As I have mentioned, we have really good friends in Maassluis and the minute we arrived they set about spoiling us. Frank has known Michel since pre-me when they met in Greece, 30 years ago. They became firm and long-lasting friends and when Michel married the beautiful Nadja we were invited to celebrate with them.

Throughout our stay this time we have spent quite a few evenings with them and last weekend Michel and their 3 sons took their boat to Haringvliet for a weekend of fun and swimming. We, of course took Thirza, although it took us a little longer to get there, not coming close to the 22 knots cruising speed of Black Pearl. Nevertheless, late Saturday afternoon we anchored close to the harbour at Hellevoetsluis in the Haringvliet and after a snagged anchor and me getting the chain caught under the winch (don’t ask) we eventually rafted Black Pearl alongside Thirza and went ashore for some food – after the boys had a swim, of course!

We stayed at anchor for the night and the following morning after a very hearty “all you can eat” breakfast ashore, we headed back towards the Spui and picked up a mooring bouy for the day. It was lovely. The weather was perfect for being able to play, swim and jump from the boats. We all had a great time but I think young Frank (Michel and Nadja’s eldest) had the best time taking Brody out on the dinghy!

After Michel and the boys headed back home we let go of the mooring and made our way up the Spui with it in mind to find another anchorage for the night – it was just too nice to be in a harbour.

Not far into our journey we came across a lovely sandy beach and dropped the hook. The one thing lacking on Thirza is a depth sounder – you don’t usually need one in the canals. We didn’t know how deep the water was but after a short while the anchor was holding and we took the dogs for a walk on the beach. We contemplated a swim but decided to just head back to Thirza and fix a meal.

It is impossible to explain how quickly it went from idyllic to a nightmare in moments. One minute we were rowing the short distance from the beach to Thirza, the next the wind was blowing gale force and Thirza was dragging her anchor…..towards the rocky shore! We had no time at all to spare and as Frank started the engine I started hauling the anchor up. I have to say it was a herculean effort and took literally all my strength and breath to bring the anchor back on board – all the while Frank was keeping the boat off the rocks without putting additional pressure on me hauling the anchor.

Needless to say, we managed to not sustain any damage but within the few minutes it took to get the anchor up the wind continued it’s onslaught – and was now accompanied by hailstones so dense that we couldn’t see the banks of the narrow river Spui. Clearly we would need to find a harbour for the night but not being able to see and being in fierce winds doesn’t make anyone want to enter an unknown harbour unannounced.

Frank remembered we’d passed a harbour with a large entrance and a long fuel quay on the junction of the Spui and the Oude Maass, so we headed for it. Thankfully by the time we got there the wind had abated a little and the hail had turned to rain and we spotted a large space on a hammerhead not far into the harbour, so we took it. And relax!!

The following morning we headed off early to ensure we had the falling tide in our favour to get us back to Maassluis, with no more drama’s, thankfully!

The following morning, Tuesday 17th August, we made our way over to the de Haas boatyard where Thirza was lifted for a bottom scrub, antifoul and anode replacement, ready for our homeward journey back to Blighty.

A little about Maassluis. It is an old fishing village with a church that was built in the 17th century. The inside of the church tells of it’s maritime heritage with model boats and paintings of boats all around. They have a large harbour with 4 lifting bridges that get you round in a circle to the marina and de Haas boatyard. All around the harbour there are bollards for tying ships and tugs and some have been beautifully painted.

The town is full of lovely shops, bars and restaurants and we are really enjoying our stay but the time to leave is approaching………………..

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