These are the adventures of Andy and Sally Rawnsley on their narrowboat "The Puzzler". We have been living on the boat for over nine 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, 2017 and 2018, returning to Roanne each winter.

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.


  1. Almost at your winterplace now we see, the weather is going to be some better and will make the coming days more fun sailing.
    greetings Sam and Cees

  2. Dear Andy and Sally,
    I'm reading with great interest about your adventures in the Netherlands. I live in Newmarket, Suffolk, but you came to my attention after my brother encountered you at the Bergumermeer, earlier in the year. He was there doing a spot of fishing with his son in a rubber dinghy. He sent me a photo of your narrowboat which intrigued me of course. Unfortunately I didn't find the blog at the time otherwise we could have met up because we have a boat in Friesland and go back every summer to enjoy the lakes and canals.
    Have a great time in the Netherlands; hope the winter is going to be kind to you!
    Best wishes,
    Henk & Jane Koopmans (