The frozen north

We enjoyed our stay in Sneek last week and it was useful to have access to a large town for a few days. We made good use of the shops, restaurants and hairdressers! The Aquanaut marina was very convenient and had all the facilities needed, except for the WiFi which was a bit intermittent.

The Aquanaut marina – with some very nice boats for company

The supermarket was about a twenty minute walk so we inflated the dinghy for only the second time on this trip and went shopping in that. It was much easier than carrying the heavy stuff by hand (mainly the water and the wine!) but it did involve going under some very low fixed bridges.

Duck!

When planning this trip I wanted to avoid carrying petrol on board if at all possible and I researched electric motors as an alternative to traditional outboard engines. I discovered that there are basically two categories of electric outboards – the “Torqeedo” and everything else. “Everything else” is not very good – short battery life, not much power. The Torqeedos had very good reviews but they are quite pricey. Eventually I took the plunge and bought one, along with a lightweight Brig inflatable that can be rolled up and stored under a seat when not in use. I was slightly concerned about the range of the electric motor but we have found it to be fine for our needs with distances of 10-15 km being easily obtainable at slower speeds. And if you’re in a hurry (for example getting back to your boat before your pizza gets cold!) it can hustle along at about 9km/h.

Trusty electric motor

We also took advantage of having the dinghy one lunchtime when we took Tex for his walk in a park a couple of kilometres away from our marina. He’s still not keen on getting in but seems happy enough once we’re on our way.

Walkies by dinghy

When we left Sneek we went out past the Jetten factory where Juneau was built and where she was located when we bought her in 2010. Nothing much had changed there, except that the current models moored outside are much more modern looking than Juneau’s traditional lines. And they seem to be getting bigger and bigger – these were both 44 footers.

A pair of 44 foot Jettens – very nice

This week’s journey was to take us to the coast in the far north of the Netherlands. We had identified a place called Lauwersoog which is at the end of the “stand mast” route taken by sailing boats who want to cross the Netherlands on the canals instead of on the North Sea. Lauwersoog has a lock that separates the inland waters from the sea. We thought it would be nice to see the sea and plotted a course that would take us from Sneek to Lauwersoog in four days. Before we set off we checked the weather forecast and saw that storm force winds and rain were due to arrive on the Saturday. We didn’t fancy travelling in that and instead compressed the first two days into one so we could be safely moored up in the town of Leeuwarden whilst the storm passed.

On the way into Leeuwarden we passed under one of the most unusual bridges we have seen so far.

Excellent engineering and quite a sight

Leeuwarden has a lot of moorings along its main river and when we arrived at lunchtime on Friday it was packed with boats. Luckily a boat left as we approached and we were able to secure a mooring. Later on it became even busier with new arrivals having to raft to (moor alongside) other boats. Not many boats departed on Saturday, presumably because everyone had seen the weather forecast, but plenty more arrived. By Saturday afternoon it was getting very cosy.

Busy moorings on the river through Leeuwarden

The much anticipated storm came through on Saturday afternoon and evening. We were a bit concerned about being moored under trees but fortunately the wind was blowing the right way for us and all of branches that came off the tree missed us! We later heard that there had been significant damage and disruption across the Netherlands. I think we got away quite lightly.

The morning after the storm

We got on our way again on Sunday morning and continued our journey north and east along the Dokkumer Ie. At first it was very quiet but the traffic steadily increased through the morning. The traffic is always a bit “lumpy” because boats have to wait for bridges and therefore get bunched up. We were seeing groups of twenty boats at a time travelling in the other direction and eventually ended up in a group of ten or more ourselves. Many of them were sailing boats making use of the mast up route between the coasts.

One of the many convoys

We found a “wild” mooring for the night, near to a village called “Ee”, and we all went for a nice walk to explore the area. Sunday had been a dry and pleasant day for travelling but that all changed again overnight. The remainder of our journey to the Lauwersmeer and the town of Lauwersoog on Monday was in pouring rain and strong winds. I’m not sure that we got the best impression of this national park as we crossed the lake. We moored up at the Jachthaven Noordergat in stormy conditions and waited for a break in the weather before setting out to see the town and the seaside.

It’s not really like a British seaside town because there is no beach, and hence no real seafront. There is a large dike to keep the sea out and a harbour on the sea side of the lock with a small commercial fishing operation. Not surprisingly, the menus in the few local restaurants are heavily dominated by fish. I took pot luck when ordering my lunch and went for “tong” and chips. This turned out to the sole and very nice it was too. Other options were “schol” and “kibbeling” – maybe next time.

Salty water to the left, fresh to the right
Harbour entrance with the Waddenzee beyond

The remainder of our time here in Lauwersoog is work time, which is just as well because the weather has been awful and we are better off tucked up in the boat with our laptops. Rain and wind have been non-stop and it’s cold. We’ve even got the heating on today – that’s a first for us in July! Still, mustn’t complain, it’s just like a typical British summer.

Here’s this week’s route.

Week-7

Next week the plan is to start making our way back southwards, trying to pick some slightly less traveled routes.  And we’re hoping it will stop raining soon!

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