Aboard: Bob Cousins (Skipper) Allan Wright (Mate) Linda Cousins, Paul and Sara Jamieson
Arriving by car in Amsterdam we praised the sat-nav for guiding us through the myriad of turns and twists that lead us to Sixhaven Marina where Quartette lay basking in the summer heat. After negotiating with the clearly overworked Harbourmaster to get our car in so that we might at least unload our kit we settled in and then ran the car up the coast to Enkhuizen to await the end of our cruise. Thank you Andy Connor for a very clean and tidy boat.
Our first task was to replace the broken sheave on the end of the boom and with typical Dutch efficiency the parts we needed arrived at the marina Monday morning. With Allan and Paul both being engineers it seemed diplomatic to leave them to tussle with removing the external circlip that kept everything in place. To the unwary these things have a life of their own and a tendency to “ping” off into wild blue yonder whereas our brave boys managed to remove and replace this beast with little more than a Mark 1 thumbnail.
Job done it was time to venture out of this rather tightly packed marina and into the Amsterdam traffic. The journey down to the Oranjesluizen was uneventful and we quickly passed through into the Markermeer. After the huge locks of the 2013 cruise through France the Dutch locks, though vast, have a rise or fall of only about one foot so progress is swift.
The first thing to notice in the Markermeer is how shallow it is. It never feels right having less than a metre below the keel but in these waters it seems to be the norm. Our plan for the day was to take an easy sail north past the island of Marken then turn south into the buoyed channel to Monnickendam and with the wind a gentle F1/2 from the NE it was a very pleasant afternoon though as we prepared to enter the Marina at Monnickendam Allan reported that the helm seemed to be unresponsive.
Once moored the cause was clear. A huge build-up of weed on the rudder was restricting its movement. It took a good half hour during which we pulled off enough weed to fill a dustbin. I can report that immersion in the murky harbour water had no side-effects though the ensuing hot shower was very welcome.
Monnickendam was once (and probably still is) a wealthy town, the church has a wonderful peal of bells and the opulence extends even to the handrails outside the large historic buildings.
Next morning we settled our bill and set out for Leylstad. The wind had freshened and our crossing was exhilarating and as the day progressed so the reefs went in.
Lelystad sits at the end of the vast dyke that separates the Markermeer from the Ijsselmeer and our first thought was to stay at the Bataviahaven, a publicly owned marina that takes its name from the Batavia, a replica of a 17th century East Indiaman that sits in the port.
On inspection the place seemed empty and desolate so we decided to transit the large lock into the Ijsselmeer and stay at the DekkoHaven which was full of boats but few people. Astonishingly the charge at this place was just €25 including electricity, water and 10 baguettes for the crew. UK marinas please note. Next morning we discovered that the fee also include use of the marina bicycles so we took the chance to have a spin around this modern and fairly uninspiring town, ending up lost in a forest.
Our departure from Lelystad was therefore somewhat later than we had planned but the cruise to Urk was gentle and by late afternoon we were moored in this historic little town. The place was once an island and the locals still apparently refer to being “on” Urk than “in” Urk. This marina was even cheaper at €20 the night so after enjoying the view of the sunset on the windfarm we splashed out on a fish supper at Urks most famous restaurant.
Our next destination was to be Stavoren and as the day progressed the wind freshened and the reefs again went in. By the time we reached Stavoren Marina we were recording gusts of 25+ kts and were a little anxious about mooring. Fortunately there was a wide choice of empty berths but all of them were crosswind. For those of you not familiar with the Dutch “box” moorings you have to slide in between two poles relying on your bow crew to step ashore over the anchor and get the bow line on whilst the stern crew slip their warps over the pole and control your stern and forward progress. To their credit, and my relief, everyone did their task and we were soon well lashed down. We needed to be. That night we recorded gusts of 35 knots and pouring rain and resolved to eat aboard.
The forecast for the next day was not promising so we took a leisurely stroll around this picturesque little town and realised that if we had moored in the town harbour we would have been well sheltered from all that nature was throwing at us. Ah well, lesson learned.
Our next port of call was to be Medemblik on the other side of the Ijsselmeer but concerned at the weather forecasts we opted to make directly for our end port of Enkhuizen and spend an extra night there. It turned out to be a good call. Enkhuizen is a lovely town, full of boats and harbours and home of a wonderful museum of “Polder” life. Nearly 100 traditional buildings had been carefully dismantled and reconstructed on this site including a ropemaker and netmaker, an apothecary a steam laundry and of course that very icon of Dutch life, a wind driven water pump. Our only regret was that we had not started earlier in the day, there was just so much to see.
A delicious final supper and Sunday saw us back in the car and heading once more for Dunkirk and home.
A great trip and thanks from all of us go to Judith and Richard for putting so much in to making it possible.
-- Bob Cousins