Friday, 10 June 2016

A Difficult Day

We left Lauwersoog at first light to get the tide out over the bar.  We had a good tide under us but when we got out towards the open sea we found a heavy swell coming in.  This was quite lumpy but not too much of a problem in itself until, at just about the shallowest point of the bar, the engine stopped.  It later turned out this was due to a fuel pump failure.

Without an engine we were then in a very difficult situation with little wind and a strong tide sweeping us sideways onto the sands. We dropped the anchor and 30m of chain in 3m of water.  We put out a Mayday call which was relayed on by Geoff who was following in Calismarde.  Things were uncomfortable  while waiting for the lifeboat with big rolling waves bursting right over the boat.  Doing anything was difficult, and everything soon became very wet. 

After about 20 or 30 minutes a large black  Dutch lifeboat appeared and was handled excellently in difficult conditions.  They passed us a line with great skill as both boats were rolling about on the waves.  The force on Bonita's anchor chain was such that it was quite impossible to recover it so once the towline was secured   I cut the lashing at the end of the chain and let it go.  We were towed back the way we had come and were soon once again tied up at a pontoon at Lauwersoog.  The picture shows our lifeboat tow once we were back in smooth water.   We cannot speak too highly of the skill and seamanship of the Dutch lifeboatmen who, like ours, are unpaid volunteers.
Poor Bonita was wet throughout with quite a lot of minor damage and scuffed paint. Lauwersoog is an excellent place to get things fixed, and by the end of the day we had the engine running with a new fuel pump installed, and a new anchor and chain  at the bow. 

After this rather stressful day both Dee and I and maybe Bonita feel that a rather gentler day tomorrow would be a good idea,  so we hope to continue our journey Eastwards by going inland.