I asked him to smile ?

When you have a lifting keel (centreboard) make the most of it and visit the places that most boats can’t get to due to the shallow depths, this for us meant taking the small side canal to Sloten – the smallest city in the province of Frisian – The Netherlands.  With the depth gauge turned off and the centreboard wound up so we were only 1 meter deep under the water we made it to this wee little old city, having been granted city rights in 1426 (it’s even older than Phil!!).

Small it is, taking a good 10 minutes at a slow pace to walk the circumference of the city walls, most of which are gone, but the moat or canals easily define where they were.  It has the required picturesque windmill and cobblestone streets and all the canal edges were grassed gardens – lovely.

Money in the Clog!

It is also where we began to pay for bridge openings with a “Money in the Clog” system (which we renamed, money in the clog Wog – with us being the Wogs).

Pictures below as we approached Sloten – obviously we didn’t fit under this bridge!

Each small bridge had a little enclosed box either on the canal bank or on the bridge for a bridge keeper – who sits patiently all day opening the bridges for boats (I imagine there are some long quite boring days, as well as some busy ones).

As you approach the bridges you keep and eye on the traffic lights (two lights);

  • one red means bridge closed – as in not operating (meaning it’s lunch time, most bridges don’t open between 12 and 2, or it’s after hours from around 7pm-8am)
  • double red lights means wait (as in the bridge is down and cars are crossing)
  • a red and a green light means ‘get ready to go’ as the bridge is about to open (usually corresponding to the barricades going down to stop cars) basically its a 5 minute warning to get up close ready to pass once open
  • and of course double green means ok to pass under the opening bridge.

With the bridges that you have to pay to pass, the bridge keeper waits alongside with a clog on a strong attached to a pole and as you pass he swings it out for you to put your money in (this all happens very quickly) prices range from €2 to €10s – the more expensive ones are usually if a village has 4 or 5 bridges you just pay once at the first or last bridge.  I am pleased to report we succeeded in paying every bridge the correct change, as well as no mishaps when catching the clog and returning it (sending it back swinging) as well as no dropping the money in the water.

Red Roo Sloten
Thats a better smile
Every chance he gets I am put in the stocks!
Sloten Mill
Working on the blades

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