18th July, Dordrecht to Gouda.
Checking my log, I do keep an official one even on the canals as I think it may be the law although some days my entries are a bit vague! I see that we left our berth and were doing the bridge foxtrot with the other boats waiting for the Engelangen Bridge to open all before 0900. Dordrecht has been fun and it is a really pretty place to moor up in. Looking back from the water you get a great view of the old town.
We are heading up the Noord Kanaal today, the only real pinch point today is the Alblasserdam bridge which as very fixed opening hours. We are motoring and are quickly up the two miles to the bridge! Just missed its last opening and the next time it opens is 1015. There is also no waiting pontoon so nothing for it but to waltz about for half an hour with the other boats and dodging the barges who of course can fit under the bridge and will not wait or indeed stop for anything!
Once we are through, then a couple of miles until we reach the junction with the Oud Maas river. Turn to port and continue to head north for 3 miles, we are skirting the east side of Rotterdam, then after a mile we need to make a sharp turn to starboard into the Hollanse ijssel. It is quite industrial with big busy shipyards.
Then almost immediately we are at the Algerabrug and Sluis. I radio up the lock keeper on VHF 22 and the next opening will not be until 1220, unless there is a large container ship which we can follow. We tie up and have lunch.
We are going to stop at Gouda for the night to make sure that we are bright and early for the railway bridge at Gouda which opens only every 4 hours so it is important that we make the opening first thing tomorrow morning for its 0938 opening!
We still have 8 miles to sail to Gouda and one last lock, the big Juliansluis which we do quickly.
We have chosen the first and we think easiest Marina to get into, the Cruising Association guide says it a bit industrial and tight to get into but all the others require 3 locks which means getting out in the morning is a bit chancy! Our pilot instructions says turn to starboard at the windmill (surprise!) and then another sharp turn to starboard through the narrow gap by the lime factory! It is right, and we are soon in a channel the width of the boat and into a tiny marina bounded by a petrol station on one side and the Dutch equivalent of B and Q on the other……but there is a view of a windmill!
Approaching slowly, and wondering where to stop, a man pops out of a boat yells “Hello Captain! 23”, our berth number and two old codgers trot along the boardwalk to greet us and within minutes Grace is safely moored between two posts with her engine off for the first time that day.
Naturally our first stop has to be the Cheese Museum as we are in Gouda! This is in a very fine market square where they held the cheese market until 1952. I assume it is in some tin shed on the ring road now.
In the background there is the roof of the cathedral towering over the shops and cafes surrounding the square, it is the longest in the Netherlands.
We pay our €4.50 and we’re direct up some spiral stairs, on the first floor we were mistaken for the vanguard of a German coach trip and confusion reigns! Ushered up more spiral stairs we are sat down in front of a video! This is an ‘epic’ produced in the 1970s for the Milk Marketing Board, featuring an all star cast of cows and is incredibly cheesey…..pun intended! Anyway we make a swift exit, avoiding being herded onto a coach back to Dordrecht and are now fully qualified experts in the manufacture of Gouda cheese, prounced Houda! Naturally I put my new found knowledge to the test and buy some.
Gouda is a pretty little place, even with flying cheeses!