We’ve Been Cruising
This shows where we’ve traveled since we started.
The first five days cruising have taken us 131 km. Our silence has been because we have been very busy. Apart from the actual cruising, we are still provisioning, outfitting, servicing and learning about Neo Vita. This takes a lot of time and doesn’t leave much opportunity for writing.
For instance there are decks to wash and clean,
chairs to find, buy and transport to the barge (on the bike we had to find and buy new also),
and lest it be thought that only the Crew was working, Helm was also deck washing, window cleaning, working out the washing machine and sorting out the stowage.
So in the eight days that this covers, we have only taken off one day for tourism. I’ll leave Lisette to provide details on that aspect, while this post covers more of the cruising. We eventually plan to do something like one day cruising and one to two days relaxing. This year however, it is mostly about learning.
So we covered our first day in an earlier post. The next day we took a short trip to Purmerend. A very nice town, quite large at 80,000 odd, and our first big town to collect gear for Neo Vita. We had a nice quiet mooring right near the city centre, although, this commercial that stopped off in front of us, just for lunch, gives some idea of who we share the canals with.
This was where we spent the only tourist day of the trip so far, we took a bus to nearby Volendam, a ‘classic’ Dutch village, popular with visitors since the late 19th century.
Through Amsterdam to Weesp
OK, we are about to embark on our third day of cruising. We had plans at one stage to go straight across the IJsselmeer to Friesland, but were advised by almost everyone not to do this because of the unpredicatable weather and its effect on waves in this big, but shallow lake. So the alternative was to go south through Amsterdam. Everyone we have met since then have been astounded that we should attempt such a transit on only our third day. Fortunately, we didn’t have that advice before we started Day 3.
There aren’t too many photos from that day. A video of the 60 m barge that struck us glancing blow in Amsterdam harbour would have been exciting. I’m sure the fluent, voluble cursing in Dutch that the wife was using would have made us blush if we had understood it. Fortunately, no translation was necessary for the universally recognisable gestures that husband made as they passed.
Following that, we then navigated the narrow canals through the heart of the city, and had to wait as multiple bridges were opened to allow us to pass – well let’s say that by early afternoon we were in a state of nervous exhaustion.
We did get a chance to snap a few photos of the many houseboats that surround Amsterdam, and the absence of camera shake indicates that we had stabilised somewhat, but, nope, nothing of central Amsterdam. I can’t say I’ve visited it, it’s a haze of fear in my memory.
Anyhow, we learnt a lot, and survived withough any significant harm – which was the object of this trip. It turns out, much later, that the trip through Amsterdam had downstream benefits, but we’ll save that for another post.
We moored in a pretty town, Weesp, at the end of that day, fell onto dry land and reviewed this plan of ours. However, we shook it off and resolved to continue.
This was no minor decision, because the next day would take us into open water.
Now Helm had originally insisted that this entire lifestyle had to be conducted in waterways in which she could stand up in if we sank, and where she could touch both sides of the waterway. Open water was an anathema to her. Convinced that anything after Amsterdam would be anti-climactic, we resolved to press on.
Next day we braved the open water, and it was, indeed, very easy (although we needed some reassurance and directions from our mentors on ‘t Majeur).
Helm was content, and we even navigated through a fleet of sailboats (I’m ashamed I can’t give the proper designation of these lovely craft), and headed up the river Eem towards our next destination, Amersfoort.
We paused and moored at an unserviced spot near a very small village Eemdijk, and next day made the short and harrowing trip to Amersfoort.
Why harrowing? Well, on day five, everything is still very new and it is difficult for us to evaluate conflicting information. Our navigation program said we could not enter the Amersfoort harbour. Our great friends on ‘t Majeur said we could. Who should we believe? So we worried…
Let’s just say that the program was wrong (or our usage was flawed) and the advice was correct – you’re not surprised? Well neither were we, but still we were very relieved. On entering the harbour we were delighted when we were directed to moor in a spot just barely big enough for us, that we would have to reverse into. We were much more delighted when we performed the reverse parking manouver perfectly (if veeeeeery slowly). More learnings!
Amersfoort is the home town of Michel and Rebecca of ‘t Majeur, and it is pretty, well serviced and has lots of attractions. Again, still trying to catch up on fixing the VHF radio, collecting furniture, testing out the washing machine, replenishing Neo Vita, and so forth meant we had no time for touristing. We did however witness an unexplained (even the locals we spoke to were bemused) gathering of about a thousand people, all dressed in white, who bought their own tables, chairs and picnic food and had a wild evening of drinking, songs and general partying.
We also were delighted to meet Malka and her son Nathan, Rebecca and Michel’s daughter and grandson, and apart from the pleasant discussions of things to do with grand children, we also were given directions by Malka to a place where we could get some cheap chairs for our back deck. Other than wine racks, we were now pretty well set for cruising. Our aim from this point was to return north, into the channel south of Flevoland and head north-east towards our final destination of Groningen.
In brief, while these first five days cruising was a tense period (and that’s some understatement), as we passed each challenge, our confidence has grown. There have been many pleasant interludes whilst cruising, and ashore. Overwhelmingly we became more and more certain that this was the most enyoyable, exciting and rewarding experience we have ever undertaken.