Antipole cruises

Hanging out in Sixhaven

I had a good trip back to Bristol, and enjoyed meeting many friends, former colleagues etc., some of whom I had not seen for ten years or more.  It was strange seeing fields that were not surrounded by water and the hills around Bristol were striking! On the Sunday evening I arrived back in Amsterdam and Ynskje, Heleen and I went out for a meal at one of Amsterdam’s excellent vegetarian restaurants.  Heleen had been keeping Ynskje company on the boat while I was away.  Ynskje had also been to  Vierhouten for Ton’s 82th birthday.  On Monday we were visited by Ynskje’s niece Yvonne, her partner Frits and daughter Anne and we had a good evening.

The weather has not been good – wet and windy.  So we are hanging out, seeing things in Amsterdam and waiting.  We are watching with some amusement the daily ritual here in Sixhaven.  Each morning the marina has to be unpacked so those who want to leave can do so, and each afternoon arriving boats pack the entrance channels again.  This means, of course, that by the time a boat wants to leave, it will be right at the back and jammed in by  recent arrivals who want to stay.  If you are not out by midday, there is little prospect of leaving until the next morning. During these maneuvers skippers are minding their craft in case other boats drift onto them.

Yesterday I watched in horror as a skipper, probably on a chartered yacht, reversed all the way along a channel and accelerated into another yacht, causing damage to both, before shooting off towards the entrance.  The defending skipper was unable to halt the onslaught. Everyone shouted advice in various languages, but there was quite unanimous instruction in this case that the offender should not carry out his intension to reverse back again to give insurance details but rather walk back from elsewhere!

Three things that strike me about the Netherlands in particular: it’s flatness, the prevalence of waterways and the bicycle.  Certainly in the parts we have visited, fields, blocks of buildings or even an indivual house is surrounded by water. The French have a saying God made the world – but the Dutch had to make their own country.  They invented poldering, whereby a large circle or square of dyke is built in the sea, and the water then pumped out to leave some land.  They then have to keep the dyke maintained to stop it flooding again.  It is understandable that they never got around to doing hills.

There may be nine million bicycles in Beijing, as the song has it, but there must be many more in the Netherlands.  It is estimated that 27% of all journeys are by bike (UK 2%) and in towns and cities it is nearer  60%. There are excellent cycle paths everywhere. Cycling is accepted in most pedestrian areas, and allowed the ‘wrong way’ in most one-way streets. In towns cyclists have right of way over other traffic and pedestrians, so everyone makes way for you.  Here in Amsterdam even the passenger ferries have ride-on ride-off facilities for cycles and mopeds, so each time a ferry docks a wave of cyclists flood ashore before there is a counter wave boarding for the next crossing, some with infants in trailers.  Young people about town are comfortable riding traditional bikes (UK ‘sit up and beg’)  – there seems to be no issue around lack of trendiness.  I note there is a presumption of cycling: when we enquire about visiting somewhere, we will often get “You’ve got cycles? It is only seven or eight kilometers” – or some such.

Perhaps this in good part explains the higher level of fitness.  I see very few obese people compared with the UK. I have seen only two or three mobility scooters and supermarket aisles do not get jammed up with them, as in Portsmouth at least.

Our next passage will be across the Markermeer, a large expanse of shallow water, so we are waiting for the wind to ease, as it can throw up rather unpleasant short seas.

More news then.

Tony x


One thought on “Hanging out in Sixhaven

  1. michael de lara

    Hi Ina and Tony

    Must say, your ‘Blogs’ are absolutely amazing and very interesting to read. Hollland must be a very nice country to visit!!
    It sounds you are having a fantastic time.
    Everything OK in your home, plants are missing you, piles of post for your upon your return.

    Enjoy your trip.


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