Antipole cruises

Texel to Grongingen

We sailed for Harlingen from Texel on Tuesday morning with a stiff easterly breeze, which was largely against us as we crossed the shallow Waddenzee.  We beat through the twisting channels, only needing to motor one short section, and arrived off Harlingen by 11:30.  There we locked down into the Van Harinxma canal – yes it is a unique  Netherlands experience of often locking downwards when coming in from the sea!  From there we motored the short distance to the old town of Frankener.  It was a strange transition having started with a brisk sail across the sea and ending in the town.  Frankener is a typical Dutch town with a circular defensive singel canal around it and service waterways right into the centre.

The next morning Trees came to visit again, bearing home-made cake which we enjoyed in the warm sunny weather before walking around the town on the singel.  After lunch we all departed for Leeuwarden, about 10nm further along the canal – a steady motor against head winds.  It was a good opportunity for Dan to practice manoeuvring the boat as we waited for four bridges to be opened.

In Leeuwarden we moored in the park much frequented by students taking the summer sun.  We too enjoyed the weather during a drink before strolling into the centre of town to enjoy an excellent meal to celebrate Tree’s up-coming birthday.  The next morning Trees took a taxi back to Frankener to re-join her car.  It was lovely to have had her on board and share great time together.

DokkumWe continued our journey through the canals and eight bridges to the picturesque town of Dokkum, where we paused for tea and poffertjes.  Tony’s grandchildren will remember Dokkum from 2012 when we moored under the windmill that doubles as a pet shop.

From there it was just five more bridges and a lock before we emerged into the Lauwersmeer, a large expanse of shallow water, where we could at last raise sail.  We anchored there for supper and the night.

On Friday we were able to mostly sail under genoa along the Riet Diep to Groningen, negotiating twenty bridges and two locks on the way.

We had not long been in Groningen before we heard a friendly ‘ahoy!’ and were joined by local friends Jan and Rita, whom we met in our 2011 Netherlands cruise and who have stayed in touch through this blog.  After drinks aboard we all went out to an excellent meal at De Biechtstoel restaurant.

Sadly we have to let Dan leave ship here to return to his other world.  It has been great having him on board and it has been a great help with working the ship.  Ynskje has enjoyed not only having her son on board but also having a break from much of the work she normally has to do.

Dan writes:

First and foremost, huge thanks and love to Mum and Tony for welcoming me aboard the good ship Antipole.

This was my first real holiday in two years, having spent the majority of that time head down building a complex product and challenging organisation. To say that this was a welcome break is something of an understatement. 

This trip has not only been as stark a contrast to my other life as can be imagined but within the trip itself it has been a journey of contrasts. We started out in the cold windswept English Channel, arriving freezing and very tired into the curious town of Ramsgate where the first glimpse of blue sky was spotted. The leg across to Europe proper (!) saw us cutting across to Scheveningen and opened up the skies to glorious and welcome sunshine before night fell again and, rotating watches, we zigzagged under darkness between the hulking ships waiting at anchor off the Dutch coast. A cold and starlit night was transformed by glorious Dutch early summer sun and the arrival of part of the Dutch-side of the family for pancakes and good times catching up. 

Puttering along sunnily ‘indoors’ through the canals was as picturesque and stereotypically, beautifully Dutch and relaxing as you could imagine, despite the sometimes nerve-wracking bridge obstacles. Further contrasts ranged from being moored comfortably and silently in Franeker’s genteel canal side waters to pulling up into the relative vibrancy of Leeuwarden and dinner for Oma’s birthday. Leaving civilisation behind again to lie at anchor in the Lauwersmeer, swinging in the gathering wind and another fantastic sunset showed again how diverse and satisfying life out on the sea can be.

I’m very sad to be leaving Mum and Tony but at the same time excited for them as they continue their intrepid journey east. I go south by train, not boat, but sailing is such a great metaphor for life that I’ll always not be far from the sea.

Thanks again to two of the bravest and happiest people I know.

My photo picks:

One thought on “Texel to Grongingen

  1. heleen

    Hi Tony,

    We had a marvelous time and a lot of fun together. It was nice seeing Daniel again and – now you are with the two of you – have a safe sail to the Baltic. I’ll follow you on the blog.
    Love for both, Heleen

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