The following is a dramatic re-enactment of how I spent part of my holiday sailing the Dutch Seas.
It is day two of our voyage across the Waddenzee. We are returning from a small island just off the coast of Friesland that we discovered the day before. I have decided to call this island Vlieland (because that is what it is called). We are sailing back with the many exotic and wondrous goods that we discovered on this tiny island (in the small harbour shop). Even though we only departed from its shores a short while ago land already seems like a distant memory and I wonder if I will ever see it again (within the three hours of estimated travel time).
Communicating with my fellow crew mates has proved to be a challenge. I am the only Englishmen on board and I find myself surrounded by a crew of Dutch and German men and women. However, over time we eventually found a way to understand each other (they all spoke English to me).
I am now accepted by the Germans who insist that I join them for a traditional drink of beer (at eleven in the morning). Likewise I have been accepted by the Dutch (who are all my family-in-law and already know what I am like anyway).
Through our fragmented conversations I am able to piece together that there is talk of a traitor on board, a would-be mutineer, someone who has eaten all the wine gums out of the Haribo Star Mix and left only the Dutch drop (liquorice). No one on board knows who the guilty party is yet but the accusations have already started. I remain silent and nervously push the remaining wine gums deeper into my pocket in the hope that my confectionery based guilt goes un-noticed. I do not wish to walk the plank.
Storm on the Dutch Seas
Luckily for me there are bigger concerns occupying the minds of the crew and our captain. We have sailed directly in to a storm, an ever present danger during the Dutch summer months. The boat lurches (slightly) from side to side as we attempt to navigate the treacherous sandbanks that lay hidden just beneath the surface of the water. No one says anything. We have all heard the stories of those poor souls unfortunate enough to run afoul of these dangerous obstacles and become stranded on them, lost forever (until they were safely towed back to open water or until high tied came along). We can all hear sand scrapping across the bottom of the hull as we get too close. No one says anything but we all fear we might be next.
Waves crash against the side of the old ship and salty sea water sprays over our waterproof jackets (which most of us have bought especially for this trip). Wearing shorts suddenly seems like a bad idea.
Even without the dangers of the storm conditions on board are harsh. We have been forced to leave behind the comforts and luxuries of life on land. Life at sea requires a tougher resolve but some of us are having trouble adapting than others. Out on the open Dutch seas we only have a 3G network connection, not the fully high speed 4G connection we are all used to. Without a fast connection to Twitter or Facebook I fear that it is only a matter of time before cabin fever sets in and we all lose our minds to the sea. Some of the crew are already talking about areas of sea where there is no network connection at all. I pray that we do not find ourselves in such bedevilled waters.
We sail on. Towards land. Towards Friesland. Towards hope. Towards the harbour we left so long ago yesterday. With any luck we just might make it (before I run out of dry clothes). I will not let the Dutch seas claim me.