Cruising in Drenthe

Peg writes:

On the Hoogvart, between Hoogeveen and Nieuw Amsterdam, we are in the deep countryside of eastern Netherlands, passing through a very prosperous-looking area with many large farms. In the first photo, you will see a very large roof. This is because the barn is attached to the house, as is the custom in rural areas. In the second picture, a good example of how well the farmers seem to be doing here, you’ll see on the left a large Palladian-style double door. It is the carriage/wagon entrance to the barn.


There are 20 bridges on this canal, most of them about two feet above the water level. We have our very own bridge master, who opens each bridge as we arrive, closes it after us, then speeds past us along the road in his car to the next bridge. Makes one feel important!

A brugemesiter (bridge tender) stays with you as you proceed through the sequence of bridges assigned to them. The boaters try to go through together, meeting on the docks to make arrangements. They try to limit the amount of time the bridges stay open, as vehicles use the bridges. On major canals, several bridges are managed from a central location with cameras at each bridge, so the brugmeister sees when he needs to open a bridge. There is a phone number or VHF radio frequency the skipper can use to request an opening. At every bridge there is a red/green light. Red means nobody knows you are there or that a barge is coming from the other side and will smash you to smitherines if you are in the way) red WITH green (like in this photo) means the bridge is getting ready for you (so you know somebody somewhere has seen you), and green means OK to go NOW. Out of courtesy boaters try to move through as quickly as they safely can.

peg loops bollard

Waterpoort, Sneek, Nederlands pen and ink drawing



Sneek is a small city in Friesland, the northeast part of the Nederlands.  It has a gorgeous gate and other architectural gems.  It faces the canal.  We were moored just in front of it.



Waterpoort, Sneek, Nederlands pen and ink, Company, 6″ x 8″ 15 x 21 cm


July 7, 2019
Here’s another charming Dutch town, dating from the 13th century, important historically as well as being to this day the home of technological R&D in the Nederlands emanating from Delft’s University of Technology.  It is also famous for Delft pottery, porcelain made using Chinese techniques developed in the 14th century and much prized in Europe from the moment of its arrival.  Delft pottery came to be in the 16th century.  It remains popular.  Sales last year were in the $36M range.
Delft is a popular tourist destination, for its charming architecture and the excellent Delft porcelain museum, as well as shops galore.  There are weekly street markets, at least in summer, like in many Dutch towns of this size.


One of several remaining gates of the walled city

Delft’s city hall

Willem the Silent, the first of the House of Orange to reign in the country, is buried at the Nieuwe Kerk in 1584, where there is a monument to him.  The succeeding members of the royal family are also buried there, the latest being Queen Juliana and her husband Prince Bernhard.  The church, dating from the 14th century, has a magnificent spire. 

Source: Wikipedia

The Oude Kerk dates from 1246.  It has a noticeable lean that builders tried to correct as it rose, without success.  Its most massive bell dates from 1570.  Due to its nine tons and the resultant vibrations, the ring it only on special occasions, such as the burial of a Dutch royal family. 
We toured Prinsenhof, Willem’s residence during the revolt from Spain.  Aside from some excellent portraits, it is also the interesting as the location of his assassination, ordered by the Duke of Alba, King Phillip’s representative.  You can still see the bullet holes on the staircase, enlarged by probing fingers before it was protected by a plastic cover.
Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) was born in this city.   Delft streets and home interiors were the subject of his fabulous paintings.  We visited the Vermeer Center.  There are no original paintings, while the reproductions are of modest quality.  The narrative is excellent, however, and all the explanations and the short video are in English.
The Dutch East India Company was founded in 1602.  Delft then became a trading center, producing its wealth of architecture.



Willemstad, on the Hollands Diepe

July 3, 2019
This is Willemstad, a neat small town with a brick clad windmill, as well as a lovely old houses. l. There was an army of large vessels on this beautiful day.   Below you will see a traditional sailing barge, not particularly large but lovingly restored. 


From about 500 meters off shore

Town center

One of the harbors

Dutch humor


One of few streets in town

restored sailing barge with side keels

In the morning following our arrival we were looking for a place for our guests to try an uitsmijter, a hearty Dutch breakfast.  Nothing was open, the only sign of life being those headed for work by bike, bus or car, and a man walking his dog.  I asked him if there were any cafes open.  “Nay,” he said.  Realizing we were tourists, he explained that the town was a major naval port until the 1950’s.  This explains the octagonal shape and the bunkers.   They built the large bunkers in the middle of the 19th century, so my speculation that they were part of Hitler’s WWII defense system was wrong. 
The brick clad windmill still works, grinding wheat, I think he said. 


From Willemstad we back tracked about 5 km then headed north to Oud-Beijerland on the Spui River.  It’s narrow entrance on the Spui River is a bit of a challenge as the current is about 3 km per hour, so the boat crabs towards the entrance.  You have to straighten out at the last moment, once the river releases its grip.   It was lunch time, so we found a lovely place on the harbor.  On the menu:  mustard soup.  Sounds odd, I know, but the cream, onions, garlic and leeks make the mustard just a tangy addition.  We all loved it!  Salmon with various lettuces on dark bread, fries (the Dutch can’t have a meal without them), thin slices of smoked tuna.  Not a English menu in sight, the waitress had limited English, so the chef came to the table to help where our restaurant Dutch was inadequate. 


We were unable to stay the night to participate in the many activities, including loud music (playing reggeton, one of my least favorite), so we decided to try for Delft, the home of the famous ceramics.  This took us through Rotterdam harbor, one of the busiest in the world.  Huge ships and lots of them, so we dodged where we had to and otherwise stuck to the shore until we had to cross to go north.  Our preferred route took us further to the west than the one we ended with.  After entering the lock, the lock master told us a bridge was down along the way, so we had to back out of the lock.  Boats do not do well going backwards, but we managed.  Then we had to scoot across the waterway, head a few kilometers towards the center of Rotterdam, then make our way across yet again.  The small lock’s bridge was just tall enough for us to pass beneath, otherwise we’d have had to wait for several hours for it to open, as it was rush hour.  Once through we passed through one very low bridge, then found a nice marina on starboard side.  And there we rest.  



June 2
Passing through the remaining seven bridges of Edam is a bit of a challenge due to the narrowness of the canal and the ever present wind.  At times our boat barely fit between the small bridges.  The harbormaster of the day biked from bridge to bridge to open them as we arrived, which helped.  Some of the bridges required him to pull down on a rope.  The last one or two are machine operated, just requiring the push of a button. 
Countryside followed the last bridge, with few boats and just one large barge that came around a curve on our side just past the ferry that was loading passengers.    The barge glided past while the ferry waited as both Viking and the barge passed by.  Along the way we saw several houses whose front doors were well below.    
At Spijkerboor there is an intersection.  We took the canal that takes you through or in the canal alongside Lake Alkmaardermeer.  There’s an attractive marina with a restaurant in the canal.  Dozens of boats were camped, passengers enjoying the sun. 
We moored a few hours later in Alkmeer, our second visit by boat to this town.  This time we moored for a day in the canal, made choppy with passing boats and frolicking teens spinning their small crafts to make the biggest waves they could manage.   We were fortunate to get a spot as there is a medieval festival this weekend, attracting many locals and tourists from afar.  The restaurants and bars were packed and the streets narrowed with by the people sitting at the sidewalk tables.  Traditional sailing barges and other boats lined the downtown harbor, where we stayed last time. 


The next day the crowds thickened.  Dressed in medieval garb, with makeup mimicking injuries, burns and various diseases as well, men, women and teens marched through town.  Many were in character, displaying mental disorders, and there were a few hunchbacks too.  Along came the well to do in fine frocks and Sunday best.  Vendors sold traditional foods along the route.  I was taken by the apple-cherry pie, which did not last more than a few steps.








The harbormaster moved us off the main canal the next day.  We stayed two nights right in front of a restaurant, along with a few other boats.  The aromas and chatter lasted well into the night.  Aboard it was sausage and sauerkraut for dinner, for lunch a lekkerbek, a deep fried super bland white fish, with a bit of salad and the ever present fries.  A friendly Dutch woman explained the ‘beck’ is a word for mouth.  I already knew what ‘leeker’ meant.  So leekerbeck is ‘like mouth’ as in ‘tasty fish.’  I disagree.  




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.  


Pond in Zaandam

Zaandam on the River Zaan not far from Amsterdam.  It is most famous for paintings of houses by Monet when he lived there, and the chocolate factories, of which one remains flooding the area with its lovely aroma.  Here’s a scene from near where we lived.



Pond in Zaandam, acrylic, A3, 16.5 x 11.7"
Pond in Zaandam, acrylic, A3, 16.5 x 11.7″


Detailed views:  


Viking in Dokkum

This is our summer ‘home’ for the next few years.  It’s a 12 meter Dutch motoryacht built in 1996 with a beautiful interior crafted by the original owner from whom we purchased it.  We have not been to Dokkum yet with this boat.  I used a photo of our first Dutch boat Caprice which we did sail to this small town in Friesland.  

Viking in Dokkum, water color, 8 x 8″