The trip from Vlissingen to Middelburg was through 4 lifting bridges and although we were ready to go at 10.30 we were informed by bridge control that the next opening was at 12.45. Oh well should have checked before we left the harbour. Our trip to Middleburg was part of a flotilla of 4 yachts and 3 smaller boats. This is the start of the traditional mast up route through the Netherlands With this amount of traffic would we find a mooring in Middleburg or be forced to motor on?
Arriving in the harbour at Middleburg we were directed to squeeze into a tight spot between a luxury motor boat and an 1876 iron swing bridge. But as the picture indicates this mission was successfully achieved. (Please note at this point Peter is expecting a round of applause!)
Middelburg was established around the 8th to 9th century as a fortified town, in response to Viking attacks. By the 17th century it became the second most important centre for the Dutch East India Company, the first being Amsterdam.
The street scape is very similar to Amsterdam with the original warehouses being converted to luxury apartments.
We arrived on market day with the city boasting lots of visitors and as we are gradually getting used to, no indication of the effects of the raging worldwide pandemic, which has plunged our home town into another endless lockdown.
We spent 2 nights in Middelburg before heading north on the canal to the picturesque town of Veere, which is situated on the Veerse Meer. Veere translates into ferry, and as such it was established as a ferry crossing. Later, in the 18th century it was an important trading port for Scotland
The Veerse Meer, until 1960, was a tributary of the Shelde with direct access to the North Sea. As part of the flood control program this access was closed off to create a large lagoon and is now a popular sailing destination for Dutch holiday makers.
On arriving in Veere we found the small harbour full. With no room at the inn, so to speak, we were directed the moor on a pontoon outside the city walls, but with a great view across the lake.
This picturesque town offered a delight around every corner, ancient buildings, overgrown gardens with an abundance of flowers, artistic surprises and the remains of a star fortification.
Lunch was freshly shucked oysters accompanied with a glass of wine. A great way to celebrate the day before Peter’s birthday.
We confidently departed the next morning under grey skies and a light breeze, and as we were cruising eastward in a sheltered waterway this was not going to be a problem.
Oh l wished we had of checked the chart more throughly. At the most eastily point of the Veerse Meer, we had to go through a lock out onto the East Schelde. And yes you guessed it, but the time we exited the lock we had 20 knots blowing across this wide waterway and a 1 meter sea.
Not a problem for seasoned sailors? Not in a 50 ft yacht, but a barge that sits happily on an inland canal, well that’s a different story.
We endured 1/2 an hours battering before we reached a bolt hole, into a canal that lead to the town of Goes.
We were not the only sailors who sought refuge. The harbour master informed me that the cruiser that came in before us fled from the East Schelde, with all aboard, including the dog suffering from seasickness.
Although an unexpected stop over, Goes offered a traditional Dutch harbour surrounded by houses.
We spent the next few days checking the weather and tides for our onward journey back to the East Schelde and down the commercial channel to the West Schelde.
In perfect weather we made the crossing then onward to my most unfavourite harbour at Zelzate to consult our engineer on the hydraulic steering (still not working) and to replace some rusted parts on the bow fender.