Testimonial of Griet Allaert and Sven Vanderhaegen (Belgium)

“Sailing you say?” …. My husband Sven was completely perplexed. After 2 days of intensively exploring London on foot, we were exhausted. Secretly, Sven was hoping for a quiet 2nd part of our surprise trip. But nothing was further from the truth. We were warmly welcomed by Kurt and Anita who treated us to an active sailing trip from London to Nieuwpoort.

Every year around our wedding anniversary, we alternately surprise each other on an extended weekend away. We enjoy the idea months in advance… Sometimes we give tips and sometimes they include false tips. But this year, Sven noticed that I was nervous. So it had to be unique. And it was!

Sven had sailed before, but for me it was completely new. To be honest: I am not really a water person, I feel more at home in the air. Still, I was super excited and curious. Many people around me asked me beforehand if this trip was not dangerous, but I was reassured by Kurt and Anita’s years of knowledge and experience.

After a comfortable night on the sailboat, we left St Katerine’s Dock on Saturday morning. A cosy marina at the foot of Tower Bridge. The departure from this port could be called idyllic, to say the least. We were given a full safety briefing and already our first challenge – tying knots. We ourselves do not have a ‘sitting hole’ so we were happy to be immediately taken in tow.

The adventure had begun!
Kurt and Anita are both experienced sailing instructors, so had no trouble taking the helm and took the time to explain everything to us. Sailing down the Thames is beautiful to behold. You leave the busy centre of London behind you and as you wind your way towards the open sea. There was a lot of wind, fortunately we had the wind at our backs, so we easily reached 6 to 8 knots. We learned to read the chart, navigate, and learned sailing terms at lightning speed.
seasick? Despite the strong wind, we suffered very little. Sven slightly more, but staying at the helm made him feel fine! Also thanks to the healthy food and many snacks, our stomachs kept working, which is apparently an important tip.

Saturday was a 12h sailing trip. Kurt and Anita didn’t know how we were going to feel either and had worked out different scenarios. But we were able to pursue the optimal scenario. We sailed into Ramsgate in the evening. An exciting feat, as it was dark, pitch black. But … the many lights around the harbour have a meaning. We couldn’t make sense of all the (flickering) lights and colours, but Kurt and Anita followed the instructions and sailed smoothly into the harbour.

Ready for the crossing
We woke up in the nice quiet port of Ramsgate and were fully ready to cross the channel. We left the coastal region behind and still encountered several obstacles in the sea. The many wind farms and even remnants of the World War. We were given information on exactly how to cross. There are rules, … many rules. The big cargo ships are impressive compared to the small sailboat. Given the cargo ships have right of way, it was important to judge carefully whether we were going to sail behind, in front of or completely on top of the ship. With the sun on our faces, we approached the mainland. A wonderful trip, a fantastic introduction to sailing and an unforgettable experience. From now on, I look at harbour lights in a completely different way.

Griet and Sven joined our short trip from London city to Nieuwpoort (Belgium).

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