From Cuxhaven most larger yachts head straight to either Nordeney or Borkum, missing out the smaller Frisian islands, but it wasn’t a particularly windy day and with Lizzie struggling to maintain more than 3 knots the closer island of of Spiekeroog was a more achievable target for us before the tide turned. It was also our favourite of all the islands that we visited last year – very much less developed that it’s western neighbours, no cars and the best ice cream shop. Enough said.
It was with the promise of such delights that at 9pm we approached the fairway of the seagat, only to find, well… nothing! The channels through the sandbanks of the seagats are known to shift, but usually only the section over the bar itself, and we had a chart update from March so we hadn’t expected the fairway buoy itself to have moved. Time was of the essence as we didn’t want to be sniffing around close inshore to the banks without lit buoys when it got dark – in about 45 minutes time. Staying further off rather than risking the shallows we sailed an experimental course to the west, on the hypothesis that the channel might have moved back to an old postion shown on last year’s charts. The gamble paid off – though it was almost 10pm by the time we arrived at the fairway (several miles from it’s charted position) and the remaining buoys were unlit, so Tom took some hasty bearings to all of the red/green gates we could sea and we turned and raced in with the tide leaving us just off the harbour approch channel by the time proper darkness fell. This is a narrow mile long dredged channel, marked only with withies, but these have very effective reflective red and green tape on, so a quick flash of a torch is all that’s needed to keep on course.
The harbour itself was a lot less busy in June than it had been in late July last year, and we easily found a berth where Lizzie would sink happily into the soft mud at low water. We spent a couple of days enjoying Spiekeroog before heading west again, this time inside the island of Langeoog across the drying sands.