Irks on the way to Urk

September 2, 2020

Urk was an island in the Zuider Zee but the making of the poulder turned it into a coastal town sitting on the Ijsselmeer. To get there from Vollenhofe you must pass first through a lock. Then come several opening bridges in Emmelord, where we stayed the night on a free in town mooring. The bridges open quickly via remote cameras. Once we left Emmelord the trip became somewhat irksome, or I should say “urksome.” As we neared Urk the remote bridge tender became much harder to communicate with. The first bridge, despite having a camera sign, was not opening, so we called. You can get the phone number using the ANWB Almanac, an excellent resource for boaters here. However you get a menu and it is all in Dutch, whereas by marine radio you speak directly to someone and they all speak English- in this case this was not an option. Irks 1, Urk 0Finally Peg managed to get through to the bridge tender, who is also the lock keeper in Urk. He informed us that the lock was closed for the next two weeks. Irks 2, Urk 0.

The green areas are polders, recovered land. Vollenhove was on the Zuiderzee, Urk an island.

He was helpful, however, suggesting we ask the businesses with moorings at the next bridge if we could stay the day. Urk gets a point. We went on. However at the next bridge we were again forced to call. Same number, same system Irks 3, Urk 1. This time Peg was eventually able to find the bridge on the menu and once you entered the bridge number via the phone, it would open in 5 minutes. It did and on we went. Urk scores. Irks 3, Urk 2.

We found some moorings and docked. Peg walked to two businesses she could reach without climbing a fence. However no one was around. Irks 4, Urk 2. We got the bikes off and were about to leave when someone showed up next door. He did not speak any English. Irks 5, Urk 2. However he somehow understood what we wanted and said we could stay behind his place. That was very nice of him. Irks 5, Urk 3.

We backed out and over to his dock just 25 meters away to find his only spot was not well suited for mooring, lacking bollards, and there was a large plastic pipe sticking straight out. Irls 6, Urk 3. We managed to get in and found that our largest fenders were just big enough to keep the pipe for gouging the paint on the hull.

Then we biked the 1.5 km to Urk, a lovely ride in the day’s gorgeous weather. Urk gets a point. Then in town Urk easily makes up for the the deficit. It is full of loving cared for brick fisherman’s homes, bars and restaurants, and small shops.

Urk by the sea, work in progress

Wandering about the Netherlands east, part 2

We are east of Emmelord in Vollenhove. Vollenhove dates at least to 944 CE. Toutenburg Castle (see photo below) was the summer palace of the bishop of Utrecht, also the secular ruler of the area. The wealthy built residences in the town proper, unusual for the time, and as a result Vollenhove came to be called the City of Palaces.

The town is in a peat zone, thus shipping was central to the local economy. It was on the Zuiderzee. They started to drain the Zuiderzee in the 1930’s, then suspended the process when war started, resuming in 1942. Now this and other villages are no longer on the shore but on hard land. Well, a goodly amount of hard land, given how much waterway remains.

volenhofe castle
The ruins of Toutenburg Castle
Building near the church

The previous day we walked around Blokzijl, an even smaller fishing village than Vollenhofe. There we said goodbye to our Dutch friends with whom we spent some 12 days together as they took us to their favorite moorings and towns in the northeastern part of the country, their favorite.

Blokzijl is a Johnny come lateley, as it was founded only in the 1580’s. It arose out of the peat trade. A canon remains on the dike, used to warn of approaching flood waters of the Zuiderzee upon which it rested. The large houses around this gorgeous harbor date from the 17th century. 

harbor blokzijl 2
Renovated old barge in the harbor at Blokzijl
eet cafe
House facing the harbor in Blokzijl
blokzijl harbor
Blokzijl’s harbor

Kalenburg vies with Geithoorn as the most charming village in the country. The canal runs right through town, and it’s large enough for boats like ours, whereas in Geithoorn the canals are small so you canonly go through on small outboard craft. The houses there are overall more impressive and the canals are crossed by lovely, curved pedestrian bridges. However there are many lovely houses in Kalenburg and two restaurants on the canal. Here is our video of our passage through this one house wide village.

Video by Peg
Neaarby Ossenzijl is located on the canal that connects
the Weerribben and Kalenburg. Just 540 people live there but enough beauty for a large city.
osenzijl bridge
Friends pass through the bridge ahead of us

I will have more on the lovely sights of this area.