18 September 1999

okay, so we got to Makkum and didn't have too much trouble finding sonja and ther other 10 germans who were going on this trip with us. the social scene of this group was weird since no one person knew more than about 3 or 4 others. the skipper was german and the mate was from Makkum. oh, and there was a 6 month old cat that belongs to the skipper. i think i got along best with him. at least it didn't matter what human language i spoke to him. this wasn't the case for everyone else. it wasn't a problem particularly, but it was akward sometimes. the skipper and mate were very patient with us and so were most of the other passengers.

the boat was a 22 m long, 101 year old, wooden masted sail boat. it looked kind of like a pirate ship to me since that is the only context i have for that kind of ship. so appropriately someone got the boat a pirate flag.

except for the first night, each night was spent in a harbor tied up with about 20 other boats.

we spent most of the time on the boat sitting around and relaxing. every now and then they would recruit a few people to pull up, take down, or move sails for a couple of minutes and then we would go back to doing nothing much. it was wonderful. it was pretty sunny the first couple of days. the rainy day was spent in harbor. the last days it rained for a couple of minutes either in the morning or evening and was clear the rest of the day. so we spent all of our time on deck when we were sailing. sometimes the wind was coming from a less favorable direction and we would have to zig zag our way across to where we were going, with the boat tilted at a pretty good angle. it sometimes took a fair amount of effort to keep from sliding off the side (depending on where you were sitting of course.) the waves weren't too bad. the boat did move side to side a bit but when you are deck it doesn't matter much. it was great! the wind was wonderful too!

we went through the locks from the innersea to the Waddenzee on the first day and found a nice shallow spot to anchor for the night. in the morning mrk. and i peeked out around sunrise to see a sandy world around us. no water was under the boat. it was quite spectacular. later we climbed off the boat and wandered around on the sandy tideflats as the water came in. soon we were standing in water up to our knees and above. we then got on board to wait the next hour or so until the boat was actually afloat. then we sailed to one of the islands that divide the Waddenzee from the Norh Sea. we got to wander the island the next day and walked across it to the North Sea side. it was very cool. there were bicycle trails everywhere on the island. (this is not unusual for the Netherlands.) we crossed the island on one of them. that was the only full day we spent off the boat. i had vertigo all day (i kept thinking maybe the island was floating!) so i was happy to get back on the boat again.

the next day we sailed to another, smaller island, Vlieland. the disappointing thing about the towns on these islands is that they are very tourist oriented due to the fact that there are around 450 of this type of boat doing this type of thing. it was a little disappointing, but since i was being a tourist how could i criticize? the islands are pretty neat, however, and the people we encountered were nice enough. i would definitely go back!

After Vlieland we went back to the mainland (this really is the mainland!) and spent the night in harbor there. the next day we sailed acros the innersea. we spent most of the day side- ways due to the direction of the wind. we spent that night in another harbor, but the first time on the west coast of the innersea.

somewhere in this time period a pirate adventure occurred. one of the nights in one of the harbors someone stole our pirate flag! it just so happened that the culprits were in the same harbor as us the next night and were flying our pirate flag. so a couple of people from our boat ended up on their boat. they were invited for dancing and drinking and gereral hanging out. this other boat was boasting about how they stole our flag, not knowing who they were boasting to. soon enough our couple said friendly farewells and left the party, only to go steal the pirate flag back of course! so that was the big victory! the next day the other boat passed us through the locks and called us thieves. but why else would we be flying a pirate flag?

the next day, our last on the boat, was my birthday. mrk. and i went for a sunrise walk in town and i got my first birthday rainbow. we had a small breakfast celebration and everyone was very nice. the rest of the morning was spent relaxing on deck while we sailed brisquely across the sea back to Makkum. we arrived early afternoon, packed up, cleaned up and went out for coffee. after that we piled into our respective cars for a 5 hour drive back to Germany. around sunset i got another birthday rainbow! (i think those rainbows were the best gifts of all!) along the way our driver stopped to show us an unfinished building along the highway that has been converted to an art piece. it has more than 50 pictures of famous people, each one 4 meters tall, covering the entire side of the building in a very andy-warhol- esque way. it is called Hotel Europa. it is only temporary as the building will be torn down in a few years. it was pretty neat, especially in the dark, as the pictures are all backlit.

we have been staying in sonja's cool, communal building ever since. we have a huge attic space to mostly ourselves, but we still spend most of our time socializing and sharing meals in sonja's flat. breakfasts here are the best: good bread with soft and hard cheeses, butter, jam, tomatoes, cucumber, nutella, honey, mustard, muesli, milk, coffee and tea. we have literally spent hours in the kitchen in the morning, casually partaking in the spread. it's great!

so we are in Bonn for three more days and then off south to pick grapes for a week or two. it looks like we will venture to Budapest after that and who knows what is beyond!

© Copyright Cheryln Crowl 1999