Holland is a boating paradise – criss-crossed with a huge network of rivers and waterways. But a lot of bridges.
Very many are big, high bridges which can be passed under without a problem, but very many are small lift bridges.
(BB or Beweegbare Brug in the Pilot Book)
We were used to UK and France where very often you operate the small bridges yourself. (Quite fun actually).
Holland is very much more automated. There is either a dedicated bridge operator, or a lockkeeper who monitors his lock plus several bridges via TV monitors. He opens and closes the bridge as necessary.

Lift Bridge near Urk

As we approached our very first bridge, the one near Urk, the lights were red and we had no idea what to expect.

But the bridge started to open, the lights changed to green, and we sailed through.
All very civilised.
Of course, if your boat is very small with a height (Air Draft as us nautical types like to call it) of about 2 metres or less, you can pretty well get under any of the bridges even when they are down.

Our boat, the Pedro Solano 33, with its windscreen and canopy up had an air draft of nearly 4 metres.

Blaauwe Hand Brug

Most of the bridges have a large marker board indicating the clearance when the bridge is down, as can bee seen in the picture of the
Blaauwe Hand Brug. (Clearance is just over 2 metres)
There are one or two bridges that are a bit different:
Vollenhovenbrug is one where it is not monitored. You either need to telephone for service, or there is a small jetty near the bridge. You tie up and find a post with a call button on it (Praat paal) and call the bridge operator.
When we passed through this bridge, we were fortunate. There was another boat ahead of us and they did the business of mooring up and reqesting the service.
And all this is free. Except for the occassional toll bridge!

Paying toll at Koeiweg Toll Bridge

Fortunately I had read up in the pilot book, and discovered this gem of information. The fee at Koeiweg Bridge would be 2 Euro. But as to how one paid it there was no clue.

I had our 2 Euro ready, and had warned Karen that something would happen, but exactly what, I did not know.
The bridge duly opened as we approached, and suddenly the lady bridge operator leant out of her window dangling an orange couloured clog from a rod rather like a fishing line.
We dropped our 2 Euro into the clog as we went through! Fascinating!

Of course, I should remind you that we are in a motor cruiser – But yachtsmen out there are catered for too.
Even the big bridges have a section that can be raised to allow yachts and big ships through, but this is usually on request only.

All about locks in the next post. Happy cruising.

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