May 2010 started with a voyage through North Holland and Friesland. We sailed to Alkmaar, across the Ijsselmeer to Harlingen, Leeuwarden, Dokkum, Groeningen, Grou, Sneek, then back to Medemblik, Alkmaar and return to Zaandam.
Medieval costumes in a parade in Alkmaar showing happy peasants and plague victims.
One of the many windmills in Dokkum on the magical route from Harlingen to Groeningen.
I once told a Dutch friend who was driving to meet us that we were moored under the windmill. “Which one?” was the response as there are actually nine!
The Medemblik tram runs to Hoorn through the countryside and over many level crossings. Wonderfully friendly staff and much of interest to see in the museums.
If these two links don’t make you go there then you must have a heart of stone;-)
After drydocking, pressure wash below waterline and antifoul we sailed Eastwards, Lelystad, Blokzijl, Geethoorn, Meppel and on to Arnhem and Nijmegen.
Blokzijl quayside in Summer sunshine.
Saint Eusabius’ Church houses the unique memorial to the 1st Airborne Division and the 1st Polish Parachute Brigade.
The book and film “A Bridge Too Far” immortalise the words of General ‘Boy’ Browning. The Allied forces were surprised by a crack German armoured division that had been hidden nearby while resting from the Western front.
Nijmegen is livened up by being home to 13,000 students at the Netherlands only Catholic University.
Nijmegen and Groningen argue about which is the oldest city in the country.
Like Arnhem one of the strategic bridges is in Nijmegen and had to be captured by the US 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions.
The whole area depends on the existence of bridges over two arms of the Rhine (Waal and Nederrijn), Maas (Meuse) and Wilhelminakanal.
After leaving Maastricht we sailed through Belgium in a bit of a hurry to get to Paris for my daughter’s 21st birthday.
Strépy-Thieu boat lift, 240ft high and allows 1350 ton barges to travel between the Meuse and Schelde rivers. Though the caissons are counterweights they do not always balance each other. Archimedes Law dictates that a loaded and an empty caisson would always be the same weight, this is not always the case due to differing water levels in the canals, top and bottom.
Inside the barge lift at Strépy, all those wires holding us up in the air, all 8000 tons.
Port Cergy, part of Cergy-Pontoise some of which is a new conurbation or dormitory town for Paris as it is on the RER train route into the city.
A signpost intriguingly showing the way to “Le Weekend” actually points to the holiday complex across the river.
The view of Arsenal harbour from Cimarron, the Bastille in the distance. A fabulous berth in the centre of Paris, with Metro stations at each end of the harbour.
Bassin de l’Arsenal was built out of the moat of the Bastille. In the French Revolution the Bastille was symbolically stormed and destroyed even though its reputation was highly exaggerated. Later, the basin was made as the Seine end of the Canal Saint-Martin which in turn led to the Canal Saint-Denis and the Canal de l’Ourcq, built to bring grain, firewood and water into the city.
Rogny-les-Sept-Écluses, a charming stop followed by all those locks!
The Briare canal was part of a plan by Henri IV and Sully to join the Mediterranean and Channel, completed in 1642. This part of the canal needed six and later seven locks each with a single gate at the lower end as the locks joined together.
The aqueduct at Briare over the River Loire, which was between 1896 and 2003 the longest navigable aqueduct in the world (662m). The Magdeburg water bridge took the title in 2003 with a length of 918m.
The aqueduct was built to replace the river level crossing of the Loire, often dangerous and needed several locks. The abutments and piers were built by Gustav Eiffel and they carry a steel beam, in turn supporting a steel channel carrying 13,000 tons of water. There are sluices fitted in the channel to allow drainage in severe frosts.
Tucked up in Nevers for the winter. This is the Embranchement de Nevers of the Canal Lateral à la Loire and used to lead down to the Loire. The lock was subsequently converted into a swimming pool and later abandoned despite local interest.
Zaandam, Alkmaar, Middenmeer, Harlingen, Leeuwarden, Dokkum, Schouwerzijl, Groningen, Stroobos, Grou, Sneek, Medemblik, Middenmeer, Alkmaar, Zaandam, Wormer, Lelystad, Blokzijl, Ossenzijl, Steenwijk, Giethoorn, Meppel, Zutphen, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Schutsluis Heel Maasbracht, Pietersplas Maastricht, Wanze, Farciennes, La Louvriere, Roucourt, Trith St Leger, Etrun, Clery-sur-Somme, Peronne, Campagne 16, Creil, Cergy, Arsenal Paris, Melun, St Mammes, Nemours, Montarbon, Montargis, Montbuoy, Rogny, Chatillon-sur-Loire, Sury-pres-Lere, Herry, Marseilles-Les-Aubigny, Nevers.