The 28 boats of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands have reached the attractive city of Dordrecht at the crossroads of some of Europe's busiest waterways.

MBM cruise reaches Dordrecht
The 28 boats of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands have reached the attractive city of Dordrecht at the crossroads of some of Europe’s busiest waterways.

Weather for the preceding three days at Marina Monnickendam on the Markermeer had been generally miserable and occasionally violent, the low that had caused so much havoc in Britain days before not being an entirely spent force as it passed over Holland. Fortunately, the wind stayed in the south and west, which kept all boats sheltered from the wind. It did however blow quite a lot of the water out of the Gouwzee, dropping the level by as much as half-a-metre at one point.

There were also quite a few (not terribly good) Queen impressions heard around the fleet: “Thunder and lightning, very, very, frightening” was not too far off the mark at one stage when a particularly loud crack saw more than one person hit the deckhead at four in the morning as the umpteenth storm passed through.

The weather may have dampened proceedings and not shown the area off at its best, but many of the participants were undeterred and explored the local towns of Edam and Volendam by bicycle and boat, or took the local bus to Amsterdam. More than one owner was heard to be contemplating the practicalities of spending a season or longer in Monnickendam, encouraged by the laid-back nature of the venue, prices less than a third of typical south coast UK rates and the friendly assistance of the harbourmaster.

Most boats have been in fine fettle on this trip but the Freeman 32Liberty Londonhad discovered a serious issue with a rudder on the trip from Ijmuiden and a swim in Monnickendam confirmed it was missing altogether! Once his boat was lifted, owner Tim Atkinkinson saw that the second rudder wasn’t long for this world, but thanks to speedy service from Freeman at Moulsford and 24-hour courier services it was possible to replace both rudders and continue.

Another good fix occurred on Pat and Angela Lamb’s Sealine T47Portcullis of Sarkthat had a Newmar battery charger blow components in a terminal fashion when the shorepower dropped out. A call to the Dutch agent, Global Energy, saw a very favourable exchange unit deal struck and the replacement was delivered and working the next day.

So it was that all 28 boats in the fleet were in good shape for the 68nm run south to Dordrecht yesterday (Saturday). Boats pushed out into an early morning greyness that seemed oppressive and a little spray flew as all nosed into a lively north-westerly, but once the breakwater north of Marken Island was cleared all could turn and run with the wind to retrace steps of the day before to the Oranjesluizen in Amsterdam. Immediately afterwards the boringly efficient Amsterdam-Rijn canal carried boats for 45 kilometres down to the contrasting sweeps and turns of the River Lek.

As the day wore on, the sky gradually lightened, which was good timing as it ensured a much better view of the Lek’s various beaches, inlets, villages and windmills, as well as the equally varied kinds of commercial and leisure traffic between its banks. Upon turning south onto the Noord, things get a little plain again for a few short kilometres until the Venice-like facade of Dordrecht appears across the fields and the first hint of what is to come presents itself.

After a lot of shuttling around, the MBM fleet filled every available space in the Nieuwe Haven (‘new’ in the 15th Century), assisted by the staff at the Royal Dordrecht Rowing and Sailing Club who have always made us welcome here. We had inadvertently landed in the middle of a music festival and the ancient stone walls, often a peaceful barrier betwixt harbour and waterway, echoed to the sound of rock bands late into the night. To add to the general audio mayhem the mighty bells of the 15th Century Grote Kerk ring out on the hour, quite a contrast to the 21st Century’s Fenders, drum kits and hyper-charged singers.

Sunday is promising more of the same, under the rare appearance of blue skies. All is well with the world…well almost. We are faced with just one hiccup. MBM’s Humber 8m RIBTime Flieshas developed a fault on her Volvo Penta D3 diesel sterndrive. The revs surge up and down in a way that the aviation world would term ‘uncontrolled commands’ and others might describe as heart-stopping moments when in the middle of the River Lek and unable to select neutral or do anything at all except shut down.

Long past are the days when you can solve most diesel engine faults with a spanner. Having checked all electrical connections and pressed the diagnostic buttons we are no wiser and have come to the conclusion that we are faced with towing the disabled RIB to a Volvo Penta agent for the fastest chance of a fix. We have used the mechanical services at Delta Marina on the Veersemeer before to great effect and given that the venue is on our route later in the week, it looks like we will be delivering a surprise present to them tomorrow while the rest of the fleet is enjoying itself on a short meander to the walled town on Willemstad on the broad Hollandsdiep.

Racing the storm 
The Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands has successfully stayed ahead of unseasonable bad weather to reach Ijmuiden on the North Sea coast and the relative sanctity of the inland waters beyond (19 August 2004).

MBM cruise reaches Dordrecht 
The 28 boats of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company to the Netherlands have reached the attractive city of Dordrecht at the crossroads of some of Europe’s busiest waterways (22 August 2004).

Motor Boats Monthly cruise packed into Goes 
The 28 boats of the MBM cruise in company to the Netherlands are filling to capacity the town basin of the Delta port of Goes (25 August 2004).

Split ends for MBM Netherlands cruise 
The closing acts of the Motor Boats Monthly cruise in company season have provided a graphic illustration of the way in which modern, fast motor cruisers can exploit weather windows (30 August 2004).