Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shallow brown

I am here to report that we have made it to Leeuwarden, via the shallowest water we have ever been in with our mast up. When we got to Grou a large green sign directed us to the Staande Mast Route. Possibly the size of the sign was impressive, but we decided to follow the signs, and the ANWB atlas, rather than follow Brian Navin. 

And what a good thing we did. We've just met another British boat who followed the Navin route, only to find that the key opening bridge is now permanently closed. They had to retrace their steps to Grou and follow us. 

Actually the route was delightful, a little canal winding through the Frisian landscape, slightly marred by the fact that we had as little as 0.3m under the keel at times. Mostly it was around 0.7m, just like the French canals. 

We got to the outskirts of Leeuwarden  in time for the Sunday lunch break for bridge openers. We hoped that meant a fast passage once they opened, but unfortunately the main rail bridge had a mechanical problem and they had to send a man in a reflective jacket to open it, which took around 45 minutes. In addition the route covers considerable extra distance (and more bridges), looping to the west and then the north, in order to avoid the fixed bridges in the city centre. 

The municipal moorings in Leeuwarden are wonderful. We are on the banks of the oldest public park in the Netherlands, the scent of lime trees is heavy on the air, and just behind us is the leaning, asymmetrical and unfinished tower once planned to be Leeuwarden's cathedral, before it started sinking and they had to stop building. When we arrived I went for a short walk, and the youth orchestra of Friesland was just finishing an afternoon prom with selections from Peer Gynt. How very civilised. 

Total covered today: about 23 miles. Distance in a straight line from Sneek: about 11.5 :-(

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