When we were departing from Gouda to Rotterdam, two red lights lit on a bridge over Nieuwe Gouda canal. The harbourmaster arrived and happily announced that ”the bridge is kaput”. There we were, everything ready, thinking that how long the bridge will be kaput or can we continue at all? There was a service technician working on a bridge and we were circling in front of the bridge. After a moment a green light lighted up and the bridge was raised. Soon Gouda was behind us.
There is the Julianasluis lock immediately after Gouda. After passing it we were back in tidal water. The journey from Gouda to Rotterdam was only 13 nautical miles from which the couple last miles are on the river Maas. When we turned from the canal to the Maas we were suddenly in the middle of very busy ship traffic. Rotterdam’s port is the biggest in Europe and ships were going in continuous stream in every direction. Suwena felt so small in the middle of cargo ships.
We were on a way to City Marina and this required turning away from the river Maas to a smaller canal. We had to ask for one more bridge to be opened before entering the marina. City marina is situated in the middle of apartment houses and a short walk away from the Erasmus bridge. The marina is clean and very peaceful. The best was that the marina is next to a jumbo sized grocery store. It was so nice for a while to bunker Suwena in a way that there is no need to carry the heavy bags for a long distance to the boat.
Tuesday was a service day when Andrus made monthly maintenance to Suwena. When the skipper announced in the afternoon that Suwena is again fully ready for the North Sea the whole crew left for exploration trip to Rotterdam centre. Over two weeks have passed quickly in Holland and at last minute we had time to taste special Dutch small pancakes called poffertjes. The Dutch enjoy them with sugar and butter pat. However they were also good with fresh strawberries.
The atmosphere in Rotterdam is totally different compared to any other Dutch city where we have stopped. When the houses in Amsterdam have only a few floors, in Rotterdam there are many tall buildings. Rotterdam was bombed thoroughly flat in the second world war. Even if the city was rebuilt rapidly in 1950 – 1970, but from the 80s on the architects were given free hands. Now the cityscape is interesting and excitingly modern. Almost every house is different by shape or colour or otherwise unique. We saw round house and cubes on their edges. Fortunately the ugly box houses were forgotten. The city is like a flash from the future. This is again the good sides of the boating when we can see very different places.
We had reserved a couple of extra days in Rotterdam for sitting out the bad weather but the North Sea was grateful. Thus on Wednesday we cast off the lines in Holland and departed to Belgium. However first we had to pass the Europe’s biggest and busiest port area. The 15 nautical miles down on the river Maas to the North Sea kept Andrus vigilant. If on Monday the traffic was busy then now we were in the middle of cargo ship highway. When passing the Europoort harbour on the river entrance we were in the middle of four thousand feet long container ships. Andrus steered Suwena carefully when the two big ones were approaching behind us and two were coming up against us. The departing ships were on a way to the Suez canal thus their voyage will be quite a lot longer than our 79 mile hop to Belgium.
When we approached on the river Maas the kilometre 1031, as a pleasure boat we also had to report on VHF channel 3 to Maas Entrance. We immediately got instructions on how to leave the Maas between those four huge container ships.
They also controlled the movement of pleasure crafts very precisely because just at a right time from the VHF we had a command “Suwena, turn port now”. We were able to pass the ships at exactly correct angle compared to both the thousand feeters coming from front and behind. Finally we got “have a nice trip wishes” from the control as we left their area.
We were glad to notice that also the pleasure boats get professional service from Maas Entrance control. Many thanks for this!
In a river entrance on a sea the waves were growing fast. We were in a place where the 7 knot wind was against 3 knot river current. In addition when adding a two knot sea current across the river mouth the cocktail was ready. The waves quickly raised to 1.5 metre tall and were extremely steep. A moment later when we had passed the river entrance the waves calmed down to half a metre and the rest of the trip was pleasant to the harbour of Zeebrugge in Belgium.