Sailing Long Distances

The North Sea and a Monster

Among the seas that have a bad reputation by seafarer and those who never set a foot on a boat, the North Sea is certainly one area European citizens would name when asked what waters are supposedly dangerous, next to the North Atlantic and the Bay of Biscay. 
The North Sea has all the keywords in its script adventurous stories are made of. Yes, even sad tragedies, with the loss of life at sea. Just to mention a few ingredients, it’s the strong current along the German, Dutch and English coast. Exposed to prevailing westerly winds, the sea can be very rough, mist and fog are constant visitors. In case the moon and sun align and create higher waves as normal, the spring tide, plus a severe storm and the waters of North Sea can destroy a city like Hamburg in 1962 with 312 casualties.
The North Sea is relatively flat with depths of forty meters on average along the German coast and 80 m between Scotland and Norway. Waves of shallow waters are steep, break and do a lot of damages at the adjacent coasts.
Non-sailors might think, it’s the wind that makes sailing troublesome. A reef or two in the sails reduce the sail area, the power, and the sailor can deal with the force. But there is no way to outsmart the waves the wind creates. Sure, size would be an answer. A huge craft of 200 or 300 meters length do much better in the waves simply by its length compared to waves heights, like a sailing boat of twelve meters in the same waves. Thus, the big ones can get into trouble too like the container vessel Grande America in March 2019 in the Bay of Biscay, the tanker Prestige in Galicia in November 2002 or the cruise ship Viking Sky at the coast of Norway in spring 2019. 
Before we set sail to cross the North Sea, I browsed the web for further information regarding these waters. A lot of articles were about recreation at the seaside, a few concerning fishing, followed by offshore wind-parks and the oil and gas industry. I wouldn’t write about it, but I came across an article entitled ‘Scientists have solved the mystery of monster waves.’Read More