Madame Curie on a holiday cruise

This year Madame Curie is going on a holiday cruise. Click here to read all about her new adventures.


Since my last sailingtrip to Horta (the Azores) new ideas have been popping up about a new sailing trip. I really wanted to take on a new sailing adventure. But how do you start? One thing I knew for sure; I needed an other boat. Bigger, more comfortable and.... the list kept growing. In 2007 I informed my employer about my intention to take a sabbatical leave. Now it was "official". After an extensive boathunt, I found "my boat" in the summer of 2009. A steel Breewijd 31 ketch build in 1980, the Madame Curie. After a year and a half of fixing her up, I'm now on the verge of starting my adventure. You can learn all about my plans, my adventures, and my worries together with the Madame Curie in this blog.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Made it home. I arrived saturday the 15th around four in the afternoon.
I'm very happy, tired, and reliefed. But foremost, I'm proud I concluded my adventure.
Sailing of the coast of Texel.
Definetly Den Helder
Save inside the marina

Monday, October 10, 2011


I asked my mom to post the last message. I thought that some of you might be getting a bit worried about me.
What was the crossing like? Well it was 19 days of calm before a storm, and 36 hours of terrible storm. To give you an idea of the first 19 days, I have translated the text messages I sent my family when I had coverage with my mobile phone. And I had already prepared a post, which I wanted to post near Finisterre, but this time UMTS did not work. Vodafone kept insisting that my dongle was allready in use!!!! Grrrr.
Passed the Gibraltar Strait!!!. I was rather nervous but it was perfect! Bye Maggie
Am now passing Cabo de Sao Vincente (south corner of Portugal)! Only 900 miles to go. Till now hardly any wind, so I am not breaking records. All is wel, have not been seesick. Bye
Hello, all is still well. Till now only light winds, and during the night a lot of fog. An now near La Coruna. Just over half way. Hope the second half is quicker. I am not seasick, manage to eat a lot and get enough sleep/rest. Bye Maggie
Am nearer to Finisterre than to La Coruna! But definetly past Vigo

My speed is 1.8 knots. But it is 100% in the right direction! Bye Maggie

28/09(this is the text I wanted to post when I was within UMTS reach, but I had trouble with Vodafone.)

A little bit further,

A little bit further. By now I have made it to La Coruna. I am sailing right along the coastline, and am officially past the halfway point!!! I’m not making record speeds, there is hardly any wind. I haven’t even had to consider reefing!!!. Usually I sail along at approximately 1.5 knots. During the nights, when the wind dies completely, I have to decide between using the engine, or accepting that the current sets me back a couple of miles. Till now I have used the engine 45 hours, which I find rather acceptable. My diesel supply will only allow me to use the engine for 100 hours, and I need to save some hours for entering the harbor in Fowey.

The last couple of days have been very mysterious because of the weather. Low hanging clouds, no wind, and beautiful colored skies. During the nights it was very humid, and rather thick fog. Rather scary. On the AIS  I can see large cargo ships at a distance of 2 to 3 miles, but when I look outside, I see none. So the last couple of days I have mainly slept during the day, and kept a lookout outside at night. I am particularly afraid of fishing vessels. Most of them do not have an AIS transponder, don ’t keep a proper look out, and sail rather fast. Till now I have had two almost collisions with fishing vessels. Both cases I was on deck, and able to change course at the very last moment. I’m sure that they had not seen me at all.

I have been able to avoid getting seasick till now.  But just to be sure I have taken quite a few seasick pills. There are hardly any waves, but there is a lot of swell. Inside you feel you are in a rollercoaster. Because ocean swell has long waves, it is a slow roll. So no smashing into things like I did on previous crossings.

Seen so far:
1x whale
1x school tuna (+/- 30)
3x jumping dolphins (+/- 20 per time)

I have watched all my movies and television series, listend to almost all audiobooks, it is time to get home.

See you in England.

Do not worry about me. All is well, just a little too much wind. Had to wait for the wind to go down to be able to enter the harbor. 10 miles to go. Am very seasick.

Like I said, the last 36 hours were terrible, lots of vomitting, high waves, I had reefed the genua to a small sail, backed it, and was still doing 6.5 knots!!!!

I am very happy I have reached Fowey, and actually I don't have the engery to type a longer post. I'm fed up, I am eager to be home. A little over 400 miles to go. Compared to the 5000 I have already travelled it's just a short distance.

I am leaving tomorrow morning.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

  Maggie arrived safely in Fowey.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The wonders of UMTS

The wonders of UMTS. I am sailing along the Portugese coast, in the Lisbon area. I can actually post a message!!!
All is fine, but this crossing is not going to be in record time. I have not been seasick, and during the nights it has been calm. Yesterday the Portugese Trades really started. Today I am making great progress.

Will let everybody know when I arrive in Fowey.

I'm still surprised that I am able to be on internet. Very curious how much it will cost me?
Bye for now

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

United Kingdom

September 16th I left for Fowey, a town close to Plymouth. It is approximately 1100 miles, and the first part is defenitely beating into the wind. Along the Portugese coast there is always a norderly wind. I am counting on a passage time of at least 3 weeks, but possibly longer. It all depends on the weather and the number of depressions that pass. Just to give you something to read on my blog, a post with pictures taken by others.
Photo Milorad Cakara

Hope the crossing is as relaxed.
Photo Milorad Cakara
Foto Coby Oskam
Foto Coby Oskam

Saturday, September 17, 2011


The first night I slept tightly, but in the morning I woke up to a trembling sound. It really startled me. It sounded like it was directly next to my boat. I ran outside to see what was going on. An airplane?????????
It turns out that I am berthed 50 meters next to the landing strip.
Really just 50 meters.
And especially for my dad I took this picture. The road to the border crosses the landing strip. So if a plane lands or takes off, they close the road. When the plane is gone, they open the road again, simple as that.
Road crossing the landingstrip.
Because it appears to be impossible to buy a belt for my autohelm in the Med, I have ordered 2 via internet and had them delivered to my brother. He then send them to Gibraltar. So full of excitement I headed towards the post office the firts morning. Before I had left the pier, my fellow cruisers informed me that it was a bank holiday. This belt is cursed. Tomorrow I will try again. Would be nice to have an autohelm when crossing to England.

The rest of the story; no, no belt the next day. On the way back I stopped at the chandlery, and asked if they had one in stock. Yesssss, they have one. Initially, I was a little cheap, and told the salesman that I wanted to wait till tomorrow and see if my package would arrive. As soon as I was outside I thought, with the luck I have had with this belt, someone will buy it this afternoon, after no-one has asked about this belt for 5 years. So I immediately turned around, and bought it. It only took a few seconds to install the belt. As I turned ot on, the fuse bust. I dismantled everything and.....fuse bust again. Hmmmm. New problem. So I took the entire thing apart again, and it is an electrical problem again.Some saltwater leaked onto the print via the buttons. The autohelm is definately broken. The next morning my package arrived. So now I have 3 belts for a broken autohelm. Sigh.

But there is also lots of fun stuff in Gibraltar. The rock.
Donkere wolk boven de rots.
It is a bit chilly here, and very damp, with a cold breeze. For the fist time in months I have worn long trousers. 
Long sleeves!!!

Why do they keep turning their head?
In the rock there are caves, not as nice as the one in
Slovenia, but still fun.

Friday, September 16, 2011


A 389 mile crossing, so very doable. The last couple of days, rainclouds passed over Ibiza. Now I can get used to the (bad) weather I am heading for slowly.
Dark clouds above Ibiza town.
During this crossing I have tested my patience, but I didn't pass completely. Like I said, it is only 350 miles, but the first two days I was beating into the wind, force 6. Tacking is not Madame Curie's strongest course. So I only advanced 50 miles per day. After that the wind turned, it was a soft breeze, force 3 during the day, and force 0 during the night, directly from behind. Downwind is also not a very fast course for Madame Curie.  gAnd because the autohelm has not been repaired I have to steer all the time. To get some sleep, I drift during the night, and continue sailing in the morning. Because of the eastbound current (0,5 to 1 knot), I'm set back a couple of miles towards Ibiza. The last 4 days were terrible. Because large amounts of water evaporate from the Med, this water needs to be replaced. Most of this water is replaced via the strait of Gibraltar, so the eastbound current south of the Spanish south coast is 1-3 knots. Only during spring tide there is a change of having an westbound current in the strait. If the wind is west, then the current is against me 24 hours a day! So if I travel at a speed of 3 knots in the right direction, I will do.........

Oh only 24 miles per day!!!!! This because I have a current against me of on average 2 knots. Normally my morale is boasted when I have the current with me. But I didn't get a favourable current. Bummer. So eventhough I used the engine quite a lot (okay, 10 hours per day the last 3 days, but I really ran out of patience) I only travelled 30 miles per 24 hours. Frustrating. I had kind of underestimated the effect of the current. Of course, this whole current thing is explained in the pilot, but I didn't read the pilot until during the crossing. Maybe this is better, this way I couldn't get depressed in advance.

Afer 8 days and 4 hours I arrived in Gibraltar.

But during this crossing I also had dolphins and small whales swin with Madame Curie for a longer time. And now you can enjoy the videos. The videos are a bit rocky, but these creatures allway swim with the boat when I actually need at least one hand for myself. The small whales (not really sure if they are really whales but they are a lot bigger than all the dolphins I have ever seen, more than 4 meter. Maybe you know if they are wales) were so close to the boat less than 30 cm, I could have touched them!

And also some regular dolphins joined my boat, and despite my frustration, this always makes me happy!!!