Passage Report 63 Mast Up Route Holland
25 August 2011
Passage Report No. 63
Monnickendam to Standing Mast Route – Holland
July –August, 2011
A sea of sails converges on the lock. Young assistants make order of chaos. Yachts
pack in, and pour out into Amsterdam harbour.
Tanya shakes – the propeller is weed bound. “Don’t worry, it happens every year in
the Markenmeer, go back and forth and it will come off.” Skipper is relieved. Inland
“seas” are 2-4 meters. Weed grows to the surface in places.
Sahula is bound for the Ringvaart (standing mast, “ring” route) via Haarlem and
Leiden. The “ Standing Mast Route” extends the length of Holland.
Amsterdam’s “box” buildings and commercial harbour pass astern, Sahula turns into
the Zijkanaal, a bridge opens on request but a major highway delays the next till a set
opening time next morning.
Sahula waits at a marina wharf. A green and red light signals “bridge opening,” road
Gates lower, bridge rises, red light turns green, yachts file quickly through. Another
Fleet from the opposite direction passes then bridge lowers, bells ringing and a road
Sahula is to repeat the opening bridge and lock process “a hundred times.” There are
seven bridges in Haarlem town. Most are free. Occasionally, a fee (usually three euros)
is collected by (a most Dutch act)the lock master, dangling a clog from a fishing rod.
Harbour master ashore, rides past, “On starboard, behind flat bottom boat alongside
brick, town wall.” Sahula glides in - mast in a tree soon disengaged. Sahula
is berthed in the heart of historic, Haarlem. Facilities (shower, loo) are on the quay
A Flemish, 16th century city, that wears well its historic, burgeoning past,. Its
prosperous burghers recorded by the artist Hals. A large cathedral dominates the
central square; streets cross canals. It is a lively, attractive, contemporary city.
A fleet gathers before the bridge. It is a turning bridge followed by a lifting bridge.
Bridge synchronisation is dependent on the lock master cycling to the next or
having control from one bridge, of a number of bridges. It is “Russian roulette”
whether arrival is in time.
Tanya is ill. Engine panel gauges fail. Engine stopped, Sahula glides to a wharf.
Skipper works the electrical plugs – it starts. Much relief.
Leiden, city of canals is explored in “Zod” (zodiac 2m dinghy). Passing errant youth
ensures a wet, cursing, crew.
Sahula anchors on the Kagerplassen (inland lake). Sundowner’s views include
windmills and rustic, rural, polder. Ben and Skipper swim in cold, brown water.
Sahula opts to return to Amsterdam (original plan was to exit Holland at the southern
port of Vlissingen). The “ringvaart” returns to Amsterdam via the “convoy” route.
Major highway and rail bridges open, consecutively, late at night.
Sahula sails (with a fleet) on the Westeinderplassen (inland lake). Kempers marina provides a base to visit the Aalsmeer flower market (Holland’s largest of five). Every morning, millions of flowers are auctioned, packaged and dispatched to vendors in towns across the world. The market is a seething mass of workers ensuring acres of seemingly infinite varieties, are cleared for the market.
“I’d let you through but bridge is out of order.” Sahula must reverse the Ringvaart through Haarlem to Amsterdam.
The Twellegea Nauticadam marina welcomes Sahula’s return. Ben and Di leave for Australia. Skippers decides to attempt to obtain a further three months visa extension.
Next Report: Schengen visa – an Australian sailor’s nemesis.