From Dutch to Deutsche

22nd June - 30th June

With the fun and frivolity of the Volvo Ocean Race Festival over it was time for us to move north in the company of Darb and Nell. A nice easy genoa run of just 25 nautical miles was certainly a comfortable way to get underway again. First stop was the industrial port of Ijmuiden. Not a port I would envisage visiting for a holiday it was surprisingly surrounded by a camp ground complete with holiday homes and a Holiday Inn. 

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Weather on the Tuesday was bleak and windy so it seemed the ideal day to utilise the public transport system to travel to the town of Hoorne, 35km north of Amsterdam, on the Isjameer, that had been recommended. Well due to a slight miscalculation of all of about thirty seconds we ended up spending just over two hours travelling by bus and train and seeing several more train stations then first planned. Once the maritime base for the Dutch East India Company (VOC) this historical village was a nice place to wander and have lunch before reversing the 2 hour process to return to Ijmuiden.

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Wednesday 27th with winds still not conducive to heading out we once more tackled the public transport system that works so well in The Netherlands and headed by bus a short distance to the town of Harlaam. Harlem was a real surprise. A very pretty town with a town square area surrounded by traditional Dutch architecture and a grand church. This grand church was called The Great Church of St Bavos and was constructed between 1370 and 1538. It housed an impressive Christian Muller Organ built in 1735 consisting of 5068 pipes that was played by Mozart at the age of ten in 1766. The floor of the church consisted entirely of gravestones, around 1500 in total, the oldest of which dated back to the fifteenth century. Their worn appearance could only hint at the number of times they had been trodden over the history of the church. 

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After a fantastic sail from Imjuiden sailing most of the 60 nautical miles with our A1 we arrived in what was to be our final Dutch port of call, Vlieland. Vlieland is an island that is part of a chain of islands known as the West Frisian Islands. Accessible only by boat and surrounded by sand it is a major holiday island where only locals are allowed to drive cars and everyone else is required to use bicycles or walk. We spent a day riding around the island, wandering the only town of Oost-Vlieland and enjoying the view of the harbour as old ships came in for the evening.

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So after seven weeks of flying the Dutch courtesy flag the time had come to lower and replace it with the German Flag as we headed north for the island of Helgoland. Located 70km off the German Mainland it consists of a red sandstone island of just over one square kilometre and a small sandy island known as the Dune. The island was once one until the storm surge of a fierce storm in 1720 swept away the connecting land. The island has long held a tradition as a spa resort and today with its reputation as one of the sunniest spots in Germany continues as a popular beach resort. Small boats ferry people across to the Dune island to enjoy the two long stretches of sand beaches, although I would be more inclined to head for the heated spa resort then brave the chill of the wind or the water. 

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The island is also home to an institute for Bird Research with over 15000 migratory birds being tagged each year. A walk along the cliff pathway to the end of the island.  where the only free standing rock column in Germany stands (according to the brochure) provided great views of the red sandstone cliffs. These cliffs are also home to breeding birds and we were fortunate that the Northern Gannet were currently nursing young chicks in varying stages of development literally on the other side of the fencing. 

Kiel Canal (13).jpg150630 17 Kiel Canal Finally out to the baltic.jpg

Had the weather looked like it would stay stable for the next few days we would have loved to have stayed longer at Helgoland to further explore. But weather forecasts were indicating a strong easterly wind for Wednesday which would mean a hard beat to the Kiel Canal and we prefer to avoid that wherever possible.

So with our duty free shopping completed - its a tax free island - and the boat refueled at an amazingly low price of 93 euro cents per litre we were on our way to the Kiel Canal. 

The Kiel Canal is a 98 kilometre canal that runs from Brunsbuttel in the north Sea to Kiel-Holtenau in The Baltic. Sailing is not permitted so its a long day of motoring with most boats opting to stop along the way and take several days to traverse the canal. We instead opted for a long day that unfortunately became longer when we arrived at the exit lock into The Baltic and had a delay of just on two hours due to the small boat lock being under maintenance. 

We were happy to arrive and tie-up in Kiel at Dusternbrook - our first stern to pile mooring for a long time and in front of the grand Kiel Yacht Club Hotel.

So here we are back in familiar waters - The Baltic.


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© SV Katherine 2017      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Faro Portugal with Askari of Australia