Chevroches, Canal du Nivernais

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Assen - who put the ass in?

Was it these lovely, young ladies baring theirs to welcome the boats arriving in the harbour?


This singing cowboy riding his around the market?


The bad (lunatic) one who narrowly avoided landing in the canal right at the back of our boat whilst showing off his handbrake turns (unsuccessfully) and crashed into a wall.

Oh dear. Not another crime scene....

Assen's main claim to fame is its TT Circuit where the Dutch motor cycle GP is held every year. Unfortunately, we are a couple of weeks too late to see Valentino but plenty of interesting bikes roaring up and down the dead straight stretch of road alongside the canal.

Had a lovely couple of days here with Bill, Rob's nephew, our first sleepover visitor.

Now, I know that what you really want to see is the other side of that sculpture.

So, here it is..............

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Cruising the Netherlands - Our Route So Far This Year

Oh to be clever enough to add a map. But I'm not, so pictures it is.

We left from Leimuiden (not far from Schiphol airport) where we had left our boat over the winter and went first to

Six Haven Marina opposite Central Station and next to one of the free ferries - consequently very popular. The marina isn't very big but the harbourmaster makes the most of every inch of available space. As you motor in he appears on his bike, blowing a whistle and gesticulating wildly directing you to a spot. As the day progresses more and more boats are squeezed in around you. First thing next morning it's musical chairs as everyone needs to move to let others out and then it's gloves off and a mad dash for the best vacant berths.

Nemo building.

Taken from our boat as we approach Central Station Amsterdam. Ferries to the left, ferries to the right, very fast ferries to the rear, barges ploughing down the middle. For the first time this year - but not the last - I'm thinking 'what am I doing here?'

Then north to Monnickendam

and out onto the Ijsselmeer/Markermeer.

Around the island of Flevoland which was once under the sea and calling in at some of the historic Ijsselmeer fishing ports. As the open sea is now closed off the only fishing is for eels. Smoked eel is a very popular dish....

Amersfoort - scene of the body in the piano graveyard.

Amersfoort 750th celebrations. I've no idea of the significance of the overalls.......

Spakenburg - where the older women still wear traditional costumes.


and through the lock at Blokzijl which we made a bit of mess of as our steering decided to play up big time (now fixed). The onlookers appreciated it as they got interesting photos.

Next stop Giethoorn which advertises itself as the Venice of the north (another one). Used to be a turf digging area and the excavations are now canals around the picturesque thatched houses. No roads so the locals get around on boats or cycles. Me with one of the locals.

And so on into Friesland. Land of lakes, cows horses and windmills

Sneek is the centre of the lakes area and famous for its Waterpoort. Most towns have a brass marching band and in the centre pic you can see Sneek's finest practising.

We spent a bit of time relaxing on the lakes

before cruising on to Leeuwarden and Dokkum

And then out of Friesland and into Groningen and Drenthe which isn't much visited except by boat.

The canal runs out at Delfzijl and then you have to take to the sea to go to Germany. Rob had some ambition to go this way but we went and had a look the other day and - no chance. Not at the moment anyway!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

A Summer Without Water Restrictions

Friday afternoon in Groningen, one of the busiest days of the week as it's market day, and everyone has run for cover.
Meanwhile our sunshade acts as an effective emergency water collector/shower.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


By rights we should be flying a Dutch flag as we registered L'Avenir in the Netherlands after we purchased her last year. She was previously unregistered as there's no legal requirement here to do so and most Dutch people don't bother. If you travel to other countries, however, you may be asked for ownership papers. Most 'foreigners' fly the flag of their home country though. This serves several purposes. It advertises the fact that you probably don't speak the language and can't read the signs and you may very well be an idiot who can nether drive nor moor a boat. To ensure that you don't collide with their pride and joy Dutch boat owners will, quite rightly, leap ashore to help you tie up, all the while offering painfully direct advice as to what you're doing wrong and the correct way to go about things. Some people don't take too kindly to this but there's no denying that the Dutch know a thing or two about boat handling.
Your flag also identifies you to fellow foreigners. Last year we flew the Scottish Saltire which no-one recognised. This year, in the interests of impartiality, we opted for the Aussie flag which everyone knows. So, those same people who help us tie up feel bound to ask incredulously (in light of our occasional obvious lack of expertise) 'Did you really sail this from Australia?'
Fellow Aussies are few and far between so when we meet we're always greeted with enthusiasm using proper aussie lingo that doesn't get much of an airing at home. Words like 'cobber' and 'fair dinkum'. All very well until Rob attempts 'G'day mate' in his broad Scottish accent.
25 years and an Aussie passport is just not quite enough. Perhaps we should fly both flags.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Alarmed (and alerted) in Groningen

No pictures accompany this post. You may be glad about that. Arrived in Groningen yesterday. Biggish city, biggish university, biggish multicultural community - not sure if they're students or not. Rob cycles off on an expedition to find boat spares. Now, I'm a bit wary of being left on the boat alone. I always think that something's going to go wrong....So, I'm having a shower, covered in soap, hair full of conditioner and an alarm goes off. A loud, high pitched, ear piercing screech - and it's coming from our engine room. First thought - panic. We're in a marina and any minute now people will be swarming over the boat and I have no clothes on! Second thought - we might be on fire, so does it matter? There's a door from the shower into the engine room which I wrench open and crawl in following the now amplified noise and hoping that no-one is gong to come crawling in after me. (Don't try to visualise this). I say engine room but it's really just a bit of room around an engine. So lots of head and shin banging and swearing. No fire thank goodness. It is of course the bilge alarm - I realise the problem as I splash into water at the bow. I know enough to pull the sensor out of the water and so shut off the din and the prospect of unwanted help. It's not a Titanic situation, there's no water flooding in and it's clearly the shower that's the problem. Turns out both shower and bilge pumps have failed.
You know it doesn't make a blind bit of difference if you leave conditioner in your hair for 2 minutes or 2 hours.

Come Aboard


These photos were taken last July just after signing the agreement to purchase. Missing are photos of the main cabin and bathroom. (I could, of course, just go and take a couple but things are no longer quite as tidy I'm afraid).
Since then the artificial flowers have been liberated and surreptitiously planted beside their living relatives at various spots along the waterways (rather than just chucking them in the bin). I'm sure no-one will notice until winter when they'll be the only splashes of colour.The ornaments are lurking in a dark cupboard.

Our Boat

Type - Dutch Steel Motor Cruiser
Make - de Ruiter Grand Star Gsak
Year - built 1980 but completely refitted over past 5 years
Length - 13.25m (43ft)
Beam - 3.7m
Draught - 1.2m
Air Draught - 2.75 with everything folded down
Engine - 110hp Daf
Generator - 4.5 KVA
Name - L'Avenir

Thursday, 9 July 2009


There are lots of cows in Friesland - and very handsome they are too. So handsome in fact that there seem to be cow papparazzi. Or perhaps cow spotters. Anyway, there are people in anoraks who go out photographing cows. You see them on deserted roads, huddled in their cars with long lenses poking out of the windows. Follow the line of sight and you'll see a cow gazing back into the lens. Why? Well there are cow postcards and alongside topless girlie calendars there are bovine calendars where the cows are equally well endowed. A bit disturbing really.

First Post

It's hard to know where to begin with this having never blogged before.
I'll start with where we are now and then randomly backtrack.
So.Windmills. It must be...
Just how many are there in Holland I wonder?
At the moment we are in Dokkum in Friesland and two huge mills tower over us.The one to the front has been turned into a pet shop while the mill at the back (or should I say stern?) is a museum. Have been in the pet shop - cute rabbits - but not the museum. What does that say?
We were only going to stay one night here but it's blowing a gale - of course. You don't put windmills in sheltered locations do you?