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A boating holiday with friends

Bijgewerkt op: 8 nov. 2023

*Guests blog from charter guests*


Anneke and Henk are our friends and they had rented a yacht in the spring for the past three years to cruise around for a week. Encouraged by their enthusiastic stories and the fact that they always have good weather, we agreed that the four of us would cruise together this year, each on our own yacht. Last year, Henk had chartered a yacht from Natural Yachts and he had been very pleased with it: friendly people, new yachts and good service.


Booking the motor boats In December last year we looked at the boats available and booked two yachts for the first week in June; a Northman 1200 for Henk and a Nexus Revo 870 Hardtop Electric for me.


I am a real water sports fanatic, I got my boating licence around my 40th birthday, and then worked as a skipper on canals in Amsterdam for 13 years. In 1996, I graduated from the Enkhuizen nautical college as a steersman. I owned a sailboat for 20 years and sailed a lot on the IJsselmeer and the Waddenzee.

In all those years, I learned a lot, especially that a good preparation is very important while sailing. If the weather changes and worsens while boating, you really don't have time to look up or check anything. So, two routes have been worked out for our boating holiday in Friesland in June.


A boating route from Heeg to Leeuwarden, Harlingen and back to Heeg, about 128 km. The second route goes from Heeg along the Weerribben, Zwartsluis to Lemmer and back to Heeg again, about 145 km. After joint deliberation, it is decided to take the route along the Weerribben.


A boating route from Heeg to Leeuwarden, Harlingen and back to Heeg, about 128 km. The second route goes from Heeg along the Weerribben, Zwartsluis to Lemmer and back to Heeg again, about 145 km. After joint deliberation, it is decided to take the route along the Weerribben.


The whole route is arranged in a clear schedule, where you can see what the destination is for each day. All the waterways are listed in order, as well as the bridges that are passed. A table of bridges gives everything, including sizes, operating times and telephone numbers.


After a very cold month of May, 4 June was approaching - the day on which we were due to go on holiday. I had often told Henk that I would be planning the route and that he was responsible for the weather. And Henk is living up to this, the weather forecast for 4 to 11 of June looks very promising.


The boating holiday in Friesland begins When we meet in Heeg on Friday the 4th of June at 3 p.m., it is nice and warm (22*c) and the wind is NO2. First we get an explanation about the boats and we go for a test cruise. The Nexus Revo 870 is all-electric and has only a propeller and no rudder. The principle of a schottel. In my time as a skipper on canal cruises, I used to work with schottels a lot so I quickly became familiar. It is important to know that if the propeller stops, you can no longer steer. However, I had never used an electric boat before and that takes some getting used to. When you accelerate, you don't hear an engine noise that gets louder, but only the water that streams past the boat, as it does when sailing. It is also a matter of getting used to the fact that you only have to use the throttle marginally to get the desired effect for what the boat has to do.


After this thorough instruction, we returned to the berth and packed the yacht with the things we had brought with us from home, such as drinks, snacks and food for the next three days. During the preparations, it was not yet certain that the restaurants would be open again because of corona.


Around 17.00 hours, we set course for the Weerribben. We want to boat from Heeg to Sloten, this is a distance of 11 km. After 10 minutes of boating we arrive at the Heegermeer Lake and keep left, via the concrete buoyage we cross this lake. Then we enter the Waldseinster Rakken and head towards Woudsend.


At Woudsend we have to turn right and pass our first bridge. After about 1 km, we go over the viaduct of the N928 and cruise on to the Slotermeer. It is really nice to boat through the ditches and small canals and then arrive at such a lake. After crossing the Slotermeer, we continued into the Sleattemer Gat. A sign indicated that the bridge at Sloten would cost 3 euros. The red light of the bridge can already be seen here, as the bridge lies at an angle of almost 90 degrees. There must be cameras too, because when we reach the red light, the green light below is turned on and we know we can proceed. As soon as we reached the corner, we were almost at the bridge. The barriers went down and, as the boats drifted out, the bridge went up and we could speed up. Marjan, my wife, is already on the foredeck with the money and as we slowly pass the bridge, the wooden shoe comes down and the money can go in. A very friendly lady bridge attendant thanked us and wished us a pleasant trip.


Just behind the bridge, after a slight turn to the left, we saw the marina in Sloten where we would spend our first night. Marjan rang the harbour master to ask where we could moor. We are allowed to berth one after the other on the front side of berth H. This is done quietly and skilfully, Marjan puts a bow ring and I make sure that the aft bollard of the boat is at the same level as the bollard of the dock. The advantage of this is that the ship can no longer move forwards or backwards and with few mooring ropes it is still stable. Our first kilometres have been covered, we quickly get used to boating with the yachts and are very satisfied with it.


First, the shore power is connected so that the Nexus Revo 870 Electric can recharge. After a few minutes, the voltage drops and I remember the instruction to limit the charging current because of the fuse value of the sockets on the docks. I set the limiter to 6 Amps and push the plug into another socket on the dock. Now everything is fine.


After 2 hours of boating, we went on board with Anneke and Henk for a drink. The Northman 1200 offers more space than the Nexus Revo 870. Anneke starts cooking dinner and has salmon sashimi as a starter. The starter is followed by a delicious main course, asparagus with cod and fried potatoes, accompanied by a nice glass of wine. This is how life is meant to be on holiday with your best friends. After dinner, we do the dishes and then we play a game of dice.


Around 10 p.m., we decided to close the cockpit tents because it was getting colder and to keep the mosquitoes out. We had already provided the hatches in the sleeping cabins with mosquito nets. The sky is becoming darker and it starts to look threatening with rumbling in the distance. Before we go to bed, I check whether all the hatches are closed, because a lot of rain is predicted for the coming night. The beds are comfortable and we hear the first drops falling on the deck, which sounds quite cosy. It reminds us of the time when we were young and went camping during the holidays.


Saturday 5 June | Visit to Sloten

After breakfast we decided to do some sightseeing in Sloten. It is only a short walk to get to the town, and when you stand on the high bridge near the windmill, you can with some imagination see the frozen canal with the Eleven Cities ice skaters. But we walk on and at the bottom of the bridge there is a pillory which of course I try. I just have to think of something that I would have done to get locked up in it. Maybe a small theft.

When we walk across the canal, we arrive at a church where a group is standing in their best clothes, celebrating a wedding and waiting for the bride and groom. When they arrive, we are already sitting on a terrace having coffee and apple pie with whipped cream.


Back at the marina, we disconnected the shore power and rolled up a few of the covers of the cockpit tent so that we had a good view of everything. We go to Ossenzijl. It is a bit of a longer trip than yesterday, 27 km and 6 bridges. It is now 11.00 and we expect to be in Ossenzijl around 15.00.


When you leave the marina you turn right on the Easterbutengreft and after 300 meters at the T-junction you turn left on the Waldsleat. After another 300 meters you enter a small lake, Brandemar, follow the buoyage and enter the Hjerringsleat. You cruise beautifully between the meadows with some cattle. On your left you pass a farm where you can take a ferry. Shortly afterwards you enter the Grutte Brekken. In front of you you see an island with a Marrekrite mooring where you can stay for free for a maximum of 3 days. We keep the island on our right hand and continue in the same direction. Now we have to be careful because we have to cross the Prinses Margrietkanaal. As soon as we passed the red and green light buoys of the Prinses Margrietkanaal, I turned left to follow the recreational buoys. At the next white-green starboard buoy, we turn right into the Follegeasleat. This long ditch ends at the Follega Bridge, which has a red-green light as we approach it, and when the bridge is up, we get the green light and can continue our trip. Shortly afterwards, we entered the Tsjukemar. The Tjeukemeerbrug in the A6 was right in front of us. The bridge was 12 metres high and 45 metres wide, so it was easy to pass with some steering skills.



When we pass the bridge, we follow the canal and keep the green buoys to starboard. After a while we passed another island with Marrekrite moorings where you can easily take a break or have lunch. We decide to carry on. It is still early in the season, but if not, it is important to arrive at a marina in time, otherwise it may be full and the Nexus Revo 870 Electric may need a shore connection for recharging. After crossing the Tjeukemeer, we arrived at Echtenerbrug. There we continued into the Pier Christiaansleat and approached our next bridge.


At the end of the canal we arrived at a t-junction where we turned left. We pass a marina and then see a beautiful overgrown shoreline on the right. At the next t-junction we turn right into the Jonkers or Helomavaort. We followed this canal all the way and that was quite a distance. After another long stretch we came to the Oldetrijnsterbrug, which also opened for us as soon as we got close.


At the end of the Jonkers or Helomavaort we get a right turn and see our first lock. On the left of the bend is a large restaurant with a terrace where you can moor for lunch or a drink. We continued to the L.Homansluis, where we moored until we got the red/green light. The bridge rises and the lock gates open, allowing us to slowly enter the lock.


I go on to the end of the lock where Marjan puts in a front ring and I bring the back bollard of the boat up to the same level as the bollard of the lock, then quickly tie a rope around it and that's it. I jump ashore to help Anneke moor the Northman 1200. The drop is minimal and soon a signal sounds, indicating that the lock gates are going to open. Then we get the green light, Marjan unties at the front and I at the back. A little push from the bow thruster and off we go. The Nexus Revo 870 glides like a swan away from the lock, heading for Ossenzijl. Henk and Anneke follow us again and it' s just getting more and more fun to be cruising.


The right shore is beautifully vegetated again and there is a cycle path along where cyclists pass us with a friendly wave. The temperature is good and the clouds are getting thinner and the sun is showing itself again. It couldn't be more pleasant. We now cruise on De Lende, a sort of meandering canal with bends to the left and right. After about 20 minutes, we arrived at the Ossenzijlersloot, which we entered to the left and could already see Ossenzijl in front of us. We passed a marina on the right and on the left a large recreation park with houses situated on the waterfront.

Then we are approaching the bridge at Ossenzijl. We calmly steered the Nexus Revo 870 passed the bridge and Henk did the same with the Northman 1200. Behind the bridge is a narrow canal that leads to the Kalenbergergracht. After 5 minutes, we reached the entrance to the marina.



We continue for a while and then moor to the right of the dock. I first turn the Nexus around so that I can moor backwards with the swimming platform close to the dock. This makes it easier to get off the boat and is convenient for the shore power. The Nexus Revo 870 Electric could use some power after 27 km of cruising, the battery is at 54%. Here too the current limiter has to be set back to 6A.


Anneke starts preparing dinner again while we have an afternoon drink. The men have a beer and the women a white wine, and some nibbles to go with it.


After dinner, we chat and discuss tomorrow's route. The route starts at Kalenbergergracht, where there are some very nice houses on both sides and a lot of natural beauty. With this in mind, we went to bed and looked back on another beautiful day of boating.






Sunday morning, June 6 | we are boating to Blokzijl Around 11.00 am we depart for Blokzijl a distance of 15 km and therefore approximately 3 hours of boating. We cruise very slowly down the Kalenbergergracht as there is much beauty to see both in nature and architecture. We also pass stork nests with their young in it. At Kalenberg there is a pull-up bridge with a bridge keeper and a wooden shoe. Via the Heuvengracht with its beautiful vegetation on the shore, we took a sharp turn to the right into the Wetering. There we came across bridge 11 but it was 5.4 metres high so we could easily pass.


After 20 minutes of boating we pass the village Muggenbeet where there is a restaurant on the right with a nice terrace and limited mooring possibilities. Then we navigate on to the Giethoornse lake where you may not exceed 6 km / h, keep left here. Then we follow the Valsche Trog a nice canal with bends to the right and left. We can already see Blokzijl. When the Valsche Trog turns into the Noorderdiep we go straight to Blokzijl with a large holiday park on our right.



When you enter Blokzijl, you automatically arrive at the lock, which you have to pass through to get to the kolk, where you can also moor. Here, you have a wonderful view of Blokzijl. It was still early in the afternoon and the weather was beautiful. We moored at the long berth opposite the lock. Here too, the Nexus Revo 870 Electric is positioned with its rear end facing the shore. The shore connections are tucked away in the ground next to the mooring. Here the current limiter does not need to be adjusted, the boat can charge at 16 amps. We are moored at a berth with beautiful old buildings overlooking the lock.



It is a bit early, but it is holiday, so the bar opens and it is enjoyment in capital letters. A nice snack for a late lunch with a beautiful view from the Northman 1200.

Yesterday, a number of corona regulations changed. The terraces and restaurants are allowed to open again, so we go out for a nice meal. After a lazy afternoon of reading and walking, we go ashore for a nice meal.


When Anneke goes for a walk after dinner, she discovers a shop where they sell all kinds of things from the past. For example, bottles of Exota, sweet wood, lollipops and candy balls, but also ginger syrup, green soap and auwel. The nice thing is that this is a shop without staff. At the entrance, you find a booklet where you write down what you want to buy and next to it you find an ATM and a calculator. That's what you call having faith in people.



Monday 7 June | To Zwartsluis

I walk to a supermarket to buy some fresh bread for breakfast. We ate these with a splendid view of Blokzijl. After discussing today's route, towards Zwartsluis, we disconnected the shore power and untied the ropes. We slowly made our way towards the lock and, as the doors opened and the light turned green, we entered the lock and waited to be locked through.


First we have to go back over the Noorderdiep and the Valsche Trog to the Giethoonse Meer. There you turn right and follow the canal. When we leave the lake we enter the Walengracht and have a view of meadows, farms and beautiful animals like cattle and birds. At the end of the Walengracht we enter the Beulakerwijde.



You have to cross this lake in the direction of Beulaeke harbour to go through the Blauwehand bridge. Henk and Anneke followed at a convenient distance. Once we have passed the Blauwehandbrug we navigate onto the Belterwijde. We were now cruising parallel to the N334 and saw a lot of traffic passing by, but there were no traffic jams or delays for us.


We are on our way to Zwartsluis, a distance of 16 kilometres, so about 3 hours of boating. We navigated down the Belterwijde into the Beukersgracht. At the end, there was another lock with a bridge, but passage is becoming easier and before we knew it, we were cruising on Meppelerdiep. A nice, wide canal, but with commercial traffic on the way, so we had to keep looking over our shoulder. On our right, the buildings of Zwartsluis appeared and on our left, we passed an industrial site and therefore a delivery point for inland vessels. There is a lot to see from the water and we also come across a ferry, so we had to be careful when passing. When the ferry docks and the yellow flashing lights go out, we know that the cable is slack and we can cruise over it.


Before we knew it, we were at the end of Meppelerdiep, the bridge in the Hasselterdijk was high enough to pass through, and we ended up on Zwarte Water. We turned right and immediately saw the marina.


When I joined Henk on board and we were sitting on the aft-deck, we saw the bridge open from a distance. And a little later, we saw an empty barge turn into the Zwarte Water. It went very slowly but there seemed to be no end to the ship. When the turn was completed, it turned out to be a pushed convoy with a length of 200 metres. It is really great to see how the skipper can handle his ship. Something you don't do just like that. Inland navigation vessels pass by regularly and we see a whole other part of the maritime scene.


After a drink and a bite to eat, Marjan decided to rest and I read on the foredeck of the Nexus Revo 870. It's lovely in the sun, but I don't get very far because the book is closed and I decide to try out the sun deck, add a towel and a pillow, then put on some sun cream and lie down, with earplugs and music, and who can harm me?


After dinner we go for a walk and Marjan has found two more caches and Henk and I find a terrace where we drink a beer and the ladies a wine and finish with a bitterbal. After all, you are on holiday, aren't you.


Tuesday 8 June | boat trip to Emmeloord On board, we discuss the route to Emmeloord and the possibility of crossing the IJsselmeer, but there is no interest in doing so. Around 11.00 hours, the fog dissolved and a light, pale sun came through. At the Nexus Revo 870 Electric the mooring lines are untied and we go to the outside of the dock to fill the water tank. Then we set off in the direction of Emmeloord. We followed the Zwarte Water, a wide water with many bends and inland vessels, so we have to keep a good look over our shoulder.

Again, we had to pass a ferry, so again we had to watch out that the cable was down when we passed. At the end of the Zwarte Water we came out on the Zwarte Meer with a T junction where you go left towards the ijsselmeer, but we went straight to the Vollenhovenkanaal. Before we can enter this canal we have to pass the Kadoelerbrug. The bridge turns smoothly as we approach it and with the Northman 1200 in our wake we continue our journey. The weather was beautiful again: a blue sky and warm sun with a temperature of 23 degrees and little wind. Ideal boating weather.

The Vollenhovenkanaal is a wide waterway with several little islands on the right, where you can also see all kinds of birds. To the left of the canal is old land and to the right the dike with the north east polder behind it. After a quarter of an hour, the Voorstersluis lock comes into view on the left and we have to pass it in order to continue in the polder.

This is a lock with a drop of 4.8 m, so we had to go down quite a distance. At the lock, we first moored at the brakes and telephoned a central contact point. We then received a tape on which we could say where we were moored and on which side of the lock. After about 15 minutes, we received a red-green signal and shortly afterwards a green one.


Then we can enter the lock. I cruise all the way up to the bridge and, as we prepare to moor, I see the ropes running along the lock walls into the water. I remember that we have to tie our boat mooring lines around these ropes in order to lower ourselves 4.8 metres. When we are moored, I go ashore and walk to Anneke and Henk who have also entered the lock and are busy tying their boat's mooring ropes to the bollards on the ramparts. I advise them to use the ropes which run along the lock walls and then I quickly go back on board the Nexus before the whole thing starts to go down. Then a signal sounds and the lock begins to empty, lowering us 4.8 metres. Everything runs perfectly and it is a long way down. When the lock gates open, we can enter the polder and continue along the Zwolse Vaart to Marknesse.


We cruised through a forested area on a narrow canal where there was once again much natural beauty to be seen. Trees and bushes grew on both sides of the water. With a little imagination, it was as if we were sailing through a primeval forest, except that there were no crocodiles, but the temperature was close to that. After a while, on the left-hand side, we pass a kind of settlement with the possibility of launching a boat or taking a swim. After that, the forest thins out and becomes meadows.


At Marknesse, we came to the next lock, which lowered us by 1.5 metres and we continued along the Zwolse Vaart towards Emmeloord. Just before Emmeloord, a highway passes under the canal and we have to cross the Kamperbrug and then a bicycle bridge to get to Emmeloord, where we can moor along a rampart with a car park and shops in front. There are no facilities such as a shore power station or toilet facilities. But with our boats, that's no problem. It is quite warm, so we first have a drink and then decide to go out for dinner.


It's Tuesday, so many restaurants are closed, but the local Chinese restaurant is open, so the choice is quickly made. A delicious meal, nothing wrong with it. When we are back on board, we play a game, have a drink and then go to bed. It was another wonderful 25-km boating day, with lots of variety and exciting things like the locks.


And it's so nice to be somewhere different every day.


Wednesday, 8 June | the centre of Lemmer

We called the bridge operator and asked him to operate the transfer bridge and the Marknesser Bridge. When we untie the ropes, the cycle bridge is already open and after boating straight ahead for a while, we turn left into the Lemstervaart. Here, too, the bridge quickly switches to red-green and we can continue our boating trip.


Now we had a long straight stretch to Lemmer; all the bridges we passed were so high that we could easily pass underneath them. On both sides of the waterway, forest and jungle effect.


The forest on the starboard side is the Waterloopkundigbos, where a number of objects have been constructed for research into tidal phenomena. But that can only be seen for a small part from the water.


We calmly entered the lock and looked up at an enormous, high lock gate. There was no mistaking it, all you could do was fasten your mooring ropes to the ropes along the lock wall, which were of course dirty and slimy. Then, behind us, an enormous lock gate 5.5 metres high closes. A signal sounds and the lock begins to fill with water with tremendous force. The boat's mooring lines have to slide up over the lock ropes, which sometimes get stuck and become taut. Don't panic, if the tension becomes too great, they will eventually come up. Slowly, as we get higher, we see the rest of the world appear again.


And then we see Lemmer's outer harbour behind the lock gates. When the lock is filled, the doors open and we can cruise out again 5.5 metres higher. From the lock you go straight on towards the red lighthouse and just before the shore you turn right into a canal that leads to the Lemstersluis. You have to put something in the wooden shoe before you can go in. When the lock opens, we sail into the centre of Lemmer. But before we can do that, we have to pass through a bridge and then find a nice spot where we can moor one after the other. We found it just before the second bridge.


We moored at the terraces on the water's edge and could walk straight from the boat into the pub. The first thing we do is connect the shore power. But first I have to go to the bridge we came through. There are machines there where you can pay your harbour dues and get a card with credit on it. You can use this to get electricity and with this card you can enter the sanitary building to take a shower. After dinner, Anneke and Marjan go shopping and come back with some nice clothes.

Thursday 9 June | The last boating day of the holiday

Another beautiful day, another shower on board and then a nice breakfast. I had already bought bread rolls and left them with Henk and Anneke. Henk took a photo of us having breakfast. Then we took off the shore power and untied the ropes. We calmly sailed towards the bridge, which turned quickly.



There was another bridge a bit further on, but it was closed and a matrix board showed the message LINE SERVICE. I suspect that we are waiting for the public transport bus and indeed, when a bus crosses the bridge, the barriers close and the bridge rises. When we were through, Henk and another sailing yacht followed, after which the bridge closed again.

We are now on the Sylroede, a canal with marinas and holiday homes on both sides. When we come to a T-junction we keep right on the Streamkanaal. At the end of this canal we come to the Grutte Brekken, a lake which is part of the Prinses Margrietkanaal. We sailed between the green starboard buoy of the Prinses Margrietkanaal and a white/green buoy and were thus in the waterway for recreational boating. This has the advantage that you can never get in the way of commercial shipping. Almost at the end of the lake, we pass the Hjeringsleat on our left and shortly afterwards the Follegeasleat. We cruised here last Friday on our way to Sloten.


We cruised down the Grutte Brekken into the Prinses Margriet Canal and left the waterway for recreational boating. So now we had to pay close attention and look back regularly to make sure there were no overtakers by inland vessels. The last bridge on our route, the Spannenbrug, was 7.45 metres high and 12 metres wide. We passed through the small opening on the right, which was still wide enough for us. After about half an hour, we reached the next Frisian lake, De Kufurd. Here, too, we were able to enter the waterway for recreational boating. At the end of the lake, the waterway narrowed again and we were back in the Prinses Margrietkanaal, so we only had to navigate a short distance to cross over and enter the Jeltesleat.

Almost at the end of this ditch are two islands with Marrekrite moorings. When we arrive, I see a nice spot where we both can moor. We moor and first have lunch. Then we put on our swimming trunks and I enter the water via the bathing ladder. It's just a matter of getting used to it, but after that, it's really nice. Henk has a thermometer on board for the water outside and it indicates 22 degrees, so that's about right. When I have finished swimming and making dips, I get off at the swimming platform where I can use the outdoor shower. I rinse myself with warm water and then go and sunbathe.


The next morning, I wake up early and take a shower. And like all week, a blue sky and a rising sun. After breakfast, the suitcases are packed again and the remaining stuff is put in boxes and ready to be put in the cockpit. Then we cast off for the last time and navigate the last stretch to Heeg.


We can look back on a wonderful week of boating and we have made beautiful memories. It's worth repeating.


Ton van Niel

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