Monday, 25 July 2011

We cruise to the hills

To the Highlands
Maastricht, from the hill

After cruising the Biesbosch, and spending a few days in Drimmelen marina, on the river Amer, and getting a few jobs sorted, we were told that we must visit Maastricht.
My only knowledge of the town was that here the treaty was signed that formed the EU.
The Wilhelminakanal, a man made waterway took us far to the South, This finger of the Netherlands pushes deep into Germany and Belgium, this is hill country.
Maasbrecht lock, a 12m rise

Massive Deep locks lift us to 300 ft above sea level. while most of Holland is some 5m below sea level.
We are joined in Maastricht by another two couples from NZ and Aus, bringing with them a decent size ensign, to try and match the huge flags flown from the local boats.
A series of  fronts head for Europe

The last few days have tested our patience with the weather, as a series of fronts have swept across Europe.
Heading north once more we have cruised down the Maas river, finding great evening moorings in little well serviced marinas.

A tight fit for Antiope

Misty morning

We are heading into the central regions towards Amsterdam,  

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Cruising the Delta and the Biesbosch

We have gently eased into the gentle art of cruising in the Netherlands.
Restored Botter yachts in Veere
Thus after a couple of weeks getting the flavour of Zeeland, and enjoying the hospitality of the Middleburg Yacht club. We were joined there by a NZ couple Bruce and Val.
Underway again, the Town of Veere deserved another visit at the north end of the Middleburg canal, Once a major seaport when the wool trade with Scotland thrived, now it has become a picturebook tourist village.
Then We ventured once more onto the Meers, or landlocked waters lying between the delta islands.
Morning visitor at our Veersemeer mooring
The Dutch have created isolated island moorings in these meers.Here we moored free and woke up to find deer grazing close by in the morning.
Lift bridge at Zierikzee

Windmills and barge on the Hollandsdiep

Once more through the busy Zandkreek lock and a left turn took us to the old fishing port of Zierikzee. When sailing here as a lad on the old family boat it was one of my mothers favourite stops.
The Ark, built to the original dimensions!

Just around the bend outside Dordrecht we find the Ark! built by an excentric Dutchman over the last year or two, what is he trying to tell us?
A quiet mooring in the Biesbosch
Windmills are still part of the Netherlands landscape, once they were used to drain the land, now the modern versions provide power, These wind generators are everywhere here and after a while you don't notice them.
  Moving slowly inland we stopped at Willemstad and then Dordrecht, Here four commercial waterways meet, It is said to be the busiest maritime junction in Europe.
In contrast to this bustle and just to the south is the Biesbosch a huge wetland sanctury where we found a quiet mooring for the night among the reeds.
The last night aboard for our guests. Wind and rain and low water, greeted us in the morning, and the semi tidal creeks tested our skill with the echo sounder, we made our way south through the lattice of channels
Finally and With some relief we came to the deep waters of the river Amer and Drimmelen Marina.

Excuse the editing some if these pics have ended up out of step with the story
I will use the excuse that my screen is all in Dutch.
Cheers Charles and Annie

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Adventure begins

Antiope 4th July 2011
Our first week in a new country has been all we hoped for.
Two seasons of preparation are now beginning to pay off. After the crossing from England we spent a couple of days in Middleburg before heading up the waterway to the historic port of Veere.

Antiope moored in the old harbour at Veere

Little has changed in this picturebook dutch harbour here since my youth, here on family sailing holidays.
The dutch have been hard at work for centuries, keeping the North sea out of their back yard. in doing so they have created landlocked recreational waterways, like the Veersmeer, where we found a quiet island tied up and set up the BBQ.
First BBQ in Holland, on an Island on the Veersemeer
The morning after this magical evening, there were rumblings in the sky, heralding a dramatic thunderstorm,
Drama in the skies, over the Veersmeer

The trend for restoring and sailing traditional boats is strong here. We were overhauled by this Botter yacht on the Oosterschelte.
Traditional restored Botter yacht

We are getting familiar with lock etiquette. The general rule is that when the gates open and the lights turn green everyone makes their own run at it.
Survival of the fittest, tis good to own a steel boat.
Zandkreek lock at the head of the Veersmeem

July should see us heading northwards towards Amsterdam and the Isselmeer. but just now we are in no hurry enjoying the new found Summer weather.

Solar powered hydrofoil

While moored in Middleburg we watched a competition between solar powered craft, the winner, a hydrofoil reached speeds of 36km per hour.
Cheers Charles and Annie,      in Zeeland