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.
Our second night in Zwolle was a whole lot better than the first. The sun came out and we went walk-about. Zwolle is quite a big place. The old city is an island completely surrounded by a canal or moat. It’s definitely worth a day or three depending on your time budget. If you pop into the Stedelijk Museum – click here for more – which is also the Tourism Office, they will give you a complimentary map of the old city so you can locate the special places. We did a shop-up at G and W Gesondheidzwinkel (a Dutch health shop chain), Waanders in de Broeren (map, post card, souvenir and book store) and at Huisman – a boat supply store near the marina.
Shangri La covered up
Overnight we heard a commotion which went on until the early hours. The next day, the old town had been completely transformed. A mobile amusement park had set up and the town was overwhelmed by dodgem car rides, roller coasters, stalls where you can win ‘prizes’ and God alone knows what else! You hardly had place to walk as all the spare space had been filled. And by late morning the peace and quiet was gone. Boom boom music, flashing lights, squeals and screams and
Fireworks in Zwolle
heaving motors permeated the area.
We escaped by taking a walk to Korendijk Watersport shop which is hell and gone, in an industrial area, to look for boat supplies. A new VHF radio, fly screens, light bulbs and rain repellent for the windscreen. The owners of Koerndijk were surprised we walked there and suggested we walk back along the canal. Great idea and a lovely walk next to boat and water houses on the banks of the canal.
Wi-fi at the marina was courtesy of the local hotel, but, you had to pop in for coffee or a drink to get signal.
Entrance to Shangri La
Which we did. Clearly the locals were also fed up with the racket from the fun fair. Our waitress had to lean in close, and we had to scream to get our order in. Next to the cafe, a dragon ride was going round and round shouting – Yabba Dabba Doo! After catching up on communication we did a bit of people watching, then headed home for a vegan burger which my husband made before we left.
The marina at Zwolle was OK. The water and power were coin operated and metered. Their ablution facilities looked like a portable add-on arrangement. A bit like a ship container box. We certainly have had better marinas, but what we liked was the proximity to the city. We were right next to the shops and eateries. A bit too close if they happen to have a festival in town. All was forgiven when they staged a spectacular fireworks display on the banks opposite our boat later that evening. We got to prepare our boat for a possible fire. Not so easy on a boat that was still strange to us.
Shangri La cellar storage
Each boat is different. Apart from different makes, there’s a lot going on. My husband says a boat is like a mini city. It has generators, banks of batteries, inverters, water supplies, hot water systems, central heating, navigation, electronics, engines, bow-thrusters, and so on. Over the years new things are added and figuring out what and how it all works and fits together is a challenge. Thank God my husband knows a fair amount and cares enough to want to manage as much as he can on his own. I realise I will have to learn how to turn on the various functions and what not to do as some point. For now, I’m letting him do it all.
What we like about our new boat is our generator gets the
Zwolle invaded by fun fair
shower water piping hot in 15 minutes flat, that our water and fuel supply is more than adequate (750 litres each). There is plenty storage space – even a wine cellar in the hull! We love the nautical touches, brass lamps, wooden decking, a clock that chimes the bells of a watch on a ship and brass hooks everywhere – they all get used.
What we thought we wouldn’t like is – the electric hob, but we are realising that electric cooking is going to be a lot easier than gas. We thought we would get a dinghy and bicycles but we’re not so sure anymore. My husband was nervous about how the boat would handle and whether the bow-thruster had enough oomph but he’s more than happy with all that.
Zwolle before it was invaded
However, we knew that the curtains, upholstery and some of the navigation equipment will ultimately have to be replaced. And the shower door leaks. And the loo doesn’t always properly fill with water. But then boats and toilets are always a problem. Nautical people will understand. Besides it’s always better to use shore ablution facilities as they pump sewerage away. And we keep bumping out heads when we walk into the galley.
We’ll get there.