After a week on the Grevelingenmeer it was time to leave. A short distance from Grevelingenmeer is the small port of Stavenisse. Here you are back on tidal waters and at low tide there is not sufficient water to pass safely over the cill.
We timed our departure from Grevelingenmeer to make sure we arrived when there was sufficient water for us to safely enter the harbour.
Stavenisse was a small town, it was once a commercial port but no longer. There was not a lot going on here. Of course there was a windmill. The town cemetery had some unusual but very graphic gates, there were skulls capping the gate posts.
We had heard that Tholen was worth a visit, it was a bit off our sailing route so we decided to get the bikes out and cycle there. It was nice but nothing spectacular. On the way back we discovered a vending machine on a farm selling fruit and eggs. We purchased a bag of apples.
Goes is a short distance across the Oosterscheide. This is another town with a harbour in the middle (and loud bells) you have to travel up a canal to get there and the final bridges only open every few hours. We tied up behind another British boat, we did the very English thing of inviting them on board for tea.
We spent a few days exploring the town, Saturday is market day.
On leaving Goes we headed through the lock onto Veerse meer
This is another popular sailing area, there are plenty of public jetties where you can stay for 24 hours. They provide waste bins and a basic toilet but they make a great change from a town quay or busy marina.
The first one we used was on an island, when we arrived if was sunny and almost no wind. We had moored on the inside of the wave break. This was good as the wind picked up overnight and there was a chop on the water. We were getting the boat ready to leave and the wind was really moving her about. It was going to be difficult leaving, the space to manoeuvre was tight and there were shallows nearby. We decided that we would stay put for another day despite the 24 hour rule. The wind and rain got worst as the day went on so we felt we had made the right decision. Too windy for the inspectors to make their rounds.
The following day the weather was better and we headed a few miles to another small harbour. The entrance was narrow, twisty and shallow. There is a saying that there are two types of sailors
- Those who have run aground
- Those who have yet to run aground.
We managed to join the first category here. We strayed slightly from the channel and managed to run aground, we were going slowly and the bottom was soft mud so no real problem, we were very quickly able to put the engine astern and reverse off and back into the channel.
We were able to get our bikes out here and cycle to the supermarket a few miles away.
Once again the weather did not play ball. It was wet the next day, once again we stayed put, so did most of the other boats in the harbour.
The next day we stopped at Veere for lunch. This town was built as a harbour when this area was open to the sea but was never successful in attracting ships. Now it is home to artists and holiday makers. A cycle race was starting from Veere when we visited so it was busy.
After lunch We headed to the top of the lake to find a mooring for the night. As we approached the first choice the depth dropped quickly as we approached the jetty. We decided to abort and try a different jetty as we did not want to run aground again.
At the top of the lake you are by the dike constructed to close the area off from the sea. We took a walk to see the beach.
We left in the morning to travel to Middelburg. We had to pass through a lock and things nearly went badly wrong. Graham was distracted for a few seconds and the boat turned, without a quick shout from Judith we would have hit the wall of the lock hard. We recovered control quickly and apart from entertaining the other boats in the lock no damage was done and no boats (or walls) were hit. Ì just hope no-one in the lock had a video recording of the incident.
We arrived here just as a weekend harbour festival was starting, luckily they were able to find us a space.
About 20 historic boats arrived in the afternoon and Saturday saw a number of activities including a mass SUP (stand up paddleboard) trip through the marina.
Sometimes you notice things in a town that seemed odd, we noticed a backpacks hanging from a flagpole as we walked past a building near the marina. We assumed that someone was playing a practical joke on a friend. As we walked around the town we saw a number of similarly rigged backpacks. We began to wonder about the significance. We asked a guide but he did not know what we were talking about. Research using trusty Google explained that in the Netherlands you hoist up your school backpack to indicate that you have passed your high school exams.
We decided to stay an extra night and climb the tower of the Oostkerk. A splendid view over the town and surrounding area was to be had from the top.
From Middelburg we had a few miles of canal left before getting back to the sea. We exited the last lock and headed across the Westerschelde. This is a busy waterway with shipping making its way to Antwerp. We crossed over and then made slow progress to Breskens as we had around 3 knots of current running against us. This was to be our last port of call in the Netherlands.
Breskins had a different feel to it, we were now closer to Belgium the style of building had changed. The small town was surrounded by long sandy beach and wetlands. It is clearly a popular holiday destination. We visited the old cast iron light house, the claim it is the oldest in Europe.
After 2 nights it was time to catch the morning tide and head to Belgium.