After doing groceries, cleaning up and making a sailing plan, we are ready to set off to Nieuwpoort. It will be our second and last stop in Belgium. As soon as we have raised our sails we notice that there is actually very little wind. And very little tidal current… After a bit of floating in the same spot, we decide to turn on the motor and Mr Captain Autopilot.
After a few miles, when we notice that there is a bit of wind again, we come past what is marked as an obstacle on our charts. It’s sticking out of the water and looks like a very smooth rock, but the water is about fifteen meters deep and it seems a bit odd when the ground is sand everywhere. On closer inspection of the chart, we see that it is described as a floating pipe, which indeed it is. A bird is sitting on top. We are wondering if we are not too close to it when we hear a very loud beeping noise. However, it is coming from the VHF radio, and when Moritz goes inside to take a look he sees that it is a distress call, but no coordinates are sent with it. Thus, we do not know where it comes from and whether the boat in distress is close. We listen for a response on the radio from the coastguard, but we hear nothing. The distress signal comes again, and again, with irregular intervals. After a while, Moritz calls the coastguard to confirm that they have received it as well. They say they are working on it, so we do not need to worry.
By now the wind is positively present and we raise the sails for the rest of the way to Nieuwpoort. The harbour is gigantic; on the website ,they claim it is the largest marina in Europe.
In the evening suddenly the VHF radio starts beeping again. This time it is a Search & Rescue message from the coastguard. All ships are requested to look out for a black RIB with about 40 people on board. It becomes clear that we are getting closer to the narrow part of the English Channel, where many refugees attempt to cross to the UK.