Finally it is April fools day and the mass exodus from Sixhaven Marina has begun. We ‘overwinterers’ are leaving en masse as the so-called summer season has started here in the Netherlands. This means a giant increase in fees and an invasion of boats that turns the tiny haven into a maritime ‘Piccadilly Circus’! My Swedish friends, and I, have decided to move out to a new quieter mooring in a suburb of Noord Amsterdam called Nieuwendam.
It is always emotional to move on, and despite the harsh winter and heating dispute, we have all been adult about it in the true liveaboard fashion. I have met so many lovely people here of all nationalities, and apart from an heartbreaking love affair last year, am leaving with no regrets.
I have a sense of gratitude for my wonderful companion, ‘Free’ and the freedom she has allowed me. How else would I have travelled so far and met so many beautiful people? This is real wayfaring at a pace similar to the great adventurers of the past. There is the feeling of sharing a great travelling heritage so rare in these days of cheap flights and plastic hotels.
As ‘Happy Six’ and ‘Free’ made the short two mile trip down the Ij to Nieuwendam, we were all excited by the memory of being on the move after this long, endless winter; even though it seems far from over. Carro and I traded messages over the VHF and she took some interesting photographs of ‘Free’. Obviously, I rarely get a chance to see her!
And so…. What happens next?
Well, my insurance company ‘Saga’ refused to insure me for the Baltic and Gulf of Bothnia. I suppose the fact that two stupid men tried to kill me in 2011 hasn’t helped my cause. I just wish they hadn’t made it seem like it was my fault. You get ‘whacked’ and then make a claim… AND THEN they refuse to insure you!!! It can’t be due to lack of sailing experience or sea miles. I didn’t do any of my 14,000 sea miles sitting in a marina bar with the so-called ‘yachtmasters’ and all their certificates. Still, I am female, and that probably doesn’t help in this ‘man’s world’.
I have another more professional company, Pantaenius, who have offered me a reasonable third party package with full coverage. This means that the gateway to the Baltic beckons and my lifelong dream of a Viking Summer has edged just a little closer! I remember sitting at my little desk at St Gregory’s RC Primary school in South Shields, listening to Grieg’s ‘Morning’, and dreamily contemplating the sailing north to Scandinavia. It has always been a dream of mine.
Now it is time for my final preparations before the long voyage north to the Kiel Canal and the Baltic. Sea trials in the Ijssel Meer will be necessary and I anticipate a few weekends sailing alongside with my Swedish friends, as I put ‘Free’ through her paces. Then as soon as the ice melts to the north, I will be on my way.
Until then, it is party time with my Viking friends!!! Work hard, play hard and grab life by the bollocks!
No fear… just Love.
That is the ‘Viking Way’!