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The Long Distance Record Breaker

The new challenge was born. Organizing a safe crossing from England to the Netherlands over one of the most densely crowded sailing areas of the world, was a big undertaking.

First I checked with my own organization, the Dutch Pilot Association. As a pilot you assist the master of a ship to navigate the Vessels safely, from the pilot station out at sea, through shallow waters to port, and bring the vessel alongside the quayside. The pilot stations are located out in the open sea where you board the vessel via a rope ladder. These climbs can be up to 9 meters high and unfortunately the transfers aren’t always done with flat calm seas. With waves up to 3 meters you sometimes hang on the pilot ladder like a monkey so a physical fit condition is paramount. The Dutch pilotage agreed to sponsor my North sea crossing attempt as they wanted to highlight the importance of having to be physically fit, to do this profession.

Our first option was to use of one of our fast pilot boats as my assistance boat during the attempt. Dispensation was requested and granted so that the pilot boat would be allowed to operate outside the regular sailing area and the last step was arranging the insurance aspect. Another option was to have a collaboration with the Dutch Rescue Service (KNRM)

The Pilotage got in touch with the Dutch rescue service, KNRM, and they saw in this challenge an ideal platform to showcase the cooperation between the two organizations. Also it would be a good endurance training for the crew and equipment. It was important to the KNRM that there would be no financial element for the KNRM. The KNRM relies solely on donations. This was absolutely not an issue for me and all costs were covered by my other sponsors.

Now the boat was arranged, a possible crossing came within sight (Oct 2013). The waiting game started for the right wind and wave conditions. For a crossing with this easterly course you need to have a due north of Southerly breeze. With northerly winds the swell and sea would build too fast which would reduce the speed and consume too much energy. Therefore a northerly wind was never explored as a serious option. A due southerly breeze for the entire crossing and a force of 20 knots, about 5 Beaufort, is ideal. Seafarers know that out at sea the wind is always stronger than at the coast due to the reduced friction of the wind over the sea.

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