Barging through the Netherlands – Part 16

Barging through the Netherlands – Part 16

Read this travel blog from the beginning on – this link.
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Five metre deep lock at Friese Sluis

The Netherlands has 6 000 kilometres of navigable waterways, which given the size of the country is a LOT. The story of land reclaiming and the polders is fascinating. When we locked down from the IJsselmeer at Lemmer and back up again at Urk, you are in a lock that is 5 metres deep. You realise that you should be underwater. No wonder Dutch people do not pooh pooh global warming theories.

En route in Noordoospolder

Some of the biggest European rivers including the Rhine flow out to sea in the deltas in southern Holland and the narrow channel between Great Britain and the Netherlands funnels water from the North Sea. Heavy rains or a spring tide could be a national disaster. And that’s not all.

As the reclaimed land has dried over the years, it has contracted and shrunk. You have contracting


landmass and rising water levels. The Netherlands have a complicated system of pumping water in and out. They have salt and fresh water areas that require not just water movement but desalination as well. This is all going on at differing times 24 hours a day. The Dutch people are also keen to re-introduce fauna and flora that weren’t a consideration when they created the polders. Reclaimed land went toward housing and farming.

Emmeloord to Urk

I wasn’t looking forward to bypassing the IJsselmeer and travelling via Noordoostpolder, but I am so glad we did. The Lemstervaart was tree lined with neat farms along the canal. Emmeloord, although new, has been created to incorporate a distinct Dutch look and feel. There was a global potato convention on the go. Noordoostpolder is THE potato growing region. The VVV gave us a leaflet with a list of all the must-do’s. You can climb the clock tower above the VVV and get a panoramic view of the city for around €3. We did a day stop, wandered around Emmelooord, had lunch

Market in Emmeloord

and a coffee at HEMA, and got going again to spend the evening in Urk.

As an aspirant vegan I really don’t like murdering insects, but the waterways are breeding grounds for all sorts of things that find their way onto a boat. I had to keep our bin far out on the deck so flies wouldn’t come in. We kept the door closed after sunset and put up screens on the ports and hatches to keep mosquitoes out. Overnight, spiders would weave webs on our boat. Every morning boat owners, mostly men, wash and sweep their boats with buckets of water from the canals to

Traditional Dutch boat

remove spider webs and dust. It’s a morning ritual. My other half would cringe with shame. He had to take it easy with his back and vigorous bends were prohibited.

After tying up in Urk, we headed to the local cafe/pub for a sun downer Afflingem TRIPLE beer. We not sure what the difference is between a single, double and triple beer. Lighter to darker or weaker to stronger? No idea, but triples always taste better and we like to think we’re getting more of whatever it is.

Urk is at pains to preserve it’s history as a fishing island. It

Beach at Urk

was included into the Noordoostpolder during land reclamation and is now part of the mainland. What to do? On a good day you can join the masses on the white sandy beach, have a drink or a bite the harbour side cafes or take in the museum showcasing traditional fishing and clothing.

 We originally only planned one night in Urk,

Lighthouse in Urk

but ended up spending two nights. The tourist guide says you can visit the 18 m high lighthouse built in 1844. We found a PRIVE sign on the front door so it’s clearly a domestic dwelling. Also visit Bethel Kerk (Church) and Church at the Sea. Neither were open when we went past.

What was poignant – was the Fisherman Memorial. Next to a statue of a local woman are the names of people who never came home. Some as young as 8 years old and as recent as 2010. Just wandering the streets is a fabulous way to see the preserved fishing houses of old. And the new – old  – homes.

Read the final part of this journey on – this link.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Barging through the Netherlands – Part 15

Barging through the Netherlands – Part 15

Read this travel blog from the start on – this link.

Stowing our kitchenware before heading to the IJsselmeer

Or start here.

We took a stroll and looked at a few private marinas. Some of them have gyms, saunas, luxurious bathrooms with unlimited hot water, high speed Internet, cafes and bars right on your boat doorstep. You pay more for all that. We desperately needed to do some washing so we decided on the first marina as it had a washing machine and Internet.But first we had to get there.

Greenie in gale force winds

We snuck onto the edge of the IJsselmeer via Lemstersluis. It’s incredible, the minute you move off the inland waterways into wide water and closer to the sea, the weather conditions change. We made sure to check the forecast first. Although the IJsslemeer is now a lake, it was once the Zuider Zee. The water can get quite rough. Our boat was rolling back and forth as force four winds blew behind us with wave heights of 1.2 metres.

I had hoped we would spend more time on the IJsselmeer but my other half wasn’t willing to chance it. We made sure to stow our glassware and breakables safely before we got going.

At the new marina a couple crashed their hired yacht into the posts of their mooring. They were quite obviously inexperienced. The wind was dragging and spinning their boat and they had no idea what to do. The harbour master

Trying to dry our clothing

came and guided them alongside. They made at least 5 or 6 attempts while my husband and the harbour master held their boat ropes and eased their boat in. No wonder boat hire companies require such hefty deposits!

We got going with the first of three loads of washing only to discover the marina had no dryer! And no washing powder. That was a

Greenie after slamming finger in hatch

first. It was too late to move. We walked to Lemmer beach to kill time. And then the rain came down. It rained and rained and rained. We had to make washing lines at the back and inside the boat. There was washing all over the place. We were ducking to move around our boat.

The view from a cafe in Lemmer

We don’t shave or wash our hair on the boat as it has a micro fine filter that clogs easily. If the filter blocks up then our shower water can’t drain. The filter is probably there because the boat pumps water out as opposed to water draining.

Sunset en route to Emmeloord

So we have use a marina shower every other day. Anyone who thinks boating is glamorous is either an oligarch or good friends with the likes of Bill Gates et al. Ordinary, everyday boating is not always comfortable.

I was feeling a right mess. My hair was due for a wash, my hands were rough and dry from rope work, my front tooth had chipped, my finger nail was blue from slamming it in a hatch, my clothes were creased or wet, I had bruises on my legs and I looked like I had measles from mosquito bites ALL OVER my body. Plus, I reeked of garlic from munching whole cloves at every meal to deter the

Catching up with Internet in Lemmer

mozzies from devouring me.

The last time I wore smart clothes and make-up was a while back. On the boat I live in tracksuit bottoms, T-Shirts, a windbreaker, a peak hat and light soled slip-on canvas shoes. The closest I get to grooming is brushing my teeth and putting on sunscreen. Our boat is big compared to others but the portholes are small and lighting is poor. And there really is no space. It’s not uncommon to see people brushing their teeth on the back of their boat, rinsing from a bottle of water and spitting overboard.

My husband cooked a vegan cauliflower cheeze with soy mince in a yummy tomato gravy. And he got the heating going on our boat. We spent the evening relaxing, paying bills and catching up with communications while we had Internet.

More on this trip – on this link.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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