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blog Blog 2021

Leiden

We spent a week on the hard in Aalsmeer, applying anti-fouling paint to the hull, rebuilding the toilet pump, installing a depth meter, and performing other repairs and maintenance tasks. To install the depth meter I had to fit a through hull fitting. Never having installed one, I was a bit nervous, as you have to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat. I was glad to have the advice and tools of the repair facility that caters to the do it your self boaters. The facility was recommended by our long time Dutch friends who moored their boat there for many years. When we finished we set off for the Doeshaven marina in Leiderdorp. From there it is a 20 minute bus ride to the famous city of Leiden. The weather was prefect and my through hull fitting did not leak.

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Downtown Leiden
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Hooglandse Kerk

Leiden is a lively place that sits on the junction of the Nieuw and Oude Rhin rivers only 20 kilometers from The Hague and 40 from Amsterdam. As the covid restrictions are lifting, everywhere there are shoppers, walkers, bikers and those seated outdoors enjoying a beverage or a snack while chatting happily with a colleague or lover. It’s a very young crowd, given the student body of 35,000 in a city of less than 200,000. We were there in perfect weather, adding to festive atmosphere.

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By Rembrandt, age 18, Leiden Municipal Museum, a well worthwhile visit
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Lievans, Man Tuning His Violin, shows the powerful influence of Caravaggio, Municipal Museum

Leiden is called ‘City of Discoveries’ for the many important scientific developments that occurred here. The University of Leiden (founded 1575) boasts 13 Nobel Prize winners. It is the country’s oldest university and a member of the League of European Research Universities. It is twinned with Oxford, the UK’s oldest. Modern scientific medical research and teaching started in the early 18th century in Leiden as a result of the activites of Herman Boerhaave (1668-1738), famous in the annals of medicine. He pioneered clinical teaching and academic hospital, helping medicine take the turn into science. He isolated urea and started the use of thermometers.

Rembrandt was born and educated here.

The University of Leiden is famous for its many discoveries including Snells law and the Leyden jar capacitor developed by Pieter van Musschecnbroek (1746). Heike Kamerlingh Onnes won the 1913 Nobel Prize in physics. Among his accomplishments, he liquefied helium and attained a temperature of less than one degree above absolute zero. Albert Einstein taught at the University.

Around 860 Leiden began with the formation of an artificial hill that same to be called the Burcht van Leiden, which we climbed. The hill that sits at the junction of the Oude and Nieuwe Rijn. The settlement was called Leithon. A leitha (later “lede”) is a human-modified natural river. Leiden was an important center for weaving in the 15th century.

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View from Burcht van Leiden,

The city sided with the Dutch against Spanish rule in 1572. Under seige from May until October 1574 by the Spanish, it was saved by the Sea Beggars, who flooded the area, allowing the city to be resupplied by ship. As thanks William of Orange founded the University. The end of the siege is still celebrated on October 3. During the siege paper money was issued, for the first time in Europe. The paper came from prayer books, coming into use when silver supplies dissipated.

TYhe Pilgrims who later settled in nowadays Massachusetts lived in Leiden. Johan Rudolf Thorbecke wrote the Dutch Constitution in 1848 in his house at Garenmarkt 9.

In the next post, we sail from Leiden to Alphen an der Rijn, enjoying a delightful visit of the Archeon Museum Park.

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blog Blog 2021

Amersfoort to Muiden, Weesp and Breukelen

May 9, 2021

From our perch just outside Amersfoort we managed to secure an appointment for a Covid vaccination. We called the appointment line on advice from the Irish boaters we met in the Amersfoort harbor and on a second try found someone who knew how to make the database work for people who live on boats.

Our next destination is Muiden, famous for its castle, and the Vecht is lovely from here and most of the way to its source, passing through the lovely historic towns of Weesp and Breukelen (pronounced like and giving its name to Brooklyn) and small villages. It was a lovely if windy ride, with just a bit of wave action hitting us broadside so it was a comfortable trip to the lock. The friendly lockkeeper was waiting, the gate open. It’s an easy lock in and out right in the middle of town, shops, restaurants and houses on each side.

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Muiden Castle, watercolor

Muiden does not have any moorings in town center, unfortunately, so it’s either on a mooring from whence there is no land access or a paid spot in an unattractive area with neither water nor electricity, and a grumpy harbor master who did not bother giving us a receipt. So we moved on the next day to the downtown mooring in the middle of Weesp. From there we took the train to Schipol to get our digid code for the Netherlands. We will probably not ever need it, but if we need to interact with the Dutch government we can now do so online, as the digid code, as they call it, suffices for your signature.

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Weesp harbor

We spent two days in decent weather near Nederhorst, where I rewired the persnickety navigation lights (corrosion had spread through the wire for several meters), before proceeding up the Vecht to Maarsen for the night, then through the next day Breukelen has magnificent buildings on the water, easy to enjoy at the sauntering pace. We now rest in the tiny village of Monfoort, just one other boat and a few dozen houses.

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Breukelen

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blog Blog 2021

In the Frozen North

After the complexities of our journey north we then faced a week of bad weather. The forecasts were highly accurate. Howling winds kept us in the safe harbor. We kept warm during the day with a small electric heater, just 750 watts, with the addition of the diesel heater that pumps hot water through radiators. The boat is well insulated, which helps a lot. The windows are not double pane so they have to be wiped dry a few times a day as they fog up. As we absorbed the moisture off the panes we gazed out at snow flakes, hail, sleet and the occasional blue sky.

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View from our window in April, 2121
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First pizza of the year

We took the time to deal with any issues that arose over the winter. People were skating on the canals this year, for the first time since 2012 or so. This used to happen every year but the climate has been warming so skates spend long lonely years in the closet. We expected issues and found a few. The shower faucet froze despite having been drained by normal means. I should have removed it completely, apparently. The shower pump failed. A window leak worsened. It needs to be removed and re-bedded. Not bad overall.

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We arrived on the 4th and left on the 13th for our annual haul out. You need to check the anodes that protect the boat from electrolysis. Sometimes there is stray current in the water. This current causes weaker metals to migrate to stronger metals. Unchecked you can ruin a prop, rudder and other parts. You can install a galvanic isolater, which we will do. It prevents DC voltage from doing its worst. DC can cause problems when the boat is connected to shore power.

Monday the 12th April broke at O centigrade but sunny. We have outside steering only but stay warm and dry under the rainhood. There was some wind, a bit of hale and a snow shower or two, so staying dry and out of the wind helps greatly.

Along the way I monitored a leak at the prop shaft. There is a grease fitting around that shaft that has probably never been renewed. Before we left I made arrangements for it to be repaired at the haul out.

We made it to the tiny town of Zwartesluice in the large lovely marina. The next morning we being a few days living on the hard, as we say. The boat is put on a frame, they bring a set of stairs so we can easily get aboard, and we plug into electricity. The only disadvantage is the walk to the toilets, as we can not use the one we have aboard. The morning temperatures are still around freezing.

The next morning we make progress on the repairs. In spare moments we made an appoint for temporary residence, required if EU citizens plan to be in the country for more than three months. With the number they give you you can get the covid vaccine. We made the appointment for the number. They are vaccinating the people in our age group now. I’ll report on that as matters develop.

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blog Blog 2021

Adventures in Covid Travel

April came about and we are off.  Off our rockers, according to some, and not without just cause, given that our destination is in the midst of a third wave of the corona virus.  But I mean ‘off’ as in we are on the way north to Netherlands, literally the low lands, and to Viking, our floating home, for the next several months.

But first a word from our obstacles.  There were many between us and our destination in Freisland, the northeast part of the country, where our boat spent the winter well under the freezing temperature of water.

Obstacle one, we had to get a PCR test with a negative result within the allowed time constraints.  The EU rule, which the Dutch follow, allows you to take a PCR test within 24 hours of boarding OR within 72 hours along with an antigen test within 24 hours of boarding (an improvement over the 4 hour limit that had been replaced only a few days earlier. Whichever option you choose, you must hope that results get to you within 24 hours.    

Unfortunately, Peg made flight reservations over Easter weekend, so most labs were going to be closed. I spent hours finding a 72-hour test a day before the flight and a four-hour test in Alicante (our flight was from there, not from Valencia) on Saturday, the day our flight was scheduled, at a lab that would be open one whole hour that morning.

Three days before the flight, when the requirements changed, we had lunch with our neighbors and their niece, whose twin brother works at a laboratory. Not only was he able to get us into the lab within the 24-hour window, but at a “friend discount” of 55 euros each, about half of what we would have ordinarily paid. The clinic opened on time after lunch on Good Friday, we told the receptionist we were here on the part of the twin, we were on her list and we got our swabs, with 20 minutes to make our train to Alicante. The taxi ride took 5 minutes, which gave us time to buy tickets, buy bottled water, and jump on. We could also cancel the previously scheduled 4-hour before departure test scheduled for the next morning.

Our lodgings were a room in what had been a private home, 5 minutes from the train station.  Check-in was completely person-free. We phoned the owner, who WhatsApped us the instructions to open the front door, go to the second floor and the code to a real estate lockbox. The code opened the lockbox, which had a key to the door of the flat. The key was chained to the lockbox, so we opened the door, returning the key to the lockbox. The door to our room was open and two sets of keys to the building door, front door and room door were in it. Amazing!

Our flight was at 3:00 pm on Saturday, so we checked our phones for the results every 10 minutes beginning at about 10:00 a.m. No negative test results, no flight.  We had plenty of time to come up with a Plan B for a short term let in Alicante, just in caseTesting positive would have seriously hampered our plans for work on the boat that is scheduled for April 8.

My negative test results arrived via email around 10 a.m.  At noon Peggy’s had not arrived so I called the special number the receptionist had kindly given me for any problems. Speaking when masked, to someone who is also masked and speaking 90 kilometers a minute in Valencian, Spanish and English and who is sitting in a row of five people, all of whom are scheduling testing appointments and completing testing paperwork for people standing in front of them, is not all that easy. With Peg’s test number, we got to the problem rapidly, which was Peggy’s email address, which was missing a “K”.

When the report arrived at Peg’s email two minutes later, we did a little jig in the nice little bar two blocks from the Alicante train station, where the express airport bus stops.

At the airport, the only hiccup was that the Easyjet app lost my reservation after an update.  The friendly guy at the gate got it sorted. Peg’s sewing scissors were confiscated by security – to which she said, “Duh.”

Then came the obstacles between the airport in Amsterdam and the boat in a country undergoing its 2nd or 3rd wave of quarantine restrictions – I’ve lost track of that number too.  I figure we will be fine. Last year we traversed Netherlands and a good portion of Germany by boat, all the way to Berlin and back without getting infected.  I know. I have tested now 5 times for covid, three of which were the antigen quick type, now a PCR, earlier an antibody test, all negative.  No antibodies means you are not a symptom free carrier.   

We spent Saturday night in a high tech shoe box room of the CitizenM Hotel staffed by competent and light-hearted staff. Peg loved it – each room has an IPad that allows you to control everything, including options for full-spectrum of colors for the room lighting. The next morning our good Dutch boating friends drove us 1 ½ hours to the boat in less time than a train journey. He helped us get the rain hood installed and she brought sandwiches, ‘brood’ (bread) as they are termed here. The rainhood is a canvas and isinglass item that stretches across stainless steel tube frames and insulates the outside steering station from the weather.  It will come in very handy for the cold and rain/snow expected over the next couple of days.  I proceeded to de-winterize the boat. 

There is no end to the possible number of obstacles one might find on a boat that has been sitting in cold water for six cold months. Boat engines in the type of boat we own use diesel fuel. Unlike a diesel road vehicle, they have no glow plugs and so can be hard to start when cold. We don’t have a sailboat, so in our case, no engine, no going anywhere.