Friday 28 April Vrijdag
Up at 0700 (6am to you land-lubbers in the UK) to get water and empty the toilet, before breakfast and getting the A7 road bridge to lift and let us through. Such is the supremacy of boats in The NL, even small ones like ours; they can stop the traffic on a major road. Not really cold this morning, only wearing cord trousers, waterproof trousers, sailing boots. long wool socks, merino base layer, cotton polo neck, Shetland wool pullover, waterproof jacket, woolen hat and neoprene gloves.
Experimented with ‘ghosting’ the jib and achieved 4.2kn for an instant. Lovely run.
Saturday 29 April Zaterdag
There is a strange light in the sky and I’m only wearing two layers!
Walked to a beach on the Isjlemeer. A pretty calm day, so the trad sailing boats far out looked as if they were suspended in space, beyond the horizon and the wind turbine blades seemed to be dipping into the sea. There is a sort of lagoon here, so kids on sailboards could get off and walk around on sandbanks about 50m out. Loads of beautiful boats of all sorts, plus annoying jet skis…no prejudice on this blog!
Back for dinner with our friends Pieter and Inneke who also own a Finesse and actually brought theirs to the NL by sailing it across the sea themselves. We are truly outclassed. It turns out they know the owner of the trad boat moored opposite us in Leeuwarden, who noticed us and thought it was them. They also know the Lighthouse Keeper here at Workum, who will surely notice us sooner or later. When the Harbourmaster called to collect our dues, he said he’s seen us in Bolsward. This is what it’s like to be famous.
Walked out past the Sluis (Sea Lock to you and me) and followed the route we will take, if we ever do venture onto the Issjlemeer.
Believe me or not the people moored next to us took their two Old Spotted Pigs for a walk around the mooring today. Another way I know I’m not in the UK.
Monday 1 May Maandag
Off for a birthday adventure. Moored on a Marrekrite mooring, surrounded by reeds and water and one trad family boat within sight. It rained all afternoon. We tried out our Dutch language skills on each other: think of something you need to say and then work out how to say it in Dutch. Our ;tourist’ phrase book is pretty useless, but all should be better when we get the Mini-woordenboek, which we’ve just ordered from Amazon.
Walking round ‘our’ island in the gloaming, an owl flew past and then perched in a tree, looking at us. I’m not sure what sort of owl it was: too small for a Little Owl, face like a Tawny, but I thought they were truly nocturnal. It’s a mystery. Other excitements were: two coots having a territorial scrap and a thumping noise. You always have to investigate strange noises on boats, just in case…it turned out to be the Big Black Fender (accidentally acquired from the boatyard) thumping the side. All well then!
Tuesday 2 May Dinsdag
Sailing on this medium-sized mere. We learnt a lot. These details probably only if interest to anyone else who sails, but obviously very important to us:
The jib- furler jams and you can only sort it out by turning downwind
Just using the mainsail makes LC very docile and reefing really isn’t worth the effort
The chart plotter is invaluable (we say this every time we use it)
It’s alarming when you do a tack at 10 degrees or more to realise it’s your ‘house’ leaning over
You can depower the mainsail from the hatch. This is a game-changer because I hate having to hold the boat into the wind while Dave’s on the roof
Wednesday 3 May Woensdag
Most expensive mooring so far at Langmeer, which is a bit of a tourist honeypot. Sailing across the Snitsmeer a man in another boat came past and shouted, ‘Hey English Man! How’s it going in Great Britain?’ The Dutch are very amused by our Brexit stance, on the day Teresa May says she’ll be ‘a bloody difficult woman.’
At last it was sunny enough for us to sit out on the Oostergo Hotel terrace in Grou and drink beer, post sailing. This is what we came here for!
Thursday 4 May Donderdag
To say it was rough getting to Marrekrite mooring PR52 outside Grou was an understatement. I’m thankful I was in the cabin checking the chart plotter for most of the time. I have written a checklist for sailing or motoring, as we find we forget a different thing each time we set off.
Friday 5 May Vrijdag
SLAP-SLAP, gurgle, judder, wobble, flap, SLAP-SLAP. This was the night’s soundtrack, so not much sleep. It’s very windy. I have temporarily lost my appetite for more adventure. so we’re spending a quiet day. It’s raining anyway. When it stopped, we motored across to Grou again and got a better night’s sleep in the sheltered harbor.
Saturday 6 May Zaterdag
Courage returned, which was a good thing because we had to get fuel on the Pikmeer which was very busy and very choppy. There was a dinghy regatta, cruisers everywhere and the odd 14 hundred ton commercial barge to contend with.
Moored for lunch opposite where we were yesterday. This is in one of the Friesland National Parks and is very beautiful. The NL is a small country and densely populated, but they make the very best of the space they have. The countryside isn’t as ‘wild’ as in the UK, nor as ‘natural’, but the overall impression is of space and calm. Then a bit of sailing practice going towards Earnewald – a proper tourist destination.
Sunday 7 May Zondag
Skutsjes were the DHL of their day – sailing boats which delivered building materials, grain. vegetables and manure (especially manure) to the villages in this area. There weren’t useful roads until recently.This might explain why each place is so unique. Even the way people greet you in the street varies from place to place and we never get it right. If we say ‘Goedemorgen.’ they reply, ‘Hi’ or ‘Goedmadaag’ or ‘Hello’.Whichever one we use, we get a different reply.I think it’s regional and depends on the age of the person we’re greeting. We must stand out as ‘not local’ for this and many other reasons. We’ve also found out the hard way, that if you say ‘Alstublieft’ after handing over money for beer or whatever, this means, ‘Keep the change.’
Anyway, there’s an excellent Skutsje Museum at Earnewald and White Storks nesting on poles in a garden nearby. They’ve rebuilt one: the Aebelina and use her in races. Inside the headroom is so limited, even I had to crouch.
Good sailing later down a buoyed channel and we were very pleased with ourselves. Alas! Pride comes before a fall and what should have been the easiest part of the trio, motoring towards a Marrekrite mooring resulted in us going aground. Now this is a bigger problem than it sounds. Fortunately the sails were down by this time, but we couldn’t move. It shouldn’t have happened because our depth indicator said we had 0.8m depth and the chart agreed with this. Fortunately, only that morning I’d reminded myself that the sound signal for ‘I need immediate assistance’ is ‘6 or more short blasts on the horn’. There were cruisers going past us – back to their home port for dinner and a relaxing evening. I reckoned they’d soon all have gone past, so I did the signal straight away, a cruiser towed us off and all was well. We changed our minds about where to moor and motored into the boatyard, where LC is to have a 12 day rest, while we go back to the UK.
So – you travel for the best and worst and you live and learn to become older and hopefully, wiser.
Re-united with LC after taxi/plane/train and another taxi. This last one was a bit strange. Taxi waiting outside Heerenveen station, but when we got in, the taxi driver wasn’t giving off the right signals. We wondered if we’d inadvertently ‘queue-jumped a man sitting near the taxis, but the driver said we hadn’t. He said he couldn’t set off just yet, did some input on an in-board laptop, then said, ‘He’s almost blind’, got out and ushered the man in. OK. We drove for a bit and arrived at the man’s house, he got out and then we drove for a while, coming almost back to where we started. Then our journey began properly. Got to the boatyard, paid the fare (14 euros), which I thought was a bit low, then put the kettle on. A minutes later, back comes the tax driver, saying ‘I made a mistake. You’d already paid. Here’s your 14 euros.’
We insisted that we hadn’t paid previously, he said we had and he couldn’t take our money as that would be theft. So we accepted the refund and off he went. Very strange! Any theories?
We didn’t need to travel all the way to Grou last night, so we moored at the’ Birthday’ Marrekrite and had it all to ourselves.
Grou had a street market and we bought some Dutch sausages .
Sailing on The Peanster which we motored across yesterday. A different story on two counts: hardly anyone else there and fabulous weather. Sailing in shirt sleeves. Unheard of!
After dark there is a lot of noise from all the birds living on the islands.