Heligoland to Vlieland

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We departed Heligoland shortly after daybreak on a 132nm run to Vlieland, Netherlands through the German Bight. The body of water, at the southeast corner of the North Sea, can be a nasty stretch and is our last offshore run off the year. We had blissfully calm conditions through much of the trip, with the winds mostly behind us and blowing less than 15 knots. To avoid entering Vliedland Jachthaven in the dark, we made the run over 24 hours at a leisurely 5.4-kt average speed, consuming only 3.73 gal/hour (14.12 L/hour).

Below are trip highlights from October 20th and 21st, 2019 from Heligolan, Germany to Vlieland, Netherlands. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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A final view to Heligoland as we depart for the Netherlands. Conditions have settled down significantly since the big winds a couple of days ago, and we expect an easy ride through the German bight.
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Traffic Lanes
Crossing the east-west Terschelling-German Bight traffic lanes where they intersect with the north-south Jade Approach lanes. Traffic in the area is heavy and we almost always have to divert course to keep a safe distance from commercial traffic as we cross the lanes. We’ll be running to the Netherlands in the designated Inshore Traffic Zone (ITZ) south of the main traffic lanes. The AIS targets to our east are ships at anchor.
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5.4 kts
We don’t want to arrive in the Netherlands before daybreak, so we’re running at a nice, relaxed pace. You can also see the impact of head seas and negative current. At this engine power level we should be making 6.75 kts, but we’re only doing 5.4 kts.

The pitch is 7.5° and the roll is 6.1° (bottom right), so it’s quite comfortable on board. The winds should soon shift behind us and conditions will settle even more.

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Wind Farms
The German commitment to renewable energy is quite strong, and particularly evident in this area. In front of us you can see on radar the 30-turbine 108 MW Riffgat wind farm that we’ll pass in about an hour. North of us are several large farms, including the 134-turbine, 760 MW Borkum Riffgrun.
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The winds have shifted behind us and the seas now are wonderfully calm. Conditions should remain this way for the rest of our run to the Netherlands.
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Lowering our German courtesy flag. You can see how calm conditions are right now—our wake hardly dissipates behind us.
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Raising our Netherlands courtesy flag in preparation for our arrival into Vlieland early tomorrow morning.
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Sunset at sea looking toward the Riffgat wind farm.
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Riffgat Wind Farm
The 30-turbine 108 MW Riffgat wind farm at dusk.
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Drive The Lights
We’re only at 1041 RPM and doing 5.5 knots, but at this speed our “drive the lights” indicator at bottom left shows we should slow down in order to not arrive earlier than our scheduled arrival time of 8am.

We can set the “drive-to-lights” to tell us to speed up or slow down based on fuel economy or a planned arrival time. We’ll get an indication of whether we should speed up or slow down based on the desired goal. It’s a super-convenient and relatively foolproof system that we depend on often, particularly on longer passages.

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Coast Guard
At 5:30 this morning, as we neared the Het Vlie leading inland towards Harlingen, the Netherlands Coast Guard radioed us asking our last port of call and our destination. We can certainly expect an official visit in Vlieland.
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4.7 knots
In a positive current, we’re running at 904 RPM and doing 4.7 knots to avoid arriving too early, and are getting an excellent fuel economy of 4.24 nm/gallon.
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10,800 Hours
We just crossed 10,800 hours on the main engine as we near landfall in the Netherlands.
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Netherlands Arrival
Longtime blog reader Jacques Vuye sent us this web cam shot of us entering Vlieland in The Netherlands after an overnight run from Heligoland through the German Bight. The body of water, at the southeast corner of the North Sea, can be a nasty stretch and is our last offshore run off the year. We had an easy run with unusually calm conditions and are now looking forward to exploring Vlieland.
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Moored at Vlieland Jachthaven in front of Artnautica 59 Britt. We often correspond with owner Rob Westermann of Harlingen, who was visiting Vlieland for a few days. The harbour was nearly empty the day before we left Heligoland, but filled up while we were underway due to a Dutch holiday week. Rob offered to move his boat back to make room for us the morning we arrived and was on hand to greet us as we docked. Thanks to Rob we had a great spot.
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A cross-current at the entry to Vlieland Jachthaven can be quite strong. This fishing vessel arrived later than we did and dealt with the current by nudging the starboard bow into the wall and then backing and straightening up.
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TankMaster4 Sensor
Our gray water tank has both TankMaster4 float switches and a Maretron TLM100 level sensor. The TLM100 doesn’t seem to ever require any service. The TankMaster4 is reasonable solution, we like having a redundant data point, and the TankMaster4 controls the auto-discharge system. But it does require service. About once every six months the empty float switch gets stuck in the high position.
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Customs and other officials arriving into Vlieland Jachthaven, presumably to inspect the newly arrived American boat.
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Arrival Formalities
Two customs officials, an immigration official and a member of the military police came on board to inspect our paperwork and process our arrival into The Netherlands. Unlike previous insepctions, Customs wanted to inspect the vessel and had a detailed look through our provisions and several other lockers. Its probably unusual for boats to stop in Heligoland and not stock up in cigarettes and spirits, but we’d only purchased fuel.
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Looking down Havenweg in the main town on Vlieland. It’s great to be back in the Netherlands again.
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Eetcafe De Lutine
A good lunch at Eetcafe De Lutine in Vlieland.
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Walking the stairs up to the Vuurduin lighthouse. The lighthouse was completed in 1909 atop the Voorboetsduin, one of the highest sand dunes in the Netherlands.
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Wadden Sea
Map in Vuurduin lighthouse showing the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage site that Vlieland is a part of, which extends along the North Sea from Denmark to the Netherlands. The World Heritage Site also includes the German Frisian Islands north of Wilhemshaven, the setting for Erskine Childers’ famous espionage novel The Riddle of the Sands.
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The lens inside the glass cupola at the top of the Vuurduin lighthouse.
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Het Vlie
The view east to Het Vlie, the channel leading towards Harlingen, that we followed to reach Vlieland this morning. Dirona is just visible to the right of the flat-roofed buildings roughly at the center of the photo (click image for a larger view).
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Beautiful Eurasian magpie in the shrubbery below the Vuurduin lighthouse.
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Den Helder
From the Vuurduin lighthouse, we can just make out the lighthouse of Den Helder about 20 miles west. That likely will be our next stop after Vlieland.
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Ferry Vlieland
The ferry Vlieland arriving from Harlingen to Vlieland with a load of vehicles and foot passengers.
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Rob & Janet
We’d not seen Rob Westermann and Janet Sijperda of Artnautica 59 Britt since Stockholm earlier this year. It was great to see them again and we had a fun time catching up and talking boats and travels.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.


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