We spent two nights in Meppel. Then we headed further north through Assen (pronounced ah-sin) in the
Canal in Drenthe province
province of Drenthe (pronounced Drenter). It’s no surprise that Holland has reclaimed land over the years. But some of it only fairly recently. Lelystad area for example has new buildings, lots of canals for drainage and not many trees. Drenthe province is the complete opposite. Lovely tall trees line the canals and you can see farm houses with heaps of olde worlde charm.
Also noticeable – we encountered locks. The trip from Meppel to Dieverbrug had a combo of 4 locks and 10 bridges in just 21 kilometres. We bought an el cheapo, lightweight pair of gloves for me at the local hardware in Zwartsluis before we left and they were brilliant. Not water-proof, but light and prevented my hands from chaffing with all the rope work in the locks.
The speed limit in this area was much less than we were allowed to travel before. Probably because the canals are shallower and narrower. It took us a far longer to travel less distance. Our engine didn’t get hot enough to heat our shower
Public mooring near Dieverbrug
water. It’s important to check the travel guides so you know these things when planning a route.
That said, I leave all the planning to my husband. He’s a plan-o-holic. I try to listen and take it all in, but I don’t, and then promptly ask stuff he has already told me. In my defence, there is a lot to take in.
We over-nighted in a public mooring just outside Dieverbrug. Marinas have shore power, decent sized showers, hot water, proper toilets and fresh clean water available – at a fee. Most functions use 50c coins. A five minute hot shower = 1 coin, 100 litres of fresh water = 1 coin, shore power = 1 coin per 2 kilowatt hours. Heating water with shore power
Country house Drenthe province
can deplete your coins in half an hour.
You pay to tie up at a marina. The longer your boat, the more you pay. Our boat is 12.6 metres long and 3.6 wide. We paid €11, for two, per night. The fee is more about the length of your boat than how many people on the boat.
Public moorings are spaces on the side of the canal that offer no more than an bollard to tie up. We needed to use our pegs as some bollards were missing. You use your own water and power supplies.
Sluis (lock) Peelo
A boat is not that different to a caravan, except it’s a different shape and floats. We noticed that marinas often accommodate camper wagons, caravans and tents near the boats. We both agree that we don’t find traveling in a caravan the slightest bit appealing. Can’t explain what the difference is, but we are not campers. Not at the moment.
Now that we have our own boat, half the fun is walking past other boats moored nearby and looking at them. We look at what people have done with their boats and pick up good ideas or wonder what were they thinking? We analyse and compare.
I’ve said before that no two boats are the same from a design and technical aspect. But also how people live on them. Some boats have satellite communication, plush leather seating and designer interiors while others look like rust buckets with mouldy curtains.
The captain and myself
Both owners sit on their decks at night and plain and simply enjoy being on the water. I know super yacht owners compete for bigger, better, more on their boats. When it comes down to it, it’s all about that feeling of having your own boat, and being on it, in the water.
I’m always amazed at how many dogs travel with their parents on these boats. We even saw two cats – on leashes – tied to the side of a particular boat. Inside, they had cat litter trays and two budgies in a cage. One has to wonder how happy a cat is living like that, but I don’t have cats, so I can’t say. The poor budgies can’t have loved living with two cats tied in such close proximity.
Part 2 of this journey can be found – here. Or read from the beginning – on this link.
After cleaning the brimstone or lava off the deck from the fireworks the night before, we headed back to Zwartsluis from Zwolle to resume our repairs. The bloke managing the bridges into Zwolle overslept and a group of about 16 boats waited around over half an hour to get out. A gaggle of boats made a mass exodus from Zwolle, all heading in different directions along the canal networks.
My husband had bought a new VHF radio in Zwolle. Apparently it’s easier and cheaper to buy a new one than reprogramme ATIS numbers from the previous owner. ATIS = Automatic Transmission Identification System, an EU requirement on inland waterways. Yip, I’m leaving all the complicated stuff to my better half. I
General purpose gloves
prefer ‘cheesing’ (curling in English) the ropes and making tea.
Zwartsluis is becoming a bit like home now. We know the back roads, even met a South African girl married to a Dutch guy. I was happy to take a walk into town and do the washing while my other half set about fitting his new VHF. Not quite as easy as he thought. He bought the exact same make, but once out the box, it was a completely different shape to the last one. At one point I found him staring blankly after he had cut a pile of wood away from his instrument consul only to discover his original
Short jetty with half ladder in Meppel
plan wasn’t going to work. Time for a lunch and tea break. It all worked out in the end. He glued a new piece of wood back into the hole and added a new fascia. There’s a lot more to boating than swanking about with a drink in your hand.
We said – Goobye or Tot Ziens – to the folk at Zwartsulis and headed off toward Meppel. We referred to the Wateralmanak – all in Dutch – which we ‘sort of’ understand and our other handy guide – Inland Waterways of the Netherlands by L. Busby and D. Broad. Local maps, which are easily found in many shops, are also a source of information.
Meppel wasn’t a long trip and had few bridges. The harbour master was a hands-on guy so we were shown an appropriate berth and moored in mild wind. I reckon boating is a bit like ballroom dancing.
Spped of 7.7 kilometres an hour
One of you needs to know what to do, and the other needs to know how to do what they are told. My husband tells me what to do, and I try to do it. Unfortunately he tends to speak in ‘boat-ese’ which drives me bonkers. Especially when we are battling to tie up. I have to translate ‘starboard stern rope’ or ‘for’d back spring’ in seconds. Why don’t boat lovers just speak English?
We made sure we got to Meppel by lunch time to ensure we got a mooring. Strange jetty in Meppel. A really short one. We put down a half ladder that we found on the boat – and leapt off! Literally.
Meppel printers museum
Meppel is a lovely place to stop. Lots of historical buildings, a really helpful VVV (Tourist Info), a marine shop, stacks of other shops and a lovely marina that curled through the old town.
Clearly lots of other people thought so too. That part of the marina was full. But then we did arrive the day before the Meppel Thursday Festival. One Thursday a month the folk in Meppel celebrate something. And have a big fat street market.
This month the theme was fashion and culture. There were loads of retail and clothing shops with specials on tables outside their shops. We loved the market where people spread their un-used
Working mill and museum in Meppel
possessions on the streets to sell them off. We bought 6 ramekins, a cereal container and a salad bowl, all for €4.
We went to visit the working mill, which is run by volunteers. Entrance is free and it’s open when the windmill turns. They showed us how it worked. We understood about 50% of what they said. Two Dutch girls helped translate what we didn’t get.
Happy campers next to the marina in Meppel
They don’t clean away spider webs becasue spiders eat the bugs that normally attack the flour. We left with a bag of freshly ground whole wheat flour for €1.
Inland Waterways also mentioned a printing museum – Drukkerijmuseum Meppel. They were closed when we went past. Admission was around €3.
People selling unwanted goods in Meppel
The shore power in Meppel was 10 amps as opposed to 6 amps in Zwolle. Which meant our kettle only took 10 minutes to boil and not 20 minutes. But the meter ran out fast. We started using our generator to heat the shower water and kettle. We were getting more comfortable with the workings of our boat. It was starting to feel like home.