Haarlem, North Sea kanaal and back on the North Sea

The past few days have been hot. Inside the boat it is above comfortable temperatures. Outside the sun is ruthless. Coming from Leiden I again passed the Kaag lake, and decided to hang out there on Sunday. Did some sailing, filled up the diesel tank and anchored in a windy place. Still it was so warm that I went swimming in the lake. The next morning I continued on my canal tour, basically alone. I have understood the reason why. Lots of problems with the bridges. The heat has expanded the decks of the bridges to the extent that they are not closing after being opened. They sprinkled water on them everywhere. Waiting times were long for a few bridges. But I got to Haarlem and moored in the middle of the old town. Beautiful. Then, today I continued along the river Spaarne to the North Sea Canal, much like the Kiel canal. It took me out to the North Sea at IJmuiden. Now I am in the Seaport Marina, and have prepared for the sea voyage. Early tomorrow I am heading out to sea and sailing north. Wind is blowing from the east, so that is good. Will see how far I get.

Tropical heat in my former home town

Sitting in the shadow I am sweating bullets. Still in the harbor of Vlietopper boating club, near the town of Voorschoten. Actually, the town is just across the canal that separates the recreational area of the Vlietlanden from the town. Voorschoten is the birthplace of my mother. I lived here while trying to grow up. Since my mom comes from a large farmer family I have a load of cousins and nieces (34 I believe) from my mothers side. Many of them still live around here, so it has been cozy and hectic with all the visitors that come to say hello. In between, I have cooked dinner for my mom and myself every day and I visit her for short periods. A lot has changed since I actually lived here, which is about 40 years ago. But some things are still the same. Especially a lot of the people I once knew, but the strange thing is that they have all become so old…

The weather has basically come to a halt, hardly any wind, and a whole week of tropical heat. Between 32 and 38°C, even during the nighttime temperatures are unusually high. For me that is fine, since I will not have to continue further south to find summer weather. It makes it easier to actually start sailing north and east again, homeward bound. That is going to happen tomorrow. I will take the standing mast route up to the seaport sluices of IJmuiden, and from there sail the North Sea to get to the Elbe, and the Nord Ostsee Kanal (Kiel canal).

Let’s hope I can get out of the harbor tomorrow, without using too much violence. As you may remember, I am stuck in a thick muddy bottom slurry in the harbour. In the boat everything is in good shape. The refridgerator is drawing a load of electrical power, and to minimize losses of cold I have packed it in blankets and pillows.

Common harbor birds of The Netherlands

In each harbor that I have visited some kind of birds always seem to be present. I will make a short list of the most common ones. Think this is funny, since the common birds in Swedish or German harbors are different.

  • Crested grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
  • Common mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  • House martin (Delichon urbica)
  • Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)
  • Eurasian coot (Fulica atra)
  • Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
  • Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
  • Black headed gull (Larus ridibundus)
  • Eurasian widgeon (Anas penelope)
  • Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegypticus)
  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)
  • Mute swan (Cygnus olor)
  • Great cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
  • Lesser cormorant (Ph. pygmaeus)

Last southbound leg of this tour

Today is the last day of sailing South. I will have to start my way home in a couple of days. From Leiden, where I will be joined by my cousin Renate, we are boating to my former hometown Voorschoten. Here is the turning point in the trip, and lots of people to visit. The weather is fantastic and Leiden has turned into a rather charming city. Well worth a visit.

This evening my position is 52°07.4’N 004°27.8’E yacht harbor Vlietopper Leidschendam, the Netherlands.

Since Cuxhaven the engine has run 50 hours. The sails have been up 38 hours since then. I have fulfilled one of my dreams and sailed 970 nautical miles to get here. And concluded that 1) this place is damn far from my home in Sweden, 2) I have to sail the same distance home, 3) I am still enjoying myself, 4) and in a few days it is time to sail home.

Right now the temperature in the boat is 32°C, outside still 25°C. As we got our appointed berth in this harbor, they forgot about the necessary depth to hold a sailboat with deep keel. The first place I got was nice, just missing half a meter of water depth. The second place was almost deep enough. Only missing maybe 10 cm of depth. But with full throttle and two strong men pulling lines from shore I got into the place… The way out of the mud will probably be accompanied by some violence as well. We’ll see in a few days. Goodnight!

Night convoy through Amsterdam city center and going south

We are going to sail the staande mast route during the night. Announcement of our intent to join was necessary but not possible. Our Sixhaven neighbors decided to join us on the same route. We get ready and leave the dock at 22:30 hours. It’s a full moon. Clear skies and still warm. On the way to the convoy starting point in the old Westerkanaal sluice we picked up Armin, who had been working until 22:00, at Amsterdam CS. Seven other boats are waiting for the event. My sister Corine and Armin sit and eat crackers and cheese while the captain takes a nap. At midnight we are notified that the first bridge will open at 01:35. After sleeping a bit we get on our way. Bridge after bridge show us the green light and we’re moving forward swiftly. The lights on the water surface and the boats around are beautiful. At 03:15 we reach the lake Nieuwe meer, and are out of the city center. After another fifteen minutes we come to the bridges across the main highway and railroad tracks. It’s not opening until 05:00. We go to sleep with the radio on to listen when we’re back on track. At five minutes to five o’clock we get the green light again. Armin and I drive the boat until we get to a lake, Westeinderplassen. We drop anchor in 0.5 m water, leeward of a park-like patch of land, and go to sleep.

After we wake up at 10 am, eat breakfast and get going to the city of Leiden. It’s raining and we are pretty much by ourselves as we putter along. The bridges open quickly and efficiently. We’re in Leiden before short. The electronic signs at the bridge into the center tell us the harbours are full. We find a small marina at Waardeiland. Here we leave Isabell and go into town. It’s been great.

Actually got sailing wind – we are rolling along

Hello again! Now I am sitting in the Sixhaven marina in the center of Amsterrdam. Position 52°22.5’N 004°54,2’E

I sailed away from Lemmer on Thursday morning and got a fine sail down to the sluices at Enkhuizen. A good few boats are out, but the IJsselmeer lake is huge and there is plenty of room to navigate. Get the windvane to steer and the sun comes out along the way. Great to finally be sailing with all the sails up. Get to the sluices just after lunchtime. It is warm (27°C) and the wind dies down a good bit after the sluices. I motorsail down to the little harbour at Wijdenes, where I will be getting some company. I visit the Church of Wijdenes, where my brother in law runs a music studio. He is a producer and musician. Isabell is anchored just outside the harbour, since the harbour is very tiny and there are lots of people bathing and celebrating the sun. I take a bike ride through the countryside on Friday, and after that we take a super nice sailing round of the Markermeer. Reyn and Cloutilde are enjoying the sail as much as I am. They were afraid that I would be tired of sailing by now. No way! It’s great.

Then I dropped them off at Wijdenes and continued alone to the town of Hoorn, where I went in to the Grashaven, a super nice marina just outside the old town. This town is a must see. Surprise, surprise, the boat spot I was appointed to is right next to two (TWO) other Monsuns. The folks are on their boats and we have a nice chat. Here we are, Isabell in the company of Thalia (#716) and Pelagos (#706). In this same harbour also Monsun Pandorak 2 has its berth, but she’s not in the harbour.

After a good rest and some early morning shopping and sightseeing, my sister Lisette joins me at the dock. She took the train here, and will follow along on our sail to Amsterdam. We leave just before lunch, the sun disappears behind a haze and some clouds, but it is still warm.

We sail with a full sail setting and get to Amsterdam way ahead of the schedule I set. I had missed that there are a bridge and sluice to cross before Amsterdam. Luckily we got the fenders out and some lines just in time for pulling through the well-filled sluices. We got through very smoothly. And then we motored into the center of the city. Crowded as ever, but there is a berth in Sixhaven harbour. It is close to everything, and a good place to sit to wait for the night time convoy through the bridges of Amsterdam.

We take the ferry (free of charge) into town and go for dinner somewhere. At the Central Station we are picked up by the police. Actually is my brother in law who works for the Amsterdam police force. He takes us on a private tour through the city center, driving across tram tracks, over the Dam square and Rembrandt plein. Lots of people, since this week was supposed to be Pride Festival week here. Although it is cancelled, the people are here. We go out and eat on the Zeedijk and then my sister takes the train home. I take the ferry back to Isabell. What a wonderful day it has been.

Today my other sister will come aboard and follow along to Leiden. Her partner will join us through the Amsterdam canals, since he has been a water policeman here in the town and knows the routine. I am going to do some shopping and rest a bit until this evenings event. The night time sails through the Amsterdam canals. Cheers!

Large convoy swiftly puttered along to Lemmer to come to a halt completely

Sure enough, I got up the anchor at 09:00 am and motored to the next bridge to conquer. There were already lots of boats waiting for the opening. As we waited, more boats gathered up. By the time the convoy got moving we were at least 20 sailboats and about 10 huge motor yachts. Several of the sailboats were the traditional dutch flat-bottomed beauties. And we moved along fine from bridge to bridge. Before I knew it we were in the last town before coming out on the large inland lake IJsselmeer. I found a harbour spot and went shopping in the town Lemmer. Also had my first damage report of the year 2020. Going into the berthing place I did not see the pole to which the rear of the boat is to be tied up. In tidal water these poles are very tall. But not here. They are only about a meter above water level. Bam! Struck it with the bow anchor. The pole got a huge dent and my anchor roller got bent out of shape. Shit happens once in a while. Anyway, the town is very nice. Busy with tourists. It rained during the night. In the morning I biked around the place.

In the afternoon I got ready to go sailing on the lake and after slowly making my way through town, more bridges to open and a nice old sluice to be lifted up with, I got out on the lake.

And yet I am still in Lemmer. After plowing the waves with a 25 to 30 knots wind coming straight at me, I decided to turn back. My theory is that the province of Friesland has paid the weather gods to prevent tourists from leaving. You can get here, easily. But not leave. Of course another theory could be that I deserve more head wind, since I have not turned around yet, to sail homeward bound.

Now I am in another harbour, along the beach walking boulevard of the town. Just in front of the local casino. Lots of people walk by and have positive comments about Isabell. They know Hallberg Rassy here. Some even notice the “Nacka, Sweden” on the back of the boat and then seem to be impressed. Fun to sit inside and listen to the comments. It is still raining now and then. So I stay at home. Tomorrow is another day of touristing then. I will keep you posted on my non-progress.

Dokkum and Leeuwarden on one day

Last night it rained a lot. Great! Washed away all the North sea salt and other grime off the boat. Isabell is all white and shiny again. This morning I took a long bike ride along the fantastic bicycle paths in this country. Biked all around Dokkum and along the canal that I came on, the Ee, and it was a nice trip that recalled many childhood memories. Since it was a Sunday, similar to Germany, everything is closed. So, in the afternoon, when the boat convoy passed by, I followed along and continued to the big city of Leeuwarden. It is fun to keep meeting the same boats in the convoy or moored along the route. We are all heading the same way.

When I got to Leeuwarden, all the berthing places where occupied. Tons of tourists in town. So I kept going further until 19:00 hrs, when the bridges are closed for the day. I sneaked into a small side water in the local business park. I scraped bottom of what looks like a decent ditch. Dropped anchor, which did not take much chain. I am basically sitting in the mud anyhow, so I will probably be here still in the morning. The surrounding area is green and relatively quiet. Continue when the bridges are manned tomorrow. Good evening!

Convoy motoring through the canals on the staande mast route

Yesterday I sluiced into the Eems canal at Delfzijl. We were three sailboats and one big motor yacht. After sluicing, we kept each other company on the way. Max speed we may go is slow, to minimize erosion of the canal sides. And there is a shitload of bridges to open, for us to pass through. Pretty cool, when we keep the ordinated speed, the bridges opened each time we are just in front of them. It went very smoothly, until we came to the bridges in the highway around Groningen. Those only open after 18.30 on weekdays. We all waited, and waited, and waited some more. I had moored on the outside of a german Hallberg Rassy. Got to talk with the couple, and they were so nice. They just started their holiday. Were going a little sight seeing here and there. They had done this route before, and I got a lot of practical tips. As the bridges finally opened, we could not get into the city by boat, because the other bridges only open between 9:30 am and 18:00 pm. The germans showed me into a tiny little guest harbour. It was a good place. They were in the same harbour, only two other boats between us. In the evening they invited me over and we sat and chatted for quite a while.

Then, this morning, we got out in time for the westbound convoy of masted boats, starting at 9:30. The other boats from yesterday were there, as well as five other yachts. In a long line we puttered along slowly. Sometimes, the distance between the bridges was too short for us to fit. But everyone took it slowly and carefully. No more than a continuous adrenaline rush. The same man operated a bunch of bridges. After he had closed the one behind us, he hopped on his Vespa brommer and rushed to the next, to open it. And so on. After the so manieth bridge I lost count.

Well out of the city, the surrounding areas were mostly the typical dutch pastures. The smell of cow dung hung heavy in most places. But then there were windmills, fishing gear, horses, many birds, and much more to enjoy. The further we got along, the fewer boats were left in the convoy. After passing the town of Zoutkamp, we were only two boats going further. The other boat I lost on the Lautermeer, a lake. The last few bridges and one more sluice I was all by myself again. And I came as far as the old town of Dokkum. Tired, a bit hungry, but very pleased with the whole experience. In spite of the occasional rain showers it became a fun day. Tomorrow I am going sightseeing in town. Goodnight.

Sailing the Waddenzee was a great experience

Where am I now? Position 53°19.8’N 006°55.9’E guest harbour Neptunes in the sea habour of Delfzijl, The Netherlands

Today I have sailed across the shallows of the Waddenzee between Norderney and Delfzijl. Made a record speed and it was a great experience. The waves are small as there is only a few feet of water to sail in. In the morning I raced out on the high tide current. In the afternoon I picked up the ingoing current of two knots and hardy southwesterly breeze to help me along. Saw several seals, and passed right by some trawling fishing boats. First I was lucky to follow the island ferry boat as my guide, later I caught up with another sailing boat, of which the crew seemed to know the way past the shallows.

Now I am here, the harbour is deep in the seaside port. But very close to the old town. You go under a medieval city gate in the sea wall, and you are there.

Now the canals are next. Tomorrow morning I will go through the seaside sluices and I am on my way. Until then, I need a rest.