As we descended the stairs, we were met by a sympathetic man, who told us to wait a minute, and he went off to a storage shed and came back with an area brochure and a layout of the jachthaven, showing where Westzijde is located. We walked back to Nieuwe Zorg and moved her to a wharf on the northwest side of the marina.
Naarden, a town in the province of North Holland is a wonderful example of a star fort, complete with fortified walls and a moat. Naarden was granted its city rights in 1300 and later developed into a fortified garrison town with a textile industry. Because of its distinctive shape, the town was a visual rally point for bombers returning to England after raids on Germany during WWII.
Elberg is a delightful town, full of charm and houses that reflect their owners' pride.
Everywhere we looked we saw an eclectic mix of decor; old, new, organic, inert. Among the things we were shopping for was an inexpensive handcart to haul our empty propane tank to the service station for a refill. We found a passably robust model for €14 and we also bought some lamp oil. We needed a new wick for the lamp, but the shop had none suitable. The clerk pointed-out a couple of shops along the street that had wicks, and after the downpour stopped, we scooted out to continue our search.
The mentioned shops had nothing near what we wanted. Edi thought of the marine hardware shop we had seen next to the city gate, and we went back out to it. There was a large selection of wicks in many styles, including one ten centimetres wide, which to me appeared what we wanted. We bought a half metre piece and chatted with the owner for nearly an hour before we hauled ourselves away.
Once I had figured-out how to remove the old wick and install the new one, the wick proved itself to be the perfect size.
After breakfast on Tuesday I put the empty propane cylinder our new shopping cart and wheeled it about 400 metres along the paved walking path on the dike to the Esso station and pulled-up at the AutoGas pump. I added 28 litres of propane to the tank, pain the clerk the €22 and wheeled away back to the boat. How wonderfully convenient this process is compared to our experiences in finding propane in North and South America.
At 1044 we slipped and headed back out and followed the Drontermeer as it gradually bent northward. Just over an hour later we arrived at the Roggebotsluis where we were lowered about half a metre to the level of the Ketelmeer. There was a heavily laden commercial in the approaches as we exited the lock. It was filled to the combing tops with sand and its gunwales were awash in the ripples.
The marked channel led us to the northwest, and as we passed the mouth of the IJssel, we bent our way westward toward the Ketelbrug and under it. As we passed under the bridge and into the IJsselmeer, there was a parade of antique klippers and tjalken lowering sail to await the opening of the bridge.
The IJsselmeer was very choppy. Short, steep wind waves combined and interacted with waves reflected off the shores to offer a very confused sea. The wind was about 50 kph from the southwest, nearly on our beam for the remaining 6 kilometres of our passage to Urk.
At times Nieuwe Zorg got into a rollong rhythm when the pitch of the waves matched her beam. I lowered a leeboard and steered a tacking course, putting the slop alternately on our bow and our quarter. The pressure on the tiller was very strong and I needed to brace myself to steer. The winds had increased and Edi was below clearing away things that had shifted, when we heard and felt a very loud bang. We quickly searched for its source, but found nothing. There were no signs of problems, so we continued.
After nearly an hour of fighting the confused seas, at 1440 we entered the protection of Urk and secured in the lee of a wharf near the centre of town. While Edi was forward handling the bow lines, she noticed that the mast counterweight, which had been placed athwart the centreline, had slid across to the port gunwale. That explained the loud bang. The 1100 kilogram weight had broken loose from its temporary blocks and had crashed into a gunwale-mounted mooring cleat with sufficient force to shear the two 7.5mm stainless mounting bolts.
We were listing to port, so with the aid of some mooring lines, I slowly moved the weight back closer toward the centre of the foredeck and blocked it there. Our onward route will be all inland, so there was no need for further securing arrangements.
We locked-up and went into town to explore Urk and visit its museum. The town is first mentioned in historical records over a thousand years ago in 996. At that time it was an island in the Almere, a lake that would become part of the Zuiderzee in the thirteenth century after a series of inundations by the North Sea. The island was about 80 hectares in size and composed of a high clay hump and a pasture. The hump was about 12 hectares and on it was built the town. The low-lying meadow flooded regularly and the island slowly eroded until it was little more than the small town.
With the closing of the Afsluitdijk in 1932, the waters around Urk slowly reverted to fresh for the first time since the flooding in the thirteenth century. In 1939 a dike connecting Urk to the mainland was completed, ending the town's island status. In 1942 the surrounding land was drained to become the Noordoostpolder. Today, Urk has the largest fishing fleet in the Netherlands and boasts many large, modern fish processing and packing plants.
At 1110 on Wednesday we slipped and headed around into the lock, where we were lowered 5.5 metres to the level of the canals in the Noordoostpolder. In the lock chamber are conveniently spaced pipes set in vertical slots in the walls. Edi looped a line around one forward and I around one aft, and we enjoyed a smooth, well controlled descent.
As we motored slowly along the canal through Urk's new suburbs on the polder, we passed many large fish-packing plants, all with their owners' houses, wharves and jachts on the canal side. There is obvious prosperity.
At 1435 we arrived at the entrance to the Friese sluis, the lock that would take us back up the 5.5 metres out of the Noordoostpolder to the level of the IJsselmeer and into Friesland.
There was another pleasure boat in the lock ahead of us, and I needed to snuggle very closely up to its stern so that our tiller and flagstaff would miss the bridge as we rose. In this lock, instead of the vertical pipes to handle our lines, there are 3cm ropes fastened top and bottom and spaced every 3 or 4 metres.
As we came up, I thought I would need to remove the flagstaff, but in the end, it cleared the bridge by about 20 centimetres.
We exited the chamber and slowly motored into Lemmer and up to its entrance lock just as the keeper was opening the gates for us. We entered and secured to the chamber wall as she came over to collect the €5.50 fee for the lock and bridges through the historic heart of the town. We were lowered about half a metre and then motored to a mooring on a wall in the middle of town, where we secured at 1520.
Alongside down the wall from our mooring were two beautiful Lemsteraaks. We walked along the wharf to admire them.
There are many elements of the jachtenroef conversion of a skûtsje that resemble those of a Lemsteraak, and it is not difficult to see from where early design inspiration may have come.
At 1033 on Thursday morning we slipped and headed through town. We had been moored about a hundred metres short of a bridge, which needed lifting for us. We had spoken a couple of times with the bridgekeeper the previous day, and he was watching us as we prepared to get underway. As soon as we let go our lines, he initiated the process to stop traffic and raise the bridge. We passed through and wound our way along the canal to the next bridge, which was open for us. As we rounded a bend we saw the third and final bridge opened with three boats passing through it. However; we were too far back for the bridgekeeper to delay traffic and he closed it.
We waited for a few minutes while road traffic cleared and the bridge could be reopened. A large tjalk came up astern of us as we cleared through the bridge. We moved along at 6kph, the speed limit on this section of the canal, but it was obvious that the tjalk's skipper found this much too slow and we were soon overtaken.
We shortly joined the Prinses Margriet Kanaal and followed it northward. Close to the junction we spotted a sign indicating a wharf for the landing of barge automobiles. Barging certainly has changed since the days our skûtsje was built.
We followed the tjalk up the Groote Brekken, keeping up with it with the increased speed limit of the broader waterways. Further ahead was another tjalk under sail, and there was a rather steady down-bound traffic, both pleasure and commercial.
The sailing tjalk turned off into the Rijnsloot and appeared to be sailing through the fields as it headed toward Sloten.
Across the dikes from the canal we saw rich agricultural lands stretching to the horizons.
Dotted among the fields were typical Friesian farm buildings with their low walls and high, steep roofs. We continue to admire the sense of order, the apparent care and the obvious pride of ownership of the land and the buildings.
We turned off the Prinses Margriet and into the Witte Brekken and the Woudvaart toward Sneek. Just short of the toll bridge we spotted a marina with a sign announcing free wifi. We stopped, backed and went alongside its melden wharf. There was nobody around; it was 1315 and we assumed everyone was at lunch. We shut down and were in the middle of our own lunch when the Havenmeester arrived and knocked on the hull. He showed us to a spot across the way and pedalled around the marina to take our lines when we moved across. He gave us the wifi code, pointed-out the marina's laundry facilities and gave us directions to the supermarkets.
We finished our late lunch and then walked the short distance into the centre of the old city, passing along the way the Waterpoort, which was built in 1492 as a part of the city ramparts. We went browsing and shopping among the wonderfully maintained historic buildings in the heart of town and couldn't resist making some purchases from among the broad selection of upscale shops.
Toward the end of the afternoon we located the Fries Scheepvaart Museum, but there was too little time to give it the attention it deserves. We bookmarked it for a long visit the next day and then walked back to our skûtsje to relax. Nieuwe Zorg is finally back in Friesland.