November 2019 we flew to Netherlands to pick up Grateful Red after her trip across the Atlantic on the deck of a special cargo vessel Spaarnegracht. Grateful Red had been unloaded in a commercial shipyard in Eemshaven and because we could not meet the boat, we hired a captain to motor her to Delfzijl. I arrived first to Amsterdam, took the train to Gronnigan and then rented a car to finish the short distance to Delfzijl. Scott, our crew for this trip arrived later by train. Together we provisioned the boat, refueled and got her ready for Ken's arrival and our journey to Amsterdam. It was great to have Scott along for all the shift changes. My job was to feed crew, and keep their hot water bottles filled! We arrived in Ijmuiden marina early in the dark and waited for daylight to go through the commercial lock into the North Sea Canal. Then it would be a 2 hour motor to our marina in Amsterdam.
IJdok City Marina was mainly set up for the tourist canal boats so having a big sailboat was a special sight. The marina office was operated by Anton and even with a bit of a language barrier, we all eventually became good friends. We think Anton thought our plan was to use the boat as a airbnb when we would not be there. He later realized, we were the only ones to live on the Grateful Red. This marina was less than a mile from city center and the Central Train station. Very convenient.
We arrived back to the boat March 3rd and by the 15th, the entire world changed. COVID19 and its affect on our plans and Amsterdams tourism and local life was incredible. Everything was shutdown except business that were essential. The restaurants had to swiftly switch to takeout or delivery only. Ken and I rented a car every 3 weeks to fully stock up for cooking and surviving on the boat. By June, bars and restaurants were allowed to open with social distance measures. There was tape everywhere!