Nieuw Amsterdam (Drenthe) - Stadskanaal (Groningen)

On Monday the 14th our valued friends Barry & Sylvia arrived at Nieuw-Amsterdam. We left almost immediately, at 11:30AM, to pause soon after because of taking in a lot of water (1,5 hours), halfway PK 53 and 54 on the Verlengde Hoogeveenschevaart. For free too! Thank you for that, Watersportvereniging Emmen e.o. ( That day we ascended two locks and moored at 3:40PM just above the second one, on the Oranjekanaal/Bladderwijk at Klazienaveen. As this picture shows, next to the two tjalks we admired the most at Hasselt/Hassailt – see the last two pictures of week 30, 2017.

We set sail the next morning at 9:59AM. Shortly after that we entered the (newish) Koning Willem-Alexanderkanaal, almost immediately to be confronted with the last ascending lock, named Spaarsluis. There’s a fixed bridge of 3,75 meters (12,5 feet) in front of the lock and we consider the height of our mast to be 4 meters (over 13 feet) – partly for safety reasons. It was, therefore, wise to take the mast (someone once called it a matchstick – ouch!) down. Note the opening in the lock-wall, as seen on the right-hand side.

  • Side-ponds serving…

    As stated with the last picture the name of the lock is Spaarsluis (‘Save-lock’). This picture explains why. It is the first lock we ever encountered (on the continent that is) with a side-pond, better even in this case: two side-ponds. This way the lock only ‘uses’ 1/3 of its volume to take from the canal, respectively to discharge into the canal. The other 2/3 is taken…

  • …2/3 of the lock

    …from the side-ponds, respectively discharged into them. The result, of course, is saving water. The opening in the wall (remember?) next to the lock limits the water-level to 1/3 of the lock-volume; the cill between the two side-ponds limits the water-level to 2/3. Ingenious, isn’t it? The upper side-pond is emptying into the lock before the last 1.3 is taken directly from the canal.

After having tackled the Spaarsluis we cruised the summit-level of the canals of north-east Drenthe, on the Koning Willem-Alexanderkanaal, opened in 2012. It is a lovely stretch, making the inevitable impression of partly being an already existing natural waterway.

  • Koppelsluis, being…

    Almost at the end of this newish canal the first of a series of descending locks must be tackled, this one, Koppelsluis, being…

  • …a staircase

    …a special one as well. It is a pair of two combined locks – a staircase. Hence the name, koppel (= pair, couple if you like).

We are now on the Scholtenskanaal. This is what it looks like when on the way. Self-evidently the prominent hair of our guest -the female half- adds to the feeling of colourful-ness this picture brings.

The Scholtenskanaal quickly changes into the Sint Jozefvaart. There we passed the Veenpark ( - in Dutch and German), a large open-air museum about the extensive peat excavations in this part of The Netherlands. Unfortunately we had an itinerary for three days and the museum was not included. Next time – if there ever is one.

Three more locks later -yes, we are rapidly descending now- and having entered the Oosterdiep, followed by the Compascuumkanaal we passed Emmer-Compascuum, planning to end up in Ter Apel. We were, however, not sure about finding an acceptable mooring-spot, nor about making it before 5:00PM (when the locks and bridges close), so we decided to call it a day at Emmer-Compascuum, made famous by one of the characters in the sitcom ‘Toen was geluk heel gewoon’ (Back then happiness was a common thing), performed by Moena Goeman Borgesius (Zus Stokvis-Mollema), regularly referring to Emmer-Compascuum, where she claimed to have grown up (‘us, in E-C’). Our second guest -the male half- has positioned himself in one of our comfortable chairs.

We left that town with the loooong name at 8:55AM on Wednesday the 16th of August, reached the province of Groningen and entered its first lock, called 8th Verlaat, at 10:00AM. It appeared to be an awkward shaped lock – normal gates in the middle and a much wider middle-part. After some manoeuvering four boats just fitted in – thanks to the experienced lock-keeper. He ‘ordered’ us to go first. The more fragile cruisers were all too happy to yield.

The next canal was the Ter Apelkanaal. On the way we passed the town that gave the canal its name, Ter Apel, our initial destination. It looked really attractive, so maybe next time. A striking feature was this pair of statues in Ter Apel’s centre, a woman and a man looking at each other using binoculars. We have no idea whatsoever about the meaning of this work of art. Perhaps it is just what it is: a striking public piece of phantasy. (© Sylvia den Hartog-Tangel)

The 8th and 7th Verlaat (Verlaat = lock) were of the same shape, but then we entered the 6th Verlaat. The entrance as well as the exit are 50% sliding gate; the other 50% is a wall in front of which the gate slides and where the water enters/leaves the lock. Although different it is all explainable. The difficulty, well a thing to consider, is that the sliding gates are situated diagonally from each other. This is what it looks like when positioned to descend after a bit of manoeuvering.

After the lock has (almost) emptied it reveals its ‘underwater-garden’. See the picture before this one. We looked at it in amazement; how on earth do the plants survive??

6th Verlaat – Ter Apelkanaal

The gate itself carries some vegetation, too. It is opened manually making a great sound. After moving the gate aside the lock-keeper removes the catch of the lift-bridge and subsequently opens it.

We stated before that our home country is rather flat – an understatement. This creates the opportunity to dig dead straight canals. Often with ribbon-like developments on either side. We love it for some reason, in this case possibly because of the bright light and the leaning plane trees.

After another number of Verlaats, the 5th,4th and 3rd, we reached our aimed destination, Stadskanaal, that Wednesday at 4:30PM – situated alongside the… Stadskanaal. That was a long day, a lunch-break of over an hour and more than 5 hours of cruising included. Initially this was our first spot… (© Barry den Hartog)

…the next day (after our friends had left) followed by this one, where it is easier to get mains-electricity as well as water. Both paid for, of course, but unlike other places there’s no mooring-fee.

The same spot, now seen from the opposite bank, also showing Stadskanaal’s prominent lift-bridge. We are awaiting our next guest today (Sunday) and planning to leave in the direction of Groningen-city tomorrow.

Spitting man

Opposite of us is a funny statue positioned, depicting a spitting man. He does that because he supposedly is a tobacco chewer. As we all now, chewing tobacco makes one spit. For more, see It is a kind of interesting, though out-of-fashion nowadays. We suppose the man depicts a worker in the peat excavating industry, in an era when chewing tobacco was normal indeed. We remember one of our granddads chewing tobacco. (He did not work in the peat-industry.) That is it for the week that was.