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Dutch Holiday on Sabine

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Well, here we are at last onboard the Stena Hollandia, enjoying the first glass of the day! An easy journey down of 1.30 hrs and then nearly straight onboard (early).

It's been a long day, mainly waiting for the next thing to happen. I had an early morning journey to the barbers at 08.30 to start the morning.

Later in the morning it was time to pack..... I can't believe just how much we needed to take. Duvets and pillows because they only supply sheets and blankets, in this weather that would be far too hot!

Towels, two large and two small, take up a bit of room. Oilies and lifejackets (we prefer our own) take up more. Enough electrical gear to keep me happy including VHF & charger, iPod dock & charger, cameras & chargers, the list goes on!

Library books (11) we do like to read, small 230V fan. it's hot at night over there, cool box, full, my (small) bag of gear, Mary-Jane's (large) bag of gear, laptop, car stuff (first-aid, warning triangle, spare bulb set, headlamp beam adjusters, dressing-gowns..... I could go on!

Now it's time for another glass, then bed... 05.30 wake-up tannoy tomorrow.

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You should try one Fred, and if you dont fancy negociating the locks, you could do the waterways by hotel barge, a lazy way of cruising Holland and exploring many of the small towns and villages from the waterways.

I hope John that you and Mary Jane have a lovely holiday, and congratulations on reaching your special wedding aniversary, and hopefully many more to come,

Julz & Bill

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WOW! Wifi at last! Here's our first report:


We exited Hollandica at 08.30 local time after a pretty patchy night’s sleep…. The bunks are comfortable enough but we seldom seem to get sufficient time in them as reveille is at 05.30 our time. Our destination, Warten is 138 miles to the north of Hoek van Holland, just SW of Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland, and we weren’t due to pick up the boat until 14.00; so it was a steady 60mph cruise up there.


We stopped off in Lemmer to visit a “hole-in-the-wall” for Euros… I admit that I was apprehensive as to whether our bank had cleared our card for foreign travel (they said they had, but…). No problems and we’re in good financial shape! Next a stop at the garage and I was pleased to pay £1.20 a litre for our diesel.


Our arrival at the boatyard in Warten, at 11.15, was greeted warmly and personally by Anna and Sytze Heegstra, the owners. It is only a small yard and you can look it over at www.yachtcharterheegstra.nl




Sabine was still being prepped so we drove into Leeuwarden for supplies. We found an Aldi with the satnav’s help and spent a very untypical early Saturday afternoon shopping! It was a pleasant surprise to by a nice Cape Sauvignon Blanc at about £3 a bottle! HIC! So we bought quite a few….


At 14.00 Sytze came onboard to explain Sabine’s technical details. His English is better than my Dutch but that’s not saying much and a complete novice to boating might possibly have been confused! The Dutch just do things completely differently to us. They have a word (which I can’t even spell, let alone pronounce) which translated means “It’s the law but we don’t take much notice of it”… this seems to spill over into a rather relaxed attitude to most things! For example, in our e-mails with Anna, I had mentioned that we have a boat, and Sytze just waved away my mention of a short river trip together. “You have boat, no problems!”.


Sabine has 28V electrical system and the sockets for accessories look (and are) exactly the same as 12V ones we know. So beware! Plugging in a 12V charger for say, your i-phone or tablet, could have disastrous results! This wasn’t mentioned but I noticed that the battery meter was a 24V one and that the two inverters supplied were indeed 24/230V ones.


She doesn’t have television (we wouldn’t understand much if she did), the radio is an FM one, entirely in Dutch and wifi is not a usual commodity in rural Friesland! Hence why I’m so tardy with these blogs (and very pleased we brought all those library books)!


By 16.00 we had all our gear stowed away and the sun was shining but we had decided to spend a few hours planning our route for the next three weeks before setting of tomorrow. So, with a glass of by now chilled wine, we sat down to do just that. Friesland is big; there are literally so many rivers, lakes and canals that you just can’t do them all. Not even in three weeks!



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Anna brought us a roses posy to wish us a good journey!





Sunday morning and the wind had completely died down but the sky was black and menacing. Not to worry, a slow breakfast with many cuppas and we were ready to start.


Warten has a municipal brug! (Dutch for bridge). If you can call a community of a few score of houses a municipality! And they charge to open, with a village lady manning the brug 09-12, 13-16 and 17-20hrs. She opens as soon as she sees you or you hoot 3 times… then, as you slowly cruise by, she hangs an old wooden clog out on a fishing rod and you put your money in! Let’s hope BR don’t think of this! (Except for opening whenever you arrive!).


Soon the clouds disappear and the sun comes out…. Then it’s on to the Princess Margaret Canal with a 10kph (6mph) speed limit, 1100rpm on Sabine’s 75hp engine and hey, ho! Our first vessel we saw was a large Dutch Barge, Tonga, which followed us for a few kilometres before deciding to overtake…….. Some wash, and the engineer was painting as they passed us by!










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Wherever you go in Friesland there is no tide, unless you lock out into the Waddensee or the North Sea. All the hundreds and hundreds of moorings are fixed and the same height above water which makes mooring that much easier! (On Sabine there is about a one foot step-down everywhere we have been so far). And there are so many of them, everywhere, mostly all free to us as we have the yellow flag at the masthead. This signifies that Sytze Heegstra has paid for the use of all these moorings in Friesland. Around the many lakes are small islands, also with moorings, and we saw many boats tied up with fishing rods in abundance being used.


Mostly the boats are steel and similar in style to Sabine, although she is now quite an old lady! When I asked Sytze about pump-outs he just shrugged and said that she was an old boat and so didn’t have to comply with new regulations…. I refer back to my comment on that useful Dutch word which I must look up and write down here!


The Dutch are all so friendly and their boats are mostly family crewed; so far we haven’t seen a single lads or gals party pass by. They are actually strict about drinking and driving, whether it be a car or a boat and we haven’t seen a single canny being waved about! There seem to be very few hire-boats about although it’s difficult to tell as they don’t have a registration system such as the BA impose on us at home. And there are certainly very few “Engels” about! (As we are known over here).


On a note, some may think that 75bhp is a lot for a 10.3 metre boat but as she is steel she must weigh a heck of a lot and she takes a lot of stopping even with half-throttle reverse power. She has a rudder-position indicator on the upper helm and is quite twitchy on the steering compared with our Alpha. With full lock, about two turns from neutral, she will spin round in not much more than her own length; very useful on the two occasions so far we’ve needed to turn around. She has a bow-thruster but with her small turning circle we’ve not really needed it too much.


Back to our travels yesterday and we passed several barges carrying all sorts of heavy materials. They certainly load them to the Plimsoll Line over here!







This part of Friesland has a look of The Broads, except there are so many moorings everywhere you go!







Sabine has three different air-heights: Mast and stern ensign up it’s 3.80m; both down and it’s 2.50m; with the spray-screen and forward burgee down it’s 2.30m. In the pics below you can see her with all down except the forward burgee to get under the 2.40m bridge before we arrived at Kollum for our first night’s stop. And I’d made a mistake about bridge heights on the charts, they’re in decimetres! At this last bridge there was a height gauge quite unlike anything we have over her and very accurate, I’m pleased to say! I was so busy concentrating on getting her lined up and then kneeling down on the upper deck that I quite forgot to take a pic of it.






Kollum is a small town but with a host of supermarkets between the marina and the centre. (All closed on a Sunday). There is only one marina and here we are tied up for the night:




Mary-Jane and I had a leisurely tea with the odd glass of rose for her and white for me. She then decided to have a quiet evening reading and I went for a walk into town…..            To find just one bar open, appropriately named the Paradise Bar! I asked for a beer in Dutch and was heard by a party of three locals who were all Anglophiles but had never heard an Englishman speak Dutch before!  After they had insisted I talk to them in my version of Dutch for a few minutes we soon got the conversation onto beer and football.  They had all visited the UK on several occasions, mostly Liverpool and Glasgow. One of them, Bert, is the owner of Nijmegen FC and had just been over to Scotland to buy Motherwell’s centre-forward! My knowledge of English and European football was put to good use but I had to struggle to keep up with the bottles of Heineken which kept arriving in front of me…. My attempt at the one joke I know in Dutch was greeted with hilarity by my three new chums and I had to re-tell it to the rest of the bar on their demand. A good evening was had by all!

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Not really, Fred, although if they do overtake you it takes a fair bit of helm movement to keep in a straightish sort of line. The rivers/canals they use are wide enough for you to keep well out of their way!  :naughty:


But then we spent 25 years or so across here in previous boats we owned (none over 30ft). Now, in the sea-locks with a 25,000 tonnes sea going barge, or a Cruise Ship, that's a different matter!   :wave

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Hello John & Mary-Jane,

A great story.

The pictures are good and I especially liked the one of the barge with the car on its roof and the barge that seemed to be almost sinking.

What are the length and width of the locks, are they similar in size to the locks on the Caledonian Canal.

It would seem that you had fun in the bar, I hope your new found friends got you back to the right boat in safety.



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Alan, Hi. They certainly do look like that, don't they? Here's another for you:




The small locks within Holland are about the size of the Caledonian ones but the sea-going ones are enormous affairs. Usually there's a small lock alongside for pleasure craft but if a 50,000 ton cruise ship is going through the lock when you want to then you'll be told to accompany it! (That would be about 100,000 GRT).


My new found friends were only interested in continuing their drinking, Alan! It's a late night society over here.  cheersbar








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Here’s a map of Friesland to give you an idea of the vast cruising area we’ve undertaken (From Dokkum to Lemmer is over 30 miles)




The next morning, yesterday, I nipped over to the shop for some fresh milk and yoghurt and we set off for Dokkum at 10.15 under an increasingly threatening cloudy and windy day. I started off helming on the upper deck but it soon became too cold, even for me, and I joined Mary-Jane in the cabin/wheelhouse.


We gurgled along the river back to the Dokkumer Djip (literally the Dokkum Deep) at the regulation 6kph and back under the low bridge. Then we cruised via two bascule bridges and the Dokkumer Groter Djip (Greater or bigger) to Dokkum. Our Dutch-English dictionary helps but you can pick up quite a lot from their words.


When we arrived in Dokkum at 12.30 we were able to moor in the appropriately named “Admiral Haven”! The first time we had moored when not helming from the upper deck and it was quite simple because you can see the entire port side through the windows and open portside door.





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Thanks, Mark, I'll try. At the moment I'm on the Beleef  Dokkum (Dokkum Civic) network which covers the whole of the town FOC!


I believe a politician a few years ago promised us that in the UK?   :naughty:  :naughty:  :naughty:


This lunchtime Mary-Jane and I took a leisurely walk around town; it really is another lovely place. Here's another pic of the riverside moorings just on the other side of the island. (We're on the town-side).




On the way back to Sabine we called in to the oldest hotel in town, built in1673, and I had a pint of Dorval... only I didn't notice it was 8.5% until I had started it! (Hic!).




It's a beautiful calm evening here and the Town Hall clock is just striking 8 o'clock... nearly time to go out for a while and find a new pub to visit!   I'll continue after we get to Leeuwarden tomorrow.  cheersbar



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And here's one just behind where I took that other pic from, Alan. I would think it's a twin.




I really must post a compliment to Jonzo. The new system you have brought in for uploading pics is really spot-on! I hadn't really appreciated it at home but it makes life so much easier when you are on short-term Wi-Fi nets at others beck and call.  :clap  :clap  :clap

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It was only a short walk around tonight but I did get to visit the windmill Alan mentioned, which was working.




As you get closer you can see a person's head above the balcony (by the lower window) and a man on the left hand end of the balcony which gives you some idea of just how big it is. The sails were whirling around and seemed very close to the balcony!




I left the river behind and walked into the old town where I found this stirring sight (for Howard et al):






The locals were enjoying a darts match and I soon found some to talk to They all knew far more about the English professional darts players than I do but I did remember the Dutch Champions name, "Barney" which met with their approval!



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Dokkum is a lovely little town, very typically Dutch, which we wandered around between the showers. It cost us E7,30/night for the boat and E1.00 each for 'tourist tax'. The 'Haven Meister' here was a very pretty young Dutch girl who again spoke perfect English, although she'd never been over to the UK! I can't help but keep saying how very friendly the Dutch are. Over the years we have taught ourselves a few stock phrases in Dutch and these are much appreciated as no-one (except the Dutch) seem to make any effort to speak to them in their own language.


We left Dokkum yesterday morning for the short (distance) trip to Leeuwarden, the capital of Friesland. However the six bascule bridges between, although relatively attentive to river traffic, do slow you down. I guess it's all relative when I think back to Somerleyton! :naughty:  :naughty:


Leaving Dokkum I hadn't noticed that there was a notice on the bridge ahead which said that the transit fee was E3.50... I was in the cabin and only the sight of the dangled clog by the 'Brug Meister' (which is only accessible from outside) triggered my response!  :shocked  :shocked


I grabbed a handful of Euros and jumped up the gangway to the upper helm deck and attempted to slow us down to pay the money. Fortunately, this time, I had remembered to pull the wheelhouse throttle back to neutral; otherwise the upper deck one doesn't work...... Is that how dual controls work at home, I wonder? I did mange not to hit either side of the bridge (just) but they are quite narrow; it was blowing a bit and I had to leave the helm to grab the clog and put the money in.


You find a double red when you approach the bridges and again hoot three times. (I guess we never did wait for much more than five minutes). Then the lights change to green/red and finally green/green. They like you to be passing just as they change to green/green.





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