Dear Family and Friends:
Our first week in Holland has come and gone. Getting here was a bit of a struggle but we survived – just!
Stage 1 - Barb dropped us off at the ferry terminal on her way down to Victoria for radiation treatments. We had four huge and heavy bags to check – two of the suitcases were excess baggage. My new handle is “Sherpa Shar”. We had a number of items that we wanted to buy using Canadian dollars but it’s also easier to shop at home as we don’t always know where to get things here in Holland.
Stage 2 – I’m not a huge fan of ferry trips (way too impatient) but we met Eleanor, Bill and Colleen Whyte so had a nice opportunity for a chat and a good-bye for the summer.
Stage 3 - We took a taxi from the Departure Bay ferry to the airport and then waited four hours to take off!! My patience was wearing even thinner but KLM was kind enough to take pity on Phil and we were given the bulkhead seats so that he was able to stretch out his leg and even prop it up. I may make him use his crutches on the way home so we can get the same seats!
Stage 4 - The flight was good but the fun started after we landed. I had arranged for a wheelchair to be waiting when we arrived at Schipol but KLM had a motor-cart-thingy to get us to the baggage area. However, we had to wait for about 45 minutes while they dealt with other passengers – not what I was hoping for after a 9 ½ hour flight. God,grant me patience!
Stage 5 - The fun started at the car rental area. I hiked to the Eurocar desk only to discover they didn’t have a reservation for us. Crap! So I hiked back to the car park (in the rain – what else is new??) where Phil was waiting with the luggage, dug out my paperwork and discovered I had booked through AutoEurope, a broker, and we were actually renting from Avis. The young man at the counter was going to give us a lovely little low-slung sports model. When I explained that Phil was on crutches and once in the car was unlikely to be able to get out and that he might have to spend the summer in the car (not totally sure there’s a downside to that one!), he kindly changed the rental to a medium sized car. When I booked the car I totally forgot that most European cars are manual – so there I was – not only driving for the first time in Europe but I had to get reacquainted with a standard. I needed to back up to get out of the rental area – not going to happen - so I just went forward around in circles until I was headed in the right direction.
Stage 6 – Where’s the road map? Oh yes, it’s on the boat. Hey, we’ve done this before – how hard can it be? All we have to do is head for a city/town we recognize that’s near to Vollenhove and Bob’s your uncle. Apparently not that easy! We did keep the Leeuwarden sign post in sight but didn’t realize that there are two ways to get there. We ended up going too far around the Amsterdam ring road, heading north on the WRONG side of the Ijselmeer. We stopped at a gas station, bought another map, asked the clerk to point out where we were and regrouped. There was absolutely no way in Hades we were going to go back to the Amsterdam ring road! The answer was to keep going north, take the 30 mile long causeway that crosses the Ijselmeer, head to Emmeloord and then finally to Vollenhove!! The good news is that we saw a part of Holland that we weren’t ever going to see without the little adventure – so not all bad.
Stage 7 – We arrived at the boat yard two hours late but Gerard was very understanding (he already thinks we are Crazy Canucks) and after an inspection of the hull by Phil (we had had it painted with anti-fouling stuff – a nautical term - Calypso was put into the water. We put all the baggage in the boat and then went looking for supper. Welcome back to Dutch menus, Sharlene! This may be a looong summer! Then it was time to crash and try to get some sleep.
Stage 8 – The season has begun! The aft cabin renovations are super – the shower is a treat and the cabinets are lovely – if stuffed to the gills. The new items are to help keep us organized so the boat will have some semblance of order and will look tidy – eventually!
Our view from the aft deck. Our pub is just behind the white and striped buildings.
A biking cruise boat. There are at least 40 bikes on the deck!
Two major decisions – one is to rent a small car for the month. Phil really can’t get around well – the crutches are hard on his wrists and the canes are hard on his knee. The man is a wreck – remind me again why I brought him! A car allows us to at least spend time off the boat and visit the little towns and villages in the area.
The second decision was to replace the chairs in the salon. The cheap-as-chips Ikea tub chairs are not very comfortable for sitting for any length of time. Not an issue last year as we were much more active. So we found some really nice – but SMALL – recliners in a shop in Emmeloord so will probably go back and buy them. We just have to make sure we can get them into the boat!
The days are spent watching World Cup soccer (trust me, the Dutch know how to celebrate and party!), cleaning and organizing. We’ve already met some lovely people who overnighted at the haven. Rob, our havenmeester, has been a gem – very helpful even going so far as to not only finding a car rental that is cheaper than the Avis rate, but also driving us into Emmeloord to pick it up. As I said last year – the Dutch are really lovely people!!
So ends the first blog! Even though we won’t be doing any cruising for another month, we are happy to be here and looking forward to an eventful summer!
Love from Sherpa Shar and the Mangled Master Mariner.