Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Newsletter #5

Dear Family and Friends: May 31/09
Okay! Who’s the idiot that signed us up for Survivor: Netherlands and didn’t tell us? That was a dirty trick. There we were, sound asleep in our bed when all of a sudden, at about 4:00 AM, a huge storm came up out of nowhere. Gale force winds of some horrendous number battered us for the next two hours. Not only did it dump 50cm of rain in an hour but it ripped apart our cabriole cover on the upper deck. The wind was so strong that it bent the aluminum poles and the canvas was ripped from the davits holding it to the boat. Once the canvas was flapping in the wind, the metal brackets were banging at the windows on both sides of the salon and we were afraid they would break the glass. Picture each of us with an arm out the window hanging onto the cabriole flap for dear life while getting drenched by the rain: and that had been a shower day so I was already clean. Then Phil had the brilliant idea of using the chain linking that crosses the missing railing where we debark the boat and clipped it to the flaps to stop it from doing any damage. I have never been so scared in all my life. Everyone here says it was a once in a lifetime storm and not the usual weather, but somehow that doesn’t make me feel any less angst. This was scarier than the Edmonton tornado back in the 90’s which I drove through not realizing that it was a tornado. If Jeff Probst shows up and asks me to eat worms, that’s it. I’m outta here!!!!!
The good news is that we have POWER!!!!!!! Once the exhaust manifold had been installed (over €1000 Euros later – yuck) we were able to leave Giethoorn and head to Vollenhove so that Gerard of Jachtwerf Aquador could then connect the battery charger (or acculader for those who speak Dutch) and fit us for the power connections so that we could easily use shore power. Most passantenhavens give you access to power and water for a small fee. So now instead of running an extension cord all over the boat and bringing the kettle into the salon to plug it in, we can now plug it in, guess where – yahoo! - the galley! Phil can now shave – guess where? Yup. You got it in one. The head! There is a double one in the salon so that the radio and the lamp can be plugged in at the same time and we have a plug in the state room (ya, right!) so we can read in bed. Life is just too good – I can’t stand it. And even better, because Phil laid the cable to the various power points himself, we saved a ton of money! Double yahoo – more beer!
We did however have a major DUH moment. There is a little fridge in the galley which is supposed to be dual fuel – electricity and gas. We tried the cord but no luck. That left the gas. It appeared to be all hooked up, so we set the dial to show gas as the power source, set the temp dial to ‘0’ to start and then hit the piezo starter button. No luck. A blue spark showed that the sparker was working but no gas was actually going to the fridge. After much muttering about being ripped off (it was advertised as having a fridge (keolkast), etc, mumble, mutter, etc.) we started looking at costs to replace it. Boy, are they expensive. A fridge smaller than the freezer portion of your average fridge in Canada, was going to set us back about the equivalent of $1000 CDN. Not happy campers. We happened to mention it to Gerard as he was finishing up the shore power stuff, so he kindly had a look at it, and guess what? Yup, easy, peasy, he clicked and got it working. Who knew? Stupid Canadians with no experience whatsoever, needed to know that to get it going you actually had to set the temperature gage to a number, like, I don’t know ,a ‘1’ maybe , and then fire it up. Bingo, we actually have enough cold to keep our hamburger frozen. Double yippee. And it cost nothing but a red face!
I must admit though that after the horrendous storm, we had a major crisis of confidence and wondered what the He** we were doing over here. We are such babes in the woods when it comes to boats and all things boaty, that we are always at the mercy of others with more experience. We think we’ve chosen people well and haven’t totally been ripped off, but we won’t know that until we come to sell the boat and only then will we understand if what we’ve paid for the boat and what we’ve added to it, will be recovered. However, the sun finally came out, the weather is heavenly, blue sky and warm air and our confidence (you could replace that with ‘stupidly misplaced decision making powers’) returned. So we are keen now to get underway and actually begin life on a motor cruiser.
To that end, we’ve decided to stay here in Vollenhove for the weekend and join the throngs of people and boats who are here for a sleepboot (tugboat) exposition. There were some really lovely boats that were once tugboats but are now liveaboards. Along with that there was a display of antique farm equipment, tractors, trucks, etc and some beautiful old antique cars. To round out the picture, there was a gypsy style caravan, once owned by circus people, that a young couple and toddler daughter were using as their camping trailer. It was beautiful. As with any festival, there was the obligatory oohmpapa band, choral singers, beer tent and all around entertainment from singers and bands. Interestingly one band sang all the latest American pop and rock music in English while the other did all current and past Dutch songs. It was terrific to listen to with the exception of the bass drum that was set so loud it actually caused the boat to reverberate. I thought we were going to shake apart! But at about 2:00 AM , they closed it down and we finally got some sleep.
Another first was our bike ride from Vollenhove to Bloksijl. About 6 km and it took us about 45 minutes. It was lovely and other than a beam wind both going and coming back, it was terrific. If you don’t count the numb bumb (or is that num bum?). Can’t tell you how much I am enjoying riding our bikes. As my heel/foot is giving me such grief, this is a great way to get around and see stuff. I would love to think that I could continue this when I get home, but the truth is, Nanaimo has such wicked hills, I doubt it! Oh well, I’ll just have to find other exercises to do – walking over to Mary’s or Robbie’s will be a good start! Hopefully you guys have a good supply of Dutch coffee on hand. I’m being spoiled here!
I’m trying to keep my letters to 2 pages, so that you don’t get either bored or uninterested. To say we’ve had an eventful week is an understatement. Every time the wind gets up, we anxiously look at the sky to see what’s coming. The forecast is for very nice weather with only showers tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
Our next challenge is to get out of the passantenhaven without doing too much damage to our boat, other boats and our fragile pride! Say a little prayer.
Much love to all
Sharlene and the Master Mariner (who is sitting on his aft deck reading and purveying his kingdom!)

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