Inland Waterways to Joyful Amsterdam!

Inland Waterways to Joyful Amsterdam!

Canal cruising in Amsterdam

Den Helder is one of the spots where you can easily get from the North Sea to Holland’s inland waterways – the lakes and canals. We wanted to know more about this peculiar country, and what would be a better way to do that, than boating along its canals!

Den Helder in the morning mist – the shapes in the background are not churches and temples, they are warships!

You can travel along the canals on a sailboat without taking the mast down via the standing mast route – Staande Mast – from Delfzijl in the north to Vlissingen (Flushing) in the south. However, for our draft – 2 metres – there are a couple of places not deep enough on the northern part of the route. That’s why we chose to sail as far as Den Helder. It’s a big naval base, and the Royal Navy Yachtclub was a convenient spot to come and go. We rested there a couple of nights, then motored across the Waddensee to the locks at Den Oever.

It was quite exciting going through the locks, particularly as we had to go together with many other boats and ships. But we got out of the other end in one piece, and found ourselves in the lake IJsselmeer. Time to say goodbye to the tides for a while!


It was calm, so we motored across the lake and arrived in a small town called Enkhuizen in the evening. We tied off to a big town quay, as it seemed very quiet, and we had no desire to maneuvre our lazy beast of a boat in a tight marina. And now for a nice evening walk into this pretty little town!

Enkhuizen, together with many small towns of the area, had its heyday in the 17th century, when it was a major port in the North Sea. This large bay, formerly known as Zuidersee, was dammed in the early 20th century, and since then, a lot of its area has been claimed for agriculture. I don’t believe Enkhuizen has changed much since those old times – quaint, narrow houses lean against each other along the canals, and the bells of Drommedaris, the town gate, play cheerful tunes day and night.

There are countless waterfront restaurants and bars, but we found a fish shop by the first bridge and had cod for dinner at home. The next morning we continued through a lock into Markermeer, another lake. The lakes are very shallow – Markermeer is just over 3 metres deep. At first the depth reading made us hold our breath, but after a while you actually get used to it! Our charts were very accurate, and the lake bottom absolutely flat, so there was really nothing to worry about.

We had a great downwind sail across the whole lake, which took a few hours. Then we reached the shipping lane bound for Amsterdam, and boy, it was busy with traffic – long, narrow cargo ships, tugboats and rafts. Approaching the city, we went through an opening bridge and one more lock, quite easily and routinely, and so we had arrived in Amsterdam!

For the first time in the history of this blog, it’s actually now up-to-date – we are still here in Amsterdam! It’s hard to find time to write during passages, but you can follow our Facebook and Instagram pages to see what’s going on!

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