Juul Hondius Sails Asleep

I got so close in 1992. 

The distance was less than ten nautical miles. I was on board the fishing trawler UK136 with it’s crew from the former island of Urk. We sailed over the North Sea and the wind was building up. Wind force 7 to 8 Beaufort, high waves for 72hrs. The captain was praying out loud for the crew at every dinner time in the galley. During the second night in the gale he spoke of finding a safe harbour at the island of Helgoland. I had never heard of it. While manoeuvring the fishing trawler over the dark seas, in his strong Urker dialect the captain told me all about it.

The island Helgoland is an about sixty meters high, red rock in the middle of the German Bight. It used to be an U-Boot naval base. Ideal for movies scenery. Today it is alive with people and birds. Too many birds.

Meanwhile on the fishing vessel, the raging storm wasn’t raging enough to make the captain decide to seek a safer place. He had to catch as much fish as he could with his ship and crew. 

Helgoland has been on my mental horizon ever since. Now I will sail there alone with the Tissum, straight through the sea passage between Den Helder and Texel’s Mokbaai. They say that if you can sail the German Bight, you can sail anywhere in the world.

Even asleep.