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Solida – our Pedro Solano 33

At long last we arrived in Urk to collect our boat for 2 weeks cruising in Holland.
The Dutch are friendly and laid back – Truida, the lady at the charter base volunteered the use of her car so we could go up to the supermarket in Urk, to shop up for our trip. We gladly accepted this offer, and I only drove on the wrong side of the road once!
But back to boating.
Our Pedro Solano 33 – ‘Solida’ was ready for us. Anyone following this blog will know the reason we hired a Pedro is beacause we would like to buy something similar, and this is a bit of a test run.
Well Solida did not disappont! A lot of boat in this 10.3 metres – 2 double cabins each with full en-suite bathroom. Lots of storage space in the cabins. Spacious saloon area. Small but adequate kitchen, though there is no oven – only a gas hob. And, unlike some of the fridges on boats we have had before, this one seems to work quite well.
So over the next 2 weeks we shall see what we like about this boat, and what we would change, bearing in mind that this one is designed for short term charters, while we hope to stay on our boat for 4 to 5 months at a time.

Approaching bridge near Urk

How different the waterways of Holland are compared to what we have experienced in France and UK!
There, once you choose the area, you can either go THIS direction along the canal or THAT direction. Here, there are numerous choices – a huge network of meers (lakes), rivers, canals and glorified ditches cover Holland.
We left the base and headed toward Urk and the Ijsselmeer.
Instantly we were confronted with the next difference – a bridge, with no clue as how to get through it. Miraculously, the traffic was stopped, and the bridge opened for us. Once through that, there was the lock. Again, not sure how it worked. I put Karen ashore to investigate. The lock-keeper was most surprised to see her!

Leaving Urk – heading across Ijsselmeer

Then all was revealed. The locks and bridges are monitored by a lock-keeper who controls several. He has TV monitoring and can see boats approaching. How civilised and organised. And no need to put someone ashore to handle ropes – there are either vertical ropes, or small bollards at varying heights in the locks, so it can all be done from the boat.

I knew the Netherlands were thus named for a reason, but I certainly did not realise that most of Holland was 5 metres below sea level! At the afore-mentioned lock, we went UP 5 metres to level of the Ijsselmeer. And as you go inland, you lock down! The system of dykes that hold back the North Sea is mind boggling, as is the overall water management of the Dutch.

Barge and other traffic on Keteldiep

We motored across the SE corner of Ijsselmeer, passed under Ketelbrug and into Ketelmeer. Something else different – much more commercial barge traffic in this area.
We endeaoured to follow the buoyed channel across Ketelmeer, but I think the charts we were given were somewhat out of date. The buoys we passed in no way resembled those indicated.

Nevertherless, we had a pleasant cruise up Keteldiep and the Ijssel to Kampen, where we berthed for our first night. That sounds simple, but handling the boat into a tight berth in a cross wind was no doddle!
More about that later.

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