Ijmuiden – Amsterdam Arrival

The last day is always the longest – there is no way to make a boat go fast. Any way one looks at it – six to eight miles an hour is slow. We make it through the straights of Dover – at night with four knot tide swings every hour, tankers and ferries and now shallow water – green spots on the charts. A green spot signifies rocks from the bottom of the sea that extend above water at low tide and make holes in boats at high tide. At night there are lights showing where and where not sail. I could write a book on what different lights at sea mean and still miss a couple. We are up all night spotting lights and marks – finally day light. We weave across the shipping lanes now in the North sea towards to Holland.

As a newbie to shipping lanes I wonder how all the tankers miss each other. When a cargo ship enters a major shipping lane or is heading into a big harbor – a small mosquito like pilot boat zooms out to drop off a pilot on the cargo ship (the word is zoom, the cargo ship is doing 15 knots and the pilot boat does a drive by – while the cargo ship is moving at 15 knots, the pilot boat saddles up next to the cargo ship and the pilot jumps from one boat to the next – hmmmmm). The pilot provides the cargo boat captain advice and navigation experience on this particular shipping canal and when the ship arrives at dock or leaves the congested area the pilot is again picked up by the pilot boat. There are no newbies in the straits of Dover except fools like us.

Of course we arrive at Ijmuden – the marina for Amsterdam and also the canal entrance for big ships going to the interior of Holland – at midnight and the crew has had a number of celebratory beverages. Again lights, markers, buoys, jetties, boats and lots of wind. We are under motor, spotlight out and really thirsty for the first on dock beer. About one am – we are tied up at a slip in Holland. Before one can say “land ho” the crew has a cab and is headed for the Corner Bar (my favorite Amsterdam bar – first went there in ’77), Dam square, coffee shops and the red light district. As the captain for the leg five – the last leg – Amsterdam to Oslo. I stay on ship – plan is to leave with a new crew, new forestay, new batteries and fresh beer on Monday evening. Next leg includes the Kiel canal – longest commercial canal in Europe and my first canal experience. Revved up.

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