Sunny Netherlands

Karte Niederlande

Map with the course from Bruinisse to Groningen. It is the tiny black line, I hope you can see it.

Saturday, 20. June 2015

After my father had left I also left Bruinisse.

Reading Newspaper

Reading Newspaper while waiting for the lock and bridge at Bruinisse to open

Due to the two locks and their bridges on the way to the Volkerak it took me two hours to cover the first three miles. The Krammersluisen between the Zijpe and the Volkerak were interesting because here for the first time the bridge did not lift up, it was just built high enough for the yachts to pass under. But there was not much distance left between the top of my mast and the bridge. On a big panel they give the distance between the water line and the bridge, before and after the rising or lowering of the water in the lock. In this case it was between 18,40 metres and 18,70 metres, which means I had roughly 4 metres air between the top of my mast and the bridge. But at first sight I had been worried.

The Volkeraksluis from the Volkerak into the Hollandsch Diep were of the same sort but now I had more confidence into the Dutch engineers that they would have taken into account the height of a normal sailing yacht.

And so afterwards I sailed happily along the Hollandsch Diep which is quite wide here with many barges coming and going presumably mainly to and from Rotterdam and Amsterdam. So all the time I had to keep an eye on them and stay out of their way. Most of the time I motored because there was not much wind or if it was from the wrong direction and I did not want to spend too much time on this channel.

Oil rigg supplier

Oil rigg supplier

My plan was to get to Dordrecht. To get into Dordrecht there is once again a lifting bridge to be passed but it only opens at certain times and I missed by only a few minutes the opening at 17:12 and had to wait at a waiting pontoon about half a mile away from the bridge for two hours. Also the opening at 19:12 I almost missed because I had an outdated book about the Staande Mastroute which said 19:15. I had prepared everything to be at the bridge by 19:15 but they started much earlier so I revved up the engine much more than usual to hurry to the bridge. The bridge master grumbled something through the querky loudspeakers in Dutch which I did not understand but it sounded like he was not happy with my delay. I am sorry for that and now I got the latest version of the booklet to avoid further problems like that.

Right after the bridge is the really cosy and truely little yacht harbour of the WSV Martensgat directly next to the church. You enter through a little hand operated turning bridge which the harbour master opens on your request if you call him on VHF.

Turning bridge leading into the little yacht harbour in Dordrecht

Turning bridge leading into the little yacht harbour in Dordrecht

As I passed the bridge he told me which place to take and to moor with the stern to the pontoon. This was not easy because the fairway between the pontoons and the quay is very narrow. But with the help of some other people I managed to back into the slip.
To moor this way round I found a very communicative way and because there was a finger next to the boat I could get easily on and off without climbing over the stern which is full with antennas, the wind self steering system and the lines holding the radar reflector in place.


Truely Dutch: Cosy harbour next to the church and a Grolsch Beer.

Truely Dutch: Cosy harbour next to the church and a Grolsch Beer.










The street next to the yacht harbour in Dordrecht, looking like some decades ago

The street next to the yacht harbour in Dordrecht, looking like some decades ago








I then checked out the city, in the evening I had beer in a little pub where I met two local Dutch men with one of whom I went later to another bar with a little dance floor where we stayed until 3 in the morning.

Sunday, 21. June 2015

Because the weather was rainy I stayed altogether until Wednesday 24. June and during this time walked around the city, had long chats with a young German women who was on her way from Hamburg to Greece with an International Folkeboat. I found her very brave, she had started sailing only two years ago and was already going single handed on such a tour. She had started only 4 weeks earlier with some very windy nights at anchor near Brunsbüttel in the estuary (Mündung) of the Elbe which sounded like pure madness to me knowing the place. She admitted that she did not sleep very much and was only lying in her bunk, waiting for the wind to calm down and was hoping for the best. But acutally not much could happen if you think about it. The anchoring ground is mud which usually makes an excellent holding ground. As long as the chain and rope do not break you are fine. The only exhausting thing are the waves which shake you all the time and make the whole situation feel worse than it actually is.
She wants to continue through the French Canal du Midi to the Mediterranian. In Greece she owns a house she inherited from her father and where she has lived long enough to speak Greek,
As this was the high time of the Greek crisis we had long debates on how to resolve the Greek economic crisis.

Wednesday, 24. June 2015-07-15

The weather on this day was super excellent, with sunshine and light wind. At first a little bit unstable but in the late afternoon and evening it was just the lovliest summer day you can imagine and being on a boat on a Dutch channel was one of the best places to be.

Bootslifte Boot vor Haus Gaense vor Bootswerft Haeuser am Kanal Kuehe vor Anleger




So I made my way again through various bridges and locks to Gouda where I was expecting Eva to come on board. We had met in the Carribbean on Martinique where she had been sailing with Knut and Susanne on their Shogun.
After some forth and back along the channel she climbed on board in the lock leading into the Grachten of Gouda.
We moored along one of the Grachten along a residential street. It looked like parking, right next to us cars were parked along the street.
The next day we spent on sight seeing in Gouda which included shopping of the world famous Gouda cheese and I also sent one as a gift to the 40th birthday of my brother.

Friday, 26. June 2015

Early that day we left Gouda to be at the Gouda railway bridge in time because it opens only twice during the morning and we wanted to get to Amsterdam the same day which required the full day. But we were far too early but this gave us plenty of time to have breakfeast.
Again this day was just superb and so we enjoyed a really perfect and relaxed day, though motoring all the time, on the canals leading to Amsterdam. In the evening we passed through Haarlem but were too late for the last opening of the last bridge on our way to Amsterdam so we stayed in Spaarndam.

The passage through Haarlem

The passage through Haarlem

Saturday, 27. June 2015

So on Saturday we covered the last few miles to Amsterdam and arrived in the Sixhaven directly opposite the central station of Amsterdam in the afternoon and spent two days in Amsterdam. The nice thing about the Sixhaven is, that it is not expensive, just 14,30 Euros for my boat plus showers, it is very quiet because there is the river between the yacht harbour and the busy centre of Amsterdam, but yet very central because there is a free of charge ferry every ten minutes leaving five minutes walk away from the yacht harbour and the ferry lands directly at the station. When you walk through the Central station you find the city centre on the other side.
At first we just randomly walked along the Grachten and bumped into the Spiegelgracht music festival. This was a very joyful incident with a stage swimming on the canal where various musicians where performing some of their pieces. The nearby bridge, the quaysides of the canal where packed with people and the water was full with boats and many of them had fancy buffets and a big crowd on board. This seems to be a major summer event in Amsterdam.

Spiegelgrachtfest SaengerWe spent some time watching and listening before we went on to the Rijksmuseum.
In the Rijksmuseum is a big collection of e.g. Rembrandt and Vermeer on display, among others the world famous “Night watch” (Nachtwache).


Rembrandts Nachtwache I am Amsterdam



The next day we had decided to go to the Anne Frank house. It was said in the tour guide book that in the early mornings the queues are not so long. So we got up early to be there at 8:30, half an hour before the doors open and thought to be among the very first to arrive. How wrong we were! The queue was already fifty or more metres long, twice as long as the evening before when we thought the queue was long.
However, here we were and determined to see the house and the exhibition. Eventually it took two hours (until 10:30) to get in.
As you can imagine an endless queue of people is moving in a constant flow through the house.
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl originally from Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Her family emigrated to the Netherlands 1933 after the Nazis had come to power. Her father was running the Dutch branch of Opekta, which is used to make jam.
When the Wehrmacht raided the Netherlands in 1940 and in 1942 the laws against Jews tightened the family went into hiding in the rear house of the house the company was in. They were supplied with food and other necessary things by their employees who were loyal to them. But in 1944 the Frank family was detected and all but the father died in concentration camps.
After returning to Amsterdam her father found her diary and published it.


Anne-Frank Haus Schlange Anne-Frank Haus



Tuesday, 30. June 2015

This day we left Amsterdam and sailed to Edam which also famous for its cheese. We met a Dutch man who is a retired art teacher now sailing the Ijsselmeer. He once again was an intelligent man to talk to.
During the Wednesday we used the free of charge bikes of the yacht harbour to visit the town centre of Edam which is a small cosy Dutch city but we just missed the cheese market.

Thursday, 2. July 2015

Today we wanted to see the sun rise on the Ijsselmeer, so we got up really early at 4 o`clock. Sunrise was scheduled for 5:25 and we wanted to be out at sea by 5.
And it really worked out, at 5:25 the sun came up over the horizon in a beautiful red ball.


Our destination was Hoorn, only 7 miles away but with the light wind it still took us until 8 in the morning until we had arrived. It was so early, most people were still asleep. When the harbour master came along in his electric! boat he thought we had arrived late the evening before.
But this time we were in time for the cheese market in Hoorn at noon. These cheese markets are a funny thing. They clearly a tourist attraction to market Dutch cheese. On the market square the central part is fenced of with ropes and when the show begins a bunch of men dressed in white cheese makers clothes with straw hats march onto the square to some popular rock music. The men then start to handle big cheese from one carriage to another, walk around with the carriages, weigh the cheese. Then some men in black suits and bowler hats come and they start pretending to bargain about the price. During this process each time one of the two announces his offer he slaps the hand of the other. If one accepts the other ones offer they shake hands.
Afterwards the cheese are loaded onto a horse carriage. The cheese they use are not real cheese, you can easily tell by the way they lift the cheese with ease which normally weigh something of 10 kg.


Pferdefuhrwerk Cheese on display Kaese tragen Kaeseproben Preisverhandlung





Friday, 3. July 2015

Following the recommendation of our Dutch acquaintance in Edam we sailed this day to the little island of Marken. It is again one of the best summer days and the Ijsselmeer is full of boats and a good look out is required, especially in the approach to Marken which leads two miles through a bouyed channel next to which it is not very deep.
The harbour of Marken is very nice despite it is a very touristic place. But the Dutch managed to make it a pleasent place to be.

Saturday, 4. July 2015

From Marken we went back to Amsterdam because Eva had to go back home the following Sunday. Generally speaking it was a nice summer day with a light wind but when we came around the light house of Marken suddenly the wind increased from 3 Bft. to 6 Bft and we had to reef the main into the second reef and also to furl in the Genoa by at least half. Only 20 minutes later the wind had calmed back again to 3 Bft.
The lock in Amsterdam was full up to the last space which was given to us. We just fitted in.

The lock into Amsterdam being full with boats

The lock into Amsterdam being full with boats

The evening we went to a nice restaurant on the top level of a structure that looks like an oil rigg. From the terrace on the top level we had a superb view into the sun set.

Sunset above the cranes of the Port of Amsterdam

Sunset above the cranes of the Port of Amsterdam

Monday, 6. July 2015

This Monday I changed the yacht harbour, I went a few hundred metres further east to the watersports club WVDS Aeolus because this harbour was a little bit cheaper than Sixhaven and I wanted to spend several days more in Amsterdam, although it meant five minutes more walking to the ferry.
During the following week I did some repairs and maintenance on the boat, like fixing the leaking toilet, oiling the wood in the cockpit and I tried to repair the cooker, both burners were not working correctly any more. One ceased to work at all, there was almost no gas coming out any more and the other side kept fauchen from time to time. I called the manufacturer in England who pointed me to the injector and to clean it with a toot brush bristle. So I did and it indeed made the one side working again and most of the time it works now. But the other side I could not get to the injector because the main screw which holds the enamel cover plate in place is not coming loose and I did not want to risk to damage the thread (Gewinde) of the screw. Because it is working sufficiently I left it as it is.
I went to the van Gogh Museum, to the Amsterdam Museum and also again just strolling around the city.

van Gogh Schiff Rotten boat in Amsterdam Gracht

The White Cars, the first electric car sharing project, already in the 1970ies


The electric White Car

After almost all together two weeks in Amsterdam I set sail to Enkhuizen. This was a nice sail, I set once again the wind self steering system and I sailed all the way from the lock in Amsterdam to the lock at Enkhuizen. In the old harbour in Enkhuizen I found a nice place along the harbour wall and I also met again an old Dutch guy I we had met in Edam.

Wednesday, 15.7.2015

This was actually a rainy day but it was promised to improve towards the afternoon. After it had at least stopped to rain at noon, after lunch I left the berth under sail! and sailed in less than three hours to Urk. The weather improved more and more during the afternoon and when I arrived in Urk it was sunshine.

Approach of Urk

Approach of Urk


I moored next to a boat called LuCa which belongen to a man you was also called Jan.
The next day afternoon Thursday, the former owner, Ben Hoekendijk, visited me because he wanted to see his “old love” again and how the boat looks like now. He had been following my journey via my blog and was impressed how I did everything.
The weather on this day was so nice, in the morning I went to the beach a took a swim, like many other people.

On the beach of Urk

On the beach of Urk

But the next day it was very windy and I decided to postpone my departure by one day, so on Saturday I sailed to Makkum. But I used the opportunity I to make an oil change and Jan helped me, in return I lent him my oil pump because he wanted to make an oil change as well. On leaving Urk, I had to tack a few times but for the rest I could sail a steady course up North and arrived in the late afternoon in Makkum. Makkum is a nice little town where many of the traditional Dutch sailing barges (Plattbodenschiffe) call. One can also moor at the canals (Grachten) inside the town but one has to go through a lock and bridge which costs 5Euros. But at the canals you have water, electricity, a garbage skip and you can use the sanitary block of the harbour.

Binnenhafen Makkum

Radfahrerin in Makkum

The Sunday I left again under sail to sail the 2 miles to the lock at Kornwerderzand which leads out of the Ijsselmeer and into the Waddenzee because I wanted to go to Harlingen to enter the inland canal system again. The lock was very full and when all the boats got out of the lock it started to rain which continued the following 1,5 hours until I arrived at Harlingen.
Here went through the lock and to the sailing sports club HWSV Harlingen which is literally right after the lock as you come out of it.
I spent another day in Harlingen eating the Dutch fast food specialty Frikandel speciaal.

Street in Harlingen

Street in Harlingen

Monday, 20.7.2015

From Harlingen I motored to Leeuwarden, it was once again a bright sunny day and I really enjoyed the landscape of flat pastures, old wind mills, little villages and the bridges all along the way.
I was really looking forward to stay in Leeuwarden because from a former visit I knew that you can moor in the city centre along the canal where there is a park next to it, you have electricity there and a little building with toilet and showers.
Because the canal is very shallow at its sides I could not moor directly alongside because about at one meter distance from the quay I got stuck in the mud, the echo sounder showed only 1,5m. That means the keel was already 30cm in the mud. So I tied my lines to the bollards and had to jump the distance to land. Later another German boat came with less draught (Tiefgang) which took the inner berth so I could lay outside where it was deeper.

SeaBelow mit Abstand zum Ufer SeaBelow in Leeuwarden

I climbed the oblique (schief) church tower which was never finished and I went to the Frisian Museum about the region, Fryslan (Frisia).

Stuehle im Fries Museum

Chairs in the Fries Museum

In the evening my friend Wilko arrived and the next day we motored from Leewarden to Zoutkamp, once again through a lovely day and landscape, again many bridges and before arriving at Zoutkamp through the Lauwersmeer. The Lauwersmeer is now shut off by a dam from the North Sea but it is also a nice sailing area with some yacht harbours but even more very idyllic mooring places, often without connection to land, so it is more like anchoring. But you are right the middle of nature.

Holzschuh zum Brueckiengeld bezahlen

The bridge master is collecting the bridge due with a Dutch wooden shoe

Plattodenboot unter Segeln

Flat bottom boat under sails on a Dutch canal



Pferde am Lauwersmeer

Horses at the Lauwersmeer

The next day we got up very early to go catch almost the first opening of the bridge of Zoutkamp in order to arrive in Groningen early afternoon so that we could see some of the city.
It´s a great passage through the city of Groningen along the old ware houses along the Grachten, past the gallery for modern art, the Groninger Museum, until we arrived at the Oosthaven were were had to squeeze into the last free slip between the motor boats.
We walked around the city, had a pizza for dinner and some drinks in a bar before we went to sleep.

Plattbodenschiffe Groningen

Flat bottom ships in Groningen

Hausboot Groningen

House boats in Groningen

Wilko had to go back to Hamburg the next morning and originally I wanted to continue to Emden that day but on departure of Wilko the harbour master told me that one of the bridges between Groningen and Delfzijl had been damaged during the night and that and it was unclear when it would be repaired.
So I decided to stay and used the opportunity to visit the Groninger Museum which I had attempted more than 15 years ago but failed because I was too late.
But this time I spent the whole afternoon in it and it was a really interesting exhibition of the contemporary Chinese artist Song Dong.

Song Dong Polizist

Art by the contemporary Chinese artist Song Dong with a model police man for whom he took himself as template

Besides that they have an exhibition of the Dutch artist Werkman, who was killed by the Nazi is 1945, only a few weeks before the liberation of the Netherlands. And they have a good collection of porcelain which had been imported from China and Japan over the last several hundred years, mainly by the Vereinigte Oostindien Compagnie (VOC).