We had an island to ourselves again 🙂 we could sure get used to this.
Very shallow water (down to 1.2m at times) in the Westeinderplassen, so shallow in-fact that we eventually caved in and turned off the instruments, namely the depth gauge and reason being this is factory set (and unable to be changed) to let out an ear piercing beep every 2 seconds once the water beneath the boat is 3m or less. Now, normally this is a fantastic thing but when travelling in Hollands canals that annoyingly all seem to be 2.9m deep this beep gets very irritating very quickly and I personally don’t know many people who could put up with the continuous beep for hours on end. Anyway, I digress, this water body (meer) is a unique set up with many many small islands or body’s of land in the shallows many of them being privately owned and holiday locations. There is a handful that have a dwelling on them but not many (I imagine these are quite old and no longer allowed) the majority of them have stunning and well maintained gardens and green lawns with a wee little garden shed and are used by families for summer days on the meer. Others obviously a little (or a lot) overgrown and returning to nature. All only accessible via boat, very popular and we imagine very expensive. We stopped on a public reserve island, which has room for boats (about 6) to moor alongside the retaining wall of the island and are allowed to stay for 48 hours – we had it to ourselves again.
The other highlight of being here is that is was close to the Royal Flora Holland, the largest flower market in the world!!
WOW……It was huge, flowers as far as the eye could see, all moving constantly, the trolleys were towed by staff on small motored carts who were dropping off the flowers to bay’s according to whom had brought the flowers (wholesalers). This itself looked like the whacky races, with the carts zooming along and seemingly cutting each other off (but when we looked really carefully there were small, very small hand signals going on). The bigger trolleys at the wholesales areas were then pushed into a hook and chain rail type set up in the ground which then took the cages (like train carriages) and sent them out of of the building (to the wholesalers trucks or to their warehouses over the overside of the highway). The whole set up was just MASSIVE.
We had been planning to join the well known night convoy from here to Amsterdam, knowing several people who have done it and loved it, telling us fantastic tales about the massive number of boats all rushing through the bridges (up to a 100 in the convoy) and how the lights along the canals from the houses and city are spectacular. This involves a shorter route almost directly to the big city however the route is only available at night due to the bridges and traffic disruption having less impact at night. The convoy takes off from the end of the Westeinderplassen where you have be at the first bridge and registered by 11:30pm ready for a 1am opening, then through all the bridges arriving into Amsterdam around 4am where you then wait for the final traffic/rail bridge to open at a more civilised time around 8/9am. Anyhow it wasn’t available for us again due to scheduled maintenance (timed just before things start to get busy on the water). So we had no choice but to take the other standing mast route that goes Westerly through Harleem then coming out in the North Sea Canal (with the big ships) before travelling along to Amsterdam.