July 26 In Wijk bij Duurstede

Written by Jack van Ommen on July 26th, 2010

I did not get going till 3 p.m. on Sunday. But I managed to get to a nice and quiet moorage on the Veght River by 8 p.m. at Nichteveght.  I followed the standing mast route to the “IJ” , the Amsterdam harbor, even without the mast standing the bridges all had to be opened and this took time and then I looped back into the city east of the Central Station, this was a hairy experience the fixed bridges on the “Oude Schans” and beyond to get to the Amstel River cleared the solar panel by all of 6″ (15 cm). Another trip through memory lane; passing under the Berlage Brug in my old neighborhood. This Amstel River bridge was the only bridge to cross from our neighborhood to the East river bank, other than a ferry boat to the south of it. The Liberators in May 1945 crossed this bridge into Amsterdam and we rode, as 8 year olds, on their tanks and trucks into Amsterdam through the crowds of the liberated.  Then the Weesper Trekvaart, another favorite destination for us a kids to explore,to Weesp on the Amsterdam-Rhine Canal.

The weather was dark, rainy and blustery, so, not good for picture. Today was not much better. The Veght is a beautiful river, lined with historic town and old castles. Many dating back to the 17 th century. The wealthy Amsterdam merchants had their summer homes along the river and sailed their Jacht’s there from Amsterdam. This was a real treat and I took lots of pictures. After Maarsen I decided to skip continuing on the Veght through the city of Utrecht, to save time and distance, and went into the Amsterdam Rhine Canal. This is used by the large barges and it can get a bit rough from their wakes and prop wash. I had been warned. In order to get from the Veght I had to go through an open narrow lock. I was following two other power boats. The all of a sudden I see this enormous German empty barge rush by very close to where the lock exit was. It through up an enormous wake that threw up the water inside the lock in all directions. It looked like I was going to lose the mast. I could not reverse in the narrow space. I was committed. I had to do a fast reshoring job. My autopilot decided to give the spirit once again. So that made leaving the helm very difficult. My next peril was in the Princess Irene locks, where the canal crosses the Lek River. I was the first boat in line so I thought I’d better tie up inside the lock. As another singlehandler I know likes to exaggerate (who can verify our stories anyway?) : “I looked death in the eyes…” . Apparently sport boats are not to enter the locks until the commercial vessels are in. So, I was tossed between the barges by their prop wash and came close to getting the boat crushed between these monster barges. I heard some nasty sounds when it happened but apart from some nasty scratches on the hull and rub rail “Fleetwood” survived. A hard lesson learned. I have another 68 locks to share with these behemoths before I get to the Danube….

I got to Wijk bij Duurstede, on the Lek River, at 4.30 p.m. I plan to wait here for Marinus Hoogendoorn once he has a freight to tow me to Mainz on the Rhine River. This is an old city with Roman period origins and walls. I hope to see more of it tomorrow. I can take pictures here without having to try take it over the heads of the tourist throngs and the streets are not littered with parked cars. This is a true jewel.


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