Early in October, we received an invitation out to take a day trip to Stavoren. It’s a small coastal city which houses a population of around 1,000 people. Our hosts were Sander’s aunt and uncle and method of travel was something exciting! Sander’s uncle Renè owns a sailboat, complete with full mast and motor. The cabin can house up to 6 people and is pretty spacious down in the living quarters. Renè and Carla picke us up and together drove north to Enkhuizen and climbed aboard the vessel.
After we dressed in appropriate water attire (life vests and warmer jackets), we pulled the boat out of the harbor and into open waters. We sailed across the Ijsselmeer, artificial lake created in 1932. The trip across the water took us about 2 hours.
“It’s impossible to find docking for your boat if you come around that time.” Renè told us as we made our way off of the docks. “These streets get so busy that you can only walk everywhere but even then it’s very hard to move.”
October is very slow for Stavoren. It’s a beach city so when the weather is hot, it’s crawling with visitors. Now the boats line the canals until next season. The streets were silent as we made our way to a cafe. There we took a break and enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate.
Most of Stavoren lies on the coast with many canals to help bring the smaller boats more inland. There are many locks that dot the land as well. Boats can have safe passage through areas of freshwater and areas of salt water through these water locks.
One of the more interesting stories of the city was the fable of the Lady of Stavoren. She was a wealthy merchant widow who wanted more wealth after her husband died. The Lady sent out one of her merchants to find her the richest treasure in the world. When he returned with wheat she threw it into the ocean with a ring. She made the declaration that she would be a beggar before she would get the ring back. Later that night there is a large feast. The Lady cuts open a fish to eat and inside, low and behold, is the ring. After that she descends into poverty. I suppose the moral of the story is, don’t assume your wealth will be with you forever.
The other famous story of Stavoren is the story of the plane that went down in the bay during World War II. The plane has been since exhumed but there is a plaque on the shore.
The unfortunate issue during the journey, was that the wind was so low, we had to use the motor for most of the way. We tried to catch the wind but the fastest we went was around 7mph and that only lasted less than twenty minutes. Aside from that the trip was fantastic.
The Netherlands is famous for windmills. There are few of them remain standing but instead thousands of wind turbines. As we left Stavoren, we could see their lights blinking in the distance.
The Netherlands also has designated areas where man made islands house seabirds. “We take from the ocean but we also give back.” Renè told us. An admirable trait in the Dutch, I have to say.
Renè and Carla were so knowledgeable about the entire boating process. We got to watch them hard at work, with a little help from us of course!