These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over eight years now and are still loving it. Our Ulster born Shih Tzu, Shannon, has grown up, and has taken over the boat! After three wonderful years in Ireland, we transported The Puzzler to The Netherlands, and spent a year there. In 2015 we went southwards, to reach the north of France by June. After glorious weather throughout the summer, we arrived in Roanne in late October, and enjoyed our winter in this friendly port. We cruised extensively in France in 2016, returning to Roanne for a second winter.


Friday, 31 October 2014

26th - 31st October. On to the Noord Holland kanaal, then on to Schagen, our winter mooring.

We are heading northwards on the Noord Holland Kanaal. It is wide and straight for a long way here, but is our most direct route to Schagen, our ultimate destination.
Passing through Alkmaar, this tall ship adds a touch of history to the canalside.
We like the unusual thatching on the houses on this part of the Noord Holland Canal.
This strange structure is a litter bin for passing cyclists!
It is a good thing that we are turning off the Noord Holland Kanaal here as the bridge ahead does not look too inviting! We could possibly have squeezed through to the left side of the bridge.
Turning off on to the Stolpen - Schagen canal, there is also work going on here, but it is no problem.
At last we have reached our winter mooring in Schagen. Everyone is very helpful and there are all the facilities which we might need here.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

21st - 25th October. From Zaandam up the river Zaan to Zaanse Schans, then on to a country mooring.




This interesting hotel in Zaandam includes all sorts of Dutch architecture.
After a couple of days in Zaandam, we continued on up the river Zaan. It was interesting to see a house boat on the move. On the far bank can be seen the traditional green of the Zaandam houses.
We were lucky to find this jetty free, as it is the only mooring at Zaanse Schans. Originally there were about 100 windmills in the Zaan district of Holland, making it the oldest industrial area of the world. In 1928 the windmill society De Zaanshe Molen founded this unique and fascinating Windmill Museum, with six working windmills, along the river Zaan.
Het Jonge Schaap is a windmill which was newly built in 2007, using detailed drawings to copy one which was demolished in 1942. This is a cap windmill, with the sails turning on the very top part of the windmill.
Inside this new windmill is a working sawmill. There are several enormous saw blades running parallel to each other, which slice a tree trunk into planks.

Kalver Polder lies behind and below the windmills, which are all on the Kalverringdijk. This dike is alongside the River Zaan, seen beyond them here.


In the farm section, Shannon met a goat.
The museum here told us all about the history of local produce, mainly food, including a whole section about Verkade, the chocolate specialists. This is a vat of melted chocolate, ready to pour into the moulds.
The Verkade Chocolate company has factories both in Zaandam, and also further upstream, and we saw a lot of chocolate on the move. On this journey, the tug is pulling four great vats of chocolate on the barges.
Carrying on, the river Zaan became a canal, as Dutch rivers tend to, and we continued along Markervaart to moor on an island. There is room here for over 60 boats, but we are the only boat here today!.


We were treated to a really pretty sky on Saturday evening.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

20th October. Amsterdam, and shipping on the North Sea Canal while going to Zaandam.



At last we have reached Amsterdam, with stylish modern buildings on the approach to the city.


Further on, traditional styles take over.
This is a typical side canal, with two trip boats approaching us. These canals were much wider than we had expected, and the trip boats were not aggressive, as we had been warned they could be. I expect that it is more difficult for them in the summer, when there will be many more visiting boats to get in their way.


This city mooring had a waterpoint, which was fortunate, as we were down to 4" in the tank!


Many of the streets are lined with houseboats which are said to be very expensive to purchase.


On the side canals, all of the bridges are this height, which is no problem for The Puzzzler.
Here we are on Prinsengracht, which is one of the main routes through Amsterdam. The church ahead is Westerkerk, near to the Anne Frank house. The queue there went right round the block!


Many of the houses in Amsterdam have traditional Dutch Gables.
Having left the canals of Amsterdam under an extremely low bridge, we reached West Dock. All the flowers had to be removed from the top of The Puzzler in order to get under this bridge. It was very lucky we had filled the water tank, and so lowered the bows in the water. It would have been a long way back through the city to find a different route.

You can stay on this hotel boat for E44.84 a night. Not a bad deal!



It was a surprise to see a submarine!


In the next dock was a Monrovian freighter.

This seemed to be a cable laying boat. We have enjoyed seeing all these different vessels at close quarters.

In the distance I was not sure whether this was a building or a boat! The barge to its right shows how big it is.


The barges approaching us did not disturb the water a great deal.

However, the swell from a barge passing us can be seen approaching, and will not be very comfortable!

As we left the North Sea canal, going on to the river Zaan, we passed this floating dry dock. The man was photographing us, as I took his picture!


In Wilhelmina lock we were in with two barges. The gravel barge stretched from way behind The Puzzler.


It carried on in front of us, and must have been nearly twice our length. The other barge was small by comparison.
We moored just above the lock in Zaandam, which is a big city, lying close to Amsterdam, but on the north bank of the North Sea Canal. Passing barges do not throw us about at all, as we are so close to the lock.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

15th - 19th October. Up the river Amstel to Ouderkerk, where we saw the Amsterdam Marathon.


We carried on to the Midrecht, with the barge Concordia gaining on us all the way! He passed us just before Zomerlust cycle bridge.

We passed this conversion of a typical Dutch lifting barn. The roof can be lifted on the corner poles as high as is needed for the hay underneath.



Autumn skies today.


The attractive church at Nes aan de Amstel looks out over the river, but there is nowhere to stop here, in order to visit the village.

We stayed at this mooring in Ouderkerk for a few days. This is a pleasant town, built on both sides of the Amstel.
On Sunday the Amsterdam Marathon was run, and the course brought the athletes south along the Amstel river from Amsterdam to Ouderkerk. Having crossed the bridge here, they returned up the east bank of the river. This is the elite group, just over an hour into the race, approaching the bridge. Can you see Bernard Kipyego, the eventual winner, in this group?

These runners are just over an hour slower than the elite group as they cross Ouderkerk bridge. At this point they are nearly half way through the race.


The route leaves the river bank briefly, past the trees here, behind the riverside houses.


The runners opposite us are being cheered on by the jet packer on the river.


Back at The Puzzler later on, we could still see runners crossing the bridge.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

11th - 14th October. Past Gouda, Boskoop and Gouwsluis, to Zwammerdam and Nieuwkoop, then back to Woerden.

We continued on the Hollandse Ijssel to Gouda, and made our way into Mallegat Sluis. However, as it is Sunday, the sluis at the other end of Gouda is closed, so we could not continue through town that way. The lockkeeper waited until we had manoeuvred off the tidal river into his lock, before telling us this, so then we had to back out again, to take a different route.

It was nice to see so many boats about on the Gouw canal, as we headed north from Gouda. Now that it is nearing the end of the season, the waterways are quieter.


Boskoop is a pretty village, with car parking dangerously close to the water's edge.


At Gouwsluis, this is an active container depot, just off the main canal.


We turned on to the Oude Rijn, and into the chickweed! However, as our engine has a sealed cooling system, this is no problem for The Puzzzler

Soon it was a left turn in Zwammerdam, and through Ziende bridge on to this smaller waterway going through Nieuwkoopse Plassen.


This area is well worth a visit, for a small license fee, with narrow canals between the lakes. It is like a mini version of Friesland.


There are many wonderful properties all along the water's edge.


We are heading in to the centre of Nieuwkoop village.



We had to have a coffee stop here!



There are several moorings through this area, overlooking the lakes.


Back on the Grecht, we decided to cross over the canal on the ferry for a walk on the far side.
A sculpture of skaters on the bridge in Woerden. We are on our way to the station, for Elaine to catch her train, after an enjoyable week. We have been so lucky with the weather all week, at least until this morning!



The cathedral in Woerden is a very fine building.


I think that this is the best canalside mural we have ever seen! There is so much detail in it.
From Woerden we retraced our steps to moor near the ferry again. One boater was very keen for us to stay in Woerden overnight, but we prefer to be out in the country.