We had big plans this summer. We wanted to take on more of North Sea and less of the IJsselmeer. We wanted to go south. But as always with sailing, long term plans are useless, especially if you are in the Netherlands where the weather can change unpredictably. It’s never been truer than this year, where we really had to depend on hourly wind forecast, and to sometimes take literally last-minute decisions to change course when the need arose.
The Bad Beginning
The first Saturday of our sailing vacation started with the worst summer storm of the year. According to Hubby and The Kid who already camped in the boat since Friday, it felt like rough sailing being inside the moored boat. In Amsterdam, the public was advised to stay home since trees all over the city are toppling over the streets, so I got stuck home.
On Sunday, the wind was still a bit strong, but the storm was gone, and Hubby felt restless enough to go and sail to the nearest neighbouring town, Volendam, a hop 3 Nm away, which allowed me to catch up with them by bus. The weather forecast at this point was quite disheartening, but sobering. We decided to abandon all previous plans, and to just play it by ear. Our next destination of choice was Hoorn, 11 Nm away, it has a charming old city center while being big enough of a town to entertain ourselves until the bad weather passed. It was a bumpy monsoon sailing all the way to Hoorn, and we had a bit of an engine problem just before we reached the harbour, but at least we’re actually on our way!
We’ve sailed to Hoorn many times before, but this was the first time we opted to moor at the Grashaven harbour instead of the one in town. It is a larger harbour, just behind the Oostereiland, a former a prison island turned into hotel, museum, cinema and restaurants, an ideal place to have around during bad weather days.
We ended up spending 3 days in Hoorn waiting for the wind to calm down, which was a bit frustrating considering we only had 2 weeks for the whole trip and we’ve only managed to be 45km away from Amsterdam after half a week, but on the other hand, we got to rediscover the town during those 3 days, and we always found something to do, and good food to eat.
Hoorn has got a glorious past as one of the richest cities in Holland (technically, Hoorn used to be part of West Frisian) during the Golden Age, and has an old city center and old harbour to match the reputation. We learned a lot about its history and how it shaped the country during our visit to the Westfries Museum, housed in a beautiful 17th century townhouse right by the market square. The museum has interactive and engaging exhibit, which to my delight, even The Kid found really interesting (she’s usually restless in museums).
The Kid, with her newfound enthusiasm in history also loved the 20th Century Museum by the Oostereiland. The museum showcases how homes had evolved during the 20th century. I love the humble subject matters, and it was a joy to spot some of the things I used to see in my grandmother’s house, and The Kid loved all the weird contraptions and vintage technologies, and most of all the vintage toys. The new museum merged with the former Toy Museum and dedicated a section just for these toys, and added a temporary exhibit on Playmobile past and present. Needless to say, the museum was packed with families with children. Unfortunately, we all got so absorbed in the museum that nobody remembered to take pictures.
On the third day, it was market day. Not just an ordinary Wednesday market, but it was a Pirate Day market. Besides stalls of cheese, horse sausages, fresh berries, and hand-woven baskets, kids walk around in pirate costumes, and a smaller square is set up in huge bouncy castles in various designs. They were all wet from the random gusts of rain of that day, but The Kid had fun in those, even though she had to walk back to the boat with completely soaked clothes.
Going North to Friesland
On Thursday the wind was strong, but safely sail-able at 4 Bft. By this time, we had practically explored all of Hoorn’s old centre and knew every little streets, alleyways and shortcuts to get around the town, and we’re loving the town. But it’s realy time to go, and we set sail for Stavoren, 26 Nm from Hoorn. It’s a small town in Friesland that was chosen for the fact that one of the harbours had an indoor pool which we thought we could use just in case the weather stayed rotten.
Sailing started out well with a side wind, but 2 hours into it, after the lock in Enkhuizen, the swells got stronger, and the wind shifted further to the North (where we wanted to go), and it was a rough and tumble sailing until we reached the Johan-Friso lock in Stavoren, but the sun was out in Friesland! The wind was still problematic enough to give us tricky harbour maneuver, but we’re happy to be in the quiet and peaceful Marina Stavoren, at the beginning of the canal going into Friese Meren (Frisian lakes). The marina was located out of town, but we have a new dinghy that we quickly set up and used for the short cruise into town for dinner.
To be continued with: The Frisian days