Friday, 1 March 2019


Taipans Photo Albums 

Vessel Finder also has Taipans current possition. 

 Link to Taipans Anchorages and Map.

I will update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder will also be pretty accurate. 

Saturday, 21 April 2018


Farewell to Ipswich. Its been a great spot to hang out for a couple of very wintery months. The snow gave way to rain and cold wind for several weeks. An occasional glimpse of the sun was a welcome indication that spring was around the corner. Work aboard progressed with the new Northern Lights 5kva genset being inserted into the tiny space allocated under the binnacle, and behind the main engine, thus replacing the retiring Mase3.5. 
We took a train to London to visit good friends Ray and Jeananne, stayed in their lovely home and toured a few of the sites. Not least was Greenwich, a sight of significance for sailors. Painted between 1707 and 1726, the Painted Hall ceiling at the Old Royal Naval College was rigged with scaffold and we were able to take an up-close tour of this amazing painting, the largest in Britain

Easter came and went and provided plenty of opportunities for farewell dinners and final goodbyes to all our friends. Its the yin and yang of cruising. You meet so many lovely people but you have to say goodbye.

Kris, James Tomlinson Talisker l, Kara Dean and John Pennington, Sentijn, Maree Jackson Red Roo. David.

On Friday the 13th of April we motored down the River Orwell to the mouth and anchored near Felixstowe in preparation for departure north on the flood tide on Saturday morning. Our first leg was from Felixstowe to Scarborough 180 miles. Arriving in Scarborough in very foggy conditions we learned that winter had taken its toll here. Many docks had been destroyed in winter storms and we had to tie alongside an old fishing boat. This inconvenience was countered by the advantage of being able to purchase a 30kg bag of scallops from a fisherman. He wasn't keen until he realized we were on "that Australian yacht", then he was very friendly. 

Taipan in Scarborough in a very dense fog.

David making off with the bag of scallops!

The next leg was 66nm north to Blyth, hugging the coast to get the best views in the fabulous sunshine. Blyth was a new port to us and a very easy entrance. It was however not open for the season, so there were no facilities to use. The dock was an easy side tie on the visitor's pontoon and as the weather was closing in we ended up staying for 2 nights. David cleaned the massive scallop haul which kept him busy for about 3 hours.

Bamburgh Castle

35nm to Holy Island was a short day, once again we traveled in close, once again passing Bamburgh Castle and Farne Islands and we enjoyed the spectacular countryside emerging in its spring colors. 

Lindesfarne Priory. Medieval Monastery ruin on Holy Island.
Holy Island is a great anchorage with a well-marked entrance. We entered towards low water against a little current. without incident. A late afternoon dingy trip round to the fishing dock where we left the dingy and walked the beautiful little streets to the old Abby ruins. Lindisfarne Castle is still shrouded in scaffold so we didn't go. One can only "do" so many castles!

Holy Island Boathouses.

Lindisfarne castle and Limekilns

20th of April and we set off for Arbroath, one of our favorite stops on the coast. The entrance can be tricky as there is a cill on the marina and their gates only open for certain times of the tide. There is a good website with all the times. With this in mind, we had chosen our passage along the coast to coincide with high tides in the morning and evening, thus making it easier to expect to make entrances and departures like this in daylight. The entrance at Arbroath is well marked and has great leads, but should not to be taken lightly. It is an impossible entrance in strong easterly or southeasterly weather.  Our entrance was dead calm and we slid quietly into the hammerhead and tied up for a night. They have the best rates on the coast too.


More dodgy weather was forecast so we decided to make haste towards Inverness to meet good old cruising buddies Jon and Pam Choat aka TWEED in Inverness at the northern end of the Caledonian Canal. A relatively benign but slow overnight passages saw us rounding Peterhead on dusk and then it was slow progress to windward against the current for 6 hours. Dawn was stunning and the day turned clear and sunny with very little wind. nevertheless, we made it to the Sea Lock at Muirtown with just minutes to spare and we had arrived.

New Slains Castle south of Peterhead. Scotland

Chanonary Point Lighthouse on the Moray Firth Scotland. 1846
Next its the Caledonian Canal.

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Leaving. Vlissingen Sea Lock.

Another Schengen quick step saw us having to make the dash across the English Channel from southern Netherlands to Ipswich, a mere 113nm, point to point. This wasn't actually because we had to leave the Netherlands, as we'd only been there 2 months and were allowed to stay 3, irrespective of our time in Belguim, thanks to an agreement between Australia and the Netherlands which predates Schengen and is upheld by the Dutch. Notwithstanding, we had to leave because we need to be out of the Schengen area for 3 months before we can return again. This means cooling out heels in the UK or Ireland. We wanted to return during summer so we can start making our way south for an Atlantic crossing later this year.

Anyway, believe me, if it wasn't necessary we wouldn't have done it. Crossed the channel in winter that is. Andrew and Christine had visited to spend a few days with us prior to commencing a summer job in Northumberland, and we had recently returned from a little jaunt in France and Switzerland, the boat was in good shape and we waited and waited and waited for a window.


We spied a promising window for the 27th of February. The morning dawned clear after weeks of dreary, cold, sleety, icy, windy, horrible weather. There was ice on the deck so great care was exercised as we crept out of the VVW Scheld at Vlissingen to the sea lock to get out into the Scheld with the right tide to make our way to sea. The locking business was accomplished with reasonable aplomb now that we are somewhat experienced with locks they pose less of a threat. Remember the ice though? So it was with great caution we moved around those decks.

Safely through the lock, the main was hoised, and Taipan nosed out into the busy shipping lane which passes close to shore here and with lines of huge inbound ships headed to Antwerp. Dodgems ensued as we crossed to shallower banks where the ships cant go, and we were off. 

The wind was a freezing number from somewhere in Siberia. North East at around 18 to 20 knots. Nice sailing but not much dodger protection from wind coming in from the stern quarter. Taipan was pretty frisky and by the time we got the headsail polled out and settled down, we were romping along in a sea of about a meter.

The day wore on, current went south, and current went north, and the wind steadily built. Several Traffic Separation Lanes were negotiated, with ships giving us plenty of room. One called and offered to change course to pass behind us as it was going to be close, just a couple of hundred meters, and as we were polled out, we didn't really want to have to make a big course change. He may have realized that. 

Should we reef or not... we were making great progress so elected to keep everything up and keep running. Our Genoa is only 95% so it's not a really big sail. We love our new one. It has a much better shape. 

We wanted this passage over with as soon as possible. Now we were getting more gusts around 25 with the occasional 30 and Taipan was thoroughly enjoying the frolic. Not so the crew who were, by mid-afternoon, thoroughly frozen. We had all our layers on, and our Fladen Suits on but even so, we struggled to stay warm.

As dusk approached we had Felixstowe and Harwich in our sites. We made it into sheltered waters just as the last light faded. Its just 10 nm up the River Orwell to Ipswich so we decided to keep going. As luck, or good planning, would have it we had a rising tide and were able to ride the current up. 13 hours, and 113 nautical miles since leaving the sea lock we were outside the Lock at Ipswich, at the entrance to the Ipswich Haven Marina our next encampment.

Taipan snowbound.

There was a delay at the lock because a ship nearby had a crane stuck on it and they were maneuvering so required us to stand off for a while. Brrrr. By the time we made it inside to be met by the teams off Red Roo and Sentijn we were pretty damn cold. Maree had salted the dock for us and we were tied off and very pleased to be here. Celebratory drinks or two were duly consumed and the heating was going flat out. Teams reunited and it was a good feeling to be back.

Snow on the decks and ice in the water. Sentijn. John and Kara Pennington and baby Dean below in the warm!

We had only been in Ipswich a week when the Beast from the East, a serious cold weather system, struck the UK and much of Europe. Snow again. Snowman on the roof and a week of white blanketing everything, It's following us!!  A week later we had another dose of snow and freezing conditions. We keep thinking spring must be coming but there is no sign.

The new Northern Lights 5kva Generator.

John and David. Mission completed.
The new Northern Lights Genset arrived at the beginning of the second week and in between showers and snow storms, it has made its way into the hole left by its predecessor. We removed the joiner between the dodger and bimini, used the boom to hoist it off the dock and over the rail, before lowering it into position. Now the captain is modifying the layout of exhaust and water inlet piping, fuel lines and electrical wiring to accommodate it. We hope it will be functional before Easter.

Midnight snowball fight on the way home from the quiz night

Socially, it has been a whirlwind of events. Wine and Cheese night, Deans first birthday party, a Quiz night, big family dinner with Sentijn's parents and James, Sally, and Audrey Tomlinson, at the Nelson. Several dinners aboard each other's boats and visits uptown to keep provisions in when weather permits.

There have been several sewing projects to while away some time below decks. 

Document bag for Sentijn.
Easter approaches and we've been back in Ipswich for 3 weeks, and in another couple of weeks we hope we will have the jobs done, all the mail received, and be ready to get out of here. The summer 
New life raft cover.
rates kick in on the 1st of April so we want to get moving.

The plan is still to head north to Scotland and then south down the Caledonian Canal. Maybe the west coast of Ireland. Stay tuned to find out!

Saturday, 24 February 2018


Winter has come to Paris

Boating in the Netherlands has come to a standstill as the weather gets really cold. The water on the docks is turned off so the pipes don't burst and David is carting Jerry Cans 250m each way to fill the tanks. 

The trusty Mase Generator, installed in 2003 has finally been consigned to the "no further use" basket and we've removed it from the boat. The waterline hardly noticed! The plan is to replace it in the UK during the coming months, before heading south, then across the Atlantic once again, and west towards Panama.

Soon after we arrived in Vlissingen, some good friends, and sailors, Dick and Anita off "Kind of Blue" offered to take us for a drive to the Flood Museum. 

On a freezing cold night at the end of January 1953, a huge storm from the North Sea combined with spring tidal conditions and extensive inland rains, caused a rise of over 5 meters above high tide, in the seawater level. There were 67 breaches of the Zeeland Dykes which protect the countryside from flooding. Being over 6 meters below sea level in places, it was a catastrophic event and 1836 people perished in the southern Netherlands area of Zeeland alone. 165,000ha of farmland was flooded with seawater in several hours. Countless livestock were drowned.

One of several links to more information on the Flood.

The Flood Museum is housed in several caissons, or huge concrete boxes, which were purchased from the UK and towed to locations in the Netherlands to shore up the dikes and stop the water. It took over a year to close the breaches.

Delta Works New Flood control barriers.

Unfortunately, the museum was closed, so we have that for another day, but suffice to say, it was a monumental disaster and as a result, there has been ongoing engineering works such as flood surge barriers, dams and monitoring systems in order to prevent a calamity such as this, ever recurring.

Adventures in the Antwerp city Market

Andrew and Christine, David's brother and wife, visited again from the UK for four days. It is always such fun and great to have the family so close. We did a day trip to Antwerp to show them the sights and pick up some treats at the excellent Saturday City Market. 

In order to break up the long winter hibernation aboard, we decided to take a quick break, and head to France and Switzerland to catch up with friends and see some countryside. Step one, research...step 2 buy train tickets. Easy enough here, and not too expensive for the shorter, more popular routes. 

Andrew and Christine's departure coincided nicely with ours, so we all piled in the Postpub Van for the trip to Rotterdam ,and lunch catch up with great friends, Evert and Janny. "Moby Dick" We then made our way to the Rotterdam Central Station to begin our winter sojourn.

French countryside.
Frantz and Libby our wonderful hosts in Paris. 
First stop, Paris Nord, past snowy pastures and towns. Libby met us at the station and we made our way to their Apartment in central Paris. What fun we had! How well did we eat! Fabulous French cuisine by Libby. Two days were filled with miles of walking. 

Paris had quite a lot of snow which surprised and delighted the children, some of whom had never seen it. It's not snowed in Paris for some years. Busses came to a standstill. What a picture. Even though it curtailed our exploration somewhat, it was still delightful. The Architecture Museum, filled with plaster replicas of reliefs, building motifs, and models of important architecture in France was fascinating and not full of tourists. And there was no queue to get in!

Notre Dame on a snowy winters morning.

All too soon it was time to board the Thalys Train for Geneva and on to Interlaken, Switzerland where we had booked 2 nights in the mountains. More snow and picturesque landscape. Photos through the train window frustrating as the windows were dirty!! Train change at Geneva was simple and Interlaken arrival, just 2 minutes walk to our hotel. The following day we took a local Cog Train up the mountain to Grindelwald. 

The Firste up the mountain from Grindelwald.
The more pretty scenery, beautiful turquoise lakes and snow everywhere. Then the sun burst through and we had a clear blue sky the whole day. Up the mountain to Firste on the cable car was just postcard perfect.

Moody picture reflection in the trains window.
The whole timing of this trip revolved around Carnival in Lucerne. Our good friends, and sailing buddies Sven and Gerda, also known as "The Mountain Goats!!" live in Lucerne and had invited us to come stay. They met our train and we started what was to be an unforgettable visit to this unbelievably beautiful city. Only 90,000 people, so not large. Centuries of architecture and culture. And Carnival!! 

David ans Kris. Ready to scare away the winter!

“Guggenmusigen”, (brass bands,) lead crowds of weirdly dressed people clad in fantastic masks around the narrow streets of the city to frighten away the winter. This medieval festival takes place annually, 6 weeks before Easter, and lasts for 5 days. The masks are scary! Really scary. With over 100 bands, plus other exhibits and floats, the Monday parade took 3 hours to pass our viewing position. 

Sven and Gerda. Our wonderful Lucerne hosts.

So it's huge! The city had snow on Sunday and more overnight, so in the bright sunlight on Monday morning, Lucerne was sparkling and filled with people enjoying the carnival. We were suitably attired by Gerda and Sven for the occasion and wandered transfixed by the spectacle!! I think we walked or stood for 5 hours, after which we retired to their home where we were treated to another Swiss delicacy. Fondu! When we arrived we had Raklet, a great Swiss cheese delight. And now we have our own Raklet maker! Thanks, Gerda and Sven!!


Three days passed in Lucerne far to quickly and it was time to move on to Vienna. Travelling through Zurich, where we made a very simple train change and headed on into Austria through some more spectacular mountain and lake scenery. Again, all snow covered, as Austria has had some of its heaviest snowfalls in years. Over a meter and a half in places. 

More photos of Switzerland and Carnival

Its always been a dream to see the Spanish Riding School and as we were sort of close.... we booked the train from Lucerne to Vienna.

We stayed just one night in Vienna and will go back one day. The Spanish Riding School was fun but we only saw morning exercises, as the Performances are on Saturday during winter and we decided not to stay the extra 4 days.  Vienna is a really beautiful city and easy to get around. Looking forward to returning.

No its a poster. No photos allowed. I did sneak a few though.

A flight from Vienna to Amsterdam and a train home to Taipan in Vlissingen took only 5 hours and cost total 130 Euro each. Not too bad. The train was way more expensive and took almost a day with many train changes.

Morning Excercises captured.

All told it was more of a toe wetting exercise to get a grip on traveling here and a great excuse to catch up with friends. It's pretty easy, not as cheap on trains as we thought it would be but they are fast and comfortable and you get to see the country. No waiting at airports and that irksome, but necessary, security is not present on trains.

St Stephen's Vienna

Photos from Vienna.

Since returning from break ashore we have refitted the damaged cockpit cover replaced a halyard, made a new snubber and ticked off a few other minor jobs. Now its countdown to departure. Schengen once again intervenes to dictate our movements, irrespective of weather constraints! On the next suitable weather window, we plan to cross the Channel to the UK and back to Ipswich.