Saturday, 3 March 2018


We will no longer be using Iridium Go and therefore tracking services will cease. I will however update our position on the map and produce an icon showing our latest anchorage position. The link to Vessel Finder below will also be pretty accurate. 

Sunday, 11 June 2017


Farewell Holland. 

Alas we must say farewell to The Netherlands and move more rapidly north towards the Baltic. We have enjoyed Holland immensely and have tarried a little too long . We had to get some diesel as we were leaving Makkum and a kind local yachtswoman used her card in exchange for Euros because our Australian cards are more often than not, unacceptable. Just a banking bureaucracy idiosyncrasy here in Holland. We were very grateful for the assistance and have found the Dutch to be extremely helpful and friendly throughout.
Kornwerderzand Lock
From Makkum there is just one final Lock to be negotiated before we bathe Taipan in salt water again. The Kornwerderzand Lock was hell busy. There seem to be endless long weekends here and everyone is out in their boat. We entered the lock with a great flotilla of yachts and small power boats and the usual jostling and positioning ensued. We are getting better at this and didn't make such fools of ourselves this time. The boats around us were very interested in our travels and a pleasant quarter hour was filled in chatting in the sunshine as the water did its up-down thing.  Out of the lock and after a pleasant 36nm sail along a somewhat tortuous route between sand banks, in a well marked but busy channel we dropped the anchor in Vlieland. 

Vlieland is just one of the many islands forming a 150 nm buffer to the Dutch and German north Coasts. There are extensive shallow sand banks between them and the coast, and it is a popular recreational boating area. Marinas are packed on weekends and this weekend was no exception.

The next leg to Helgoland, a tiny speck in the German Bight, was 140nm. The long hours of light enabled us to sail the route in in Daylight. Arriving in Helgoland at 10pm to find a huge fleet of predominantly German yachts, rafted up as many as 10 deep in the small harbour.  The Bi Annual Race from Hamburg having just been run. Being a long weekend, racing was to be  conducted all weekend and getting in and out of the packages (big rafts of yachts) was conducted like a military manoeuvre and  boats came and went. 
Helgoland. Isolated island in the German Bight.

The forecast came in and it was not looking good. Gales forecast for the next 4 days. We either leave the same day or stuck for 4 days. A hurried trip to a fantastic provider ashore for a boat load of duty free was necessary before we could leave. The provider delivered to the boat which was a bonus and did encourage a bit of an overspend but once again fully provisioned we headed back to sea for another 65nm run to Cruxhaven, a German port on the mouth of the Elb River. The big race from Helgoland to Edinburgh was starting as we left and Taipan was piped out of the harbour to the dulcet tones of Scottish bagpipes. Not enough wind to sail meant we had to use some of the new duty free diesel to make the marina before nightfall.

Cruxhaven Marina was basic and fairly expensive but we did stop and made an early getaway in the morning to make the Kiel Canal Lock before it became crowded. The lock was a fiasco because we were unprepared for the fact that one had to disembark to tie to a floating pontoon inside. The first of this type of locking arrangement. After some much appreciated help from the crew on a returning race boat we secured to the pontoon and waited. The water rose a mere half meter or so and then it was all over and we headed north in the Canal in a flotilla of yachts all going the only way possible.
Playing with the big kids in the Kiel Canal.

Rendsburg was our next stop. Tying alongside a jetty at the City Marina we were hardly secured before we were visited by a very grumpy harbour mistress telling us the jetty was reserved for boat 15m and above. Having politely informed her that we were 15M we were moved up the jetty a little way and allowed to stay. The alternative was between poles, bow too, on a low jetty. The width of the poles aft was scarily narrow and the jump from the bow to the dock formidable. Lucky we scraped in length wise. Well it rained cats n dogs for the next 2 days. We did eventually venture out to the supermarket for a fairly major provisioning run, given that we had been warned that everything in Sweden, Denmark and Norway is poisonously expensive. 

Rendsburg Marina.

The gloom became less wet and we'd had enough of Rendsburg so we dragged ourselves out into the Canal again after two nights on the  dock, for the final onslaught to Kiel. Forewarned is forearmed so to speak so we were not caught unawares at the final lock. Neatly docked like true professionals, we even avoided the Canal Fee because the lock ladder, up which one has to go to pay, was broken, and we were informed we could transit for  free! Bonus.! To be fair Rendsburg was probably a nice town. We just didn't see it in the best light. We were told it was lovely by several people and the restaurant at the marina was indeed excellent, friendly and reasonably priced.

Arrived in Leboe  Baltic Bay Marina. In the Baltic at last
Emerging into the Baltic at last as the weather fined up and we made our way to Leboe on the north eastern shore of the Kieler Fiord, leaving Kiel to the south. We had made arrangements to have some service done in the Baltic Bay Marina so we spent the next two days there. The workers never really materialised. One excellent technician did come and help put the finishing touches to the Webasto heating system. Just an air lock we couldn't budge. The Yanmar mechanic didn't show and neither did the Electrician. We have been without our Genset for over a year now since having an oil seal replaced in the Bahamas. It has never produced any power since. We have not found anyone yet to tell us why. Frustrating.

Weekend is here and no mechanics so we are gone. Goodbye Germany and hello Denmark. A brilliant sail north west to an anchorage just south of Sonderberg for the night and into Sonderberg in the morning for a days exploration.  On route to Sonderborg we watched a Coast Guard Vessel shadowing us for several hours. We waited for them to pounce and they did, just as we crossed the Danish Border. They were of course extremely professional and courteous and after an inspection of our passports to make sure we have not overstayed our Schengen Visa they departed.  
We are now in Denmark.

Friday, 2 June 2017


And another one of Amsterdam
Traditional Dutch Shallow Draft Fishing Boat.
Amsterdam was a fantastic stopover and one never tires of the beautiful canals and striking architecture both old and modern here in the Netherlands. We had some awesome weather and some not so awesome weather but no trouble finding places to see to keep busy. It is gradually warming up as summer approaches. Getting out of Amsterdam and into the Markemeer is a doddle. The water traffic was daunting to look at on the AIS before we left Amsterdam Marina but the reality was pretty straight forward. Lots of ferries crossing our path but traffic all flowed in an orderly way. Leaving the City behind, you quite quickly arrive at the huge lock which provides access to the Markermeer, the first of the 2 great man made lakes.

The lakes.
It being a long weekend, the lakes were crowded with vessels. The dutch have used shallow draft wide beam fishing vessels on the Zudersee long before the lakes were formed. Large areas of the vast sandy bay dried out and these boats readily take the ground, remaining upright. They have long retractable keels, or lee boards, attached either side of the hull for use underway but these retract should the vessel ground. Today many are in use as charter vessels ranging in size from just 7 or so meters up to 50 meters. They also remain a popular boat for families.
Herring smoking.

Enkhuizen, our destination, is a small harbor town of the VOC  from whence trade was conducted with the East Indies. It received city rites in  1355 and was once one of the most important harbor cities in the Netherlands. Sited on the shores of the IJsselmeer, a shallow 1100sq km artificial fresh water lake fed principally by rivers. It was created in 1932 when major hydraulic engineering works closed it from the sea with a dam wall.  It has further been cut in half with another great dam wall crossing it forming the Markermeer through which we sailed to  come north to Enkhuizen from Amsterdam.
Museum. Enkhuizen,
The fantastic Zuiderzee outdoor museum was an entertaining and informative outing on the first afternoon in Enkhuizen. The Museum seeks to recreate a village on the shores of the lake with all the styles of houses and stores of the old seaside communities now lost to the new fresh water lake system. Whole industries have folded and new ones have replaced them. Fishing is the obvious example. We sampled fresh smoked herring and explored the old warehouses, houses and recreated shops. Eel are prolific in the fresh waterways and special nets are deployed to catch them. We didn't try eel yet.
Store reconstruction. Enkhouizen.
Informative plaques give good details of the history of the buildings and of their inhabitants. Many of the interiors are reconstructed also with tools and utensils, furnishings and equipment. The buildings were deconstructed and relocated here from many places throughout the Zuiderzee, a supreme effort in engineering and ingenuity.  Its a really remarkable museum requiring almost a whole day to do it  justice.

Limekilns in the Museum

Enkhuizen was once fortified from the land by walls and  a moat. We took the opportunity to ride bikes around the outer wall taking in the lovely rural landscape outside the town.
Catching up with our friends Evert and Jenny on Moby Dick and some old friends whom we met crossing the Atlantic. Ron and Joce Lub off De Verleiding was another bit of fun.
Just one of hundreds of charter boats

Summer is upon us this week so armed with 20 lt of anti-foul from Ron and Joces’ Watersport in Enkhuizen we headed to Stavoren for a scheduled haul out on Tuesday. 

Upon arrival we
See the lee board.
were told there was a problem and we could maybe haul out on Friday but not certain. Monday more likely!. Very darn!! Schengen clock is ticking!! Well we chose to head to Lelystad as we were told they could lift us first thing Friday. 

Back  we went across the  IJsselmeer and through another big lock into the Markermeer again and then a short run to a canal lock and the yard. Well this lock had us in for a surprise! The water went down and down and even further down!! About 6 meters below the Markermeer level and out we flushed! It wasn't far to the yard but once again we were disappointed because the yard needed us to remove back stay and or fore stay…. sigh!! Language difficulty. So we set off back up the lock to the lake and decided to spend the afternoon in the Batavia Museum.
Batavia reproduction. Without top masts. Stavoren. Nl.

A replica of the Batavia, one of the VOC (Dutch East India Company) ships built in 1628, was built here 32 years ago and was sailed for many years. The original Batavia, as we West Australians well know, was wrecked on its maiden voyage on the Houtman Abrolhos Islands and a terrible story of mutiny, murder and heroic rescue ensued. Lelystads Batavia replica is now a, display only, because cost of maintenance and safety issues make it impractical to take out. Nevertheless it is an impressive vessel and we spent several hours in the museum.

Crouching Man Sculpture by Anthony Gormley
Poised gazing over our anchorage was a monumental metal framed sculpture dubbed by the dutch, Shitting Man, but it is an impressive addition to an otherwise flat landscape. More on Anthony Gormleys Crouching Man.
Another haul-out has been organized for us by our good friend Evert. This time we head to Makkum north east on the IJsselmeer. On our way to Makkum we stopped again in Stavoren on the free dock right near the town lock. It is free for a mazimum of 8 days. Not many such free facilities around the Netherlands. Stavoren was basking in a 29deg day and the town was alive with tourists. The annual Vinage Car and MotorBike Club was conducting a 200km Rally passing throug Stavoren with over 400 vehicles. What a spectacle. 

Stavoren on a busy summer long weekend.

A night on the town dock and then into the canal to Seabell. Rob Kloppers the manager, couldn't be more helpful and we hauled without incident. Safely on the hard work commenced once again. How many times have we anti fouled this boat???
Walker Bay Genesis 310 RIB

Just a day and it was all over bar the trims. During the interim we took the dingy across the road to have one of the tubes patched. Its our 15 year old Australian made Swift Hypalon 310 Aluminium RIB. Its performed brilliantly for us and we have no complaints but it was definitely showing signs of its age. Well Kenny, the manager of Zuidwaard Watersport Makkum had a secondhand Walker Bay  Genesis Hypalon 310 RIB 2009 in the shop and promptly offered it to us. After some consideration we decided to take it. Its a little heavier than the Aluminium RIB being Polypropylene but we hope we can manage.

Back to the water for some more adventures.
With Taipan afloat again we are eager to set off north to the Baltic. Farewell Holland and thank you for the fine friends we have made here and the wonderful experience.
For more photos of this leg of the journey.

Friday, 19 May 2017


Farewell Rotterdam.
On Friday evening before leaving Rotterdam were joined by friends to dine aboard and rehash old times. On  a misty Saturday morning we departed Veerhaven Marina and passed once more under the Erasmus Bridge eastward towards Gouda.  Heavy Barge Traffic disappeared soon after we left the main river and we meandered up the canal to Gouda through a couple of locks / flood barriers. 

A giant flood barrier.

The Dutch have a great fear of flooding from the east. Its not the sea they fear but great rivers emptying towards the sea and passing through the Netherlands from central Europe. There are very expensive and sophisticated barriers in place to prevent the catastrophe it would be if the water spilled over the canals. We are almost always sailing higher than the surrounding farmlands and villages. Parts of Holland are 14 meters below sea level.

Gouda Marina is a little shallow for Taipan so we pushed mud for about 50 meters to get alongside a 1890 tugboat and tie up for the night. Late in the afternoon we wandered into Town Centre where the busy Sunday market was just packing up. Gouda was first mentioned  in 1139 in a deed, by the Bishop of Utrecht. 

Town Hall Gouda

The imposing Town hall was constructed in 1448 on what was then a peat bog and market square after its predecessor was burnt to the ground. Gouda has seen its share of suffering with the plague in 1673 wiping out 20% of the population and the executions and exportation of citizens both Christian and Jewish during WW2. The fabulous Sint Janskerk  dating back to the 1280 and destroyed several times dominates the landscape. The amazing and famous 72 stained glass  windows were removed during 1939 for fear of the coming war. They were saved and replaced and are truly the most amazing windows we have ever seen The Church itself is the longest in Netherlands at 123 M. and its absolutely cavernous inside. Our inspection was brief as it was late in the afternoon but it is most certainly an impressive place.
Cheese market

The Cheese Market, another famous landmark was closed but the history of Gouda Cheese is legendary, as is it’s candle making, ceramics and clay pipes, so there are plenty of reasons to return to Gouda.
We rounded off the day with the best Indonesian fare to date from a small take away eatery we stumbled upon on the walk home. 

Sunday, and bridge timing is critical at the Spoorbruggen Rail Bridge on the outskirts of Gouda, crossing the canal on our next leg north. It opened at exactly 10.27am for just 4 minutes. Train schedules are written around these times here so we daren't be late. 

Timing not being one of our strongest attributes, we did manage it…just. Then began the happy jaunt along a very pleasant part of the route north towards Alphen A / D Rijn. All went swimmingly, with several bridges successfully negotiated until we came to Gouwsluice Rail bridge and a couple of car bridges close together. As we approached we could see several boats tied to the waiting rails. So the bridge is broken!. 

It was passed down the rail that the bridge would not open until 2.00am. Its Sunday and repairs which only affect private sport boats is not a priority. Never mind we are not in a hurry. After chatting to a Dutch couple on Moby Dick, tied behind us, it became apparent that rail bridges are notoriously unhelpful and liable to breakdown. They always go through Harlem after several bad experiences on the Amsterdam Night Convoy. After some deliberation we decided to follow them to Harlem.
Early start to Harlem

This proved an excellent idea as we were able to just tag along and let them organize all the bridge openings ahead of us. The only down side was that they travel quite quickly  and we had to put the hammer down on several occasions to keep up. The leg to Harlem was beautiful. Sunshine and clear light with a 6 am start. We arrived in Harlem for lunch after approximately 30miles of motoring.

In the spirit of Holland the bikes were duly dragged into daylight and proceeded to have several breakdowns before we managed to get underway. Trip to the harbor master to pay for three nights tied to the harbor wall. Electricity and trash service, and bridge opening services, but no WiFi was only E36. Harlem is beautiful with the mandatory huge church set center stage in the market square. Masses of history dating back to early 1200’s and those especially Dutch streets capes which we love. Besieged by the Spanish and the Flemish, burnt to the ground and rebuilt several times its a fabulous small city to visit and we enjoyed being up front and center, moored in the middle of the City.
Taipan and Moby Dick Central Harlem

Moving on again and tagging with Moby Dick a local yacht with whom we have acquainted ourselves, we were fortunate to avail ourselves of their expert local knowledge and language skills to deal with the forbidding names of bridges which have to be called on the VHF to organize openings. 

Several bridges to get out of Harlem and into the Chanel leading to central Amsterdam have limited opening times and had to be negotiated in start stop procedure. Coffee tied alongside Moby Dick and information exchange always welcome diversions from trying to maneuver Taipan in these skinny canals.

Taipan and a Windmil... Harlem

Amsterdam. A beautiful sunny summer day heralded our arrival at the Amsterdam Marina just across the river from Central Station. A free ferry shuttles us back and forth to the Railway Station, from where its easy to walk or tram ride to anything  we want to see.  David celebrated his 70th Birthday in Amsterdam with brother Andrew, Christine and I. Together we spent many enjoyable hours strolling the streets of this beautiful old city. The weather let us down a little for the next couple of days but we walked our legs off, wandered into various nefarious areas and generally soaked up the city.


Our next destination is north through the Markermeer and Ijsselmeer to Enkhuizen.

Happy 70th David!!!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Canal travelling is another  steep learning curve to challenge the cruising sailor. The language barrier is frustrating, although almost all Dutch speak English its not necessaderily easy using VHF. The current seems to be always against us. All that aside, its been a lot of fun and for the most part, reasonable weather. We have had some very long days on the water trying to cover meager distances. Wilemstad to Dordtrech was only about 18nm but throw in a bridge and some counter current and it took us the best part of the afternoon to get to. Koninklijke Marina in Dordtrech  

Arial view of Dordtrech.
The Railway bridge had us waiting nearly an hour and the small bridge at the marina entrance another half hour. The marina is right in the center of the old town. The oldest city in Holland. The marina manager George was very helpful and eventually we entered and tied up just inside in the shadow of the great Church of Dordrecht.  
Canal Boats???
Old city harbors with ancient warehouses lining the streets around the marina, merchants houses, and amazing Church and monuments all contribute to making this a delightful stopover. Not to mention a great little Indonesian Restaurant up town.

Leaving Dordrecht for Gouda, the river up which we traveled towards Rotterdam comes in from the ocean and flows quickly. Again current had us down to round 2.5kn and impossible to get from one bridge to the next for the opening schedule so more waiting. This was all the more frustrating when the VHF frequency is clearly announced on the bridge but its impossible to raise anyone. Phones answer in Dutch and are answer machines giving opening times!!  Occasionally a real human answers the VHF which makes me wonder whether they are just ignoring my calls because my pronunciation of their bridge is so appalling!!

 The next bridge in central Rotterdam opened in 45 minuets. It was 8nm to travel and 2 knots of current against us. We couldn't make that opening either and because of peak hour traffic it wasn’t to open again until 1900. We  found a good dock to tie up just north of the Konnighaven and Swan bridges where we could wait for 3 hours. Fortunately daylight is long here at this time of year so we were able to arrive in Veerhaven Marina in daylight. The berthing is very tight and it was with some amusement the local boat owners walked Taipan on lines backwards round a finger and wedged her into a little spot. Sailing round the world is quite different to driving backwards with no bow thruster in these tiny little marinas!

Rotterdam. Day one was catching up on jobs. Washing, anchor windlass repair, that was wiring again. Sunshine lured us out in the afternoon for a walk to the city center. Pretty parks and amazing architecture blend with the complicated crenelated style of the historic buildings which did survive the WW2 bombs. Only 600,000 inhabitants in Rotterdam so it is quite a small city. We found good coffee and even allowed ourselves a small confection!

Returning to the marina we were met by Ulco Bottma from “Navis", a Feeling 41 moored just 2 boats from us. Ulco came aboard and we were very lucky to have him explain all sorts of canal rules and to show us how to use the various guides we have purchased to facilitate our passage north through the canals. Bridge times, heights, locks times etc are a total mystery when you read the guides all in Dutch. It seems there will be 37 bridges between here and Amsterdam and some of those only open once a day. Some only 2 or 3 times. Getting the planning nailed is the next challenge. Ulco gave us lots of advice and we consumed quite a lot of alcohol in the process so let's hope we can dredge up that advice when we need it.

Day 2, a recognizance trip to the other side of the River to locate the Chart and Map shop recommended to us by Ulco. They were closed for some event or other we couldn't decipher in Dutch The modern architecture soaring skyward in all shapes sizes and colors made the long walk worthwhile. The Market building in the city center is a must see with its tempting delights and fabulous murals. I managed to drag David away before he filled the back pack completely with pickles, cheeses, fish and cakes!

For Photos from the Canals click this link.

Next leg is Rotterdam to Amsterdam via Gouda and Harlem.

Sunday, 7 May 2017


Vlissingen. 6 months later. Michael De Ruijterhaven Marina farewell. Sunday, one week ago, we left our comfortable cosy marina berth. The weather was not quite spring but not raining. Seas were flat and current in our favor, enabling a rapid passage round the corner into the 1st of what will be many locks on the Standing Mast Route north through Holland. 
The plan was to haul out at Bankert Boating and Gus and Arian had done a lot of work preparing for Taipans lift by crane onto a cradle in anticipation of the anti fouling and annual maintenance. The yard has a hydraulic lifting trailer which can handle boats up to 2.1M depth. Taipan is 2.2M so the crane was ordered. 
On Monday we arrived at the appointed time for the lift however when it became obvious that the back stay would need to be removed we had to abort the plan. Taipan's back-stay is under huge tension having in line spreaders. It is a big job undoing all the rigging and loosening everything to get it undone. It also possibly compromises the deck seal so we were not keen to go down that path.
Plan B was enacted and we headed off the following morning in cold light misty weather towards Middleberg.
We have been to Middleberg several times by bus so were familiar with the town. Fuel was loaded at the Jos Boon Watersport Chandler right on the canal. Its a big barge which is tied in the canal and we tied to it directly to load fuel and do some necessary parts shopping. Highly civilized.

Andrew and Christine headed off in their van to Veere, a little further north. The whole run through several bridges and another lock at the northern end was about 8nm and took us several hours. Waiting at bridges, negotiating Locks and shopping at the chandler takes extra time.

The canal itself was not at all busy, just the odd large barge or canal cruise ship. Scenery was a little limited because the banks are quite high preventing good views across the landscape. However we did get up close to cows, sheep and horses grazing the lush grasses at the waters edge.

Veere Church and spring wild flowers.
Out the last lock and round the corner to the very tiny marina at Veere. We considered the entry carefully, wondering if we would be able to get out again. Taipan, being an ocean going boat with a small prop and no bow thruster, is not the easiest boat to maneuver in these tiny marinas so and exit strategy is always a consideration.

The marina was great. We walked round the really cute town and enjoyed some brief sunshine before a leisurely dinner aboard. We decided to stay the extra day because the weather was foul and we have jobs to catch up on.
A bit of jiggery was necessary to get Taipan turned round on the dock in order for us to exit on Tuesday. The harbormaster was there to help and we were soon on our way north again.

Yeseke, the next destination, approximately 18nm NW, was slightly off the route to the west but the captain had heard the oysters were abundant and there for the picking. Away we went, negotiating another 2 very much larger locks en route. 
Yeseke's big roomy marina had only one other boat at the commodious visitors pontoon making berthing a pleasure.
Purging muscles and oysters at Yeseka
The Team Taipan crew arrived and exploration in ernest commenced; not a big place and lots of seafood on offer, we had planned to have a big muscle feast but the season was closed. Darn. Oh well, undaunted, the oyster shucking expert got to work hunter - gathering and it wasn't long before we had more oysters than we knew what to do with. Pickled, shucked, in the shell and omletted... we have them every which way for a while yet..

Our next destination was Willemstad. We had been told it was not to be missed. A 27nm run and more even bigger locks to deal with. The size of the ships which pass through the canals of Netherlands is amazing and its pretty daunting getting into a lock with them but the system, although slow, is well planned and its nice not to feel hassled. Many locks are remotely manned but the big ones have onsite controllers. Taipan's mast is roughly 20 meters high so most locks cannot accommodate us. 18m is the standard bridge height  for the smaller yacht locks. This means Taipan has to mix it with the big boys in the giant locks. 
Smaller ships in the lock with Taipan

The lock controller advises you by VHF when to enter and on which side to tie off. The walls are sheer concrete with recessed bollards and handles. It takes  a bit of practice to get the boat in just the right spot to grab them fore and aft. The prop wash from ships up front tends to make steering awkward. We have purchased extra fenders and we are getting better at it.

On the City Harbor at Willemstad
Willemstad did not disappoint. Saturday was a glorious day with sunshine all day. The first prolonged sun we've seen since arriving in Holland. 


Willemstad received city status in 1585. Its a small historical town with well preserved star style fortifications. The walk around the old city walls and dykes takes only an hour and is very picturesque. Taipan was tied directly to the wall on the old city harbor, right in the center of town.  What a beautiful spot. We loved it and decided to stay and extra night. This decision was somewhat influenced by the fact that a number of people boarded us on Saturday night and stayed drinking and partying till the wee small hours. 4 Finns from Mellum111. Watch out for them! So Sunday was a very late start.

Espalier work in Willemstad

During the week traveling, sometimes in fresh and sometimes in salt water, all the growth on Taipan has vacated!. The weed and slime has gone so we are now not in a rush to get her out of the water and will continue our journey north. Rotterdam is the next stop