I came up with a great theory today. If you’ve ever noticed the Dutch are a very tall race. This is because they cycle big bikes, which stretch their legs. Also because they live below sea level they are always having to stretch themselves to see over the dykes. That’s why they’re so tall. All that stretching.
After fuelling up we picked up a strong northerly on the Ijsselmeer with winds of well over 20kn. This gave us a beam reach with a speed of over 7knots, enabling us to overtake pretty much every sailing vessel in our path. We toasted this achievement in the evening with a fantastic dinner in Hoorn, served by a beautiful waitress. Puns on the name of the town have been withheld.
After leaving our yachthaven in Aalsmeer, not forgetting to give the middle finger to the hairy, cigar-chomping Dutch twat who told the skipper off for borrowing a hose (that wasn’t even his), we headed towards Amsterdam. Of course this involved negotiating a number of bridges which meant either approaching very slowly and hovering backwards and forwards until the bridge opened, or, more sensibly, tying up to the posts provided on the side of the canal.
Early next morning the eldest crew member (let’s call him Dave) and myself went in to town to do some shopping and get chatting to some very friendly Dutch girls behind the fruit and veg counter, quipping that we’d sailed a long way to sample their melons (you had to be there). Dave was getting a little over-excited at their friendly demeanour so we pushed on back to the boat
With strong gusting winds we found getting out of the pillared berth a real test of lateral thinking. If you imagine the boat tied bow-to, but with three 10ft high wooden pillars down each side of the boat, we were continually blown side on to one set of pillars. With some very careful manoeuvring and pushing against the pillars from all sides we eventually managed to reverse our way out of the mooring back into the main canal – straight into the path of an oncoming barge one way and a container ship the other! Quick! Slam that motor into forwards and get the hell out!
We arrived at the Hoek of Holland early Tuesday morning but we still had a long way to go down the Nieuwe Waterweg. This is Blade Runner on water. It is pure industrial mayhem with many commercial ships chugging up and down the water way. Thumbs up to the Dutch for utilising their waterways properly.