Four countries in two weeks

29th April 2018

Admittedly two of them are pretty small and we barely grazed French territorial waters but when you travel at an average cruising speed of 6 knots (six nautical miles per hour) and you have 400 miles to go it feels like you are crossing continents.

Everyone knows that Holland is flat and mostly below sea level. It is also well provided with lakes, rivers and canals all used to the greatest efficiency by both pleasure and commercial vessels. “Varen doe je Samen” (you sail together) is a voluntary organisation which promotes safe sailing on the congested waters of Holland and gives perfect guidelines on negotiating bridges, locks, and “knoop punten” (traffic knots).

As a small craft you can feel very vulnerable but traffic is disciplined and the infrastructure is impressive and impeccable. The rules are made simple and big and small play well together.

The lock on the Kanaal door Zuid Beveland is cavernous and it spits you out on the Oosterschelde, the water leading from the Channel to the huge port of Antwerpen.

Holland brought us hot and balmy days, Belgium good food and Britain contrary winds. Yet we are happy to be back in the lovely surrounds of the Solent and the pale yellow-green of the spring shoots on the English oak.

Vincent van Walt, Haslemere, April 2018

Click on an image to open the gallery.

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