We leave the town wharf at Sneek. It had all been very easy and we have high hopes for doing the same at Leeuwarden. I take the opportunity to made a swift turn to port to enter the channel to the Sneekermeer but neglect to warn Anne about the manoeuvre and she goes flying across the deck, just stopping herself from flying head first into the drink by holding on to the shrouds! She was not impressed and I will work on my communication skills!
It is going to be a ‘motor on all day’ day! But we need to keep an eye closely on the weather as 25 to 28 knot winds are predicted between 1100 and 1500. The route is well marked but it is a diversion due to a broken bridge on the way to Groningen so we need to be very careful so not as to get lost!
A well marked route!
The railway bridge at Grou.
We pass the storm sluice at Terherne, then the railway bridge at Grou but just before Warge the wind is so gusty that we decide to stop and sit it out, especially as we have more bridges coming up. We are now on the Eagumes Djip and seeing a suitable mooring place we turn around to go head to wind and go for it! It is blowing 25 knots and all a bit of a handful and poor Grace picks up a few more scrapes! Some serious hull polishing will be needed when she is over wintered in Sweden!
Taking shelter near Warga
By 1500, the wind is dropping to 15 to 20 knots and we are good to go. It is a struggle to get off the bank and we lose a fender. Going around again a man has picked it up and passes it back to us! It is nice to have it back as it is a big one and I have become attached to it! We are moving briskly and going through Hempens we see its amazing lifting bridge, boats moor up on the waiting areas just to see it work!
We now have just 6 more bridges to negotiate before Leeuwarden. We have already done 8 bridges and it feels like that we are on for another record!
At this stage I am ‘tail end charlie’ of our little convoy through the bridges and very pleased to be so! Everybody else is trying to moor up on the waiting areas but I just hang back sailing backwards and forwards at ‘dead slow’ and wait, the bridges usually open within a few minutes. Leeuwarden charges 7€ to pass through its bridges which they collect in a clog on a string at the second bridge in! This of course causes mayhem as people doge about to find 7€ and then put the money into the clog without getting hit by a flying chunk of wood. There is no space and with 6 boats floating back and forth it gets all a bit fraught and we need to fend ourselves off a large brick wall after narrowly missed being squashed by a large motor boat. My close quarters boat handling skills are getting quite good although it still sets the pulse racing!!
Collecting the cash in a clog on the end of a fishing rod!
The smart money at this stage would have moored up at Aldi’s own landing stage and waited until the scrum had passed! But not us, bulldog spirit and all that we were right in the thick of it, pirouetting our way through the smallest gaps! Disappointingly there is no space we can get into. There is no harbour master, so boats are not moored up efficiently and there is loads of wasted space with small boats parking where bigger ones can go. So we carry on out through town and out the other side.
We are on the Dokkumer le and it starts to get really pretty with nice waterside houses and little villages. Before long we are deep in the countryside and need to find somewhere to moor up and it now that our investment in the Friesland Cruising Association flag and map pays off as we realise how these moorings work. Soon we have no trouble in finding a space on a mooring with a couple of lads who have borrowed their father’s boat for a bit of a Swallows and Amazons adventure and to drink copious quantities of beer! It is a particularly attractive traditional small yacht called Neelje, which apparently every Dutch yacht is called, at least in comic books!
Once we are secure I realise that what I thought was a deserted stretch of the river was far from it! People on bicycles pedal past just behind the hedge, motor boats disappear into small gaps in the bank that lead to their homes! You are never from people in Holland! At least it is quiet and we are soon all asleep.