What I enjoy the most about sailing are the random interactions with other people and sailors. It’s always a joy to hear the stories of others and where they have been. Plus, you never know, something might catch your interest and alter your plans completely!
That’s exactly what happened to us!
When we arrived back to Northern Ireland from our return from the Faroe Islands, we decided to check out Belfast since it was a real interest for us to Winter there.
That’s where we met another Canadian boat who contributed to a big chance in our plans and for the better! We swapped stories about our adventures and an experience of his that really caught my interest (that he highly recommended for us as well) was his time traversing the Staande Mastroute through the Netherlands. Yup, it’s pretty much how it sounds. There are several routes through the Netherlands that have no height restrictions meaning that there’s no need to unstep (drop) the mast of our sailboat.
This made us really excited. Amsterdam is one of those places you need to see if you come to Europe and since it’s essentially inland, I didn’t think we’d easily be able to take Jibsea there. Luckily, getting to meet new people and fellow sailors helped prove me wrong!
Knowing that we had another two months before it would fall too cold for us to sail up north, we made the trek from Northern Ireland to Vlissingen, Netherlands where the route starts on the south end. From here there are a few options to get to Amsterdam and even into the Baltic Sea if desired.
Yes, it pretty much all motoring but with the beautiful scenery and with the insane amount of water traffic, I was okay with only having to focus on steering the boat and not worry about the sails. We also got some very good practice with tight quarter maneuvering as the marinas that we would pull into each night along the canal were very tight. They were often located in the middle of a small town with narrow entrances and small bridges that you’d hail prior to open.
We heard that they close many of the lifting and swing bridges for maintenance mid to late October and although we arrived at the beginning of the month, we only had seven days through the canals before we were denied access heading any further than Gouda, which of course was a real bummer. Luckily, this didn’t mean that it was the end of our trip! It just meant we had to alter course out to the North Sea and sail up to the main canal leading into Amsterdam. Knowing that there were no small bridges to along that route and impeding our goal of reaching Amsterdam, we headed out into the North Area.
The time we spent in the canals was such an amazing experience and one could easily spend months in those waters so I suggest getting there well before October. Amsterdam was our main highlight so I’m glad we were able to make it there.
There are a two great marinas to choose from with very reasonable pricing. Although they’re situated across the canal from city central, there are free passenger ferries that come every 15 minutes, free of charge to take you across conveniently.
We very much enjoyed the five days we spent in Amsterdam and could have easily spent more time but that October chill was a constant reminder that Winter was approaching and we still had a long journey back to Belfast, Northern Ireland. You might ask, why Belfast? Why sail hundreds of miles back to where you just came from?
Looks like you’ll just have to come back next month to read why!
If you can’t wait then be sure to check us out on the Tube, aka Youtube!
For now, fair winds and calm seas, fellow sailors!
Travis – Saiing Jibsea
If you want to follow along visually, then head on over to the links below!