After 3 nights in Harlingen we departed the canal through the sea lock and into the North Sea for a short passage before passing through the Lorentzsluizen (lock) to bring us back into the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer being a controlled waterbody keeping The Netherlands from being swallowed by the sea – again.
16 nautical miles, two sea locks and one lifting bridge later we arrived in picturesque village of Hindeloopen (population 875).
We secured ourselves on the harbour/quay wall rather than enter the massive marina (the IJsselmeer being a very popular sailing ground has many large marina’s). This turned out to be a very good decision as the wall is free (now being out of sailing season, ie: winter) where as you still have to pay to use the marina, the strange part being we could use the marina toilets, showers & would you believe it pool (all for free) and their laundry whilst we were there? What a great deal, no complaints from us! Even better there was also power on the wall that we could connect to . . . did I mention that it is out of season (winter) and starting to get very cold? The electric heater is now our almost constant companion when the power is free or included in our berthing rates.
We both loved Hindeloopen it is a small village on the edge of the Meer (lake) and is very much a traditional Dutch village with little, if any sign of progress or modern ugliness, even the lock into the small town canals is operated by good old fashioned man power, turning wheels and using chain rather than modernised (Note only very small local boats can go through the lock due to the canals width and depth, too small, narrow and shallow for us).
It was very easy to spend a couple of days here wandering the village cobblestone streets, alley’s and canals.
A very short 5 nautical miles further on (half the journey under sail the other half under engine which was basically getting out of Hindeloopen and into Stavoren) we arrived at Stavoren. Why such a short journey? Well we were able to stop here and catch up with our friend Robert whom we met earlier in the year in Lemmer and Sloten when we were heading north through Holland to the Baltic. Robert and Ria have kept in touch since and it was great to be able to spend some more time together. Robert told us some fabulous stories about his homeland, traditions of the Dutch, his life, his travels, his family and business. Thank you Robert for taking the time to meet with us again and for your messages throughout the year and for the lovely apple pie!
Stavroen is another adoringly beautiful village (population 950) and a very friendly one at that, not only did we catch up with Robert but we made further friends in the village firstly with Peter and Carla whom we met when we berthed Red Roo in front of their home on the waterfront, they came on board for afternoon tea during our stay and we learnt of their wonderful journey living on board their yacht and travelling to many countries over many years. They now have a smaller yacht “Odulphus” and continue to sail but live back on land these days.
We also met the very kind Yvonne who is the Captain of a traditional wooden Dutch sailing barge. Phil assisted Yvonne in folding up her sails as she was packing up the boat for winter. Yvonne is affectionately call a Witch by the locals as she knits woollen garments under the name “Witch Craft”. Yvonne was very generous and gave us both a hand knitted beanie when we left, which we have both worn a lot since then, so much softer than commercially produced beanies.
The reference to a Witch also has a lot of history in the town of Stavoren as per the story below;
Stavoren is the oldest and was at one time the largest and richest city of Friesland (Friesland being a state of Holland). It was a town of traders and sailors and even the Frisian Kings resided here. In its heyday they spoke of the spoilt children of Stavoren.
From the thirteenth century on wealth began to diminish. The North Sea had broken through the coastal lands, creating the ‘Zuidertzee’ (IJsselmeer). These floods destroyed much of the old Stavoren including the renowned monastery of Saint Odulf. To this downfall of medieval glory the following legend is linked.
At one time Stavoren was a rich town with many merchant ships owned by the lady of Stavroen. One day she ordered one of her captains: “Bring me the finest treasure in the world”. The crew set to sea and searched everywhere. Finally they found what they were looking for. When the ship arrived in Stavoren there were many people on the quay; together with the Lady of Stavoren. The Captain said: “After a long search we found and loaded the finest treasure in the world”. He pointed proudly to the open hatch at his feet. Everyone leaned forward to look, and mouths fell open in amazement. No one had ever seen such beautiful grain, transformed into pure gold in the midday sun!
The Lady of Stavoren was shocked. With a voice as sharp and as hoarse as a seagull she said: “On which side did you load it?” The Captain answered: “Port side milady.” “In on the port side, out then to starboard!!” she ordered. The captains face became white and taut and he looked at the poor people of Stavoren. The Lady forced him to discharge the grain into the sea.
An old fisherman stepped forward and said: “Milady…for this you will be punished. The time will come when you shall beg for a handful of wheat!” She laughed shrilly. “Do you see this ring? The sea will sooner give me back this ring than I will beg for a handful of wheat!” In a wide arc the golden ring flow over the heads of the silent people into the sea.
A short period after this event the maid of the Lady of Stavoren found the ring inside a haddock. She showed the ring to her mistress. The lady was horrified when she recognised the ring to be hers. The sea had returned it! The lady ran out of her big house. On the quay she met the old fisherman. He lifted his cap and said: “Milady … two of your ships sank just outside of the harbour. It was as if the sea didn’t want to let them in here any longer”
And so it happened that the Lady of Stavoren turned into a beggar woman. Where the beautiful grain had been thrown into the sea a sandbank was formed (where her ships sank). This area is now known as Vrouwenzand (the Lady’s sand). The story goes that on this bank once grew a plant forming ears of corn in which never any grains were found!
We sailed the entire 12 nautical miles from Stavoren to Enkhuizen downwind (our favourite kind of sailing) however winds were very very light so it was a slow sail at around 2.5 knots but very pleasant and peaceful. It was a grey old day with reduced visibility to around 2 nautical miles, but we didn’t get wet so for that we are thankful.
We visited Enkhuizen on our way north earlier in the year when we stopped here on anchor for a few days and explored the city and the outdoor living museum (which was great). This time we berthed in the town harbour, being winter it was free berthing (well there was no harbour master, all the facilities were shut and nobody approached us for berthing fee’s) we just had to pay for electricity . . . we love Winter rates!
It was a pretty cold and wet few days in Enkhuizen so we didn’t get up to much but did do a day trip 45 km west via train to visit the town of Alkmaar. We took the umbrella and managed to stay relatively dry during the couple of downpours despite the fact that we really struggle to share an umbrella, it usually ends in one of us just giving up (the one not holding the brolly, after being poked in the head, or having the run off continually drizzle down the back of our neck) and braving the rain with just a cap or beanie whilst the other enjoys the shelter of the brolly. And we are supposed to be Adults – huh 🙂 !!
Alkmaar a 45km train ride west from Enkhuizen
We stayed an extra day in Enkhuizen rather than sail in the rain on the day we were going to leave, well it was free after all . . . its not just that we are getting soft!
The following day arrived without rain forecast so we set off for Volendam 16 nautical miles south. Immediately south of Enkhuizen the IJsselmeer ends and a large lock will bring you into the Markermeer. (When passing this lock in April several yachts got into a bit of trouble getting blown around, I will link the post at the end of this blog).
Turns out we sacrificed the correct winds by not going in the rain, so we ended up doing half the journey under motor – sigh! However the half we were able to sail was quite good as we managed to get a small angle on the wind and get 4 knots speed over ground just using the head sail so we were sailing and we were dry, cold but dry.
Again we had visited Volendam in April on our way north so were familiar with the town and area and knew what we were in for. It was a slightly different Volendam however as it had been quite busy with boats being the Easter weekend and the start of the sailing season on our last visit and this time we were only one of two boats in the harbour. The tourists were still there everyday, bus loads of them! Being on 30km from Amsterdam by road it is very popular on the tourist bus route, as it has all the tourist shops, a waterfront community, a clog making shop, a cheese factory and a windmill – what more would one want!
We spent an easy few days watching the tourists stand in front of Red Roo and get their picture taken, and on more than one occasion banged on the window or yelled as they attempted to actually hop on board for a picture! If only we could have a Renminbi for every picture taken, we could buy property in China.
We rode our bikes to nearby Edam to visit the cheese shops and taste the free samples, as well as visiting the Volendam Cheese Factory each day for a free taste (morning or afternoon tea).
The grey mist really set in whilst in Volendam and viability was reduced to less than a mile most days, so we stayed for 5 nights, leaving on the first day that the sun actually appeared to provide a cracker of a day bright as a button (note, all pictures were taken on this day!).
As you may be able to tell, we are really taking our time going back through Holland, taking very small legs and staying a while at each place we are in no hurry at all in-fact whilst we keep happening across the free berths we are likely to be longer than even we expect. Our current plan is to head back to East Coast of England for the worst of Winter. Spending that time near family and doing winter jobs on the boat ready to head out again as soon as possible. We aim to cross back to England around the second week in December or there abouts depending on the weather of course. So we are almost relaxing at present, trying to stay warm and dry and building up our reserves to again tackle the North Sea in winter.
However our immediate next stop is Amsterdam, one never really knows what to expect in that city, but no doubt we will find a story or two to share with you.
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