From Urk to Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Edam

At 8 am (a record for us!) the Freshwater and the Dolce Vita with Sandra and Reg left Kampen to head to Urk on the IJsselmeer. 

The reason for the early start was, that a bad weather front was forecast for the afternoon and the next day. And sure enough, after our arrival in Urk the wind grew stronger and by night time it was blowing a gale! Luckily we still got two good moorings in the rapidly filling harbour. 

When we went to explored the old fishing village, we were told that the  “Urk Day Festival” was happening tomorrow which for us was an unexpected bonus!

After a delicious dinner on the Dolce Vita and a few games of cards we returned to our bobbing boat and were virtually rocked to sleep. We were woken by gnarling ropes and a noisy whistling sound caused by the wind playing a high-pitched string concert on the masts and stays of the 100 odd sailing boats. Luckily we had applied springs with our ropes because the wind was whipping up a surf inside the harbour!

Have I mentioned that we love how the Dutch celebrate?! 

You might have thought that due to showers and 40km winds the Festival would have been cancelled, but no! Gradually we saw the village come to life. Families with babies in vintage prams, groups of young girls and boys all clad in their traditional costumes were braving the elements. The women and girls were wearing beautiful dresses, knitted shawls and lacy caps and the men and boys black pants, striped shirts and clogs. Both, the people of Urk and their costumes, were obviously designed to withstand gale force winds and rain! The girls caps were held in place by clasps digging into their cheeks which they didn't seem to mind. Everyone was bracing against the wind and occasionally taking shelter in one of the fest tents, but generally enjoying the bands, choirs, rope platting and fish smoking activities. 

Urk is famous for its salmon and so we joined the long queues at the fish stalls, getting our kibbling and smoked salmon fixes. Both, Reg and Sandra and we bought some hot smoked salmon which served us as tasty nibblies with a little crème fraîche on crackers for the next two evenings. 

To walk off our little indulgences Austin and I climbed the stairs of the lighthouse and, once on top, were nearly blown off the balcony. Looking down onto the choppy IJsselmeer, the stories told and displayed along the stairwell of drowned fishermen and rescue crews, were easily imaginable.

What a difference a day makes…! The next morning the whistling we had almost gotten used to, finally stopped. There was blue skies and calm seas. So we set off to cross the IJsselmeer to Enkhuizen on the west coast. Playing tag with the Dolce Vita we had a pleasant cruise accompanied by many sailboats taking advantage of the nice weather and the public holiday.

After another fun night with Sandra and Reg, we left in the morning to sail to Hoorn. The Queenslanders had decided to stay put as the marina was a convenient place to leave their boat, and for their train journey to their daughter’s birthday party. Our mission was to get to Amsterdam a day or two before our daughter joins us on the Freshwater.

But first we had to get through the lock of the dam which divides the IJsselmeer from the Markermeer. We were the first boat to enter the lock and were ready with our ropes nicely looped around a bollard, when a sail boat came in, and another, and another……a.s.o. until we counted 15 boats in the lock! It was a great sight as they all in orderly fashion spilled out at the other end! The Markermeer was a little choppy that day, but no challenge for us old sea dogs and we arrived in Hoorn harbour at lunchtime.

We loved Hoorn straight away: from the friendly harbour master to the beautiful harbour full of old sailing boats and botters to the Hoofdtoren tower overlooking the harbour entrance. We spent the day walking around the small town passing the former apple harbour and beer pontoon to the central "Red Steene" Square, where the replica "red stone” tells of bloody medieval punishments like the severing of limbs. Close by is the statue of J.P. Coen a governor general of the former Dutch East India Company who was known to use violence to achieve his ambitious goals. Maybe the VR glasses slung around his head are a sign of the contempt from locals towards his statue. 

Hoorn together which Enkhuizen and Edam is one of seven towns which served the Dutch East India Company as ports, distribution and administration centres. They experienced a “Golden Time” during the existence of the company which is beautifully show cased in the Hoorn Westfries Museum. Part of the Museum is a 3D virtual reality tour through Batavia, the former headquarters of the Dutch East India Company on Java. For this we wore VR eye goggles and earphones where image and sound was activated via our head movements. Fantastic, a first for me!

We would have loved to stay longer in Hoorn, but we were keen to make some headway while the weather was good. So we moved onto Edam for our last stop before Amsterdam. 

Arriving mid afternoon we missed the cheese market but had some delicious, fruity donuts from the coffee shop across the road instead. Cycling through town over the narrow cobblestoned lanes was tricky, but cars slowed down and kept a respectful distance. 

Edam is a quiet town with none of the tourism like Gouda or Volendam but lacks  some of the charm that Hoorn has. But I might do the town injustice as we really didn’t take the time to fully explore it. The Grote Kerk (the Big Church) with many beautiful stainless windows however was very impressive! 

Tomorrow we are off to Amsterdam and our usual marina at Sixhaven! We are looking very much forward to having our daughter Nina and partner Callum joining us on board! 

For an evaluation of their seaworthiness and deck scrubbing abilities watch this space!

© Austin Robinson 2019