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!!!