Ossenzijl - Bovensmilde

Last Monday we were still in pretty Ossenzijl, after we had contacted a marina the Saturday before about our worn-out battery-bank, supposed to take care of all our domestic appliances. They (Vri-Jon, see http://www.vri-jon.nl/en/) were prepared to replace all 10(!!) of them on Tuesday, providing timely delivery after ordering them on Monday. All batteries were replaced indeed on Tuesday, thus making our generator almost unessential; our solar panels can keep the battery-bank’s capacity well over 24V ever since. Our reliable, whispering, generator now only serves us in case we want to use, for instance, the washing-machine. Not to forget a hair-dryer…

Although delayed by the replacing of the batteries we nevertheless left on Tuesday the 4th of July (the very same day of Trump’s highly inappropriate golf-outing) at 2:30PM. The weather was great and supposed to stay that way, as proven by the grass-harvesting farmers. Picturing this one catches a stork and a few bunches of cows almost automatically.

Another typical Dutch view while on the way that Thursday. By tackling a lock (yes!), the Jonkers- or Helomavaart, The Kuunder or Tjonger and the Pier Christiaansloot -the latter be a kind of detour- it’s almost difficult to choose the prettiest. The building is a B&B accommodation, we noticed. What a soothing view is available to the B&Bers! By the way, we had to remove the violets after returning from the UK. We bought cheap geraniums in Steenwijk – and it shows. Better times are on their way – we hope.

Echtenerbrug was our first destination in the province of Friesland. To our surprise we could find a mooring spot reasonable easy and switched off the engine at 4:45PM. Our new battery-bank was connected to shore-power for one single time to load the batteries to the maximum. That evening we had dinner, well let’s call it supper, next to Echtenerbrug’s bridge sitting at the outdoor space of ‘Dikke Tut’ (http://dikketut.nl/). Highly recommended! To avoid misunderstandings, ‘Dikke Tut’ means ‘Huge (hug and) Kiss’. The ‘u’ in Tut not pronounced like in ‘but’ but loooooong. (We can’t think of an English word with a loooooong u. Sorry. ‘Sudersee’ maybe? (A boat-name we remember well from our period on the Thames).)

As stated before we have left the beautiful province of Overijssel and are now in the equally stunning province of Friesland. Already in Ossenzijl -Overijssel- an active lady sold us (€ 20,00) the Frisian Marrekrite-flag (http://marrekrite.bwhontwerpers.nl/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/1578059MarrekriteinternetfolderUK-A5-2014.pdf), giving us the right to moor at anyone of their many spaces in Friesland. Selling the Marrekrite-flags realized a record-breaking revenue of € 174.500,00 in 2016. It’s the blue one with the recent year printed on it. We already had the Overijssel-flag), the colourful one at the front (for free) and bought (€ 10,50) the well-known Frisian one, with the Pompeblêdden (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seeblatt) in Echtenerbrug.

  • Frisian mares and foals today

    The next morning we left at 10:40AM, again under sunny circumstances. Not a lot over an hour later we noticed this bunch of utterly beautiful -and obedient most of the time- Frisian horses, mothers and their children this time. We are still grossly biased, we must admit, when it is about Frisian horses. During the eighties of last century we were heavily involved in the horse...

  • A Frisian stallion in 1983

    ...world, more specifically the Frisian one. At the time we were the proud owners of several horses/ponies, among them a Frisian stallion, named ‘Tiemen’ (the first letter of the name was an obligation, referring to its year of birth, 1979). Oh, and a few carriages too. That’s why we are no longer millionaires today! This picture was taken on the 11th of June 1983 – only 34 years ago. Only.

Back to the world of the waterways again now. We were, again, cruising the river Kuunder or Tjonger (two names because of the Frisian and Stellingwarfs language/dialect). To our surprise we noticed these two signs, well known to any boater, but up till now only seen on bridges to indicate the margin underneath the bridge that is the recognized channel. We managed to pass the signs by remaining in the centre of the river – as proven by the movement of the water, caused by our propeller.

That same day, Wednesday the 5th of July, we reached the village of Mildam at 1:05PM. This is a picture of our overnight mooring-spot. There are no striking features here but we should admit that we hardly got away from our little ship more than a few meters. One considerable finding, however: the friendly female bridge-keeper never walked, in between every action she literally ran, we mean like running – she never walked in a relaxed, we are tempted to say: typical, bridge-keepers-pace. Bless her!

Departure time the next day 8:25AM because of 4 locks on the way. That’s a lot in The Netherlands and these ones are not automated. The lock-keepers use a long pole to open and close the lock-gates – a sort of the same way as they do on the upper Thames. It’s not an easy job, the gates are heavy, very well balanced and there are no balance-beams. The water is -as we all know- not cooperative under these circumstances, too. Here’s a random view wile on the way. Sunny weather, grass harvesting, flowered banks, a wide panorama – the lot. Not to forget the aquatic plants in the river itself, of course.

We are talking Thursday now, the 6th of July. After having negotiated 4 locks we could moor at Oosterwolde and switch off the engine at 2:09PM. A good thing about Oosterwolde is that all shops are within a short walking distance. We are unable to produce any bad thing about this town. There’s even electricity available. Of course we, after having done this huge investment in Ossenzijl, are able to skip connecting to the mains with haughty faces. Our solar panels and new batteries are performing just great!

Bye bye Oosterwolde the next morning, 7 July 2017, 9:44AM. Initially we did some queue-cruising, convoy-cruising if you like, because of the combination several boats - several lift-bridges. Fortunately, our barge-type little ship is significantly slower than the ‘waspish’ cruisers. So we are pretty soon on our preferred own again. A consequence is that no-one helps when encountering a few self-service swing-bridges. No worries, however. When the next swing-bridge is situated at a ‘walkable’ distance we just…. yes, walk.

Again we ascended four locks that day with the nice names Fochteloo Verlaat (another word for lock/sluis), Stokers V., Bovenste V. and Damsluis. The latter is visible here. Together with the houses, bridge and trees it makes for a paradise-like picture, we think. The bridge is situated exactly at the Friesland/Drenthe-border. As a consequence the house in the foreground is situated in Friesland, the newer, less romantic, one in the province of Drenthe.

Already visible with the last picture there’s a striking red sign, saying ‘oant sjen’ – which is Frisian for ‘tot ziens’ (see you, good bye). This is framed by a typical Frisian Pompeblêd. In the background it reads ‘Provincie Drenthe’ – one could say a bit more low-profile. Now we have to look for a Drenthe-flag as well (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Drenthe). Up till this day we have no idea where.

  • One minute one’s on its own…

    We stopped the engine at 3:00PM and moored at Smilde on a waterway called Witte Wijk. We were lucky to be able to occupy the last available space, just accommodating the length of our little ship. Little? Over 18 meters! To call the spot boring is an exaggeration, but very exciting would...

  • …the next minute one’s not

    ...be a straightforward lie. Initially we were on our own, until a cruiser arrived. As usual, the (small) cruiser-society looked the other way and we offered them to breast up to our little ship. The couple on the cruiser was grateful -it was a bit late- and we felt useful citizens for a comfortable few minutes.

Saturday the 8th of July 2017. No rush that day, as we are supposed to arrive in Assen coming Monday and the distance is, well, easy to make in one day. But, after the rainy weather improved and the bridge-keeper’s lunch-break was over, everything came to life at 1:00PM, including us. We started the engine at 1:01PM and 4 (5?) cruisers moved towards the bridge, accompanied by us, snails, aiming for the Drentsche Hoofdvaart. When the bridge opened a cruiser was just passing in the distance. After that we made a flawless sharp bend and slowly cruised in the direction of Assen, in convoy.

  • A house, chosen at random

    Cruising in convoy takes some time, especially when there is a load of lift-bridges, the convoy comprises four boats and in 50% of the lifting-procedures the bridge-keeper decides to close the bridge again after two boats have passed – even when there’s no traffic waiting within miles! It makes no difference at all, because the first two boats must wait...

  • A striking (former) church-building

    ...for the other two (one of them being us, of course) before any new action can be taken by the only bridge-keeper on duty. Al that waiting time gives us the opportunity to admire the old ribbon development alongside the old (1765, an improvement of (an) older waterway(s)) canal. There are numerous striking, beautiful, admirable buildings.

This is where we are now, Bovensmilde, Sunday the 9th of July. We switched off the engine on Saturday at 2:40PM, after a cruise of widely less than 2 hours. As you’ll have noticed there are a lot of lift-bridges in this part of our country. The system works perfectly, we must say.

Something completely different now. Last Friday when waiting for the Damsluis, a rare Douglas DC-3 (‘Dakota’) passed us overhead. The unmistakable, typical ‘Dakota-sound caught our, well: one of us, ears and caused a run outside – immediately followed by a run back inside to get the camera. This is the result.

Douglas DC-3 ‘Dakota’

And there was even time to make a very short video. If only for the sound! One must be quick! We wish you all the very best – until next week!