2006 Wooden Boat Maritime Heritage Tour:
June 25-July 6, 2006
Continuing a travel program begun with visits to Norway in 2005/05, the Wooden Boat Maritime Heritage Tour tacked through the Netherlands this summer with twenty crew, all polyglot, colorful, and willing, Mary Barnes and I met the group in the Amsterdam airport and we moved to Lemmer by bus to board the 1907 sailing barge, SUCCES, and immediate departure on the Ijsselmeer, the Netherlands’ inland sea.
The vessel was spectacular: double cabins with private head and hot shower, full bar, and great food. Our Captain was Wietse van Lingen, assisted by his partner and mate, Evyline, and their new baby, Emma. SUCCES is steel, two-masted, flat-bottomed, and broad-beamed with leeboards for stability. Wietse handled her like a skiff, putting her through bridges with a foot of leeway on either side and routinely reaching at 7 knots under sail. He was a fine seaman and great host.
We began our journey inland by canal into the Frisian Lakes at Heeg, a lovely inland town, before moving on to Stavoren when we met and sailed in company with the fleet of Friesland Vaart, a maritime festival celebrating the revival of historic vessels in Holland. It was a wonderful event, with the usual shoreside exhibits, music, and food. As Mary and I walked the docks, we kept finding our WB crew in the cockpits of botters, invited aboard for stories, beer and Dutch gin. The following day we sailed again amidst these colorful vessels, until we headed north to Workum , another charming town and its small boatyard which had been in business for almost 150 years. The names of the owner/boatwrights were carved chronologically on a sign on the shop façade.
Our next passage took us to the eastern lock on the Ijsselmeer and entrance to the Wadden Sea and the Frisian Islands, Erskine Childers’ water, and our first port of call, Den Helder, where we visited the Dorus Rijkers Life-Boat Museum and The Royal Dutch Naval Museum. Wind direction, weather and tide intervened and we could sail no further east, only to Texel, the first of the Frisians, home of colorful fishing fleet and its own funky maritime museum. Wietse loved to sail his vessel, so this day and the next he took advantage of the fresh breeze and many of us got a work-out as crew.
Our destination was Enkhuisen, home of one of the finest historical museums in Europe. It is an open-air place, with many types of buildings depicting all aspects of Dutch culture. The museum has a wonderful collection of small craft and fishing materials as well. That evening, after the museum was officially closed, we enjoyed a private tour, a feast of fresh and smoked herring, Dutch cheeses and sausages, and various wines, served in authentic these settings.
We left SUCCES in her home port, Enkhuisen, for Amsterdam and the National Maritime Museum, where we were welcomed by the Director and introduced to a spectacular collection of navigational instruments, maps and charts, and the greatest of the Dutch marine paintings. It was good to return to the Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky, a soft mattress, clean laundry, and the City’s vast selection of restaurants to choose for dinner.
Our next excursion took us to Rotterdam where we visited The National Maritime Museum and its exhibits on Europe’s largest industrial port and then to the extraordinary museum ship, Buffel, with its’ perfectly restored engines, staterooms, and associated materials. If that was not enough, we boarded at the Museum dock another perfectly restored historic vessel, HELENA, a traditional Dutch trader, on which we sailed to Kinderdijk, the largest concentration of antique windmills in Holland. We lost the wind to a very hot day, but nonetheless on the slow motor home were fed an astonishing meal by the on-board chef. The crew slept very well indeed on the return by bus to Amsterdam.
Our last day was free. We scattered alone or in groups to the many wonderful art and historical attractions of that remarkable city, so accessible by canal boat, public transportation, or foot, only to come together again for a final dinner at The Ship Chandler’s Warehouse, aprivatley-owned building, meticulously restored and stacked within with goods as it might have been in the 17th century. We arrived there by canal boat to find a glorious candlelit room, a table set with flowers, pewter and glass, and yet another delicious menu of fresh fish and vegetables, dessert, three wines, coffee and Dutch chocolate. There were toasts and anecdotes and commitments by many to visits at home. For several of us, it was our second WB trip. Strong friendships have been made and I will not be surprised at all to see them renewed as reservations come in for the 2006 Maritime Heritage Tour to Sweden and Denmark. Join us!