Stichting Veerhaven - Our first base for The Netherlands

18th May - 26th May 

150517 4 Katherine Arriving Rotterdam

Its a bit of an epic update but then its  been a busy week.....

150517 6 Arriving Rotterdam Spotted our first Windmill

Stichting Veerhaven is a historical port, home for traditional ships that still sail the seas. The harbour is lined by historical buildings and is a real time capsule for Rotterdam a city that was literally blasted to the ground on 14th May 1940. Today Red lights in the footpath around the district of the centre of Rotterdam mark where the fires stopped - leaving just a small corner of Rotterdam historic buildings untouched and a open canvas for future rebuilding. For us it has proved to be a great harbour to be in, a short walking distance to the city centre, major attractions, shopping, complete with a tram stop across the road and a water taxi service within the harbour. It does not get much more convenient nor picturesque when rafted up to and amongst old luggers and barges and looking at the floating harbour office that dates back to early 1900’s. 

Our sail from Oostende to Masse Approach the area of water just before the entrance of the Masse River kept us busy as we changed our sails and direction throughout the day in an effort to keep up good speed with light winds and at times strong tides against us.  Along the way we passed Christene Bas and Truffles onboard Lovefool - they were pleased to share later with us a photo from their AIS chart where Lovefool looked larger then Katherine. 

150519 6 Floating Harbour Office Stichting Veerhaven early 1900s150520 3 The gates of Zierikzee150520 6 Great company Turne Marcel Elly and Andrew Zierikzee150521 9 View from the Tower Dirk Toren  Zierikzee 62 m high150520 4 Zierikzee evening walk150522 10 Cube Houses Both housing and a bridge over a busy arterial road

Once into the Masse River all boats are under pilot control as Rotterdam is one the busiest shipping harbours in the world. Our challenge came not from the two hour motor up the Masse but finding a spot within the harbour. Park 1: Alongside a lugger on the outer edge of the harbour. Park 2: Alongside the pontoon with barely 3 feet in front and 3  feet in the rear. Andrews parking skills were fantastic but unfortunately the water depth meant we would be sitting in mud within a few hours. So with more skill we sprung the boat off the dock and headed for Park 3: Alongside another boat further in the harbour. So finally around 12 hours after leaving Oostende we were secured in our new base. 

150524 2 Erasmus Bridge 1996

After checking out our neighbourhood we took up the invitation from Marcel and Elly to visit their home in Zierikzee south of Rotterdam in the province of Zeeland. A medieval town that received its city rights in 1248 it is literally surrounded by water and has only two entrances via gates into the township. On our arrival we were visited by Hanneke and her son Peter who we had met in 2013 in Copenhagen. They were kindly bearing gifts - a box of traditional tastes from The Netherlands including the apparently not so tasty “Schipper Bitter” a drink for hardened sailors only. 

Dinner was at a local seafood restaurant Brasserie Maritime where we had a feast of scallops and lobsters and were joined by Theun who shared in the recapping of stories from our racing of Katherine in 2013. To top the night off we stopped in a quaint pub on the way back to our accommodation where Theun proudly showed us photos of his family adorning the walls. The buildings has been in his family for many generations. Great way to finish off a special evening.

150524 6 Hotel New York Rotterdam150524 13 SS Rotterdam 1959 Now accommodation convention centre museum

On Thursday Elly and Marcel were Gold Star Tour guides. With Lex to accompany us we headed off for a drive around parts of Zeeland stopping at the Delta Park. The Delta Park sits on the island Netlike Jans which was an artificial island established in the 1960s to enable construction of the main elements of the storm surge protection barrier. The barrier was initiated after terrible flooding occurred during a storm overnight in 1953 resulting in inundation of huge areas of land and a significant loss of life. The Delta Park has grown overtime to not only include an education area within the barrier but also a water park, aquarium and a seal display, the latter was definitely not one of the things that Lex enjoyed.

More eating saw us at a seaside cafe trying more local cuisine - this time kippling and eel. Both of which went down far better than the herring and onion that we had tried on our first night of arriving into harbour. Whilst Lex was returned home for his afternoon nap, one that I think we could have all joined him on, Marcel walked Andrew and I around the town area of Zierikzee and up the 300 odd steps of the Dirk Toren for a better view of the town and its surrounds. We certainly can see why Elly and Marcel chose to make this special town their home.


Back in Rotterdam we have continued to be amazed at the architecture. No building seems to be straight. Every building has an angle to make it look a little less typical of a high density apartment building. That being said a couple do raise the question of practicality such as the Cube Housing where the architect was directed to design an interesting bridge over a busy arterial road and the cube housing was the result. Definitely the latest masterpiece is the Markthal - a combination of a food market and building apartments the difference being that the apartments curve around the market place with a painting by artist Arno Coenen adorning the ceiling. Not only is this building unique but we have to say the produce sold within is pretty special too.

To round off the week we had Berend and Kirsten visit us from Amsterdam for a rather busy 24 hours. Arriving on the Saturday we were off to Hotel New York for a late lunch. Hotel New York is situated in the old office of the Holland America Line and in its past life was the point from which people once embarked many in search of a better life across the seas. Today what was once the departure area is now a huge restaurant catering for clients who have come to experience a little of the historic building. A short water taxi ride and we were back across the harbour at the Euromast. At 168m tall it may not be as high as the Sydney Tower but the views were still stunning across Rotterdam and gave us great view of the old maritime area and Veerhaven.

From Euromast it was a short walk back through Het park which had plenty of people making the most of what had turned out to be a beautiful day. 

On Sunday we headed back across the harbour to board the SS Rotterdam. Once a cruise ship built in Rotterdam and launched in 1958 it now sits in the harbour permanently as a hotel, conference and museum. We took the opportunity to tour around the cruise ship including the Engine Room, Bridge and Cabins. The volunteers who run the tours were very passionate and informative so a few hours disappeared rather fast and before we knew it it was time for Berend and Kirsten to return to Amsterdam and for us to find one of those great water taxi’s to return to Veerhaven.

After many warnings we have gone and brought a heavier bike chain and the bikes will come out tomorrow for our first ride in The Netherlands. Now just to make sure we find a sturdy tree or lamppost to attach them too. 

150524 11 Panorama View of Rotterdam from the Euromast

Rotterdam from Euromast 

(Click for more photos of our first week in The Netherlands)

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain