Maiden Voyage: Naarden to the Forth [Part 1]

April 26, 2011

dutch canal lock

As genuine sailing virgins [this was our first experience of sailing], I spent months planning every detail of our first ever passage, which was to bring our newly-purchased Macwester Malin ketch back across the North Sea from the Netherlands. The trip lasted four x 24/7 non-stop days stretching over the Easter weekend [2011]. With hindsight, we would now both readily admit that we were a little on the adventurous side; while our RYA Day Skipper theory course was informative, perhaps we should have at least crewed on a yacht for an afternoon or two beforehand. We did take the sensible precaution of hiring a qualified skipper, but in practice my ‘crew’ and I still did the majority of the journey between us.

Naarden to the Forth

We left Naarden [Gooimeer] on the Friday, crossed IJmeer and made passage through the canal system that passes by Amsterdam and exits at the sea lock at IJmuiden. Until that point it had been shorts and T-shirts, but by then it was around midnight. It was cold and we were heading out to sea, so we got suited and booted for the occasion.

Mystery birdThere was little useable wind for most of the trip, so the engine was running constantly. As we left Dutch waters and set a direct diagonal course for the Forth, the traffic died down and apart from the occasional tanker or oil rig we were pretty much alone. The weather remained very good, and somewhere in the midst of the Indefatigable Banks, with my partner feeling better, I took the opportunity to bend down on one knee and pop the long over due question. Fortunately she accepted.

Just shortly after a small [wrenish-sized] mystery bird arrived on-board. It must have been tired and hungry as we were about a hundred miles offshore. It spent half-an-hour nipping around the boat picking off insects. It even landed on my fiancée, and made its way from her shoulder down to her hand before singing a little and then heading back out to sea.

Read part 2 here.

For more photos of our journey see here



  1. What a great adventure for your first time sailing. The photographs are fantastic.


  2. […] A couple of days later we nipped over to our yacht on two wonderful spring nights for dinner and an hour or two organising things on board. We unfurled our brand new red ensign which we decided should replace the Dutch flag we’ve flown ever since we bought our yacht over in the Netherlands in 2011. For more info see here. […]


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