Vlissingen Holland


...as they say around here. They also say hello, pardon, OK, sorry, and "be danked" for thanks. In addition to which almost everyone speaks English. The only interesting word I've learned so far is alstublieft which means please. So, how are you? We think of you often, and as always we hope all is well there.

Before you read any further, I must warn you that life here in Holland is very quiet. We have no news. But I wanted to write just so you know that we're still alive.

And so you won't have to ask, I'll answer your question: No, we are not yet skating on the ice around the boat. Altho if we could, the exercise would be welcome for the warmth it would generate. We have ice on the dock and on the deck regularly, and Doxy has more than once refused to set paw out on deck in the morning. Yes, it's getting cold here on the North Sea. We're latitude 52 North - up here with Newfoundland and the Siberian plains - where the sun describes a little arc from SE to SW never rising more than 15 degrees above the horizon. Not exactly hot stuff even at noon. It gets down to the middle 20's at night, the locals tell us we ain't seen nuthin yet. I can't wait. Our little electric heater keeps the main cabin nice and warm, but it's beyond its abilities to also heat the head and the forward cabin where we sleep. They get rather icy (literally). We've renamed the head "the outhouse" and the forward cabin "the North Forty" (it's the northern most cabin on the boat, and its temp is usually around 40 degrees).

The marina here is behind a lock and a high sea-wall, for which we are very thankful in the frequent gales that sweep in off the sea. It's a new marina and everything is modern. That has its advantages and disadvantages. The electricity, water, and showers are all run on meters into which you feed Guilders (one Guilder = abt 60 cents US). It can get interesting when the Guilders run out and "things" come to an abrupt halt.

All our cruising friends and the locals think we are insane to live on a boat on the North Sea for the winter. That probably explains why we are the only people in the marina. It's been a month since someone even strolled down the dock (we know because we saw the footprints in the inch-thick frost). Since George is away at the office during the day, and boat-work only occupies about 2/3 of my time; I spend several afternoons a week hanging about in the English language section of the library. They have a good selection of books, and it's nice and warm there. (They'll probably take away my library card for "lurking in the stacks".) We have met some nice ham radio people, and the marina managers are nice.

We also have some travel planned. The train into Amsterdam is convenient and cheap, so museums here we come. And the ferry to

England is about $50 round-trip. That means a few weekends in London. And we've already been to Utrecht (inland) to a computer fair with George's employer. It was a two hour drive with nary hill nor hummock in sight, but we passed lots of green, flat land divided by canals and neat rows of trees and dotted with windmills and pretty houses. Just like a Dutch painting.

I was shopping with George's employer's wife the other day when we passed several women dressed in traditional Dutch costume with the headdress of metal curly-cues and all. I asked Jannica their reason for being in costume. She told me some of the women still wear the dress and headdress of their region. It seemed strange to see in such a modern country.

Let's see...what else. Oh ya, on November 25th Sinterklaas pulled into Vlissingen harbor on a tugboat with his black-face elves in moorish costume. You may think Sinter comes a bit early in Holland, but that's because they do the gift exchange on December 5th and keep the 25th religious. It seems a nice compromise. Speaking of holidays, George and I completely missed Thanksgiving this year. George came home from the office some days after Thanksgiving and notified me that our holiday of Thanks had come and gone. So that being the case, I tried to remember what we had eaten for Thanksgiving dinner. It was sauerkraut and worst. (And a new tradition is born in the Hunt/Peters household.)

Another new "tradition" we've fallen into is to meet at a frite and broodje place for lunch on the days I go to the laundromat near his office. Broodjes are sandwiches, and they offer all the usual. Frites are french fries, and they put the strangest things on top of them. The topping that comes to mind as the strangest is a dollop of stewed horse meat. Yum, huh?

Sounds like all we do is eat. Well, when we're not busy eating, we still ham radio to stay in touch with our cruising friends in the Med, the Canary Islands, and the Caribbean. All our friends delight in reporting the temperatures down South. And on the Maritime Nets we heard that the ARC (yearly sail boat race from the Canaries to Barbados was scheduled for a November 25th start. The wind that day was Force 6 and forecast to rise to Force 11 (that's 56 to 63 knots!). They even delayed the start of the race for a day (a very unusual concession to a "little" wind - those racers are crazy). It made me thankful I'm in a safe little harbor even if it is cold instead of out there trying to cross the Atlantic. Some of our friends are tho, so we listen for news of them. It'll be our turn next year at this time. (I'm not scheduled to start worrying about our crossing until later this winter, but all these reports of Force 11 winds got me started early.)

Ah well, I warned you that we have no news. Guess I'll wrap this up. We're going out for dinner vanavond (tonight). There's a good little pizzeria just across the street that I drag George to when I've had a hard day lurking in the stacks. So, tot straks (see you later).

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