Our departure from the Royal Dutch naval base at Den Helder was permitted and we proceeded out into the broad expanse of turbulent water rushing eastwards. We crossed to the northern side and then copied a snake path through the sands generally moving east and north closing the polder dam that separates the Ijsselmere from the North Sea before bending NE towards Harlingen. The passages are quite anrrow in places, possibly a cable wide, and yet one cannot see land. It is just a vast expanse of water, which at high tide is 2 or 10 metres deep and at low tide it must look like a mud moonscape.
There are fish farms and mussel beds, reserves (for I know not what) and not a lot of bird life. However there are a lot of barges pushing their weight around under clouds of canvas and large fishing boats hauling all sorts of devices to plough the seabed or whatever. For us a very new and quite strange environment and one that took a bit of getting used to. Watching a straight line of sailing boats bearing down on us was odd as they followed the deep water channel of perhaps 5m in an otherwise vast expanse of open, but very shallow, water.
We entered the harbour of Harlingen and tied to a jetty to wait for the lock to open. It did but the bridge over it didn't - for a while anyway - and when it did in we poured to a small basin our further passages blocked by yet more bridges. The north one opened and off spurted a gaggle of boats but we wanted the south one and so did a mighty barge with a bowsprit from here to eternity which seemed determined, thankfully and skilfully, not to spike us on it. The bridge keeper told us to go in the North and had to be convinced we were told to go South where we found our allocated berth and experienced our first box mooring. Basically enter the box backwards, put ropes on the piles on each side as they pass down the boat and then attach the stern to the jetty - simple. Oh yea!
All tied up with a nice breeze, lots of hot sunshine in the lovely town of Harlingen where we will stay until next week. We have a few days of strong winds in the wrong direction for us so we will enjoy a break for now and take in some R&R.