Sailing from Lemmer
Lemmer Travel Blog› entry 5 of 5 › view all entries
Sunday was to be simpler than Saturday, logistically speaking, although involving an equally early start. Basically, the plan was to drive to Lemmer on the shore of IJsselmeer, get on a boat, spend the day sailing, disembark, have dinner, drive back to Leeuwarden, and go drinking. And that's what happened.
The forecast had been for a fine day, but it was overcast and drizzly as we set out. However, it was obviously not getting any worse, and by the time we had located the Zeester (our clipper) and started loading supplies the rain was easing off.
Once on board it was difficult to understand at first how we could ever sail anywhere, as the Zeester was totally hemmed in by other boats. However, it is apparently the law that anyone occupying these berths must move their boat to allow another to leave, however inconvenient the time - even, the affable skipper Christiaan Huisman told me, if it's at four in the morning. We were due to leave at ten, and sure enough, by five to ten there were signs of life on the other boats as they prepared to manoeuvre and give us a clear passage. The skipper gave us a short introductory talk, the general drift of which was that nothing should be flushed down the toilets that God never intended to go there, and then we were on our way.
As there was little wind, and power would therefore have to be provided by the engines most of the time, the proposed route was to take us through various canals and inland lakes, rather than across IJsselmeer, as last year. After about an hour's gentle cruising we found ourselves approaching an extremely large lock, which took upwards of half-an-hour to negotiate, and caused considerable puzzlement by its apparently unlocklike behaviour. Once the gates were closed I kept a careful eye on a marker that would indicate when we started to descend, and after some time I thought that I detected a few inches movement; but after that nothing further happened, the gates opened and we sailed on. I began to doubt whether we had been through a lock at all. However, later the skipper gave a most interesting explanation.
About an hour later we stopped at Sloten, apparently the smallest city in Holland with only about 700 inhabitants. It owes its status to its importance, in days gone by, as a port, and it was able to derive considerable revenue from taxes and tolls; and as the number of inhabitants did not increase, they became extremely wealthy.
Then it was back on board, and for a time we were able to put up the sails and just drift lazily along, although there was not enough wind to make significant progress. Somehow time passed, as it does, and shortly after six we arrived back at Lemmer after a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day, in whcih the only significant exercise had been novice attempts at Applied Seamanship when it came to unfurling and furling the sails.
After which it was back to Leeuwarden and a quick drink at the Stads Cafe. However, this establishment shut at midnight, and so the hunt was on for somewhere that was still open. It was very pleasant knowing that, wherever we went, we would be no more than ten minutes walk from the hotel - in London I'm often faced with a 90-minute journey home after a heavy night out! Eventually Wendy led us to the cute little Dubio Club, which appeared to be waiting especially for us as there was no other clientele. With lots of coloured strobe lighting, clouds of dry ice appearing occasionally from behind a radiator, and cheesy old disco favourites being played not too loud, this turned out to be an ideal way to finish off our Sunday.
And so to bed.