due to its 140 km. chalk cliffs. They are magnificent white cliffs made of 80%!c(MISSING)halk and 20%!f(MISSING)lint. In towns along this coast you will find that flint has been used as building material and is quite impressive. Unfortunately due to the high percentage of chalk the erosion is extensive and we actually saw upon leaving this area a house that had slid down the cliff due this problem. If you walk on the roadways at the top, there
The Outline First Looked Like a Town
but determined it was really a large freighter!
are numerous signs warning you of the erosion down below so you don’t want to get too close. Over the years many have collected the flint from these cliffs making them weak – this practice is illegal now, but unfortunately Mother Nature still has an impact on these fragile cliffs.
You are constantly reminded of WWII along this coastline as you see numerous German bunkers. Many are very well hidden, but if you look closely they are there. These are all part of what was called the Atlantic Wall. Again, it hits home how difficult it was for the Allies to advance in this area and why so many men died here.
We visited the St. James Church this time as didn’t make it before. It had been badly burnt in 1195, but rebuilding went on between the 13th
centuries. It was located on the pilgrim route to St. James of Compostela. For those of you that have followed the blog you will remember that we visited Compostela much earlier in our travels while in Spain.
There is a small maritime museum in Dieppe that we went to after putting some time into boat projects.
We worked on getting our teak ready for putting a finish on and did some mending of the sail cover while in port. There are always plenty of things to get done while stopped, but we try to balance work with pleasure. This museum was small and unfortunately with our lack of knowledge of French we are sure we missed out on quite a bit. They did have a booklet with some information in English, but not everything was translated. Part of the museum was devoted to models of various types of boats over the ages, another part to the environmental impact of the sea and the last section was an aquarium which was well kept up and had quite a large variety of specimens. Even though we missed out on some of the details it was a nice break from work.
In the pictures you will see the Sailors Church high on a cliff – it stands out as quite the landmark. We hiked up to it the last time we were here, so didn’t this time. It is a church built in 1876 dedicated to those that have been lost as sea - quite a sobering reminder
of the power that it holds.
Our neighbors in the marina were a very pleasant French couple. The day we had gone to the farmer’s market they came back and we discussed various topics with them but the conversation came around to French cheese. They told us about an excellent cheese that they had just bought. A few minutes later they very generously gave us a piece of it to try. What a delight we had that evening with of course a French wine & baguette!! A great introduction back to France – bread, wine and cheese – what more can you ask for!
The weather appeared to be clearing up and after a couple of days here it was time to move on. Even though it is not our norm to return to a place we had been before, Dieppe was a nice stop over - just what we needed as we hadn’t done any overnight passages in quite some time. We know we have a deadline, but we also want to make the journey as pleasant as possible – that is what it is all about isn’t it??
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