May 17, 2009
Dear Family and Friends:
We’ve just returned from a lovely weekend in Amsterdam where we met up with Susan and Bob Murphy from Nanaimo. While they were staying at the very posh Eden American Hotel near Leidseplein in the Canal Belt area of Amsterdam central, we chose the much more rustic (read ‘cheap’) and authentic 4 storey walk up in the Jordaan area. Not that far away from them as it is still in the central part of Amsterdam. Phil just about popped another hernia taking the bags up to the 3rd floor on a stairway that was also suitably authentic – read ‘straight up and very narrow!’ I’ve been on black ski runs that were less steep.
However, we had a lovely visit – wandering the streets, aiming our way to De Slegte, a second hand bookstore with an English section so that Phil and I could stock up for the summer, and then meeting up for a lovely Indonesian rijztafel meal that evening. We celebrated our 30th anniversary early so we could share the occasion with friends. Then we met up again the next morning – not pre-arranged – at the van Gogh museum. There was a special exhibition “van Gogh and the Colours of the Night”. Was terrific and we really enjoyed it. We walked over to the nearby Rijksmuseum but took one look at the kilometer long line up and decided that maybe it was time to head back to Giethoorn. Stopping for a beer along the way, of course. Anyway, we had a lovely time highlighted by the opportunity to have 2 – read ‘em – 2 showers. Heavenly!!!!!!!
Our saga with trying to get internet connection continues. We’ve been to the computer/phone store twice now and will try one more time on Monday. Then I guess we give up which will make communication difficult but we’ll sort it out eventually! I did notice that the fellow we dealt with on the first visit (about 1 ½ hours) quickly disappeared into the back room as we rounded the corner for the second visit, and a poor little girl was left to deal with those crazy Canucks. In this day of techies and geeks, who knew life could be this difficult? Next time, I’m bringing a very long extension cord – they laid telephone cable across the Atlantic easier than our getting internet access here in the Netherlands!
However, we’ve had success in getting a bank account. Even David who’s been here 3 years was astounded. I guess we managed to look like the innocent, extremely naive seniors that we are and convinced them we were neither drug lords laundering money or white Islamic terrorists. Whatever, we are now the proud owners of an ABM AMRO savings and chequing account. I don’t even want to think of the process we’ll have to go through next year in France for the same privilege of banking in a foreign country. Strip searching is not out of the question with those bloody Frenchies!
But not is all rosy, sadly. We’ve had a few setbacks this week with the boat. Phil and I took the boat out on our own into the channel – a whole 500 metres - to get water into the tanks. We were doing really well mooring when a gust of wind took us away from the dock when we were this close! If only my legs were longer, I could have hopped off and pulled the boat in. Sadly my 30” inseam doesn’t make it at times. If the 2 men in the sailboat waiting to get water at the same station hadn’t been rolling their eyes heavenwards, we wouldn’t have been so embarrassed - but there it is. Experience only comes with time!
The second orientation trip with David started out really well. We cruised through some very beautiful countryside, through little villages and under bridges. As we were approaching the last lock of the day, the throttle slipped out of gear and there we were, headed directly into the jaws of a closed lock gate. The gate looked at us contemptuously and declared – “go ahead, this will hurt you more than it will me!” I was at the bow with the rope, saw what was happening and threw myself to the nearest handhold and clung for dear life. Luckily, David made his way to the steering station in time to get us into gear again. Phew! We escaped that one but it also means another dip into the purse for a new throttle and then paying someone to put it in for us.
So, just as we wiped our brow and other parts of our anatomy, we headed across the lake for the final leg. Almost home! David suggested we open up the throttle and we cranked her up to about 2200 RPMs. Not that much really for a diesel engine. Wrong! All of a sudden thick black smoke was escaping from under the deck and filling the cabin where I was making coffee. David, again, quickly lifted the floor boards and determined that there was no fire but something sure was wrong. We slowly made our way back home and called BootGarant (boat version of BCAA) and they gave us the bad news – it wasn’t just a gasket as we had hoped but a cracked manifold. So we went from an 80 Euro patch to probably an 800 Euro (or more) repair. That hole into which you stuff money has its jaws wide open!
But we are going this week to see Gerard at Volenhove and he will tell us how much all the repairs and additions to the boat will cost. Then we can assess our next move. We may be joining the street performers we saw in Amsterdam – they managed to fill up their little cup!
Until next week, take care and say a little prayer that the boat gods smile on us!