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!
When we eventually made our way back on to the main channel we had fun and games with the VHF channel numbers again. The fact that we were using 21 year old charts made things a little more confusing though we couldn’t blame them really. In fact the waterway charts produced by Dienst der Hydrografie were very easy to use. Even so, the different radio channels for different areas kept us on our toes. Bear in mind these waterways are extremely busy so the VHF is a vital piece of kit. The fact we were on channel 18 at Willemburg bridge when we should have been on 81 was by-the-by. Channels, channels, channels!
We cruised up the Nieuwe Mass beneath Rotterdam and got to the huge Willemburg Bridge where we had to wait for two hours, so we moored up by a boat show. We were promptly told to leave by some snotty nosed twat. For all he knew I could have been looking to buy a barge or two!
When the bridge did eventually open we were the only boat to pass through. The bridge is a pretty incredible piece of technology – it takes trains as well as overhead power cables which all come apart as the bridge opens.
The left hand filter after the bridge took us up the more sedate Hollandse Ijssel. The inhabitants of the towns Krimpen aan den Ijssel and Capelle aan den Ijssel are lucky river dwellers. Almost every house has launches, davits, moorings, and pontoons to store their boats. One thatched house even had its own observation tower and private two-berth marina!
There was no wind and therefore no sailing and we could no longer use the Dienst der Hyrdografic charts so we moved on to the smaller ANWB charts.
We got to Gouda (yes, as in the cheese) and had another wait for the bridge so we had fun and games rafting up along side other boats. Of course there was the usual twat who crashed into our guardrail and then had a go at me because we only had two fenders on that side of the boat! Unfortunately this wasn’t the greatest mooring as the bridge was for the mainline railway, which went over a main traffic intersection, and on the other side of the canal was a motor-cross trail. Hardly tranquil but it was rather amusing catching the odd motorcyclist stack it on the table-top ramp.
I have to give thumbs up to the different bridge designs though. I thought the Willemburg bridge was cool but the Gouda bridge lifts vertically up! Definitely winner of the coolest bridge thus far! Also thumbs up go to the very kind Dutch couple who donated a sleeping bag to the Jamie’s Bedding Charity. After three nights of sleeping under my sailing jacket I could now keep warm in comfort.