October 22 - Ottawa, Ontario
Cruising the canals of Holland is as good an excuse as we need to update our log. More on that later. Mystic Bond is still berthed in Oxford, Maryland as we have put her up for sale. If you or anyone you know would like a great boat at a good price, check out the listing at: Tred Avon Yacht Sales.
After cleaning the boat and putting on fresh coats of varnish, we travelled to Ottawa, Ontario where we have settled in with Olga’s father until we find a property for ourselves. We spent the summer re-connecting with friends, looking for a place to live and generally eating and drinking too much. We really miss the boating lifestyle but not as much as Misty, the boat cat. Unfortunately, she has not been welcomed by Shadow, the Belgian Shepard already resident at her temporary lodgings. She is used to ruling the roost on Mystic Bond, while Shadow likes to herd everybody and everything.
Despite several false starts, it looks like we finally found a building lot in the old part of town in Gananoque on the St. Lawrence River near Kingston, Ontario. We are within walking distance of downtown, the marina and some excellent pubs. If all goes well, we should close the deal in early November and then will start planning a house for the lot. Construction would start in the spring. This should be a fun project and we really look forward to eventually moving into our own house again, if only to appease Misty.
As mentioned earlier, we are writing this log after spending three lovely weeks in Europe. We spent our first week exploring the south of Holland, with side trips to Maastricht, as well as Brussels and Liege in Belgium. The next week, we chartered a canal boat from Le Boat and, with friends Alison and Norman, we learned new tricks on how to negotiate the shallow and narrow waterways and bridges in the Netherlands. While the adventure was fun, the weather was terrible for more than half the time, with one system after another coming through bringing heavy winds, rain and chilly conditions from the North Sea.
Getting used to the charter boat was interesting. It was comfortable, spacious and well equipped, but terribly underpowered with little steerage despite being equipped with a bow thruster. The wind and sometimes the current played havoc with the direction you were trying to take. Maybe that's why they chain the fenders on so you can't remove them!
We cruised the northern part of Holland, meandering our way from Sneek to Strandhorst. This is very pastoral country and the villages we passed every few miles were very quaint and full of history, as well as excellent pubs. While Olga really missed her 375 HP John Deere, going at 3.5 to 4 knots allowed us to see a lot of scenery and wild life. At every bridge (of which there were many!) we had to catch a Dutch wooden shoe at the end of a pole to pay the bridge tender. Alison had this manoeuvre down to an art form by the time we got through Freisland. The trick is not to bang the narrow openings as we go through.
Our last week was spent visiting family around Arnhem, Zoetermeer and Leiden close to the larger cities of Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam. Part of our purpose for this trip was to scope out boats for future cruising in Europe. The variety of boats in Holland is quite amazing. It seems that everyone has a boat of some type from old scows to fancy trawlers and with prices to match every budget. If you count all the canals, there is probably more shore line in Holland than the whole east coast of the U.S. Although we drooled over many that we saw, we decided that, for now, buying would be too much of a burden until we build our house, settle down again and (hopefully!) sell Mystic Bond.
We are now back in Ottawa, Canada again where the leaves have fallen and frost appears almost every night. Next month, we’ll be putting Mystic Bond on the hard in Oxford, MD for the winter and will plan to bring her up to Canada in the spring.
That’s it for now from the crew of Mystic Bond. To all of our cruising friends still on the water, we wish you safe travels and to everyone, a happy holiday season. We'll post another update in the spring..
Olga, Andre and Misty (regretfully, on dry land at present)