The North Sea in November doesn’t project the images we try and associate with sailing; calm waters, steady breeze and warm sun shine…..those conditions are the goal, however boats need to deal with all sorts of weather to reach that goal. Contest yachts know this well and the North sea in November is a pretty thorough test.
We left Lymington in the afternoon heading east into a?….You guessed it, an Easterly! Motoring through the Solent was a pleasure despite the conditions, and by the time we passed Selsey Bill the light had all but gone and the wind had veered around to blow from the South and eventually the Southwest. The sails were up and we were into our delivery trip.
The Contest 42CS looks sleek, solid, seaworthy and fast, She doesn’t disappoint, she is all of those things and more. She is a joy to be aboard, easily handled by one (our watch system meant just one on watch), and everything is where you would expect it to be. The B&G plotter with AIS is mounted in the cockpit and was invaluable for keeping track of all the busy shipping in the Dover straights and the massive wind farms in the North Sea. The sails are easily trimmed from the helm and she is light and predictable to steer. She handled the sea conditions with ease and not once we did get wet from any spray.
Having the galley positioned at the bottom of the companion way, to starboard, meant warm mugs of tea were forever being passed up to the watch keeper. There are three double cabins and two heads, each with showers. We had the Eberspacher heating on low keeping the cabin a perfect temperature and everything about the accommodation works well. Naturally there are plenty of different layout options to suit.
We took the route through the North Sea Canal, entering at the busy industrial port of Ijmuiden and passing through the centre of Amsterdam, through a series of locks and a lifting bridge. Once through we were into the Markermeer and then the Ijsselmeer, both huge expanses of water but only about 4-5 meters deep, often less! The visibility was poor and it was now pretty cold but you could still tell that in better conditions it would have been a beautiful sailing area with picturesque villages and towns dotted around the shoreline.
We arrived in Medemblik at the Contest Yachts yard around 50 hours after leaving Lymington. The North sails were removed for laundering within 20 minutes of our arrival and the boat prepared for winter storage in a heated shed.
Maybe sailing in November in the North Sea isn’t so bad after all.