Technically, our journey should really have a day minus one, as we left Lechlade on Wednesday 19th April. One of our friends had given a lift to my parent’s house just outside Oxford. Oxford has a regular bus service to Gatwick Airport, so we decided that it was easier to stay with them, and get a taxi to the bus station in central Oxford. We left at 01.30 to catch the bus at 2am, but a few hours kip at Mum’s before a very long day seemed well worth it, although in reality I’m sure that you don’t really get any quality sleep, for fear of missing the alarm, or falling back to sleep after having turned it off……and why is it that when you toss and turn endlessly for most of the night, you finally feel that you could nod off about half an hour before the alarm clock goes off?
An early start
I made the mistake of ordering the taxi using Mum’s phone. So when it finally arrived, the driver decided to ring us to tell us he was outside, which resulted in me making a mad dash to quell the noise of the phone before it woke my sleeping parents.
The bus ride to Gatwick and the flight to Amsterdam were straightforward and uneventful, as was the train afterwards to Sneek, it was quite amazing as we had at that point been through bus, plane, train, and connecting train. All were efficient and on time. Once we got to Sneek, we decided we would try and pay a visit to the hotel that we stayed at the first time we visited just to say hello, and that we had come to collect the boat. However, unfortunately, Klaas was not in, and we do not have time to go back, as the marina is some miles from the centre of Sneek.
The absence of public transport in Sneek
One thing that we discovered that is hard to find in Sneek is a taxi. We even asked where we might locate a taxi in the town in a shop, but the shop assistant didn’t know. After buying a Friesland flag from her shop, she said that she would pop to the next door shop and ask for us. She came back minutes later telling us that the shop next door knew where we could get one, so off we went next door, where we were greeted very warmly with the offer of coffee, and also the offer of ordering a taxi for us. We were very impressed, as we did not intend to buy anything in the shop, and yet they went out of their way to help us.
Arrival at the marina
We finally reached the marina at about 3 pm where Kees was there to meet us, and after not having seen the boat for three months we boarded her again and we were still just as pleased with her as the first time we saw her. The other big bonus is that we spied the luggage that we sent in the corner of the office, and all was intact, just as we sent it.
The next job was to pay the rest of the money we owed to the marina. Be warned if you don’t have a Dutch bank account, you can’t use your debit card. Neither will they accept a credit card. Everything has to done by bank transfer, we were too late to do that by this time, so we will save that job until the banks open again in the morning. We were also presented with some goodies given to us by Jachtbemiddeling before going to the boat, a pennant, two lovely soft cushions with cotton canvas covers, and a bottle of red wine with a picture of our boat on the label. Lovely touch by the marina we thought. We decided to do most of our supermarket shopping this evening and brought back two trolley loads of shopping from the local supermarket that was within walking distance. Grocery shopping is so much more difficult when none of the labels are written in your language. We almost bought clothes washing liquid instead of surface cleaner, I had trouble deciphering full fat yogurt from the low fat variety, but thankfully most people here can speak English and we were helped out by the shop assistant on a couple of occasions. Another interesting challenge was to get all of our shopping and our luggage onto the boat. The pontoon was extremely narrow (as you can see in the photograph. Also, our mooring behind a large metal shed put us in a bad position to do anything on the internet. Wifi was non existent. So we were going to have to do all of our internet banking, blogging and emailing whilst at the marina in the comfort of the office rather than on the boat.
Getting to grips with the workings of the boat
After having been shown the various controls such as how to turn the engine on, where and how to turn on the water and diesel powered heating, the marina staff left us for the evening. We were very hungry at this point, so dinner was made and eaten, and as dusk fell it got decidedly chilly, so we decided it was time to put the heating on kick our shoes off and enjoy a glass of our gift of wine. Here lay our next set of problems! First, we couldn’t get what we thought was the engine key to fit (yet when the mechanic showed us how it worked earlier the key went into the slot and the engine turned over immediately. OK, we will sort that out in the morning. We had been told that the heating worked on the battery alone (we were just told not to use it on battery for any length of time), but just to get the boat warm we thought a quick blast would be enough. We couldn’t get the heating to work either. We turned it on as we were instructed, but nothing other than cold air came out. It was cold! As the night drew on we could see our breath as we sat with our drinks.
Finally, we flaked out at 10 pm, and went to bed…….yes I went to bed in my hat and snood, and wearing a fleece!