Friday 1st August, Kaag to HaarlemA further 12 Nm to cover today to reach our next tour destination of Haarlem, the capital city of North Holland. The Sassenheim bridges (2) dictate an early start with suitable opening times at 06:04, 06:34 and 06:48, missing those means best part of six hours delay. Other constraints include the Cruquiusbridge (20) which does not open between 15:00 and 18:00 and closes overnight from 21:00, also passage through Haarlem is done in convoy with bridge openings controlled by the Harbour Master. Then there is the small matter of having to stop at one of two locations in the city to pay a passage fee (€11.65 up to 10m boat length, €17.25 above that).
The first part of the route along the Haarlemermeerpolder (Ringvaart) from Kaarg to the junction with the Zuider Buiten Spaarne (21).
After a restful night it is an early start with Hyrst and Alice off the marina moorings at 06:15 and underway for the 06:48 bridge lift. As we pass the junction with Gravenwater we are greeted by the sight of three other gaffers exiting from their overnight moorings in the Eijmerspoel.
As we round the corner at 06:40 and come into sight of the bridges we see they are already open and showing green lights, no time to debate is it a late or early opening, so throttles open and make a dash for it. All safely through.
A misty early morning view as we progress North along the Ringvaart with another fine day in the offing. The canal traffic proves to be light on this section and the views pleasant with no significant industrial areas. I was also treated to a brief but enjoyable conversion with a very pleasant Dutch lady cycling to work on the adjoining road, all part of the variety in canal cruising.
Not a sight we expected to see - a tug under tow by two gaffers! The tug Else, belonging to one of our East Coast gaffers suffered gearbox failure on this section and was taken under tow by two of the Dutch skippers. They continued the tow into Haarlem giving us a master class in boat handling given the boats involved and the bridge waits/negotiations. There was enough breeze at this point to make position holding difficult.
I admit that I was not looking forward to this leg into Haarlem as I had a pre-conceived view of an industrialized and scruffy urban location. I could not have been more wrong, with canal side areas akin to "posh Thames" contrasting with houseboats of all grades and the sights through the city itself. The bridge negotiating was fairly fraught at times due to the number and variety of boats queing in the short distances between bridges and not all skippers apparently that experienced at it, there was a high percentage of transitting boats of various nationalities.
Typical riverside views of the Spaarne, Haarlem outskirts and city transit.
Our berth for the night, alongside just south of Catharijne bridge.
A good mooring spot with power available (from distribution boxes sunk into the footpath) and showers etc. included in the mooring fee, although the toilets/showers were a fair hike away as was the nearest food store. The duty harbour master arrived by bicycle and collected the transit fees so saving the need to search out one of the pay points. A brief walk around the city center left me a bit underwhelmed as the architecture is lost in what appears to be one massive up-market eatery with restaurants and pavement cafes taking up every available space. So back to the boat for my evening meal and watch the world go by sharing my Dutch neighbours wine as we talk over an enjoyable day.