Barging through the Netherlands - Part 1

Barging through the Netherlands in 2013

Shangri La connected to shore power in Zwolle
I've put some tips and advice for wannabe boaters - on this link.

Gosh, it's been so long since I last did a travel blog. We down-scaled residence considerably and moved to a smaller house. Shortly after that we went on another long holiday. I managed to keep my other blog going - see that one here - but I let this one lapse.

We finally began what we hope to be a decade or three of travelling along the waterways of Europe on my husband's boat. He's been blogging about his boat in this blog - read here - but I'm sure you can appreciate our ideas about boating are very different.

It was always my intention to keep this blog going and hopefully I will have lots to write about. Over the next few weeks I will share our trip which took us from Zwartsluis near Zwolle in central Holland, up north east to Groningen near the German border, then west through Friesland and back to Zwartsluis where we left our boat 10 days ago.


My husband has been wanting his very own boat for a long, long time. I was less keen. I like boats, but to have one? Not so sure. And since we married, if he has a boat, he's going to want to use it. Which means either I go with, or he goes alone. Or he goes with someone else. See my dilemma?

Frozen canals in Zwartsluis
We had a good few boating holidays on hired boats together before finally deciding to get our own boat. We finally bought her a year ago.We found our boat in The Netherlands. Her name is Shangri La. Our plan is to spend the next decade, hopefully, a whole lot more, exploring the European waterways. Obviously Holland was our starting point.

Our first attempt to get going was a flop. Unseasonably cold weather meant the canals were frozen. We had to abandoned that idea. The next attempt was aborted before we even got going. We bought and sold a few properties back home and had to be around until everything was sorted.

This time, our holiday was delayed as my husband wanted to get to know the boat and do a few vital
Canal/moat surrounding Zwolle
repairs or renovations. Boats need constant work. Fact of life. We had to accept that some upgrades and fixing would have to wait or we might never get going.

Obligatory Wateralmanak
I also spent the first days going through items the previous owners left behind. Some were discarded - a single boating glove, lip liner and empty cleaning agent bottles. But I kept really nice stainless steel cookware, buckets, pegs, washing line, AEG vacuum cleaner and all their tools. Our boat is 20 years old. It's not new. But I wanted it to feel new, so I was allocating a few hours a day to ensure a thorough spring clean.

After a week we both wanted a break from fixing and cleaning and looked forward to some travelling. We set off from our home marina in Zwartsluis, topping up with fuel, adding diesel bug deterrent, and made our way south to Zwolle. The last 7 days had been perfect weather, even a stonking hot 34'C on the one day. But half an hour before we left Zwartsluis, the heavens opened and the temperature dropped.

Scenery along the canal is mixed. Pretty old towns like Hasselt (pronounced hastle) sit on the banks of the canal. Also visible are large factories, ship yards and big piles of ground stones. There is also much diversity on the waterways; massive barges, speed boats, skiers, yachts, rowers, stand up board sailors and an assortment of pleasure boats all share space.

We arrived in Zwolle around 16.00. There were two bridges where we had to wait to pass. In high season, moorings get full quickly. In a place like Zwolle, we really needed to arrive much earlier. Or phone ahead and reserve a space. That info can be found in the obligatory Wateralmanak. After much
Zwartsluis marina at dusk
deliberation and angst, we moored alongside another boat, or 'double-banked' as it's called, and headed straight indoors to escape the relentless rain and cold. A nice hot shower, a glass of wine and a curry were next on the agenda.

There is a saying - the best two days in a boat owners life are; the day s/he buys the boat and - the day s/he sells it.
The definition of a boat is - a hole in the water in which to throw money.
And lastly, sailing is defined as - standing under a cold shower tearing up bank notes.

Although the major defects had been picked up by a surveyor and dealt with by the seller and agent, minor things like dud switches and leaks were now popping up. Rain was streaming in our
Boats tied together or 'double banked" in Zwolle
bedroom port and my husband managed to twist the invertor/shore power button clean off. He wondered what the 'Interdit' setting might be. Our first proper night on our new boat wasn't a heap of fun.

Was I right about having a boat, or was I right? Thing is, I had also fallen in love with Shangri La and slowing meandering the countryside, old towns and bustling cities of Europe for the next 20 odd years was most appealing. I was hooked.

Think you understand Dutch? Read this
Read Part 2 - here.

Go to - My Holidays and Trips - at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on - this link.