Bruekelen to Gouda

May 15

After passing through the charming riverside views of Bruekelen we spent two days near Nederhorst (May 5-6) , for us merely a wide spot in the Vecht, painting, drawing and doing some maintenance. It was more or less the same in tiny Monfoort except the morning after our arrival we had new neighbors in their 14 meter fiberglass yacht with a home port of “Antwerpen.” We made a bee line for their door, as we are planning a few months in Belgium once we can enter without spending large sums on tests.

They had some very good suggestions and made us realize how small Flanders is, and how even in Wallonie, the French speaking half of the country, English is commonly spoken. This was a surprise to us, as when we had property there we were the only Anglophiles around. The conversation evolved into boats, of course. The captain had a number of boat maintenance suggestions, as I was in the process of rewired the stern light and had run across a snag in the last few meters. He suggested smearing vaseline on the wire where it joints the fish wire. Another was to check construction dumpsters. There was one at the mooring. I did not find the block of wood I needed for the stern light, as I had to destroy the old one to get at the stern light wire to replace it, but I did find a long pole which we used to mark the air draft of our rain hood. Now when we come to a bridge with little clearance we can use the pole to determine if we will fit rather than bringing the boat to where the rain hood practically touches the bridge.

Aside from the practicalities, we enjoyed talking to the couple, our first sit down conversation in weeks and only the third or fourth since we arrived in early April. We had spoked with an Irish couple back in Amersfoort, who were very helpful with regards to vaccinations. We learned that our current neighbors’ boat came from Florida, shipped to Netherlands by the previous owner. This is a very expensive proposition. They added double pane windows, also very pricey, and removed the air conditioning. They leave their boat in Friesland every other year, in Antwerp the other for out of the water maintenance. We talked about a variety of other topics, with comments and concerns not out of the ordinary except they refuse to frequent a bar or restaurant in Brussels where they speak only French, the main language of Brussels. We were under the impression that because the capitol is in Flanders that Flemish would be the predominant language. This led to the a discussion of Dutch versus Flemish, we learned that the primary difference is in the pronunciation.

Oudewater was our next stop. It is another charming small town and a very old one. Now in the province of Utrecht again after a 700+ year hiatus, it has been around at least since 1265. There are 300 plus historic buildings, as well as nearly 230 municipal and national monuments, extraordinary for a town of this size. This wealth of architecture came from the hemp industry. The inhabitants came to be called ‘Geelbuiken,’ (Yellow Belly) from the stain the hemp made on their work clothes.

One of the many fine examples of Dutch Golden Age architacture

Oudewater was represented in the First Free State Assembly in Dordrecht in 1572. We visited the museum in Dordrecht dedicated to this event, at which they planned the break from Spain and where the House of Orange was established. The Spanish retaliated against the city by killing all but a handful of the inhabitants, an event still commemorated annually. The city was seriously damaged by fire as a result of the siege. Much of the historic city center dates from the reconstruction made possible by the hemp industry, the Dutch East India Company being a major customer. By the beginning of the 20th century, with the decline of the hemp industry over the past several centuries, many buildings were in dire condition, repaired and renovated since then, leaving us with this fine example of a 17th century town.

There are several very good sculptures in public places


At the the 750th anniversary of city’s founding in 2015, King Willem-Alexander, of the house of Orange, visited the city.

Old city map of Oudewater

Gouda (population 72,000) is famous for the cheese that bears its name, its fabulous 15th-century city hall, as well as churches and other historic buildings. Gouda was established by the Van der Goude family circa the 12th century. They built a fortified castle on the Gouwe River, from which the city’s name may have derived, and upon which we later traveled. The Gouwe was connected to the Hollandse Ijssel, a harbor was formed from the mouth of the latter, and Castle Gouda built to protect the harbor. The castle was destroyed in 1577, the city walls torn down between 1830 and 1854.


The famous cheese got its name from the city’s central role in its distribution, rather than its production. This came about by feudal decrees granting a sales monopoly to the city. The cheese porter guild, wearing special colored straw hats, transported the 16 kilo cheese rounds in wheel barrows to the market. The cheese was coated with wax, while now they use a yellow plastic coating. The cheese is then aged, producing final produces that range from soft to hard, the later termed Oude Gouda, which requires a 12 month period. If you know Gouda from what you buy in the US, the Oude version would be an entirely unrecognizable experience. It’s as hard as a high quality parmigiano.

From here we scooted to Amersfoort on the train for our first vaccination. It went smoothly. I had a sore arm for two days but otherwise we had no issues. We must return in June for the second injection. Doing this in the Netherlands means we avoid a trip to Spain, perhaps two. This would require exposing ourselves to the risks of infection and travel in general, plus $500 in tests in addition to the travel expenses. I’d receive notice from Salud that I would be getting the Johnson vaccine, meaning I would only need one visit. Peg has yet to receive an appointment from Spain. This could not have worked out much better.


July 29-30, 2019 
Hoorn (circa 1200) is another of Holland’s charming historical villages.  It is on the Ijsselmeer south of Medemblik.  On our boat it took about four hours.  The sea was calm, fortunately, and the strong breeze kept us quite comfortable in another warm day of around 27c (80f).   There were many people out sailing, mostly closer to shore that we were.   In the photo below you see the ferry that goes between Medemblik and Enkhuizen.


The ferry between Medemblik and Enkhuizen

Entering the lock at Einhuizen. Made just for pleasure craft, one of the easiest we’ve been in

The harbor in Hoorn is quite impressive, starting with the Hoofdtoren, a fortification dating from 1522,  one of the last remaining.  From here ships traveled around the world for the Dutch East- Indies Company VOC.   There is a bronze sculpture of the characters of a popular 1924 novel about a 17th voyage to the East Indies. 


Entering the harbor in Hoorn


We came to rest in the Binnenhaven, which we’d rejected at first as being fully occupied.  However after calling the havenmeister (harbor master) we found that here you are expected to allow others to moor to your boat.  He was there to meet us on his dinghy -I was expecting him to be in or near his office – which is equipped to help moor when necessary, and stayed with us as we docked just in case, as it was a close fit.   We were moored with a youngish couple with two boys around 8 years old, very friendly and on the way to Lelystad in a few days, as were we, as well as a bird sanctuary just off the coast of that town.  They have a 12 meter boat but only about 2 meters wide and close to the waterline, so they chose to move so they would be able to see out more readily.





Bontekoe’s shipmates from the novel



Hoorn’s name may have come from Hornus, the stepson of King Radboud.   However there are two other possibilities, one a sign depicting a post horn in an early 14th-century hanging in Roode Steen Square.  A third claim is that the name comes the shape of an early port.  Another is that the Hoorn derived from Damphoorn, a medieval name for a abundant local weed made into whistles.  (see 
There are several museums.  We visited the Fries Museum, in the former  (1632), the meeting place of the council of Westfriesland.   There are a half dozen or so excellent group portraits in one of the rooms, and a significant number of portraits with out of proportion heads.  













View from Statencollege of Roode Steen Square












Between Hoorn and Medemblik you can travel by steam locomotive. 

Steam Locomotive Hoorn to Medemblik. It is 105 years old

The volunteers have painstakingly restored the engine and cars.  We enjoyed the company of a tall blond (there are many here) and her two girls, here depicted with the volunteer attendant in very well made traditional costume.  


Next:  dropping six meters from the Ijsselmeer into Flavoland.

On the River Vecht

May 2019


The Vecht is a small river that looks to originate near Utrecht, terminating in the IIjmeer.  Where we are moored just outside Nederhorst den Berg, a one street town.  We are practically in the shadow of an old windmill, probably restored as it appears to be in good condition.  There are cows to our left, water birds and fish to our right, and a bike path leading to the town.   We are not alone.  Kees and Ada are still here and helping out at every opportunity.  As we’ve run across several challenges in addition to painting sections of the boat, for which Kees’ 50+ years experience coming in might handy, I have found several leaks, a dead fresh water pump and a few non-working electrical connections plus a bank of nearly kaput batteries. 

To get here from Haarlem we took the North Sea Canal past Amsterdam.  This canal carries huge vessels and tug boats.  Amsterdam is a very busy harbor.  There are a dozen or so ferries that transport people across the canal so you have to be vigilant.


Kees and Ada in front of us:


Amsterdam train station:

One of Amsterdam’s more lively bridges:






Here is my first sketch from the boat (digital).  Once we get everything working and organized I can return to artistic painting, which I prefer to boat painting, as you might imagine.  For one, there are a lot fewer muscle aches from being in odd positions, and there is a lot less scrubbing.



Weesp is not far away as the crow flies.  Boats do not fly unless you are in very serious trouble so between the meandering of the river and slowness of the travel, a 30 minute journey takes 90.  We made the trip there to have the boat hauled in an effort to find the source of the leak.  This turned out to be easier than we feared.  A few taps on the keel showed it was not full of water, eliminating the possibility of a keel leak.  A through hull fitting looked odd and it turned out to be the problem.  Remove it, caulk it, replace the gaskets, and voila!  I’d tested the batteries with my volt meter and found them to be well less than 12 volts.  I had him test them and he found that all but the starting batteries were knackered.  Time for new ones.  These are deep cycle marine batteries so they are not cheap but you can not live aboard without them, so in they must go.  They weigh 45 kilos so this is a job for more than one man and ones with younger backs than mine.  


Memories of the Tall Ships in the Nederlands

April 2019

We have friends in Haarlem, the Haarlem in the Nederlands, not the Harlem in New York City. We are going to meet them in May at a spot off the Ijsselmeer in the middle of nowhere. It’s where we first met them in 2000. It was their idea, and how charming of them to think of it! We met as we were docking our boat, they helped us get to the bank, and later invited us for Oranjebitter, a liquor made from oranges. This beverage is issued every year in honor of the monarch, still on the throne,


Tall Ships Parade to Amsterdam, water color and ink, post card stock



We met them again later that summer near their house. It was July. The Tall Ships were in Amsterdam on their annual circuit, which this year concluded here. Thousands of smaller boats joined in parades to the harbor. We joined K and A, their daughter M and her husband B in the latter’s boat for a trip to Amsterdam harbor in the twilight. There were hundreds of small craft doing the same. We were bumper to bumper, so to speak. When it was dark out came a large barge stuffed with fireworks as well as huge loud speakers. It was a great show! I am glad Kees was at the helm as it was a pitch black sail back to their harbor.

We resume the boating life in a few weeks.  


Tall Ships 2, , water color and ink, post card stock

Crowd at Tall Ships 2015, pen and ink

Tall Ships Sketch 1, , pen and ink


In Holland: a friendly generous gesture

I took the the first two photos in Friesland, which is in the north and most rural part of Holland.   We saw perhaps 6 of these older wind mills, some of them still at work.

We stopped for coffee. There were four older men playing cards and after we got our coffee, the waitress showed up with these appelgebak mit slagroom (apple pie with whipped cream), one of our favorites.   One of the gents treated us, and as we were waiting for the coffee he even paid that!  I have no idea why, other than perhaps we were the rare visitor to these parts.  They would have known we were speaking English, although none of them seemed to understand anything we said to them directly.  The waitress spoke it quite well however.   

This event has more meaning if you know something about the Dutch.   Some might call them stingy or tight.  For example in our airbnb in Dordrecht they had coffee in the guest room.  Very nice.  But there were two coffee creamers.  Not four, not six, just two.  In another, it states if you use a whole roll of toilet paper you have to pay 2 euros extra.  The generosity we experienced was quite the surprise for us, having spent almost a year in the country over the past 20. 

The little restaurant sits across the field from the restaurant.  Earlier we were in Dordrecht, in the southwest part of the country where we spent the night on in a small outbuilding.  Our friendly hostess showed us around her lovely property, sitting on water’s edge.  Across the way is an island hosting beavers, hawks and owls and more, as well as the usual ducks and coots.


Applegebak mit slagroom
Windmill in Friesland


Sculpture in Dordrecht