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Old 04-04-2015, 06:11   #1
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North Sea Passage Planning

The North Sea is one nasty bit of water. Shallow, tide-swept, cold, subject to ferocious storms, creating terrible sea states, with heavy traffic, and littered with oil and gas platforms, banks, reefs, and lately -- to add insult to injury -- giant wind farms.

I can't wait to get there next month

One thing you have to be especially careful about in the North Sea are the heavily trafficked TSS's. The German Kuestenwache watches all the traffic with their powerful radars, and hands out 1,000 euro or 10,000 euro fines like giving traffic tickets, for the slightest violation. Not that I would violate a TSS in any case, but still . . . The sea area in front of the Elbe Estuary is like controlled air space -- you have to ask for a slot to approach the Estuary, and if they don't think you are far enough out of the traffic lane, they will be on the horn chewing you out before you know what happened . . .

The last time I crossed the North Sea, we departed from Helgoland en route to Great Yarmouth, and sailed between the two TSS's off the Friesian coast. But that put us into incredibly dense gas and oil fields which was like going through a maze, and crossing two other TSS's. This time I don't want to cross over all the traffic; I just want to sail right up the North Sea to a point off Terschelling without stopping anywhere.

My first inclination is to sail between the TSS's, like this:

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But then off Terschelling, we would run into this:

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We would have to go between the oil platforms or make a long detour around. Theoretically this is allowed, since the no go zone is officially 500 meters, but I have been chased away from spots like this. Does anyone know why?

And then on to Helgoland between the lanes:

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As a rule, I always try to stay as far from TSS's as I can, but facing once again the prospect of dealing with this minefield, I am starting to think that maybe I should just take the TSS like other traffic, staying as far to the edge of the TSS as possible. I'm not sure I love the idea of three days and nights in a TSS, but maybe it's better than dodging all the other carp out there.

Anybody have any tips? Anyone here done this trip much?
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Old 04-04-2015, 09:27   #2
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

Dockhead, I've got a set of charts over the area at home(I'm golfing in portugal at the moment - only 25 degrees and sunny, grilling on the patio every night, sleeping on the terrace, yeah tough life - good you guys have friends like me to take this kind of abuse for you).

Depending on where the wind is from, it might make sense to follow the TSS just outside the lanes. No traffic there, no nightmare of windfarms etc., but the wind has to be just right.

We shall see - maybe the wind will be from the east and we'll have a 3 day beating close hauled like last year - won't that be fun
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:28   #3
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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Dockhead, I've got a set of charts over the area at home(I'm golfing in portugal at the moment - only 25 degrees and sunny, grilling on the patio every night, sleeping on the terrace, yeah tough life - good you guys have friends like me to take this kind of abuse for you).

Depending on where the wind is from, it might make sense to follow the TSS just outside the lanes. No traffic there, no nightmare of windfarms etc., but the wind has to be just right.

We shall see - maybe the wind will be from the east and we'll have a 3 day beating close hauled like last year - won't that be fun
Don't even think such things! Knock on wood, spit over your left shoulder, and cross yourself!

Although with a carbon fiber laminate blade jib, a new carbon fiber laminate main with vertical battens, and a clean bottom, we'll be ready for it if it happens, by God.

We will also be ready for sailing dead down wind -- we now have a 25' carbon fiber pole (off a TP52, in fact). Dare I hope?
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:03   #4
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

"The North Sea is one nasty bit of water. Shallow, tide-swept, cold, subject to ferocious storms, creating terrible sea states, with heavy traffic, and littered with oil and gas platforms, banks, reefs, and lately -- to add insult to injury -- giant wind farms"


You forgot fishing boats of all size, from tiny 25' to giant 200' + and ferries.


Have a nice trip.
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:52   #5
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

Sail a little part of the Standing Mast Route. Go in between Den Helder and Texel to Harlingen where you enter the channel. In the channel you go via Leeuwarden and Dokkum up to Lauwersoog where you leave the channel. Then you sail eastward, south of the TSS. If you stop at Norderney its more easy to come in time with the tide water. If you come in time you can skip Cuxhaven and go direct to Brunsbüttel. But you do not have to have a boot that draft more than 2.0 meter.
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Old 04-04-2015, 13:02   #6
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

Sounds like The Riddle of the Sands.
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Old 04-04-2015, 13:05   #7
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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Originally Posted by Lars_L View Post
Sail a little part of the Standing Mast Route. Go in between Den Helder and Texel to Harlingen where you enter the channel. In the channel you go via Leeuwarden and Dokkum up to Lauwersoog where you leave the channel. Then you sail eastward, south of the TSS. If you stop at Norderney its more easy to come in time with the tide water. If you come in time you can skip Cuxhaven and go direct to Brunsbüttel. But you do not have to have a boot that draft more than 2.0 meter.
It sounds like fun -- but we have draft of 2.5 meters.
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Old 05-04-2015, 01:20   #8
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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It sounds like fun -- but we have draft of 2.5 meters.
Dockhead - you have a great blue water boat - we are NOT going to hide in inland canals - even if we could (which we can't with the 2.5 meter keel)

it will be a glorious sail - actually last year was a fine sail, if you disregard running into hurricaine Bertha and the split foresail.

And this year you're filling the baot with competent sailors - hell we'll have fun
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Old 05-04-2015, 20:32   #9
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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Sounds like The Riddle of the Sands.
My very favouritest onboard read.
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Old 06-04-2015, 05:31   #10
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

A slightly slower rout that may be worth looking at would be to cross the chanel early and sail up the belgum/dutch coast, you will find other small boats doing the same. Avoids crossing lanes. I always found it was better to cross within lanes than going past the end where ships are frequently changing course after exiting so are unpredictable. There are a couple of spots on your route where this could be an issue
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Old 06-04-2015, 06:15   #11
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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A slightly slower rout that may be worth looking at would be to cross the chanel early and sail up the belgum/dutch coast, you will find other small boats doing the same. Avoids crossing lanes. I always found it was better to cross within lanes than going past the end where ships are frequently changing course after exiting so are unpredictable. There are a couple of spots on your route where this could be an issue
That's the way I went last year, and I didn't like it much. First of all, it adds a lot of miles. You get stuck South of both TSS's off the Frisian coast which makes it harder to get to Helgoland. Also, this inshore area inside the TSS is not a good place to be in a gale (and there are lots of them in May) with any N in the wind -- you can't get across the gatts and there's no accessible shelter.
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Old 06-04-2015, 07:40   #12
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

Good point, don't know the Frisan coast. I would say stayin in deep water is the sfest place in a gale - only their isn't any!!! I east anglia they used to describe the southern north sea as a 'wet sponge with creeks' I have run aground 20 miles off the coast of Essex... weird, pitch dark, not a light in sight and bang on a sand bar. That was before GPS. Many memories
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Old 06-04-2015, 18:31   #13
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Re: North Sea Passage Planning

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Good point, don't know the Frisan coast. I would say stayin in deep water is the sfest place in a gale - only their isn't any!!! I east anglia they used to describe the southern north sea as a 'wet sponge with creeks' I have run aground 20 miles off the coast of Essex... weird, pitch dark, not a light in sight and bang on a sand bar. That was before GPS. Many memories
Indeed!

East Anglia is much easier because the weather is generally offshore, and you have no barrier islands.

The Frisian coast becomes a vicious lee shore in a Nor'wester, with nowhere to hide. Best to stay far offshore.

Last year in May, I had to duck into the old military harbor in Borkum, because I lost all my water (mainsheet went astray down the companionway, and managed to get hooked on and open a tap). When it was time to resume the journey, I needed to get back out the gatt, some distance NW and then across Borkumriffgatt. The locals told me I was crazy to go out in a NW gale and tried to stop me; I laughed it off. It was one of the worst days at sea in my life; never again. I made the double mistake of doing it in a West-going tide, which meant I faced vertical walls of water, closely spaced, 3 or 4 meters high. By running my engine at full turns, I managed to make 2 knots at best, knocked back to zero over and over again; a little better when I could set the staysail. I was single-handed, to boot.

Next time I will be far offshore of all that carp.
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