Row, Row, Row...All the Way Home

  Friday, September 25, 2015 / Stephanie / News  

Having returned to the Ijsselmeer, we approached the town of Lemmer.  It had been a long day's sail from Makkum, 35.8nm farther north just near the dike, with very light wind but a nice, calm sea state on the lake allowed Detour to make 4-knots.  We were not in a hurry and rather enjoyed a peaceful day without use of the engine!  That evening we transited one lock which put us back onto the Netherlands' inland waterways.  The lock was very large and a commercial ship had just been through so the doors remained open for us enter.  We were in the lock alone, all went smoothly, and just when the doors began opening to let us out we heard very loudly, the familiar twanging of an electric guitar.  Over the loudspeakers, echoing through the lock came Jimmi Hendrix's version of "The Star Spangled Banner"!  We could hardly believe our ears!  We cheered and waved at the lock keeper, who leaned out of his window all smiles and gave a thumbs-up, "Jimmi Hendrix, AYE!"  The Dutch people have a fabulous sense of humor; this gesture had made our day! The town of Lemmer was not initially selected for sightseeing; although this charming town had much to offer!  Our stay coincided with the Oude Lemmer festival.  This event filled downtown canals and streets with magnificently preserved boats, tractors, motorcycles, and engines from the 1900-1930's.  Lemmer was a'buzz!  It was a timely occasion for changing Detour's engine oil, which Brian had also accomplished during our stay.  But, getting back to why we had really arrived in Lemmer...Brian had been searching for a used dinghy.  He'd familiarized himself with the Netherlands' equivalent to Craigs' List, a website called Marktplaats, of which he'd become a frequent browser. Of course the first challenge when searching secondhand in a foreign country is learning what words are best to search so that you can actually find the item you seek.  Brian, with the assistance of Google Translate, had quickly increased his vocabulary to include Dutch terms for various types of boats:  zeilbootje (sailing dinghy), roeiboot (row boat), sloep (dinghy), etc. In the meanwhile, we'd discussed and debated what we thought would be an ideal dinghy.  This go-around, we decided that a hard dinghy which would be a good rowing boat would suit us nicely; preferably with a sailing rig.  Finding a hard dinghy with appropriate dimensions was difficult.  Many of the sailing dinghies were too small to be realistic.  Several times we reneged on the decision for a hard dinghy and for simplicity's sake told one another that an inflatable would be just peachy.  But one day Brian stumbled upon a newly listed, aluminum row boat.  After re-measuring Detour's davits and deck, we looked closely at the photos we said, "Let's do it!"  We emailed Sylvia and Herman, the sellers, who live in Lemmer.   It took only a few moments to get acquainted with Sylvia and Herman, who were extremely hospitable.  We chatted for nearly the entire afternoon before we made it through their living room and onto the patio to actually look at the aluminum row boat they were selling.  We liked what we saw, worried the boat might be a bit heavy, but took the plunge and completed the purchase.  "Do you want to bring your boat here to pick it up?" inquired Herman as he pointed out where we could dock Detour along the canal that was their backyard.  Herman had picked us up in his car earlier to bring us to their house.  Brian and I looked at each other, having fully prepared ourselves to row the boat back to Detour (backpack with life jackets, dry-bagged iPad, and the camera), smiled and simultaneously replied, "No, we'll row!"  Brian and Herman launched the aluminum row boat while their dog, Pink, closely monitored this excitement.   New boat owners! We found our way all the way home through winding, house-lined canals.  Using a short-cut beneath the bridge we took turns rowing and seating ourselves in various positions throughout the 1.5 mile trip.  The boat did row nicely and Brian conjured visions of adding a sailing rig to it.  (Cruisers really do have a sick addiction for ongoing projects!)  We made certain to call Sylvia as soon as we'd arrived at Detour.  Then we set straight to work washing the aluminum row boat and determining how exactly we would now carry it aboard.  It was heavy.  It was entirely too difficult to maneuver onto the dinghy davits, and too cumbersome to secure.  Of course, we had never used davits either and probably did not have the proper equipment; although Brian rigged several pulley systems that afternoon.  Late in the day we were getting discouraged, and finally we decided to get the boat onto the deck where we knew it would at least fit.  A newly arrived neighbor, who undoubtedly watched our distress with much curiosity, offered his assistance.  "If this works," I joked with him, "you'll have to travel with us so that we can raise and lower the boat!"  Overall, it was not difficult to raise the row boat onto the deck with use of a halyard and once secured we were pleased with the outcome.  Our dinghy's permanent location will need some tweaking, but now we are ready to get back on the rode!