Back into the wonderful country of Holland, or to be politically correct The Netherlands. We really enjoyed our time here earlier in the year (March – April) and are quite happy to be back.
Motoring on the inland canals is really quite special and surprisingly diverse.
One minute there is nothing but green 360 degrees all around you, pristine rural fields accompanied by those unique rural smells (cow poo, lots of dairy’s for all the wonderful cheese they make), the next minute you are passing through a village consisting of 20 houses all with their front doors opening onto the canal, basically like walking through their front porches, and of course each of these villages has the required traditional windmill. Our favourites being those windmills that are used to power sawmills.
I think I will let the pictures do the talking in this blog as they convey the wonderful scenery so much better than any words I could use.
Our first leg was Delfzijl to Groningen, which despite the overcast wet day was exciting for us as we didn’t travel this way on our way to the Baltic so it was all new.
By the time we reached Groningen later that day we had passed through 1 lock and 7 opening bridges. All with wonderful dutch names for me to get tongue tied with over the VHF such as Driebondsbrug & Berlagebrug, and they were the short easy ones the longer ones are even too hard to type let alone pronounce. What the dutch do to vowels when speaking I am yet to master and understand but regardless I did succeed in getting each bridge to open, with much amusement to the bridge keepers on the other end of the radio I am sure.
In villages and towns of a decent size there are usually multiple bridges and the bridge keeper opens them all one after the other by cycling between them along the edge of the canal beside you! The most we counted for one individual bridge/bike man was 6 bridges that he opened for us. So its important to go slow between those bridges to give them a chance to reopen the bridge then cycle to the next, we are often a lot quicker between.
Groningen is a reasonably large city and we explored the city centre that afternoon and were ready to move on the next morning following the standing mast route for “sports boats” (yachts) which takes you right through the city passing through 10 opening bridges, mostly pedestrian and bike traffic bridges, some were vehicle bridges and most only a couple of hundred meters in-between each other.
By the time we stopped that evening on the edge of the canal at Dokkumer Djip (which was actually just three posts to tie to along near the edge of the canal, not connected to land), we had completed for the day 2 locks and a whopping 24 bridges. Some of those being quite challenging holding Red Roo still (treading water) in the strong cross winds whilst waiting for the bridges to open. We confess to doing one 360 during the day, but there were no witnesses as it was a remote controlled bridge that took AGES to open. Refer to a previous post linked at the bottom of page for more detail on last time we did this – embarrassing!
We were now back in familiar canals, we had travelled along this route before. We enjoyed a little sleep in the next day (whilst we waited for daylight to arrive which is now closer to 9am than 8am – but daylight savings is coming soon to fix that) and leisurely cruised into and through Dokkum before the bridges shut for lunch at midday.
We stopped at the far end of Dokkum where there is a supermarket almost right on the canal (so close as compared to our usual long walks carrying shopping) so we shopped and ate lunch before continuing on (timing it so by the time we kept going the bridges would be working again after their lunch break).
We arrived in Leeuwarden by 3pm that afternoon and tied up in the same spot we took earlier in the year along with canal walls in the park/gardens. The day had totalled 12 opening bridges, with three of those being ones that you have to pay to pass through.
The process of paying involves the bridge keeper with a bamboo pole with a string which is attached to a wooden clog (shoe). They swing it out for you to put your fee into as you pass – it’s actually quite fun.
We stayed 3 nights in Leeuwarden waiting out a blow that was strong enough to bring several large tree branches down in the gardens, one crushing a light pole and breaking a statue.
From Leeuwarden to Harlingen was again new territory as we were taking new routes where possible to see more of the Netherlands, and also we were unable to take our previous route due to a broken bridge that wasn’t able to open.
15 nautical miles (about 28km) brought us to Harlingen with a total of 10 bridges to pass through. The names continued to be challenging, such as the following two can demonstrate “Ritsumasyl Beweegbare Brug” & “Kiesterzijl Draaibrug”. I know I am not meant to pronounce every letter written but I just can’t help it that was how I was taught back in little old Tasmania!!
Harlingen opens out into the North Sea and has a lot of old big wooden dutch sailing boats and tall ships parked around the city, it’s easy to wander around and find the day gone.
Previously blogs relating to this area: Click the following link to read (a short post) about the time we were not able to hold Red Roo straight whilst waiting for a bridge to open and did a very embarrassing 30 point turn completing a 360 in front of the bridge keeper (doh!) #91. Dokkum & Lauwersoog (April 27, 2017)
Denmark Photos: For those of you following along in our journey I have compiled a slideshow of our favourite pictures from Denmark. You can click here to view or navigate to “Our Photos” page to see them plus more from other countries. Enjoy.