Saturday, January 30, 2010

2009 Newsletter #6

Dear Family and Friends: June 7/09
Disaster has struck. Will it never end? Not the boat this time, but something much more important and personal. I was in the showers at Vollenhove and I dropped my little bottle of very expensive perfume purchased in Paris. Quelle domage! Sadly, I don’t smell as good anymore but the ladies shower room at the Vollenhove passantenhaven now smells like a French brothel.
This has been the week for meeting new friends and fellow boaters. While in Vollenhove, Phil noticed that a boat flying an Australian flag came in late on Sunday. We quickly headed over and introduced ourselves to Arthur and Diana Dixon from Perth. They have a similar cruiser set up in the older style of bench seating in the salon. However, they have a lovely big bed in the aft cabin. We really enjoyed meeting them and hope to meet up again as we are both cruising in the same area of Holland called Friesland.
While we were still researching boats, I had contacted a British couple, Len and June Barry, who had their narrowboat for sale. They emailed us recently to say the price had dropped and even if we weren’t buying they would love to meet us. So we cruised to Heerenveen and met up for coffee followed by a dinner. Absolutely the best meal so far. It was an Aha moment. The Dutch can cook – well at least some of them can. Interestingly Pam, they cook more South African than Dutch which is probably why we enjoyed it so much! Luckily, Len is also a boat fitter so now we not only have new friends, but we have someone who will complete the aft cabin over the winter and put in the shower. Yahoo!
I’ve also had another Aha moment but of the “rats, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be” kind. When I pictured us cruising, the vision was of Phil at the helm and me lounging on a settee, eating grapes (peeled by the servants), drinking wine and soaking up the sun. Sort of like Elizabeth Taylor in ‘Cleopatra’. Dispel that thought, stomp on it and grind it into the dirt. First of all the only burn we are getting is from the wind not the sun. As I write this – in a protected harbour – the wind is tossing the boat around like a rubber ducky in Kirei’s bathtub. The second myth is there are no servants – only me. And lastly, but more importantly, there is absolutely no lounging. Phil is the helmsman (I do relieve him at times) and I am the navigator. I took my eye off that ball and disaster struck – once again!
We were cruising on our way to Sneek when we came up on a huge barge. After some time, we finally decided to overtake him which we did, no prob! The problem occurred because I was so busy watching the barge that I lost track of the fact that we are actually making good headway and as a result I missed our turn off to take the kanaal leading to Sneek. We ended up in a very narrow and shallow channel that was probably mostly used as drainage for agricultural pasture. Anywho, Phil did a brilliant job of turning the boat around in a very narrow spot but because it was so shallow we kicked up a lot of mud and it plugged the water filter that cools the engine. Sooo, the engine overheated and we had to shut it off and let it cool before we could carry on. Lesson learned – pay attention, stupid!
The upside is that we spent the night in Akkrum as it was really close and found an Italian restaurant run by real Italians with real Italian food and it was excellent. That evening we were approached by one of the people moored behind us – Johann from Switzerland. But under the heading: Small world isn’t it?, Johann had been in Nanaimo last year to run the marathon! He is a fitness freak who travels all over just to run. His wife joined us and it got interesting from there. Johann speaks very good English as he worked in Canada for a summer many years ago. He also speaks German Swiss. His wife speaks German Swiss and French and Italian. So there we were speaking English to Johann as he translated to Maries. When we discovered that she spoke French, we switched to very fractured French which Johann then translated for her! Needless to say there was also a lot of hand gesturing. I said, HAND, Gill not finger!
The lesson learned is that for every thing that goes wrong, something very nice comes along to tell us that our decision is still a good one and we are having more fun than not.
I’ve also uploaded a few pictures on PhotoAlbum and here is the link:
There are captions on the pictures so that you know what you are looking at. These are pictures from the first few weeks in Holland. I’ll organize my others and post them for you to look at later. But I want to take advantage of the free Wii here in the haven so I can save my dongle dollars. Just in case this link doesn’t work I’ll also send them from the PhotoAlbum site. Can someone let me know if the link in the newsletter worked. Thanks.
I just previewed the first photos I’ve uploaded for you to view and it belies the fact that the weather hasn’t been all that great. However, the sun does shine occasionally – thus the sun in most of the pictures, and of course, when it rains, we don’t take pictures! So my whining about the rain and wind is justified – but you’ll have my word for it!
I’ll leave you for now – more to come later. We had a lovely visit in Sneek and are now in Gronigen where we’ve made some changes to the boat. Stay tuned!
Much love to all
Sharlene and the snoozing Master Mariner (see, I told you the only slave on this boat was me!!!)

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