The weather this summer has provided us with some great opportunities to set sail and as you are planning where you spend your time out on the water, here’s some inspiration from Gemma, the daughter of Dermot Bealey our Barton Production Manager.
Having been born into a ‘sailing family’, I was taught (conned) from an early age that it was normal to spend your holidays bobbing about the North Sea cocooned in oilskins and a lifejacket. Since the age of four, I have cruised the coasts of the Channel and the North Sea, so when I was asked what my favourite cruising ground in Britain was, I instantly answered Holland! We love it there.
Once the 12-hour passage from Ramsgate to Oostende is out of the way (or a day in bed, as I like to call it), the holiday instantly becomes more enjoyable. Generally, we enter the Dutch waterways at Vlissinggen and sail/motor through the canals and meers, visiting endless beautiful towns that lay on the banks. Middelburg, Goes and Willemstad are my favourites. We have made it as far north as Amsterdam before, via the ‘Mast Up’ route, where we had the brilliant experience of entering the city on the Midnight Convoy. This is where the bridges are opened and a flotilla of about 60 boats travel through the city.
The locks are the most exciting part of the holiday – the race to get into the lock before other boats and to moor up against a threatening-looking wall without damaging our yacht is tense. The wait while the water level changes is filled by chatting with other crews and thoughts of what towns lay on the other side, it is a wonderful experience.
The water is clean and safe to swim in, the passages are short and interesting, and the villages are pretty with lots of great bars and restaurants. The people are so friendly (and speak perfect English). I can’t wait to go back.