05/07/15 – 06/07/15 TNS442
Scheveningen! A calm sunny dawn alongside in the smart new(ish) harbour, fishing boats returning with the night’s catch, racing to get to the fish market for the best prices.
Last night many of us took advantage of the previous day’s catch in the beach bars and restaurants that line the long, long sandy edge of this part of Holland. As well as being a centre for gastronomy, it’s obviously a centre for bucket ‘n spade holidays for families; the great stone tables with braziers in the middle suggest that the businesses extend the season as far as they can into the cold months too.
Our crossing from the anchorage off Walton-on-the-Naze was excellent: light winds from the right direction as we turned east, strengthening overnight with clear skies and little swells. The North Sea is full of ships, especially where the traffic separation systems converge in a kind of giant roundabout; it was reassuring that our masthead lights and AIS signal showed that we are a sailing ship, so in principle at least the monster container ships and tankers had to give way to Tenacious. Then there are the gas platforms and other fixtures, so many that it’s like playing pintable on a massive scale.
We could see the giant cranes and gantries of the ports long before we could see the coast, which is only a metre or two above sea level. A couple of miles off shore we furled everything very smartly and motored towards what looked like – well, more sandy shore. Eventually a couple of dots resolved themselves into the leading-lights for the harbour, though unless you knew what you were looking for it still looked like the rest of the coast until only a few hundred metres away.
Then suddenly a gap opened in the sea wall and we were into the basin. Timing is critical here because of the tidal streams across the entrance and we popped through exactly on cue at 16.20. Then a swing through 180 degrees, beautifully executed by Captain Simon, and we came alongside as gently as if we were putting the ship onto a feather bed, to the obvious admiration of the holidaymakers gathered in knots on the quayside.