2018 Netherlands & Belgium

Netherlands 2018

Noorder Oudeweg

Ophaalbrug Ossenzijl, and the Ossenzijlersloot.  A quirky little town with two quirky restaurants, a third restaurant out of town in the Recreatiecentrum De Kluft is a more serious restaurant.

For those with a yen for bridge details the word ophaal indicates a lift bridge with counterweight, a basculebrug is a lift bridge with no visible means of support, a draaibrug is a swing bridge.  A Hoogholtje bridge is a fixed wooden up and over low clearance bridge mainly in Groningen province.

Molly and the manual

Getting the new Lowrance echo sounder working needed a quick read of the manual with Molly pointing out the important bits.  It was easier than it looked and that gave us time to appreciate the new folding wheelhouse, hang the outboard on its new bracket and rig the inflatable dinghy on its new davits.

The few days we spent in Ossenzijl allowed us to practice riding the new bikes which after lack of recent experience proves that you can forget!



Lemmer is a small town of about ten thousand residents and the population expands considerably in summer.  It was a fishing town, like neighbouring Urk, until the IJsselmeer was “constructed”.  It is now a watersport centre and focus of local cycle routes.

You can see from the local map below that half the houses have a berth for their boat.


Ligplaatsen Lemmer

Very popular with visiting boats and they very often have to raft, sometimes on both sides of the waterway.

The steam pumping station nearby is a UNESCO world heritage site and can be seen on the local link below.

Ligplaatsen Lemmer

Kampen is one of the best preserved towns in the Netherlands and dates back to 1236 as a city.  It was a Hanseatic League city, one of the 192 cities in 16 countries as a vast trading association during the 13th to 15th centuries.

In the 16th century Kampen was taken by the Spanish and then recaptured in 1572. One hundred years later the United Provinces were involved in the Franco-Dutch war, the complexity of France, Sweden, England and others against the Dutch Republic joined by Austria, Prussia and Spain, is too difficult to describe here!


The Vischpoort city gate in Elburg, another Hanseatic city.  The railway was refused permission to build near the town or even build a station so the Utrecht to Amersfoort and Zwolle line bypassed the city and its isolation from trade was completed in 1932 when the Zuiderzee isolated the town from its traditional fishing grounds. Since then the tourist trade has been developed to advantage.

Elburg Vischpoort
Botters in Elburg

Botter days, when the traditional fishing boats take tourists out into open water.  These sailing boats are traditional flat bottomed wooden boats with tan sails.

A typical view of laid back Netherlands, with visitors cycling along canal and riverbanks. 


Muiden is the mouth of the river Vecht which is a fork of the Rhine beginning beyond Utrecht from the Kromme Rijn.  A pair of sea locks allow entry from the Markermeer.

A popular port with a branch of Koninklijke Nederlandsche Zeil Roeivereeniging founded in 1847.

Muiden formed part of the Stelling van Amsterdam or fortresses defending the capital. The Muiden fortress and the island Fort Pampus are the most notable in this part of the system.


Weesp is a beautiful town with a harbour right in the centre.  The town is noted for Van Houten chocolate and a Solvay Chemicals plant taken over recently by Abbott Laboratories. For a period the town produced Weesper porcelain and distills jenever.



Weesp lies on a short branch off the Amsterdam-Rhine canal and the Vecht flows from Utrecht.

Sailing up the Vecht towards Utrecht the river passes through Breukelen.  Breukelen like Haarlem are both better known for their American spelling.

Proper barber shops are returning to the Netherlands, fortunately without the quartets!

Breukelyn Barber

Rich Amsterdam merchants built expensive mansions along the Vecht in the 17th Century.  This is the gatehouse to something much larger.

The Vecht has more than its share of beautiful scenery, buildings and bridges.

Breukelyn on Vecht

Moored at the berths at Stichtse Vecht and lowering the new folding wheelhouse.  The air draft reduces from 4.8 metres to 3.0.  The forward side windows project to the rails and next time we will dismount them so that they do not project.

The first of twelve bridges through the subterranean quays of Utrecht.  These quays originally contained warehouses of which many have been converted to bars and restaurants.

Oudegracht Utrecht
Oudegracht Utrecht

Getting tighter and tighter!  The goods delivery and rubbish collection barges crews thought it was a great joke and applauded.

This wasn’t the lowest headroom.  The chief mate was too busy to take a photograph of the tunnel under the Tolsteegbarriere which is two arches of different dimensions joined together and has a bend in the middle of the 40 metre darkness.  That is the last and most difficult of the bridges.

Oudegracht Utrecht

Getting busier and it is difficult to navigate between all the floating objects.  There are tour boats, pedalos, kayaks, rubbish barges and yachts small and large so it is an interesting and varied passage through the Oudegracht.

For those who remember “The Prisoner” about people trapped in Portmeirion by large very slow moving white balls this publicity event in Utrecht showed how escape should have happened.

Windmill on Smalweesp

Weesp again, to recover from The Oudegracht.  This time the riparian moorings out of town and we could almost expect to meet Hyacinth Bucket but we got another windmill instead.

The voyage through Amsterdam is hard to equal for a cityscape.  Entering Amsterdam from the Weespertrekvaart you enter the Amstel and voyage through the navigable heart of Amsterdam.


There are ten bridges on this part of the Amstel going through Amsterdam and they are all very individual.  This is Hogesluis and you can make out the overhead tram wires that ingeniously fold when the bridge lifts.

The Amstelschutsluizen is the flood barrier for the Amstel as it defended the Prinsengracht inwards towards the city centre.

Magere Brug

Of all the bridges in the Netherlands I had to include the Magere Brug, if you buy milk here the Magere milk is the skinny low fat milk!  So this is the skinny bridge and is my all time favourite.

Here is Walter Suskindbrug.  Suskind helped about six hundred Jewish children escape from the mass deportation that went on through World War Two.  Sadly he died in Poland in 1945 on one of the Death Marches.

Walter Suskindbrug
Vaz Diasbrug

Vaz Diasbrug was named after Mozes Saloman Vaz Dias (1881-1963) who started a large Press Agency.  He managed to escape deportation and in 1954 set up the Vaz Dias International advertising agency.

Would anyone who has a translation of what is written under the Vaz Diasbrug please let me know what it says.  peter at cimarron.online will find a grateful person.

My thanks to Ian McCauley (DBA) for providing the missing link: 

The Google translation is amusing but the underlying meaning is easily seen.

Vaz Diasbrug
Clogs on green house Zaan

The Zaan is famous for its green houses, some of them are quirky, especially one that is decorated with so many clogs.

A more traditional Zaan green house.

Green house Zaan
Hendrick Avercamp

In the Rijksmuseum are several paintings to remind the AGW brigade that the Little Ice Age allowed ice fairs on the rivers and the Eleven Towns skating race.  If previous trends are followed this may well return.

Hendrick Avercamp showed us what it really was like in 1608.


Willem van de Velde The Elder (1611-1693).  The Battle of Terheide in 1657 is example of his superb draughtsmanship.  His son painted equally beautiful pictures using more conventional materials.

The Battle of Terheide, Willem van de Velde

After leaving Zaandam and Amsterdam we sailed South through Haarlem and the Chief Mate added  another windmill to her collection.

The Cruquius steam pumping station worked from 1850 to 1933.  It is now a museum with the foreman’s house acting as a cafe.

De Cruquius Pumping Station

Merlenhaven harbour demonstrates the remarkable tranquility of the backwaters in North Holland.  The social scene in the clubhouse was a little more boisterous.

The yachtharbour KWV De Kaag has a restaurant attached with the interesting name of Waterlust de Kaagsociëteit.

De Kaag
Nieuemeerdijk Amsterdam

We were intending to go through the Southern edge of Amsterdam and South on the Amstel.  We stopped at the Lake Hotel on the Nieuwemeerdijk as the lift bridges in Amsterdam were not opening due to expansion in the heat.  Yes, it was so hot we had to stop overnight for cool beer or two.

The lock in Leidschendam has strangely interesting sculptures and neither local people or the internet can solve who they represent.  Suggestions please.

Netherlands 2018

Rotterdam Veerhaven,
Den Bosch,
Bergen op Zoom.

Delft.  We had been convinced by a number of sources that it was pronounced Deleft.  But on this visit I asked three locals and they all called it Delft!

There are Delft Blauw factories and several shops selling the porcelain!



A main street in Delft and eagle eyed drinkers will notice something of interest.  Supermarkets do not sell spirits and so very close to every Albert Heijn (my favourite supermarket) is a Gall & Gall wine and spirit shop.

Rotterdam Veerhaven.  The wonderful wooden building housing the port captain’s office and facilities used to be the harbour police office.  There is a photograph of the whole police force about one hundred years ago.

The harbour has many classic craft and I wasn’t sure if Cimarron was going to be accepted!  It turned out that their policy is to try to berth historic and newer yachts 50:50.

Veerhaven Rotterdam
Erasmusbrug Rotterdam

A historic sailing barge and the Erasmusbrug with a backdrop of new buildings shows Rotterdam to be a modern city but with many historic contrasts.

The Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen contains European art from Rembrandt to Dali.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam
Natural History Museum Rotterdam

Outside the Natural History Museum there are giant animal exhibits, is it a rabbit or a hare?

The Okiti, a chemical tanker pictured on the Previous Incarnation page, was arrested in Stanlow by the bank and taken to the Waalhaven Rotterdam to be sold, over three decades ago.  I thought I would go and pay my respects to her last resting place before being sold and renamed North Sands.

Waalhaven Rotterdam
Rotterdam Port Authority

Just as we got close this Port Authority tug came and chased us away back to the North Sea canal.

You can see from the body language that he was not pleased!

Brielle was recaptured  from the Spanish on April 1st 1572.  This is still celebrated as the houses of Spanish sympathisers were marked with lime wash.  Modern latex paints have caused the tradition to be curbed.


Another star shaped fortress town, Brielle has the odd distinction of once being English.  Under the Treaty of Nonsuch it was, from 1585 to 1617, used as security for 5000 soldiers lent to the Dutch to fight against the Spanish.

Dordrecht is the oldest city in South Holland, granted city rights in 1220.  In 1572 a meeting, First Assembly of the Free States of Holland was held here and William of Orange was chosen as stadtholder to replace the Duke of Alva, this led to the formation of the Dutch Republic.  Two hundred years later the importance of Dordrecht waned in favour of Rotterdam.  This photograph shows the Grote Kerk beside the yacht harbour.

Nieuwe Haven Dordrecht
Museum Ship Harbour Dordrecht Wolwevers Haven

Historic barges and tugs lie in a special museum harbour, Wolwevershaven.

This beautiful steam tug was built as Speculant in 1893 and worked on the Upper Rnhine until 1965.

For anyone wondering why the funnel is ahead of the wheelhouse it was more important to watch the string of barges being towed than keeping a view of the Lorelei ahead!

In order to fund this historic vessel you may charter her for parties of up to 55 people.



Pieter Boele steam tug in Dordrecht
Model houses in Gorinchem

The Lingehaven harbour in Gorinchem.  I was amused to find that Gorinchem is actually pronounced Koricum.

The little buildings on plinths are exhibits sponsored by KLM showing historic and important buildings from all over the country.

The Grote Merwede lock in the Lingehaven is of course high enough to withstand the flooded river and low enough at the other end to match the Linge.  Not recommended for vessels over 12m I discovered after persuading a 13.8m (plus dinghy) Cimarron into the smallest space in the Lingehaven.

Lingehaven lock at Gorinchem
Den Bosch or 's-Hertogenbosch

Den Bosch or more fully ‘s-Hertogenbosch, busy enough for most boats to be rafted.

The city’s most famous inhabitant was Hieronymus Bosch who was born as Joen van Aken.  Some of his paintings were removed to Spain by the occupying forces so that the Prado in Madrid has a number of his most important works.

Geertruidenberg Passantenhaven t’Scheepsdiep near Ramsdonk offers a small number of boats a neat little harbour with bar and restaurant attached.  Supermarkets in walking distance too.

Passantenhaven at Geertruidebrug
Buffel at Hellevoetsluis

In Hellevoetsluis we saw the ironclad HNLMS Buffel, built in 1868 by Robert Napier & Sons, Glasgow.

Buffel was the first Dutch ship to be propelled solely by steam and could attain 13 knots.

Originally armed with two 9 inch Armstrong guns in a single turret later replaced with one 11 inch gun and some smaller calibre weapons.

In commission until 1974 she had spent most of her latter days as a training ship and accommodation ship.  She also flew the German ensign from 1940 to 1945.

The ship’s only deep sea voyage was from the builders on the Clyde and her only visit to a foreign port was Antwerp in 1871.

She was moved from the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam in 2013.

Buffel at Hellevoetsluis
Beautiful Bentley

An immaculate Bentley on display at the Steam Fair in Hellevoetsluis.

Other old favourites included a Morris Minor, MGB, Lotus 7 and many other classics some of which I had owned.

Other classics that weekend included some old time Dutch Marines.

Dutch Marines at Hellevoetsluis

Steenbergen yacht harbour is well situated close to the centre of the town.

The town is the site of the grave of Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar, and his navigator Squadron Leader Jim Warwick DFC whose Mosquito crashed here in September 1944.

Bruinisse was the first port in Zeeland this year.  Jachthaven Bruinisse was the largest yacht harbour we stayed in, hundreds of berths.  It was a bicycle ride to leave the harbour!


Zierikzee is the site of the city hall for Schouwen-Duiveland.  This municipality is a portmanteau as it was created from the two islands that were poldered together.

The Hebebrücke in Zierikzee with skipper and 2nd mate about to cross.

Zierikzee Museum

A selection of Botter models in the Zierikzee Museum.

Just by chance we arrived for the Zierikzee Mussel Festival.  From the newness and condition of the mussel boats the earnings must be significant.  The wheelhouses are better equipped than any of the deep sea ships I sailed in.

When we got to Antwerp the port captain told us that most of the mussels in Antwerp came from Zierikzee and were eaten by visiting Dutchmen as the pick of the harvest were exported.

Zierikzee Mussel Festival
Goes harbour

The classic harbour in Goes.  The buildings in the background look just like the little porcelain models sold to tourists, or is it the other way round?

The 2nd mate dragging the chief mate towards the Stoomtrein Goes – Borsele.  I hadn’t realised our little dog had become so keen by osmosis.

Eager dog at Goes
Goes Station

The inside of the Goes former goods shed converted to a unique cafe.

An ex-United States Army Transportation Corps USATC S100 Class steam locomotive, similar to the Southern Railway locomotives once used in Southampton Docks. Many of these locomotives that crossed the Atlantic stayed in mainland Europe.

After the war SNCF (France),Jugoslovenske železnice (Yugoslav State Railways), Hellenic State Railways (Greece), Österreichische Bundesbahnen (Austrian Railways), Ferrovie Dello Stato (Italian State Railways), Oranje-Nassau Mijnen (Dutch mining company), Southern Railway (UK), National Coal Board, Longmoor Military Railway and Austin Motor Company all had examples.

Stoomtrein Goes-Borsele
Stoomtrein Goes-Borsele

After running around the train at Hoedekenskerke we are ready to return to Goes.  At this station there is a model railway, cafe and a ride on outdoor railway for the children.

Molly’s first steam train ride, she immediately leapt onto my lap to see out of the window and then climbed up on the little table.  In this shot she is looking at the ticket inspector.

Molly on Stoomtrein Goes Borsele
Molly on Stoomtrein

Here the little steam enthusiast is checking on the scenery, passing trains, sheep and other animals.

Back into big barge country as four large barges share the lock we will enter in turn.

Antwerp Harbour

The huge harbour of Antwerp that takes around two hours to travel through.  The number of ships loading and discharging at container berths, refineries, storage tank farms, chemical works, bulk coal and grain silos make it the second largest port in Europe.

The Port of Antwerp’s interesting new building.  The old part was the fire station and the new part designed by Zaha Hadid.

Antwerp Port Building

In the Willemdok there is a display showing the port with this splendid frieze in the window.  Inside the display shows a model of the port and around the walls videos of the port activities.

The small dock between Willemdok and the Scheldt is called the Bonapartedok, the first of many, was ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1811 with great foresight.

Two alternative skylines in Antwerp.  The first is traditional Flemish architecture.


The second is a shot of  the masts and yards of a traditional ship rigged for trips down the river.

There are a number of examples of traditional churches and public buildings in Antwerp even though the city must have sustained considerable damage during two wars.


The chief mate wanted a shot, out of sequence, of rope handling alongside three large barges, two smaller barges and two sport boats all in the same lock.  I think the large barges were in the region of 4000 tons each.

Antwerp Central Station.  It would appear that an extra set of platforms have been built above the concourse and three levels below.  The opening to look down is just in front of the seat.

Antwerp Central Station
Antwerp Central Station

The outside of the station is unchanged, still magnificent.

I have always loved St Pancras and think the modern conversion is architecture at its best, but Antwerp is joining St Pancras in joint first place.


At the end of Willemdok is the MAS building, Museum aan der Stroom or museum by the river.

The open top floor gives a panoramic view of Antwerp, the docks and city.

The Sixth Floor was the most interesting for me, a fabulous collection of ship models without glass cases getting in the way and various artifacts, nautical instruments and models.

Antwerp MAS
Antwerp MAS

The models are given a backdrop of aerial views of the port, charts and period paintings.  All too much for one visit so allow plenty of time as there are six other floors.

The wooden ship models appear unprotected and I think that the internal air pressure, filtration, dehumidifying and airlocks all contribute to making dusting the models unnecessary.

Antwerp MAS

A view of Temse, upriver from Antwerp.  We made a mistake and should have berthed at the upstream pontoon with exit facilities.  

On the right bank of the Scheldt between Temse and Dendermonde the were several aeroplanes with this being the largest, presumably for scrap or ornamentation.


Ghent, Gent or Gand.  The city displays much fascinating architecture, a little flavour from further North but a very distinctive Flemish style.  We berthed in Portus Ganda which is very close to the city centre.  The berths are mostly short but there is one lengthy alongside berth and more barge berths on the other side of the harbour.

St Bavo’s, Ghent was decorated by the van Eyck brothers, Hubert and Jan,  the most notable is the Ghent Altarpiece. The extensions, sculptures and paintings date from 14th to 18th centuries.  There are many works of art including the four organs the largest of which has 6000 pipes.

Outside is the 1913 monument to Hubert and Jan van Eyck.



The Groentenmarkt with most forms of transport visible, trams, road vehicles, bicycles and “voetgangers” or pedestrians.

The Leie is a tributary of the Scheldt and runs through the city giving sightseers an exceptional view of the historic centre.


The Graslei indicates the wealth that came to the city through the wool trade.  Originally the weaving trade was supplied by local sheep grazing in the marshlands around the city, then importing wool from England and Scotland.

The Leie, going upstream from Ghent later turns into the most delightfull little river leading to Deinze.

The skipper went down with a bad case of what was later diagnosed as campylobacter, very severe.  

The chief and second mates did sterling work making passage to Bruges to visit the doctor and on to Diksmuide for overwintering.


The Yser Tower is a peace monument and acts as a memorial to the Belgian Army’s stand against the invaders from 1914 to 1918.  It must be the longest static defence line in WWI.  Near the town is the Dodengang, or Trench of Death, memorial site that represented the absolute front line.

Winterising the boat is not to be recommended when really sick but we got through it while lying on the River Yser.

River IJzer
Belgium 2018

Antwerp Willemdok,
Portus Ganda, Ghent,
Coupure Bruges,

After we left for Spain Thijs Van Nevel and his lift out crew at Buitenbeentje BVBA hoisted Cimarron ashore.  The doctor in Bruges had given us the result of the tests and the pharmacist in Diksmuide had provided the medicine that gave the first signs of relief for ten days.  Driving to Estepona, Spain was now possible. 

Diksmuide lift out