Sunday 10th July Ref: 2016/30
A voyage from Muiden via the Vecht to Amsterdam on Sarah and Navin’s last full day on Lady Martina. I had been monitoring the wind, in view of Sarah’s vulnerability to travel sickness and I so gave our guests three options: to Stay in Muiden another day, and travel to Amsterdam tomorrow; to cruise immediately to Amsterdam this morning and spend the day there or to try to cruise inland and across to Amsterdam today slowly and they chose the latter.
We prepared and left the moorings, turning to starboard and heading through the Grote Zeesluis lock which we managed without much difficulty and then crept under the main road bridge on the start of the Vecht as it was displaying double red lights for lunchtime and we could get under by just a couple of inches. We then struggled with the Spiererbrug just beyond it which was displaying a single red light but failing to acknowledge our arrival with the signal red and green. There was very little space between the two bridges for me to manoeuvre in the wind whilst trying to read the signs and the instructions from my ANWB Almanac and contact the navigation authority, and so I eventually moored alongside a barge as I worked the problem.
There was a VHF channel 31 indicated but that went unanswered when I called and then the phone number that they gave asked for me to press further buttons for options in Dutch which was discouraging. Eventually, we worked out how to key 2 for English and were then invited to key in the bridge number after which (eventually!) it opened but only when the main bridge lifted as well! We cruised on and found the next bridge again difficult and, after waiting for about twenty minutes only to spot that the publicised lunchtime closure was upon us, I gave up this option as being firmly in the 'too hard' tray and began to cruise back.
We got through the same bridges and moored up waiting for the Grote Zeesluis and just about got through at the next cycle to end up back in the Muiden channel again! I had also been struggling to find a fairly quick route down the Vecht and then across to the Amstel and up in to Amsterdam without lowering the mast etc and was struggling. Given that it was also a Sunday and many bridges were on remote telephone operation in Dutch multi-choice instructions, I decided that it was all too much trouble today and that we should cruise back across the Markermeer to Amsterdam earlier instead.
I could not remember having this trouble during earlier visits a decade ago and have been wondering whether efficiencies have been made in the waterway system by combining call centres that lead to all of these unintelligible multiple-choice questions of whether it was just that I had been cruising with a Dutch-speaking partner then. There also seems to be very little use or response to the VHF as well (or ‘Mariphone’, as they call it) mainly because there has been an enormous expansion of the German holiday boat hire trade and they are not licensed to use them. On the other hand, there has not been such an increase in British boating visitors and even a decline a some reports suggest and this despite our excellent book!
The trip north along the Muiden channel and then north-west across the Markermeer went very well, with winds rarely exceeding 8-10knots and the sea state slight in the shelter of the coast. Sarah was fine this time and was happy to sit and chat and read and so she is used to Lady Martina now for reasonably-calm cruises. We took a look in Sixhaven again and they only had stern-on moorings and so we had to withdraw and cruise on to Amsterdam Marina. This manoeuvre was not helped by a large catamaran trying to some in behind us at Sixhaven; with no chance of them being accommodated and us having to wait whilst it reversed out! I took a hammerhead berth at Amsterdam Marina again and soon gave Max a long walk in the adjacent building site; still deserted as it was the weekend
25-34 degC, 60-37%RH, 1009-1017mb falling slowly, good viz, bright with sunny intervals with a F2/3 6-10kn SWly breeze