Antwerp to Ramsgate


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In late October of 2019, we exited the North Sea at Vlieland, NL and Dirona remained in inland waters for the following five months. We eventually returned to the North Sea in mid-March of 2020, about when we’d intended to, but with an entirely different destination plotted.

Our original plan was to cruise the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain before spending the summer in the Mediterranean, but those plans changed with the COVID-19 epidemic. Instead of turning south for France at the mouth of the river Scheldt, we continued west on an overnight run across the English Channel to the UK. We expected that borders and marinas in Europe would start closing soon, so we chose a country where we could comfortably spend some time. And the UK has an additional advantage for us in that Jennifer is a British citizen.

Below are trip highlights from March 13th and 14th, 2020 en route from Antwerp, BE to Ramsgate, UK. 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.

3/13/2020
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Crane
We watched with interest from our berth at Jachthaven Willemdok in Antwerp as this crane boom self-deployed, unfolding like a spider’s leg.
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Een Goed Stadsgedicht
“Een Goed Stadsgedicht” (A Good City Poem) by Antwerp city poet Stijn Vranken, visible to those waiting on the road while a ship passes, asks at the end if the ship is “transporting the time that you are so urgently losing here?”.
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Emergency Response
Emergence response team training in the Port of Antwerp.
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Muretz #3
Mural Muretz #3 by artists Muretz, Treepack and Street Art Antwerp.
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Antigoon
The Resurrection of Antigoon along the Kattendijkdok by Antwerp artist Bruno Kristo. The huge metal hand clutching a bollard represents the legendary giant Antigoon, who once terrorized Antwerp, clawing his way back onto shore. According to legend, Antigoon’s hand was chopped off and thrown into the river Scheldt by Antwerp hero Brabo, whose statue is prominent in Grote Markt, .
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Siberia Bridge
Siberia bridge closing behind us after we exit the Kattendijkdok.
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Royerssluis
Waiting for Royerssluis to empty so we can lock through.
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Fairlift
Jumbo Maritime’s heavy load carrier Fairlift at the Port of Antwerp. The ship has a 250-tonne and one 400-tonne crane with a combined lift capacity of 650 tonnes and is currently carrying two Gotwald-Konecranes port cranes (blue boxes with grey superstructure) destined for Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
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Zeewolf
The Belgian customs vessel Zeewolf underway from Royerssluis.
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Chloe
The barge Chloe churning up the water as the skipper makes a sharp turn to port on exiting Royerssluis.
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Locking Through
Tied off port side-to in Royerssluis as we exit the Antwerp inland docks for the river Scheldt. Here you can see part of our continuing fender experiment: three white EasyStore inflatable fenders. They are less than a third of the price of many of the inflatable fender brands, so we were interested in seeing how long they lasted. It’s been a couple of years now and they’re doing pretty well.
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Gate Opening
Gate opening at Royerssluis for us to exit to the river Scheldt.
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Kallo Lock
Ship passing through the Kallo Lock and into the left-bank portion of the Port of Antwerp. The lock was built in 1979 and is 1,181 ft (360m) long, 164ft (50m) wide and 37 (11.4m) deep. The 1,600ft (500 m) long by 223ft (68m) wide Kieldrecht Lock, currently the largest lock in the world, was completed in 2016 to relieve traffic pressure on the Kallo Lock.
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Doel
Final view to the 2,923 MW Doel Nuclear Power Station on the banks of the river Scheldt.
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Bunkering
The barge Themis bunkering the container ship Chacabuco along the Port of Antwerp west-bank exterior docks.
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Pallieter
The dredge Pallieter working the river Scheldt near the Berendrecht and Zandvliet locks.
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Valdivia
High winds blowing the bow wake of the Valdivia. Winds are blowing 20-30 kts today, but are predicted to settle down this evening and overnight. Our initial plan was to depart Antwerp tomorrow morning in the calmer conditions en route to Zeebrugge in Belgium, where we would spend a few nights and continue south along the French and Spanish Atlantic coasts and into the Mediterranean. But we’ve become increasingly convinced that the COVID-19 epidemic is going to worsen substantially, particularly after reading Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now, posted three days ago.

With the infection risk and the fact that museums, restaurants and other attractions are closing, this is does not seem like a good time to be travelling in those areas. This morning we decided to take on the bigger winds and potentially rough conditions today to take advantage of the calmer weather coming overnight to make a run across the English Channel for Ramsgate, UK. We’re disappointed to be walking away from, or at least deferring, our trip to the Mediterranean. But it’s looking more and more like the right answer.

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Hansweert Lock
The control tower for the Hansweert Lock where we first entered the river Scheldt 16 days ago. We really enjoyed our time in Antwerp and could easily have stayed at least another week.
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Current
We crawling along at 3.5 knots in a strong negative current.
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Terneuzen
Ships in the locks at Terneuzen, which provide access to the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal leading to the city of Ghent and beyond to the river Seine.
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MSC Mina
Passing the massive 1,311ft (399.8m) MSC Mina, the seventh-largest container ship in the world with a TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) of 23,656. The top eleven, all owned by the Swiss-Italian company MSC, are basically the same length and vary only slightly in capacity.
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Lynx
The Dutch pilot boat Lynx on the river Scheldt. We crossed back into Dutch waters shortly before reaching the Hansweert lock.
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Damen
Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding in Visslingen builds a number of the Royal Netherlands Navy ships, possibly some of the ones we saw in Den Helder.
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Sunset
Beautiful sunset as we near the mouth of the river Scheldt.
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Traffic
Lots of ship traffic (blue triangles) as we enter the North Sea from the river Scheldt just outside the traffic lanes. Most are underway, but we’re just about to pass south of a large group of ships at anchor. Visible on radar at the northeast corner of the display is the Thorntonbank Wind Farm. The first phase of the 325 MW Belgian facility was brought on line in 2009.
3/14/2020
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3.1 Knots
The currents are really strong in this area. We’ve been seeing lots of positive current, but are back in a negative current now and making only 3.1 knots. In calm water, we’d normally be making just over 8 knots at 1770 RPM. You can see from the wind graph at center that the winds have settled down as predicted to around 15 knots from steadily close to 30 knots.
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Ramsgate Cliffs
The cliffs at Ramsgate, lit up in the morning sun.
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Harbour Entrance
Approaching the entrance to Ramsgate Harbour, initially built in the mid 1800s. The harbour is one of the closest to mainland Europe and was a major embankment point for the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation, sending 4,200 ships.
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Port Control
No vessel can enter or leave the harbour at Ramsgate without permission from port control, located in the top floor of this building. The floor below is a restaurant with great views to sea and across the inner harbour.
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Jack Up Rig
Jack up rig moored just inside the outer harbour at Ramsgate.
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West Pier Light
The heritage-listed west pier light at Ramsgate has been standing since 1842.
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UK Immigration
Three friendly UK immigration officers on board to check our passports. After landing at Ramsgate, we called the National Yachtline to report our arrival. This needs to be done if non-EU citizens are on board or if the vessel is arriving from outside the EU customs zone or VAT territory, such as the Channel Islands.
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Q Flag
Now that we’re cleared through, we can lower the yellow quarantine flag that we were flying above the UK red ensign. We’re very glad to be here.
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Spitfire
Spitfire wearing a harness in Ramsgate. Pets cannot be imported into the UK aboard pleasure craft, except from Ireland. You can still bring a pet in though, they just aren’t allowed to leave the boat and must be confined and restrained on board so that they cannot escape. Spitfire doesn’t like the harness, but he’s had to wear it a few other times where he’s not been allowed ashore, for example in Fiji.
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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