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Published: July 13th 2014
We returned to Naarden arriving in what felt like a heat wave, having driven for most of the journey in grey skies and rain!! This was followed by a spectacular thunderstorm which Paul managed to sleep his way through. The next day we set off across the Markermeer in the sunshine and with a flat sea to Marken, a little quaint touristy town where we moored on the Binnerhaven, the inner town harbour – for free!! It was a lovely little town which had been very badly damaged in the floods of 1916. All the houses are made of clapboard and on stilts but a long way below sea level. The Ijsselmeer barrier was built in 1932 and since then there have been no tides and no floods, and the end of the fishing industry. We were to hear more about this here and in our next town. Although initially it looked a little like a Disney village, it was actually a lively and alive little place with modern houses behind the rather quaint ones. There was a house all laid out like it would have been in 1916 and a charming guide who gave a spirited defence of Marken staying
the same as it has always been, seeing off the plans for a new airport on the island, only 10 years ago, and now fighting the cruise ships which would like their passengers to see the delights of the town.
We celebrated by buying some colourful wooden tulips at a clog factory!!
After another thunderstorm we set off the following morning for Hoorn which is almost due North of Marken and halfway up the West coast of the Markermeer. The day was hot and still again and only spoilt by the Dutch flies which on the Markermeer are plentiful, tiny, like storm flies and get everywhere while you are at sea. When moored up they seem to disappear except for those that are in piles of dead ones. Two hours after setting off we were moored up again, this time in a bigger Binnenhaven but nonetheless very pretty. There were loads of spaces so we chose to be on the bank bordering grass and trees rather than the town itself, and wandered into the town, which has extensive harbours and places to moor. Just before we set off we met a friendly American couple on their tandems with
their 2 children. They had arrived at Schipol 3 days ago and were cycling to Sweden for the 3rd time. – that’s a different way of taking the children on holiday with rather less gear than we take on Isabela!
Hoorn has a number of museums, two of which we saw that afternoon. The first was about the traditional boats and Paul was in his element because we were the only customers in this very new community led museum and the very nice English speaking lady took us round the whole museum, admittedly small, and explained everything. I actually think all of our friends would have enjoyed her stories of boating through the centuries and how the town has changed with the impact of the success of the Dutch trading in the Baltic and then in the East Indies, but I would make it boring if I tried to tell you much about it. Just to mention a couple of things - mittens, for use when fishing through holes in the ice when the zee was frozen, which were knitted in wool, very large and with 2 thumbs. They were then washed and shrunk to about a quarter of
their size. They had 2 thumbs because, when they were put on in the dark it didn’t matter which way they went on and of course they were able to wear out on 2 sides rather than one -
so very economical! It is interesting that the damming of the Zuiderzee in 1932 wiped out all the fishing industry since the salt water fish all died and the fresh water fish took many years to become established – can you imagine trying to do such a thing nowadays! So there are several fishing fleets which are now used only for pleasure.
It is fascinating looking at the maps of the Ijselmeer to see how much has been reclaimed – on a rough estimate these enormous inland seas would be double their current size a couple of centuries ago – Flevoland was only reclaimed in 1953 and before they put the dyke (1932) between the Ijsselmeer and the Markermeer they were going to reclaim all the land South of the dyke. The nice lady in the museum told us that they have discovered 350 wrecks buried in the silt of the polders ie on dry land, in Flevoland alone
and was rather disparaging about the Dutch obsession with taking land from the sea – unusually she thought the Brits had got it right!
The second museum was of the 20th
century – and I came out feeling as though I had been put into a museum – or at least my life had – talk about making you feel old as we recognised things from our youth, and then the early days of marriage etc.! A reward was needed of a drink so a café in the sunshine was found post haste. Coming back to the boat we discovered 2 large yachts rafted up against us – the harbour has filled up – it is the weekend, its sunny and Holland are playing tonight and they won!
Our plan is to continue north until we can then cross the Ijsselmeer to go to Friesland. We have friends arriving on Monday so we need to be near a station. The wind is due to increase and the Ijsselmeer can be nasty in a blow because it is very shallow ie about 6m deep at its deepest (whereas the Markermeer is only 3m deep) so we have also put
a plan B together which means exploring more of the West of Holland, rivers and meers – there is lots of choice – and crossing when the wind reduces.
In the meantime we took 2 hours to get to Enkhuisen where our friends are going to join us, we hope, having successfully managed the rail system from Schipol. We have moored up in the Buitenhaven, the outside town quay, having arrived when there were lots of spaces so we have a nice bankside plot. However after a wander round this pretty place which has at least 5 harbours – boat addicts eat your hearts out – we came back to find 3 yachts have joined us! Just to paint the picture – we have a grassy knoll to our right on the other side of which enormous traditional barges ply their tourist wares taking lots of people in these beautiful boats in the sunshine. In front of us an old pretty lighthouse and a medieval tower, in the middle distance the harbour of the Royal Yacht Squadron equivalent and across to the left – if we could but see through the spars of the yachts - the
restaurants and bars – its such hard work being on holiday!
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