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In lieu of not having a half term I decided to arrange a mid-term weekend on the boat, just to keep me going to till the visit in the summer. Flying from Newcastle proved relatively straight forward, although with an hour on the metro at the beginning and another hour and a quarter to drive to the boat, it took most of the day to get there and it was borreltijd by the time I arrived (quelle domage).
We decided that given the late hour it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to go dashing off somewhere else for the evening and stayed put for a relaxing evening on the boat. There was plenty of time for one of the local amenities – a walk to the lighthouse at the harbour entrance, although strangely enough the hatch to the top gallery was padlocked. I’d seen other people up there before, so whether it was a new innovation or a function of the time I have no idea.
We’d planned a trip down to St Annaland on Sunday – which lies on the Krabbenkreek, toward the northern end of the Oosterschelde. We hoped that a brief sojourn into salt water would displace any oogies which might be lurking on the bottom of the boat, and the cabin boy had also been telling me for months about the great restaurant they have there. Well, I didn’t need asking twice!
Since we don’t get many weekends on the boat at the moment we decided to blow the whole boat/girlfriend budget in one go, and blasted down there at more or less top speed – great fun on a warm and sunny day (and also a recipe for sunburn of course :-(
The waterways were not too busy and we got through both the Volkerak and Krammersluizen fairly efficiently, carefully choosing the sunny side of the lock to moor on. The approach to St Annaland is well buoyed and we’d carefully (coincidentally) managed to arrive close to high water so the fairly shallow channel was not a problem and we managed to cruise in around lunch time, just as a lot of boats were piling out, so we had our pick of the mooring spots. The visitors berths are alongside on the south side of the harbour (the far corner to where you come in) – currently in front of the big blue shed which houses the chandlers, although all that could change in years to come as there are plans afoot to build harbour-side apartments and much more.
In the afternoon we embarked on one of our epic bike rides and found a lovely path right by the shore of the Oosterschelde which runs all the way to Stavenisse (another nice looking place to stop by the way) on the western tip of the island of Tholen.
The Clubhuis Buutengats did not disappoint – it was packed to the rafters on this sunny, holiday Sunday evening – and I was even persuaded to risk another dose of oysters. The restaurant's reputation for seafood is widespread and I was assured, nay promised, that I would not be ill – (I wasn't.) The food was actually very good – and the service, although not exactly speedy was friendly, and anyway, we weren’t in a hurry so why should we mind?
Sunday's return journey was a bit busier, with lots of people heading home after the long weekend (Pinksterdag in Holland comes a week before our late May holiday weekend). There was lots of yachts at the Krammersluizen, so leisure boats were using the big commercial locks as well as the two yacht locks - this meant an even longer wait than normal, whilst the bigger lock was filled and the salt/fresh water exchange completed.
Time: 3h 5'
Average speed: 7.9kts
Max speed: 17.5kts
St Annaland - Strijensas
Time: 4h 50'
Average speed: 5.0kts
Max speed: 17.5kts