Holland Barge Trip Day 5–We left behind our First Holland Bridge Encounter with the bridge-keeper and his elevated blood pressure, and continued to Amsterdam, our target port for the day. After a long rainy day with a windmill or two, many private residences, and nowhere to pull over, we finally arrived at the southern edge of Amsterdam. Given the wind and rain and the fact that it was now rush-hour on the water, we cellular-teleconferenced barge-to-barge to discuss staying at the edge of the city rather than try to navigate it in our frazzled state. You see, it is a passenger duty to sympathy-frazzle with the Barge Captain and we were doing a great job. Captain David was looking forward to having his fingers pried off the wheel and wrapped around a glass of red wine. But it was not to be. The one public marina on our map was completely full. And so, we cruised forth into Amsterdam.
Through Amsterdam we
enjoyed endured many more barely-cleared bridges, darting, impatient boats appearing from nowhere, and a moment of horror when the barge in front us piloted by Captain Ingrid (my mother in law) scraped a rondvaart getting stuck for a moment under a dark, low, narrow, tunnel-bridge. This would be our Second Bridge Encounter. This time the anger was expressed by the (professional) pilot of the tourist boat in unmistakeable, international sign language. Most folks would have had no trouble understanding what the nice man was trying to say with his finger. Captain Ingrid responded with a flurry of German expletives and I cowered in the barge behind, witnessing the encounter, convinced we would all be arrested at any moment.
Finally, we made it through the city, emerging into the river “IJ” beneath Moevenpick the hotel where we had spent our first night. I now had a new perspective realizing we were not such a large-barge in comparison to the huge watercraft with large wakes speeding through. We were still not “there” yet! We had to cross the water and make it to Sixhaven where we would be able to stay the night. The large ships were kind enough to not run us over and we made it across. We were now THERE. Captain David maneuvered our barge-feather perfectly through a hairpin turn right at the narrow entrance and proceeded slowly towards what looked like a dead end. While our other barges got settled, we snuggled up very carefully to a million dollar sailboat, bumpers out and fending off, so we would be out of the way. The sailboat owners appeared–they were not appreciative of our careful snuggle– so we continued on to the dead-end of the harbor where we were met by the jolly Christophe (of all people!) who helped us stuff ourselves in a shared slip next to the other barges. I have never seen rats desert a sinking ship, but I do know all 14 of us resembled the rodents as we fled for land and a beer. We were finally THERE.