Continuing our journey, the final stage of this blog, from Weesp we took the following route into Amsterdam:
- Small Weesp canal, across the Amsterdam-Rijn canal and along the Weesper Trekvaart, into the Amstel turning starboard down the Nwe Herengracht, right in the heart of Amsterdam, through Oosterdok, briefly out onto the Afgesloten IJ (the main harbour) crossing to starboard and back again with great relief into Westerdock mooring at Aquadam Marina.
Most days we are relaxed and confident about our travels .. but going into Amsterdam was a slightly different story, not helped by various people (fellow-boaters mostly) saying “you’re what”? .. when we told them of our travel plans.
They seemed to think it was a bit silly given how busy it can be especially at the height of summer holidays. But .. we wanted to see the city, we have spent lots of time in London and Paris, busy waterways too, so
Off we set, the three of us (now with Mary for company and encouragement!) through the heart of Weesp and the three lift bridges (paying our €3 into to the flying clog) and the first challenge was to cross the extremely busy Amsterdam-Rijn canal. Stewart wisely installed a Simrad AIS (automatic identification system) which in theory will beep and show any big commercial boats in our radius .. a huge help. But, if the commercial doesn’t have AIS we won’t see it .. so eyes are still an essential part of our ‘kit’ and that means I stand on the bow (walking the 17 meters down the length of the boat is a strange feeling) to see what I can see. In this case it was major commercial barges coming up and down the turbulent waterway, most of which Stewart could see on his screen. It was a challenge for him to edge out and make the dive between massive vessels to the lift bridge waiting open for us on the other side. Unfortunately we weren’t quick enough and when we could finally get in between two of the beasts and into the entrance to the Weespertrekvaart canal, the red light flashed and the bridge came down in front of us so we had to wallow around at the entrance and wait for it to open again. Not easy .. but thankfully it wasn’t long and the bridge opened again and we could dash under it into the relative safety of the canal.
From there it was a fabulous journey .. the waterway mostly lined by house boats and in some places very narrow but certainly interesting.
As we reached the heart of Amsterdam we had to negotiate many bridges using the Amstel canal and then the Herongracht into Oosterdok .. however, one of the bridges looked deceptively low, it should have given us clearance according to our computer software, printed map and the sign but just as we were committed, we heard an almighty crunching. I ducked onto the stern deck to see our smart green bimini fly over my head and into the canal taking most of it under and lost forever (unless some unsuspecting fisherman get his lines caught in it). Well.. that was a bit of a shock for all three of us. Mary and I had folded the canvas cover down but had not completely dismantled it – a mistake!
After a rest for recovery .. we waited for another boat to come along to prompt the bridge system to open for us .. and then before we knew it we were passing the amazing Renzo Piano (and colleagues) designed Nemo building and out onto the main Amsterdam harbour mixing it with what they call “Fast Flying Ferries” doing exactly that around and in front of us, ie, appearing to fly but they were definitely on the water.
With great relief we found the Aquadam marina at Westerdock and finally (after only three hours but it felt like a day or two) we moored safely and soundly! This we found was the best area of Amsterdam, the Jordaan.
What we didn’t realise was that the annual Gay Parade was going to pass right
beside our boat (we’re on the outside pontoon) at the weekend.
(See Stewart’s video here).
Meanwhile we had a great time with Mary, meeting our Harbourmaster, Walter, and having his advice and assistance, visiting the Palace, walking around Jordaan (our village) and discovering Mary’s namesake cafe and restaurant, ‘Smalle’ (after her maiden name), good food and delightful atmosphere.
We’re back on our own again .. Mary headed off to the south of France and we stayed another whole week in wonderful Amsterdam .. here we go, falling in love with another city!
More to come on Amsterdam ..