Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Sailing off to Blokzijl

Tuesday 14 May 2024 10:13 AM

Lodi was purring like a satisfied kitten, as we went for a little trial run to the town harbour of Meppel. We decided to stay over night and take advantage of the town centre, shops and cafés. We were in good company. Spirited Claudia and Klaus from Ulm in their 380 Linssen Sturdy were moored next to us and kept us entertained. It was Mother’s Day, and so we celebrated with coffee and one of those amazing Dutch apple cakes on the town square. Nobody does apple cakes like the Dutch!

We returned on Monday morning to the yachthaven to settle our bill. Lovely Bianca, who, after the sudden death of her husband a year ago, manages the family yacht harbour with of her two sons, had good news! One of her pet donkeys had given birth on Mother’s Day. We got to pat the little fellow, who stood on spindly legs and showed off with some fancy sidesteps. We learned that the hooves of a newborn donkey are covered with so-called “slippers” which prevent injury to the mothers womb. They are gradually discarded after birth.

Well, we exchanged our slippers for boat shoes and set off towards Blokzijl that afternoon. This stretch runs through the Weerribben Wieden National Park and has only two moveable bridges and two locks. It’s always a relief to get through the first locks without incident, and these were no challenge for Lodi. 

As it is early in the year, the harbour of Blokzijl was quite empty and we had no problem finding a suitable berth.

Once, Blokzijl laid on the Zuiderzee and was an important harbour. The town

thrived and traded butter, peat and locally woven reed mats. Before the Zuiderzee was closed off, the dykes were regularly checked by watchmen walking from one village to the next and repairing the dykes, where needed. On the town’s dykes are still several cannons which were used to warn of high water. The highest alert were three shots of the cannon for a broken dyke.

Overlooking the harbour basin is the bust of Prinz Maurits of Orange who, in the 16th/17th century was the chief magistrate of all Dutch provinces except of Friesland. He staged a successful rebellion against the Spanish, was never married, but produced 4 illegitimate children. The many storks in this area must have delivered them! However, in his name an orphanage was established in town, the “Mauritshuis”, which is now a fine hotel, café and restaurant.

My favourite statue is still “In front of the wind”. The wind in the Netherlands is such a defining part of the climate. There are just no elevations to stop it from blowing right across the country! 

And then there is, of course, Kaatje, the legendary cook, who created wonderous recipes by adding east-indian spices to local fish and meats. While waiting for her love to return from the sea, her cooking made her famous and rich. She is said to have been murdered either for her money or her recipes.  

Blokzijl's speciality is the "Blokzijler Brok"(chunk), a dense, sweet spiced slice which would have filled hungry tummies during the cold winter months. We had to re-test the Brok for the sake of local tourism!

Another discovery we made was this three wheeled wine-taxi - too small to take boozy tourists home, but big enough for deliveries to the boat!

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