Call of the Sea

Soon I would reach the Van Harinxmacanal. I wasn’t looking forward to this part of the canal. It had been the only canal I didn’t like last year. Sure, it had its beauty sides. But most of the part I would be rowing on was surrounded by industry. That was nothing I was looking forward to.

On my way to the canal I saw something strange: a sailboat, the rig standing. Why strange? Cause it was impossible to sail to this point of the canal. Their where bridges everywhere. I guess the owner was living near by so it made sense to put the boat there while winter. But why with a standing mast?

At the time I entered the Van Harinxmacanal, the wind got stronger. There where even waves on the canal! I had hoped to sail on this canal even knowing that there was one more bridge in Frankerer I couldn’t sail through. But it was just one bridge and I remembered, that it wouldn’t be a problem to tie BEA to the shore there. But with that much wind, this wasn’t an option anymore. The only option was to continue rowing. Rowing, rowing, rowing! I was pissed off. Fucking rowing! I hated it! This was meant to be a sailing voyage! Everything is wrong. I didn’t like it at all. Their where clouds on the sky, the wind was to strong to sail. Why? Why did this happen? The weather god should be happy that he wasn’t near by. This would have gotten something…

Why could the wind not be a little bit less strong? Okay, more then just a little bit less – but still. Why? It’s the first day of this voyage I’m in the water but can’t sail a meter. Grrr…

Like if this wouldn’t be enough, there wasn’t anything like a nice landscape around me. Industry everywhere. A long canal, no reed on the shore but huge industry buildings. Ugly.

When the canal made a curve, it got better. Sure, there were still a lot of industry buildings. But a lot of boats where tied to the shore. Sailboats. No – sail ships. Different kinds of Traditional sailing vessels. A dream. While rowing up the canal, I saw the crew getting those beauties ready for the upcoming season. They were painting and polishing the boats and doing lots of other maintaince. When they saw me, they greeted me. They looked at me with those nice, heartwarming faces, looking like if I would be one of them – a seaman. It looked like respect. An awesome feeling, those reactions from those men and women on the tall ships.

After another curve, i was in the middle of Franeker. Nervously I looked towards the bridge. Hm… This didn’t look good. I’m around 500 meters away from the bridge but this looked tight. Not just like “with the rig standing – no chance”-tight. No this looked almost like if I wouldn’t get through at all tight!

But… No, that can’t be. I looked at the map. Nah, it should be no problem. The map told me, that there would be more than enough place for me without the rig.

Slowly rowing – I wasn’t exactly in the mood for that – I came closer and closer to the bridge. This stupid feeling in my gut didn’t disappear – it got stronger and stronger. That WAS really tight! Even with the rig down, I didn’t get through! The kit bag lying on top of the other two stopped us. So I rowed back to the shore, got it down and tried again. Now it should work!

At least that was what I thought. But back under the bridge, I got stuck – again. And this time, it wasn’t a bag. It was me. Even making myself as small as possible in the bottom of my boat, we didn’t get through! My life jacket was too big. Okay – it was probably much more the person wearing it but still, after sitting in my little girl without the life jacket we finally got through the bridge.

While passing the bridge, I couldn’t row – there was no place for this kind of movement. But after being through, I just rowed a couple of meters. The wind was strong enough to push us forward without doing anything. It was slow – but the right direction. Instead of rowing I did something else: Eating. It was time for lunch. Choclet Crème and the last bread.

The canal frustrated me. Again. The tall ships and seaman had helped for some time – but now i was back to being moody. Stupid clouds. Stupid wind! Most sailors would have been happy with this wind – or just started their engine. But me? Rowing… All day, rowing. I wish i would be already at the sea. Or further away. Just not where I was.

I was exhausted. Body and mind. It felt like if I could sleep for days. All the rowing…. I’m not fit enough. Who the hell had the idea that this could be something for me? Oh, right… That was me. Well, at least it was my fault.

There would be a Marrekrite Berth near by. But even at this second I wanted to get to the sea. No, not just wanted. I had to get there.

The sea was calling me with its magical voice. I thought of the salty air, the waves, and the beauty… Everything.

Around half way between Franeker and Harlingen, a ship passed me. It’s an commercial ship, one of those which usually are quite fast (compared to me).

Also this – but not while being close to me. The captain slowed down, almost stopped. There where as good as no waves and no wake. He greeted me with a big smile in his face. There it was again. This feeling. Sure, i wasn’t sailing. But I was on my voyage. I was on the water. That’s sailing. That’s living. Not easy, not straight forward. But as long as I was going forward (or, well, just anywhere) it was worth everything. A great feeling.

Almost like if there would have been a weather god watching, the sky became blue at the moment, I made peace with the situation. I was sitting there, in my tiny little boat, laughing, being happy.

I was so thankful to the sailors on the tall ships and the captain of the commercial vessel. There smiles helped me, made sure i wouldn’t get to moody. And the sun – for shining once again.

And to call of the sea. If it wouldn’t be for her, I would have stopped in Franeker. My mood was so bad, without the sea calling, i wouldn’t have had the strength to continue rowing.


A little note: While writing this, I used my notes made at the same day. It sounded like if the sky would have been black while rowing on this canal. But actually, there where just a few white clouds in the pictures. Fascinating how your mood can affect your memories.

All event’s happened on the 13th of March 2015

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