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