Coast to coast

That title might be a bit of an exaggeration, but technically we did travel from one coast to another this week. We started our journey in the north, on the coast of the Waddenzee (basically the North Sea) and four days later arrived on the coast of the IJsselmeer, the fresh water “inland sea”.

Here’s where our route took us.

Week-8

At the end of last week we arrived in Lauwersoog, on the north coast. It was probably a very nice place, but unfortunately our main memory of it will be the wind and rain. The weather only started improving as we left on Friday morning. Here’s a picture of the marina where we spent our working week, captured in a fleeting dry moment.

Jachthaven Noordergat, Lauwersoog

We chose a different route for our journey back south as we wanted to avoid the busy “stand mast route” that we had taken on the way up. The chosen route had lots of fixed bridges with a height of about 3m, which we can get under if we take our canopy down. This proved to be a good choice and we made good progress along relatively quiet waterways. The quiet waterways came to an end when we briefly joined the Prinses Margrietkanal, one of the main thoroughfares for commercial barges passing through Friesland. On this occasion the canal was very quiet and it was a pleasant trip to our overnight destination of Bergum. The canal at Bergum is very industrial but the marina turned out to be very quiet and pleasant, once again operated by a friendly and helpful harbour master. We explored the town (very nice) and had an excellent Chinese meal (at a fraction of the price we would have paid at home).

Leaving Bergum we proceeded a few more kilometres along the Prinses Margrietkanal before turning off into the Alde Feanen national park. This is an area with many lakes, lots of narrow channels and hundreds of free mooring places. As with everywhere in Friesland in the middle of the summer there were lots of boats everywhere. We found a nice quiet spot and spent the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the surroundings of the nature reserve.

Nature

The next stage of our journey took us across a few more lakes and into a small town called Joure, which is at the end of a cul-de-sac canal. One of the lakes along the way was the Sneekermeer, named after the nearby town of Sneek. Having visited Sneek a couple of weeks earlier we knew that the first week of August is “Sneek Week” – a huge sailing event. As we passed across the edge of the Sneekermeer we saw more sailing boats than we could possibly count. We estimated there must have been at least a thousand boats on the water. Most of them were some distance away but we still found ourselves having to dodge the ones who ventured into our channel or decided to tack just in front of us. Of course, as a motorboat you are obliged to give way to sailing boats and that can be a bit of a challenge when they come at you from all directions.

Sneek Week on the Sneekermeer

We made it safely to Joure without getting tangled in anyone’s sails. We had briefly visited Joure once before on our previous trip. We remembered the marina as being very quiet, with only a few boats moored up. Things were a little different this time.

Joure

We followed several boats up the canal into Joure and were concerned that there would not be enough space for us. However, there was plenty of space near the town centre and we were very pleased with our mooring spot. It was Sunday so most of the shops were closed and the town was quiet. Fortunately the restaurants were open and we were able to have some lunch along the main street.

We have noticed that Dutch towns all have public art in the streets, mainly in the form of bronze statues. Our guide book showed one of Joure’s statues and we came across it on the high street. Angles can be a bit deceptive – we expected it to be life sized and missed it at first. It was actually about a foot high and positioned on a tall plinth. The figures are all gazing upwards at the bell tower of a church.

Deceptively small statue in Joure

On Monday morning we set off from Joure with the intention of going to Heeg, a nearby town, for our three-day/four-night working week. We arrived just outside Heeg at about 11am and decided to press on as it was so early. After crossing several more lakes and wondering why we were seeing lots of traditional sailing ships on the move we arrived at the town of Stavoren on the east coast of the IJsselmeer. We had accidentally picked the day when the sailing barges, known as “skûtsje”, have their annual regatta on the edge of the lake. The town was buzzing with people and sailing barges were everywhere.

Lots of skûtsje everywhere in Stavoren

We happened to walk along the “sea” front just as the main race was finishing. It was a very impressive sight and you have to admire the skill required to race a hundred-year-old iron barge in close proximity to a dozen others.

Crossing the finishing line

The only problem for the boats, fortunately not for us, was the queue to get off the lake through the lock and onto the canal. There were two locks, one for big boats and one for smaller ones, but this lot was going to take some time to clear.

Waiting to get back off the IJsselmeer

We’re very pleased with our mooring at Marina Stavoren. It’s a busy place with lots of comings and goings, but it all calms down in the evening. This was the view from the end of our pontoon on our first night.

Not a bad view from our pontoon

A final note about kibbeling. I mentioned last week I had seen it on a menu when I had ordered my tong (sole) and chips. Since then I have ordered it three times and I must say I’m a fan. It consists of deep fried chunks of fish (I’m not sure what kind but it’s cod-like) and it’s delicious. I am not one for photographing food but I wanted to spread the word about kibbeling – maybe one day it will make it to the UK. This was my lunch as we watched the skûtsje coming and going.

Kibbeling!

Next week might (or might not) bring our biggest adventure yet …

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