A bridge too far?

For our last week of cruising in the Netherlands, at least for this year, we planned a small circuit to take in some of the rivers and towns that we had not yet visited. From our previous working week in Leiden we would head east along the Oude Rijn (one of the many rivers in these parts that has Rijn [Rhine] in its name) to Woerden, then north to Uithoorn before heading back to base in Aalsmeer. Here’s what the planned route looked like.

Planned route – taking in the Oude Rijn

We had seen some signs on the rivers a couple of weeks ago containing the words stremming and Alphen aan den Rijn. We had not paid much attention as we were not at that time planning to pass through Alphen aan den Rijn, but we had translated stremming as “curdled” or “coagulated”. It sounded intriguing, but not good. Our planned route to Woerden would take us through Alphen so we decided to do a bit of research and found out there had been an accident causing the closure of the river. A bit more digging revealed that the accident was caused by two cranes toppling off a barge whilst trying to lift a large section of a new bridge into place. Someone caught the whole thing on video and it’s well worth a watch. Even the BBC covered it on their website. Click here to watch it. The good news is that, amazingly, no one was killed or seriously injured despite several houses and shops being crushed.

With Alphen no longer an option we chose a slightly different route that would take us along the Drecht and Amstel rivers to Uithoorn and Ouderkerk aan de Amstel and then back the same way. This proved to be a good choice as both were very quiet, scenic rivers.

Lots of nice windmills
Waiting for a bridge along the Drecht

Our first stop, Friday night, was in Uithoorn. Our guide book stated “There are moorings for vessels up to 6m only at the visitors’ harbour, unless you can persuade someone otherwise”! However, the moorings were replaced earlier this year and they now offer very good quality pontoons that easily accommodated Juneau’s 10m length. It was a great spot right in the town centre, close to shops and restaurants.

Uithoorn – view from the boat
The new moorings in Uithoorn

On Saturday we went an hour further up the Amstel to the village of Ouderkerk. Ouderkerk was a nice little place but after wandering around for a while and stopping for lunch we felt we had “done” it.

Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

The moorings at Ouderkerk were not great and so after lunch we decided to return to Uithoorn and we arrived back there around 3pm. As the afternoon progressed we noticed a lot of activity nearby and soon discovered that they were setting up for the annual “Tropical Night” – a large, free concert with the main stage about 100m from our boat. Oh dear.

Tropical Night attracted a lot of visitors, mainly young and the street running past our mooring started filling up with people (and bikes of course) from around 9pm. We decided not to venture out for a closer look and instead “enjoyed” the music from inside the boat. There was absolutely no problem (apart from the noise) and it all finished around 1am. By the time we got up in the morning you would not have known anything had happened, apart from a small amount of litter. Had we known about it we would have stuck to our original plan and stayed in Ouderkerk for the night, but in the end it was OK.

On Sunday we retraced our route back down the Amstel and Drecht rivers and headed over to the Braasemermeer. This is an example of a Dutch name that really has too many letters. Subconsciously we found ourselves shortening words like this to make them pronounceable for a native English speaker. We had been across this lake a few times and had been calling it the Brass-em-eer. But when chatting to a Dutch neighbour at the Uithoorn mooring and mentioning that we were going to the Brass-em-eer he first looked a bit puzzled and then said “Oh, you mean the Braaaa-semmer-meer”. I agreed that was indeed what I meant. This was a fairly typical exchange with a Dutch person – they are always polite and helpful, generally speak excellent English and, if you attempt any Dutch words they will correct your pronunciation. I firmly believe they are being helpful, not critical, but sometimes the corrected version sounds exactly the same as the way I said it! I’m definitely not a linguist and Dutch is quite a challenging language.

Anyway, we arrived at the Braaaa-semmer-meer and stayed overnight at one of the marinas we had visited last December on our flying visit to identify a home for Juneau. The Jachthaven de Brasem is in a great spot on the edge of the lake and it was a good place to spend our final night “away” before returning to our Aalsmeer base the next day. There was an endless stream of boats constantly passing by – goodness knows where they were all going.

Jachthaven de Brasem from the Braasemermeer

After leaving the Braasemermeer on Monday morning we headed over to the nearby Kaag lake where we had reserved a table for lunch at the Tante Kee restaurant, which came highly recommended. The food was very good and the view from the restaurant took in the Feadship ship yard next door where they build superyachts. They were in the final stages of finishing a 187 foot superyacht called Halo which had been launched a couple of weeks earlier.  Here’s a bit more information about Halo.

We parked Juneau outside the restaurant, next to Halo.

A handy mooring at the restaurant
Juneau and the superyacht

Finally the time had come when we needed to take Juneau back to her home marina, Jachthaven Stenhuis in Aalsmeer. We are very pleased with our choice of Stenhuis as a base – the family that run it have been extremely helpful throughout the process of getting Juneau there, doing a few jobs on the boat and looking after her when we’re not there. The final job for this year will be when they lift the boat out of the water in early October and tuck her up in a heated shed for the winter. It’s good to know she’ll be protected from the elements until we can next make use of her.

Here’s the route for our final week’s cruising.


Finally, some statistics for our three month trip around the Netherlands:

Total distance covered 1149 km
Engine hours 152
Number of bridges opened for us 206
Number of locks 37
Amount of fuel used 335 litres
Average fuel consumption 2.2 l/hr, 9.7 miles per gallon

We’ve had a fantastic summer exploring the Netherlands and living on Juneau.  Any concerns about being cooped up in a space 34 feet long were completely unfounded and we’ve become steadily more impressed with our little boat.  She has taken us along narrow waterways, under low bridges, across large stretches of open water and into town centres.  We have spent nights on little islands, in the hustle and bustle of cities and everything in between. Given a chance, would we do it again?  Absolutely.


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