Tue 4 Aug 2009 16:13
At anchor off Durgerdam (2.5 miles east of Amsterdam)
Wind: South, light
Weather: Partly cloudy, warm
We came to anchor in 2 meters of water in Hoorn Harbour last evening, with barely 20 cms beneath the keel, the anchor had a very short distance to fall before it found bottom and dug into the soft mud. While I would generally be more comfortable with a little more water under the keel at least it was going to be easy work weighing in the morning. Once at anchor we surveyed our surroundings. Hoorn is an old Hanseatic town, many of its building date back to 16th century, some earlier, many with coats of arms and other motifs painted in bright blue, red and gold. In fact we were slightly alarmed that many of the brick walls had a definite outward lean into the street. We wondered for a while whether this was in fact a novel innovation of Dutch architecture or whether the streets had subsided and the walls had leaned outwards to oversee the phenomenon. After much examination we settled on the latter and were inclined to walk in the middle of the street.
The inner harbour is full of boats, modern and traditional, canals interlace the roadways which have more bicycle traffic than cars, the relatively narrow streets regularly intersect at spacious squares, into which plenty of sidewalk dining spills. This is definitely a people friendly city. How much have we sacrificed to the seductive convenience of the motor vehicle? We enjoyed a very relaxing beer or two at one of the outdoor café/pubs though were unable to connect to that more recent indispensable adjunct to modern living, the internet, but later, back at the boat, were pleasantly surprised to find there a free wi-fi service available from the nearby fuel dock, luxury, internet in the cockpit!
An interesting piece of trivia, though perhaps not trivial to a Hoornian, is that the first rounding of that most infamous of Capes, the Everest of the ocean, Cape Horn, was the result of an expedition mounted from this small town. The expedition lost one of their ships, the "Hoorn" off the Patagonian coast, burnt to the waterline while completing a minor repair. The remaining ship, the "Unity" rounded the newly named Cape on 29 January 1516, opening an era of commercial sail into the vast Pacific Ocean now long gone.
While Hoorn was interesting, in the end it was mainly about shops, so we felt happy to move on, this morning weighing anchor, the shortest weighing I have probably ever had, and soon had sail set and were slicing our way to windward onward and southward over the Markermeer. The light headwind made for a very pleasant sail, the warm sunshine making eyelids rather heavy at times, but we pushed on and are now at anchor off Durgerdam just east of Amsterdam. Tomorrow we will berth at the marina here and catch a bus into the old town of Amsterdam.
Today marks our last sail on the broad shallow "meers", and Thomas's last sail for the voyage.
All is well.
Poltergeists? Elbuort? Now I reflect and wonder whether the diet and paucity of sleep may have been causing hallucinations. To be on the safe side I have spent the last 23 hours and 35 minutes catching up on a much needed little catnap; 25 minutes being just about sufficient under the circumstances to eat and express my displeasure. I shall be keeping a weather eye open tonight.