Since entering the Netherlands we have been able to slow down and stop for a day or two when we felt like it. We arrived at the old fortified port of Willemstad in the midst of a yachting weekend and Sea shanty festival. a kind of song fest where shanty groups from across the Netherlands performed on different stages through the town on the Sunday afternoon.
Underway again we took the incoming tide up through Rotterdam. Arguably the busiest network of commercial waterways in Europe.
In Gouda where we were in time to see the last open air cheese market of the year. While most of the trading is now done online the traditional market is put on for the tourists combined with the annual best Gouda cheese awards.
We had planned to cruise through Utrecht but couldn't due to closed bridge which was too low for us. So it was out onto the Barge motoway, the Amsterdam -Rhine canal again for a few kms.
While we thought we had dodged the drought conditions of France and Flanders, there was the unexpected issue in the low lying Holland provinces of too much water, of the salty kind. These Delta regions normally rely on the fresh waters of the Rhine to irrigate and keep the water table 'sweet' as much of the region is below sea level. In Weesp they had closed the lock gates leading into town to help balance the salinity. We were told this was the first time in 40 years.
As I write we are in Muiden, where the Vecht river finally runs into the Ijsselmeer. We are sitting out a day or two of wind and rain before tackling the last leg of our voyage up from France. Autumn has arrived. Across the channel I can see the old castle, unchanged since we were here back in1966 aboard Jacandor our small open boat on our way home from Copenhagen.