Harwich to Enkhuizen and back to Harwich

So, the good ship has been refitted by the excellent boatbuilding team at Shotley Marina. Martin Kendall was in charge and has the rare gift of helping make spending money pleasurable. He's also a fine boatbuilder. Brimble was raring to go for a spin and we were ready for some modest adventure. Holland was chosen.

Despite the many thousands of miles we have sailed in Brim we have never remembered to stop and visit our Dutch next door neighbour and as it's just a hop, skip and a jump across the North Sea it seemed like a worthy proposition. We teamed up with Brimble's best friend Sumara of Weymouth along with Capn Flint and Grit.

The trip was in essence across they North Sea to Ijmuiden, down the canal to Amsterdam, explore a bit of the inland waterways and then back the way we came. These maps show it a bit clearer.

From Ipswich to Ijmuiden and Amsterdam

Amsterdam to Edam to Hoorn to Enkhuisen to Volendam to Amsterdam
 The two weeks were made extra fun by several crew changes which were largely un-planned and took place at locations determined by whether we found the name entertaining. Inevitably, my personal favourite was Edam where the famous cheese comes from. I must admit that I was delighted last year with the Isles of Scilly because quite frankly it was a mad place to change crew but Edam ... well it does take the biscuit. Something to focus on next year.

Over the two weeks of sailing First Mate Rob took a starring role along with Chief Medical Officer Tom, Money-man Phil Trotter and Logistics Officer Selma. It was set up to be fun and it was. Here we go.

Monday 19 th June  - Tuesday 20th June (Rob, John and Tom)
Shotley to Amsterdam (via Ijmuiden)

Tom P (CMO) arrived at midnight on Sunday night and so we were crewed up and ready to leave first thing Monday which we did. As we sailed past Harwich town you cant help but love the incredible mix and match of architecture. Well worth a wander round if you're in that neck of the woods.

Departure from Shotley on a lovely Monday morning. We were told off for being half a BBL (Brimble-boat-length) into the main channel despite the nearest vessel being several miles away?

Father and son team looking good as we head away from the UK

A gorgeous sun rise as we head across the north sea. There are a few gas rigs on the Dutch side and a large windfarm just off shore of Ijmuiden but theyre everywhere now. We had moved into a watch pattern after supper the night before so were reasonably refreshed as we arrived.

We decided that some macramé on the good ships boat hook would improve grip and appearance and help pass a few hours. A good team effort with all three of us doing parts of it.

The final approach into Holland. Granted, I have made more dramatic land falls but then the whole point of Holland is that most of it's underwater!

We donked our way into Ijmuiden and as we passed the enormous and incredibly empty Seaport Marina we rendezvoused with Capn Flint, Grit and the very beautiful Sumara of Weymouth.

Sumara of Weymouth a beautiful wooden Vertue that has sailed all over the world

Almost immediately we entered our first lock. We weren't sure whether you radioed up to gain entry so we tried but the reality is that you just rock up and mill around. They then keep you informed of progress via entry lights.

The rise and fall of the locks is very modest and so the fixed cleats built into the lock walls work very well. It was all good fun.

We did find when we ere on our way home that if you end up in the large lock you need some big fenders to get you sufficiently off the wall to avoid a large barnacle covered plastic pipe which would be fine for a big boat as a fender but was a risk for a little yacht.

The canal down to Asterdam was chock-a-block

It wasn't so long before we were trundling past Amsterdam Central Railway station

... and then snugged up in Sixhaven Marina in the heart of Amsterdam. The staff were great here and although you can't pre-book the Harbourmaster said he will always find you a berth. I believe him.

 Wednesday 21st - Thursday 22nd June

We liked Amsterdam and we particularly liked the Maritime Museum which we concluded was one of the best we have ever been to. A couple of days was just about enough to explore the town and to consume enough Amstel Beer to feel the need to move on. A dinghy and outboard would be quite fun to explore the miles of waterways on which Amsterdam is founded. We have no outboard.

The Blaeu Map exhibition was brilliant. This map is of Jan Mayen, an uninhabited island in the North Arctic Ocean. We sailed there a few years ago and climbed up the 2,277m Beerenberg mountain which is the most northern active volcano in the world. The map is a fair representation of the steepness of the climb which is made even more difficult by the many crevasses you have to cross on your way to the top.

The National Maritime Museum is housed in what was the Navy's land store. As with many buildings in Amsterdam it is founded on wooden piles ... in this case 1800!

In Amsterdam there are incredible bridges, bicycles, waterways, windmills as well as a range of drugs and prostitutes.

There is also a cow shop and a duck shop. Amsterdam is well stocked for most needs.

 Friday 23rd June
Amsterdam to Edam

Amsterdam to Edam

From Amsterdam we had to pass through another lock and under a lifting bridge to enter the fresh water Markermeer. The Markermeer is 2.5m deep pretty much everywhere so once you get used to this (and don't wet your pants everytime you look at the echo sounder) its really quite relaxing. The sail to Edam was great and we arrived mid afternoon to pick Selma up.

Chirpy chick was delighted to meet some ducks of his own age whilst at Edam

There was no shortage of cheese. The yellow coating is for Holland. Exported Edam obviously has the red coat we are all familiar with. We enjoyed many cheese jokes .. such as 'which hotel do mice stay in ... The Stilton'.

We were also able to model the very excellent Arthur Beale jumpers that we are all owners of.

Saturday 24th June (John, Rob, Tom and Selma)
Edam to Hoorn

Edam to Hoorn

And then there were four.

Hoorn was a former Dutch East India Company base and so the town has a rich history and architecture. The tower you can see is the 16th Century Hoofdtoren. We had dinner in there when Phil arrived from the UK.

We moored up close to the town centre against the main quay. Sumara snuggled up next to us,

The harbour emptied out at lunch and then filled up later. It was a lovely stop. Tom and Rob headed home from here whilst Phil, Selma and I  carried on touring.

The houses of Hoorn were somewhat off centre!

Monday 26th June (John, Phil & Selma)

Hoorn to Enkhuisen

Hoorn to Enkhuisen 

Another little hop up took us through another lock and out of the Markermeer and into the Ijsselmeer. The lock provides access through the dam that separates these two stretches of water.

Just on the other side of the dam is the beautiful town of Enkhuisen. You can stay out in the main harbour or alternatively nuzzle your way into the inner harbour. To do this a bridge has to open.  

As the bridge opens the clock tower on the left of the picture plays music.

Under the lifting bridge (raised after a quick call to the harbourmaster) and onto the town quay

Brimble moored up in the town centre

Tuesday 27th (John, Phil, Selma)

Enkhuisen to Volendam

Enkhuisen to Volendam

At this point we said good by to Sumara and crew and started to head south and back to Amsterdam. Rob was flying back on Thursday night to help sail the good ship back with Phil and I.

On the way south we stopped off at Volendam, a sea side resort. It is th Dutch version of Walton-on-the-Naze, they should perhaps consider twinning, I will say no more.

We had some great fun on arrival at Volendam sneaking into the tightest berth ever. We had less than half a metre front and back. It represented an irresistible challenge that I think Phil and Selma relished taking on.

Wednesday 28th - Thursday 29th (John, Phil, Selma)
Volendam to Amsterdam to Ijmuiden

Volendam to Amsterdam

From Volendam we sailed back to Amsterdam passing back under the lifting bridge and locking back out of the Markermeer and then on to Ijmuiden. Selma, flew home from Amsterdam and Rob flew back for the passage home. We were grateful for his help ... it was a perky one.

Friday 29th - Saturday 30th June (Phil, John & Rob)
Ijmuiden - Shotley

From Ipswich to Ijmuiden and Amsterdam

The trip back can best be described by this video which I took in the morning when things were much calmer. Suffice it to say that the good ship went like a steam train, head on into a Force 6, at maximum speed. Overnight, it was very, very bouncy and very, very dark! We did however, make record time and arrived back at Shotley the following morning covering the 140 miles in not much more than 24 hours under triple reefed main and storm jib. A great reflection of what a superb little boat the good ship is even if it did feel like being inside a washing machine strapped to a roller coaster.

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