Monday, 22 August 2016

Willemstadt, wild and woolly

Actually it wasn't Willemstadt that was wild and woolly, it was the journey to get there. 
We left elegant old Dordrecht early, to make sure we caught the double rail and road bridge opening at 0915. Even then it was raining moggies and mutts. 

It got worse as we chugged further down the wide waterway. When we entered Hollands Diep the rain was torrential, we were motoring into a 20 knot headwind and visibility was very poor. (Especially through Lesley's streaming specs.) Mammoth barges were passing on both sides as we hugged the edge of the main channel.

We had life jackets on, full wet weather gear and with wind over tide, a nasty swell and chop. It felt like the sunny canal life of last week was a long long way away. 

When Nic came on watch,  the rain petered out and after 4 hours and 15 miles, we arrived at the marina at Willemstadt,  a former garrison town with a star shaped fort. Unfortunately this was our first experience of the Dutch 'poles' style of mooring. 

In most of northern Europe we have finger berths where crew can hop on to the finger shaped pontoon next to the boat, to tie the ropes and then to enter and exit the boat from the side. Very civilised. 

In Holland they tend to do it differently. No finger berth.  Dutch boats reverse in, with the stern of the boat meeting the pontoon and at the other end,  ropes are thrown around 2 large poles in the water. Fine except we can't reverse (Sirena"s long keel again) and even if we could, we have a large trawler type pushpit at the back that means we can't get off her that way! 

So Sirena"s bow is hanging several feet above the pontoon and we have to somehow swing our legs up and climb awkwardly over the pulpit, hanging on to the Furlex for grim death. 

Anyway we had a good nose around Willemstadt, seeing the Orange windmill and Mauritzhuis (pictured) (Mauritz was William of Orange's son) plus various fortifications and the very pretty waterfront cum harbour. It didn't take long to walk the whole thing. We had a coffee, an ice cream, a drink, a supermarket shop and then dinner of an Indonesian noodle dish at a friendly eatery.  

And almost as soon as we had arrived, the wild and woolly weather departed. The afternoon became baking hot and we soon needed hats and suncream. It hit 27 degrees.
From November to August,  in just about four hours.

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