Maiden Voyage: Getting Ready
Day 1 – Thursday, September 5th
We arrived in the Netherlands on September 5th 2019, saddled with 36kg of luggage and 3 stuffed backpacks. This was going be just some of the supplies that we need to cram into 10 sq. meters of living space. It was absolute agony trying to pack for this trip, as boating is not an experience that I am familiar with… jeans and tee shirts, my everyday uniform would be binding for moving around on a boat and if they got wet, it would take forever to dry. Financially, I didn’t think that it was feasible for us to buy brand new yachting wardrobes… so, I decided to stock up at Decathlon for athletic gear that was quick drying and flexible; plus the rest of the stuff… kitchenware, bedding, toiletries, first aid, entertainment, etc… I had never been camping, but I have lived in a small dorm, so that was sort of my guideline… especially with the cooking supplies. I was pretty certain that I would not be rolling out fresh pasta or baking a quiche. One pot meals that could be made on a stovetop, plus salads and sandwiches… meze, charcuterie plates, etc… I tried to identify as many things from our house that would be suitable; small Ikea pans, broken box grater, marginally sharp knife, extra sharpening stone and a cutting board that is slightly warped. I also needed to keep in mind that once we leave our car, we are going to be pedestrians for a month.
We are very fortunate to have some amazing friends, Shaolin and Gijs who live just outside Haarlem, in Bloemendaal. The three of us, Angel, Gabriel and I flew into Eindhoven, Netherlands and boarded the train towards our friend’s house. They were kind enough to host us for the evening and offered to drive us 3 hours to Dokkum where the boat was docked.
After our flight, a bus ride and two trains, we arrived at the Ten Bosch residence around 19:00. It was a 5-minute walk from the train station to their house. My darling husband was bearing the brunt of the 36 kg of duffle bags, good thing it was a short distance. We shared a beautiful Taiwanese dinner and a bottle of Bulgarian wine before passing out around 11 pm. We needed our rest, as tomorrow was going to be a busy day, shopping for supplies and a long drive to the Northern part of the Netherlands.
Day 2 – Friday, September 6th
Life went on as usual for the Ten Bosch clan… kids were in school and busy with activities, Gijs had work and Shaolin had errands. She would be back by 10 am and we would stock up on more supplies. Shaolin took us to a second-hand store. I was looking to find some loose utensils, plastic wine glasses, enamel kitchenware, plus a host of other items, which we found. Our next stop was Action a giant dollar store or levche… We got cleaning supplies, duct tape, pillowcases, toiletries, and an Iron Man figurine for the Gabester. Next up was the grocery store… which is normally an adventure, exploring food from other countries, but I had no idea how to cook on a boat or what was feasible and what was not… Normally, I don’t eat packaged food and make everything from scratch, but this is not an option with a tiny dorm fridge and a surprising, 3 burner gas stove. I thought it would only be one, as Angel didn’t know. Considering he had two previous trips to the boat, it is shocking that he didn’t have this information, but nonetheless, I was happy to have more to work with. The final stop of the afternoon was a cheese shop. I was determined to find a gouda similar to one that I had two years prior from the Haarlem farmer’s market.
After shopping, we grabbed some lunch at a small luncheonette outside the mall, while we waited for Shaolin to return from some other errands. Despite the level of fluency that the Dutch have with the English language, many places outside the tourist areas lacked English menus. Angel and I had a tough time and resorted to Google translate to guide us on our meal selection. In the end, we saw that the special of the day was some sort of a Roast Bif Broogie or sandwich, which sounded find. Gabe was a bit more experimental and got some traditional Dutch kid’s meal that has meat and potatoes croquettes with fries and mayo. I have to say… one of my favorite things about Dutch food, besides the aged Gouda and Stroopwaffels, is the mayo. It just tastes different.
After we returned to Gijs and Shaolin’s house, we had to pack up and organize all our crap… I say crap because it all seemed so random. I had never seen the boat, so I had no idea how we would store it. Boats aren’t known for their storage capabilities, especially when everything moves around and can spill and break.
Gijs was due back from the office at 4 pm, but didn’t arrive till 5:30, we still had a three-hour drive and more shopping stops to make. The waiting for Gijs was excruciating. I just wanted to get there and get the show on the road. Both Angel and I were anxious but for different reasons. My anxiousness was due to the unknown and the newness of the situation. His was the fine details of what lies ahead. Dealing with the harbormaster, who overcharged us for our berth. How we will lower the mast? Did anyone rob the boat, the engine, the batteries, etc… This had happened on a previous occasion. He was very tense, but trying to hide it. He really wants me to enjoy the boat and boat life. I am trying hard for his sake.
On top of all the other worries, the weather loomed large. The forecast called for 10 days of rain and cold. We traveled from high 20’s low 30’s to the teens. As we drove north towards Dokkum and our marina in Lunegaat, the rain started to come down. We stopped at Decathalon and Praxis (Dutch Home Depot) on the way for rain gear and a tarp. We were definitely going to need them.
Just before we hit the marina we stopped for dinner/ snack… apparently, fries and mayo are huge here that and other fried foods like croquettes, which are fried meat and potato balls/logs. As an American, mayo on fries might be considered a crime, but in the Netherlands and other European Union countries, it is more common than ketchup. I have fond memories of pommes-frites sauce from my time living in France. I am ready to embrace and go full mayo. To be honest, this mayo bares little resemblance to the Hellman’s or whatever white flavorless mess that I grew up with. I didn’t actually eat mayo until I was a teen because of my family’s issues with eggs.
Right as we were leaving the snack bar, about 10km from the marina, it started pouring hard and fast. It was dark and still raining when we arrived, Gabe was asleep in the back seat and now we have to unpack a month’s worth of supplies during a torrential downpour… well, Angel did. He and Gijs loaded up the wagon and covered it with a tarp. The rains didn’t abate. When they finally returned about 15 minutes later, Angel was sopping wet from head to toe. I was trying to stay positive, but this isn’t a good way to start a trip, but on the other hand, did that say that rain on your wedding was supposed to be good luck? Maybe that superstition will apply, I hope. Angel started packing up the last of the baggage and the rain was on a reprieve, finally. I got Gabe up and we said our farewells to our galant chauffeur, who was not dressed for the elements. He came straight from the office. His fancy shoes were no match for rain and a wet dock. Angel shared with me some good news, the engine started with no problem and nothing was stolen from the boat. Angel connected to the shore power and had everything up and running.
Dark and wet, Gabe and I cautiously inched along the slick wooden dock toward Honder… our home for the next month. She looked exactly how I envisioned. I was freaking out a little. The space was small, the toilet ceiling low and I hit my head at least three times. We brought in all the bags and Angel proceed to make Gabe’s bed. He would be sleeping in the front and we would be in the main room. I dug through all the bags to get our bedding and pillows. There was nothing more we could do today except sleep.
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