Delightful and unexpected reunion

Almost four years ago, after sadly waving goodbye to good friends we had met sailing, I wrote in my Salty Tales blog:

“That’s the thing about cruising, there are always too many goodbyes but then, when, and often where, you would least expect it you have delightful and unexpected reunions.”

Well never a word more truly spoken! Two of the friends we had waved goodbye to on that occasion, Annemieke and Gerrit from Fruits de Mer, have recently returned to the Netherlands after completing their circumnavigation. By coincidence we are also in the Netherlands staying with our daughter who is now a resident there, having met the love of her life, Pieter, in Bulgaria (that’s another story!)

Annemieke and Gerrit on Hoga Island Indonesia

Our reunion was as delightful as predicted- we met at Annemieke and Gerrit’s home town of Dronten just a couple of hours train ride from where we had been staying with our daughter and partner.

Four years later …..

None of us could have guessed when we said goodbye in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2016 that we would next meet in the Netherlands and our daughter would be engaged to a Dutchman!

Annemieke and Gerrit looking great

Annemieke and Gerrit made us so welcome in their lovely home and gave us a genuine “Dutch experience” from start to finish.

We had always had plenty to talk about with Annemieke and Gerrit on the 2015 Sail to Indonesia Rally – sailing of course, but also about politics, books, social issues, family matters, the arts and just life in general. Nothing had changed in the intervening years – we hardly stopped talking for four days (despite the last vestiges of colds for the others and a scratchy throat signalling the start of one for me!)

Annemieke had been highly organised (as only the Dutch can be, believe me, as a nation they are so systematic and super efficient) and precooked two typical Dutch dinners so she could produce a meal within minutes of coming home from our adventures in the northern part of the Netherlands.

On the day of our arrival we went for a walk around the quiet golf course estate they live on after a very Dutch lunch of bread and a large variety of cold meats and cheese and buttermilk (yogurty tasting milk – literally the liquid left after butter has been churned) to drink.

The following day we headed for Lelystad, about 20 kms from Dronten. Lelystad, founded in 1967, lies on reclaimed land (as does Dronten) and is named after Cornelis Lely who engineered the Afsluitdijk (enclosure dam), making the reclamation possible. The dam serves as a sea barrier to protect the inland against flooding.

Our guide at the boatyard tells us about the building of the Batavia replica
The amazing replica of the good ship Batavia

The highlight of the visit to Lelystad was the opportunity to wander through the fantastic reproduction of the doomed vessel Batavia, flagship of the Dutch East India Company which was wrecked off the coast of West Australia in 1629.

Gerrit has a go with the upright tiller-type arrangement

The replica was the brainchild of master shipwright Willem Vos who guided the project, using original materials and traditional methods, from its inception in 1985 until its launch in 1995.

Batavia’s stateroom

Clambering over this authentic restoration we could imagine how hard life on board would have been in the 17th century and how tough you would have to have been to survive on board.

The gun deck on the Batavia

We were also given a tour of the shipyard which was instructive and interesting – especially the sail loft where the very chatty sailmaker was making repairs to the Batavia’s largest sail and told us all about the traditional materials, how they were grown and processed, and lots of other things besides.

The sail loft. Note the sail hung round the room – Batavia’s largest sail and the one the sailmaker is actually working on!
Sail plan for the Bavaria

We also enjoyed watching the blacksmith at work in his forge making all sorts of essential items used in traditional boat building.

It was interesting watching the blacksmith at work

All these look the same to us but the blacksmith knows the size of each one and exactly which one he will use for any given task

After a great visit we drove to Enkhuizen, a picturesque village about a half an hour’s drive away from Lelystad. The route took us over the Houtribdijk dam which separates the Markermeer and the Ijsselmeer (meer in Dutch means lake). The Markermeer was intended to become reclaimed land like the Flevopolder on which Dronten is situated but this didn’t happen for a variety of reasons.

Lots of yachts in Enkhuizen
The Drommedaris, the southern gateway to Enkhuizen, originally built to defend the Old Harbour

For lunch we had something totally new to us – soused herrings – fresh raw herring ripened in brine in oak barrels (Maatjes in Dutch), eaten with raw onions. It was almost like eating sashimi and was absolutely delicious! We also had some fish in breadcrumbs and some delicious smoked eel. A lunch to remember.

According to Gerrit this is how you should eat a herring. His disappeared so fast that I didn’t have time to take a photo!
A ship from “The Brown Fleet” -a collective name for traditional sailing boats in The Netherlands
A tranquil canal in Enkhuizen

Another highlight of our reunion was a visit the next day to the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Hope Veluwe National Park in Otterlo about an hour south of Annemieke and Gerrit’s home.

The Kröller-Müller Museum in the Hope Veluwe National Park

The beautifully designed gallery is set in the most glorious surroundings and houses the second largest collection of Van Gogh paintings in the world.

One of the many paintings and drawings by Van Gogh in the Kröller-Müller collection
The Can Can dancers by Georges Seurat
Before Noon by Théo Van Rysselberghe who I hadn’t heard of but really liked his paintings

The museum also has a huge display of fascinating works by Picasso, Mondrian, Renoir, Seurat, Gaugin, Leger, Henry Moore and many others. There is also a sculpture garden that we didn’t get to see as we had a booking to look round the St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge that the Kröller-Müller’s had built only for occasional visits but where fate dictated that they ended up living.

One of my favourites In the Cafe by Auguste Renoir
Another painting by Théo Van Rysselberghe
The marvellous Nude Against the Light by Leo Gestel
A portrait of the captivating Mata Hari by Isaac Israels

Helene Kröller-Müller, an avid art collector, donated her entire collection to the Netherlands State when her and her husband’s business was in trouble as a result of the Great Depression. The museum opened in 1938.

Another captivating portrait by Henri Fantin-Latour

The tour of the lodge, which was designed by the prominent architect Hendrik Petrus Berlage, was interesting but limited to just a few rooms on the ground floor.

The St. Hubertus Hunting Lodge

On our final day we visited Schokland a fascinating spot which used to be a peat island surrounded by the Zuiderzee (South Sea). Life on the island was extremely tough and by the 19th century it was under continuous threat of flooding due to the rise in sea levels.

Animal remains in the Schokland Museum

In 1859 the government decided to end permanent settlement on Schokland and the population was moved off. Then in 1942 it ceased to be an island when the Noordoostpolder was reclaimed from the sea.

Hard to imagine that not so long ago the view beyond the walllwould have been of sea!
Markers indicating where flood waters rose to before the Zuiderzee became reclaimed land
Sculpture depicting a family leaving Schokland

The reclamation left many fascinating artefacts that are now displayed in the very well laid out museum on what was the island.

Skeleton of a bear found in the Zuiderzee
Outside the museum buildings

Our last stop before leaving our friends was at the fabulous orchid farm in Luttelgeest. It was like going into another world – not only one with beautiful blooms but also fish, animals such as marmosets, birds and butterflies, waterfalls, caves and bridges.

Wandering round the gorgeous Orchid Farm
So many beautiful plants
Loads of fish
And even a swing
As well as orchids if all shapes, colours and sizes

Sadly we had to leave to catch our train back to our temporary home in Pijnacker. It had been a wonderful reunion and a splendid reminder that there is much to see and do outside of that tired tourist magnet of Amsterdam and it’s nearby tulip fields.

There was even a rope bridge
And ducks!
So much to see

Jonathan, Annemieke (right) and me
There were a few water falls
Who would have thought?! Australian lorikeets!

An amazing variety of orchids of different colours

It was also a timely reminder that although cruising on a sailboat can mean many sad goodbyes, “when, and often where, you would least expect it you have delightful and unexpected reunions.”

A sweet little marmoset
Gerrit and Jonathan
So much colour!

We loved seeing the butterflies

Published by

Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

2 thoughts on “Delightful and unexpected reunion”

  1. That’s a fascinating blog, Dot – I’d love to go to the Kroller-Muller Collection sometime! XX

    On Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 12:37 PM Salty tales from Bali Hai on Sunday wrote:

    > Salty tales from Bali Hai posted: “Almost four years ago, after sadly > waving goodbye to good friends we had met sailing, I wrote in my Salty > Tales blog: “That’s the thing about cruising, there are always too many > goodbyes but then, when, and often where, you would least expect it you > have” >


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