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.