Arrival in Amsterdam Sixhaven and the sun pops out on occasion but our second day is just 16 degrees. In early August. As soon as a cloud blocks the sun you need another layer with the cold air mass and northwesterly air flow. And some of these clouds are dark grey so we don raingear to explore the city. (La Skippette doesn’t particularly like me taking photos of her in her yellow smock so enjoy my new game “Spot La Skippette!” below).
Amsterdam’s compact centre lends itself well to exploring on foot. Jordaan, canals, Dam, Nieuwmarkt and aimless ambling ensued. No museums and no canal cruise, although we thought twice about zooming across the IJ in our tender to explore the city centre canals – the temptation of a Caribbean tender and outboard! Restaurants having satisfied, tramming replaced tramping as we returned to the marina to focus on admin for the end of our trip – the not inconsiderable challenge of recovering the children from Marseille and the car from Port Solent, getting back to work on time for Monday, and visiting various very important friends and family on the way back from the south of France.
Our last day of sailing started miserably with grey skies and rain – we had an exaggeratedly leisurely breakfast waiting for the rain to abate and eventually left Sixhaven at 0900, arriving at Oranjesluizen with a hefty 20 knot wind and a long wait forced a decision to tie up to the waiting pontoon. A big stern spring pivot later to get the bow off the pontoon and we were through the lock and then it was another wait for the bridge, the Schelingwouderbrug – in this instance we elected to remain nose into the 20 knot wind until the lights finally went red-green (prepare to leave) and then green (go-go-go).
From here it’s straight out into the Ijsselmeer, Holland’s major inland sea and up via Enkhuizen for our final lock before the home straight to Makkum. Rain and wind. Most of the time heavy rain and strong winds. Dead downwind for three quarters of the trip so it was genoa / staysail motor-sailing all the way.
(It’s not a spelling mistake – IJ is a Dutch digraph – consider it a letter in itself – used to represent a long ‘i’, or a ‘y’ sound).
The Dutch don’t let a strong wind or heavy shower impede their sailing plans – and the number of flat-bottomed barges (platbodems / zeiltjalks – literally flat bottoms / sail barges respectively) out was impressive indeed. Almost more of them, with their leeboards, wooden masts and gaff rigs, than the plaisanciers.
We arrived in Makkum, the gateway to the Zuiderzee, our end destination in Friesland, just after 6pm local time and Skipper celebrated with a beer notable for its remembrance of WWI valour.
The following morning we checked in with KMY, the boatyard who’ll be giving Khujada some TLC in the next couple of months, and spent most of the rest of the day emptying all the lockers, removing enough weight to leave us an inch or two higher in the water (no, really!). We ran out of energy and room in the storage boxes by late afternoon so left to explore Makkum in the evening.
A dozen of these impressive barges lay alongside the pier we walked down on the way into town – they locals are very proud of keeping these going, a real labour of love. The evening market was small town, in keeping with its onetime fishing village past, the highlight being a sheep-shearing demonstration. But it’s the town itself that’s the real attraction, retaining its 17th century layout along with a number of buildings, whether the church or the merchant houses near the locks, appearing little changed from its heyday.
An early return to the boat presaged a 0430 taxi to Schiphol and the end of our trip.
Yes it’s our first day in a new country, Holland – not to mention surviving last night’s thunderstorm – so celebrating is in order.
Cruise ships can make it all the way down the IJ into Amsterdam’s town centre itself – no bridges downstream (or rather “down canal”?), just tunnels or ferries for foot, road and cycle traffic, so even the cruise passengers haven’t far to walk.
Spot La Skippette!
Sixhaven – unsurprisingly busy in its amazingly central location – would be like having a marina on the Embankment or Les Tuileries – and yes, I know Manhattan has North Cove Marina and we will sail into New York one day – offers only tight manoeuvring, and the harbour master’s primary role is to squeeze as many vessels as possible into the harbour, as friends of ours on Vagaris found out – yet it’s still an oasis of calm within a canal’s width of the town centre.
No, it’s not a gopro fisheye effect, the buildings are just making the most of the ground space. Leaning terraces of Amsterdam.
Downtown. VERY public urinal. Bike parks. Canal fronts. Nieuwmarkt. Ripley’s. Dam Square.
Which is the greater attraction, the Rijks Paleis, the Nieuwe Kerk? The horse, of course.
Anne Frank’s house remains Amsterdam’s big attraction.
The busy Oranjesluizen and Schelingwouderbrug, then on into Ijsselmeer.
Getting wet downwind.
I meant it when I said there was almost more flat boats than modern cruisers.
Through the Enkhuizen naviduct to get past the Houtribdijk dam, from the Markermeer into the Ijsselmeer.
Arriving in Makkum. Still raining.
A beer of remembrance
Worldly goods packed away in boxes for storage.