Back In The Land of Dykes
and seeing the roofs of buildings behind them.
We weren’t quite sure what we would find at our first stop in the Netherlands, Den Helder. We had been told by some that it was just a convenient place to stop for a night but that there wasn’t much there to endear itself to you as a place to spend any time. Well, we wound up staying from Sunday night through Wednesday mid-day. The marina itself is very convenient to get to as you do not need to go through any locks or bridges. That was a plus after a 36 hour trip from southern England.
After arriving in Den Helder about 4PM we didn’t do too much but have a bite to eat at the restaurant located at the marina and then crashed to catch up on our sleep. The next day we checked into the marina and got a map of the area. We worked in the morning on catching up with email and cleaning up the boat a little after being at sea for 36 hours. Later we took a walk into the town (which wasn’t too far away) and found that they had pretty much any type of shop you would want. We
The Navy Is Based in Den Helder
Part of the military base is seen here across the bay from our marina.
picked up a few things that we needed and then walked back through the grounds of the Marine Museum. You could see the outside area with its display of a submarine, a ram ship and a minesweeper. From what we saw we thought that it might be worthwhile to stay an extra day to go through the marina if the weather didn’t cooperate for leaving.
Tuesday was a very pleasant and sunny day but with no wind. It appeared that we would be getting some wind from the South on Wednesday so decided to wait that extra day and hopefully get some wind for sailing to our next port of call, Vlieland, one of the Frisian lslands off the North coast of the Netherlands.
We did check out the Marine Museum but decided it was ok but nothing too special. We enjoyed going through the ships and the submarine but the historic exhibits were confusing. We did learn some about the history of the Dutch Navy, however, we found that many of the displays were only labelled in Dutch and there wasn’t any audiotape guide that we could listen to in English. All we
Many Commercial and Military Boats
are regularly docked in Den Helder near the marina.
kept saying to each other when we went through the museum was “the displays are set up very strangely” — hard to describe, but take our word for it. One thing we did definitely pick up as a common theme throughout the exhibit however was that the Royal Navy of the Netherlands did not have a very glorious history. One of the main purposes of the Navy was that of protection of the Dutch East Indies, but it did also participate in other conflicts, many of them being the Anglo-Dutch Wars. The Netherlands was able to remain neutral during World War I; however their attempts to repeat that during World War II failed when Germany invaded in 1940. Many of the ships loaded with soldiers escaped and fought alongside the Americans, French, British and Russians. AfterWorld War II the Netherlands became part of NATO and began rebuilding their Navy. During the Cold War they were very involved in tracking Russian submarines as they passed through the North Sea. The Navy’s main shipyard was just across the bay from the marina we stayed in. We were able to see several new frigates, a couple of vintage minesweepers, a couple of assault
Looking Out The Steer From Tsamaya
we saw this submarine leaving the harbor.
support ships and two extremely large ships, amphibious assault ships. In addition there were several other ships of varying sizes. It appears to be a serious fighting force for a rather small country.
A nice bonus of this marina that we have never run into before was that the laundry was completely free so we took advantage of that benefit and got a couple loads of wash done — what a nice savings, 1 load of wash (wash and dry) in Chatham was equal to about $6).
On Wednesday in looking at the tides it worked out that we should leave the marina about 2:30PM. The weather prediction later that morning however changed some and it sounded like we were going to get some strong winds and quite a bit of rain late in the day from the North so decided to leave a little earlier. With the change of plans we quickly got the boat ready and left just before 1PM. In areas such as these with lots of large boat traffic you are requested to check in on your VHF radio to Traffic Control. We did as requested and when we
The Submarine On Display
at the Marine Museum in Den Helder was built in the Netherlands and served the Navy until the early 1980's
got out in the harbor they called us back to let us know that a submarine and its safety vessel were in the channel with us. Shortly after that with scanning with our binoculars we could see the safety vessel and next to it what looked like antenna sticking out of the water. We kept watching it and it soon came to the surface. It was something to watch.
The day was very overcast and grey, but we did not have much wind when we started out. We traveled through the Molengat Channel; this would cut off quite a bit of the trip to Vlieland. It does become quite shallow near low tide, but we were entering closer to high tide therefore did not have problems with our depth. You just had to keep an eye open for the yellow channel markers because they are moved on a regular basis. This is a very shallow portion of the North Sea and therefore as a result of strong currents and tides the sands on the bottom are always being moved. We had no problems with getting through and we then were able to put up the sails to
try to pick up some speed. With the current against us we needed all the help we could get. As time went on we then ran into the problem of the wind shifting out of the North much earlier in the day than was predicted. Of course we were headed north ourselves so that did not help. We were able to angle out some to get some advantage from the wind, but still our speed was not anything that would break any records! We had originally thought this trip would take us about 6 ½ hours, but with all these negative factors in play the trip to Vlieland took us 8 ¼ hours. Needless to say we were quite tired when we got to the marina so we got settled in by hooking up our electricity and our wi-fi and then crashing to catch up on sleep once again. Being outside in the air sure does tire you out (or at least it does us)! Tomorrow we look forward to exploring this island. We will keep you posted.
Well, the wind picked up in the evening and it continued on Thursday morning. We are sitting here on
One of Many Inviting Entrances
with its tilework and interesting door
the boat with 35 knot winds outside. The stove is gimbaled while we sit at the dock so we can cook on a “flat” surface. With the wind hitting us broadside the boat is quite far from the dock ( guess we should've tied the lines tighter last night) unless we grow much longer legs soon we will be staying on the boat this morning. Hopefully we can get some more time in to getting a few more blog entries written. It also seems like it will be a good day to make a big pot of soup to help warm up things inside the boat! The skies are clear so if the wind will just drop it could be a very nice day. We were hoping to get our bikes out, but unless the wind cuts down considerably, walking will be the mode of transportation today. Stay tuned to find out what we get to see here.
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