IJsselmeer (yes, that’s the correct spelling) is the large body of water created by the damming of the Zuiderzee in the 30’s. 20 miles wide it is an ideal place to sail, and on Saturday there were yachts everywhere.Iwe had a fast close reach across. To my surprise, those stately steel barges (“flatbottoms”) with their leeboards, brown sails and curved gaffs are hard to catch when there’s a breeze. The barge tradition is very much alive – there are several hundred of them plying these waters, carrying tourists rather than bulk.

We entered Friesland at Lemmer and today we are following the so-called Standing Mast Route, a Dutch version of the Intracoastal Waterway. Grey skies and wet, with a squally cold north wind. Beautiful steel boats, lush pastures. There are canals everywhere – waterfront properties can’t be too expensive hereabouts because there is so much water. Vast green fields, seriously flat. Black and white cows and the pervasive smell of cow shit. Nary a hillock. Endless rows of fat men under umbrellas sitting along the waters edge fishing. Coots, terns, grebes, cormorants and cosy families of ducks doing what birds do.

The meandering canal took us through lovely Leeuwarden. We considered stopping but with 5 more hours of daylight we decided to continue on to Dokkum where we tied up in the centre of town beside a huge windmill.

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