Going Dutch

In these days of (relatively ) accurate weather forecasting , the art of sailing somewhere is to time the passage to when the winds are in your favour – and we seem to  have got this fairly  spot on so far this trip. Lo and behold , after 24 hours at anchor in the Walton Backwaters , the wind started to veer out of the North and  we set out for Holland on a fast reach . Midway across, the wind was dead astern ; fast and easy sailing – if a bit rolly as the seas were still coming from the North  -and after 18 hours we were shoe horned into the tiny Sixhaven , just opposite the Central station and  bang in the centre of Amsterdam – fast going by anyone’s standards.

Blimey,  the North sea is a crowded place these days. My watches were relatively uneventful , but as soon as Lynda took over we would be surrounded by ships going in all directions . She thought they were picking on her but  apart from a guardship shepharding us away from a new oil platform under construction , there were few issues. The Sixhaven is  more crowded even than the North sea as although it is not yet the high season , it is a 3 day weekend in Holland which has brought boats to Amsterdam in their droves. We have been coming here since 1974 and this little harbour has changed very little in that time . It started off as a place where local shipbuilding workers rented space to build their own boats in their spare time , using old car engines and no doubt all sorts of stuff cannibalised from the day job. Most of the original members have long since died , but the place retains the atmosphere of a small do-it yourself  collective from another era , squeezed between massive new 21st century waterside redevelopments. Here we stay , in the very centre of Amsterdam, for the princely sum of 18 euros a night!

Our next  long trip will be along the North Frisian coast to the Elbe , very definitely a piece of water  to hold in respect as it has a shipping lane to the North , low sandy islands to the South, and rivers that exit through the gaps between the Islands which have the reputation of being very dangerous on the ebb tide  in winds from the West . So far the weather tea leaves suggest leaving immediately ( which seems a bit of a shame ) or waiting til the end of the week – hardly a hardship with Amsterdam and the picturesque harbours of the Ijselmeer and Friesian islands to explorel  

So , with that decision out of the way it looks as if  Sunday will see us taste the delights of Rembrandt, cheese ,Vermeer and apple cake as well as the odd canal side bar – but not necessarily in that order!

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