After last year's trip to the Frisian Islands, Friesland and North Holland, Rex, Meryl and I had often discussed returning to the Netherlands, a country that we all loved, and exploring the southern provinces. Rex and Meryl had spent some time in the south before, but my experience was limited to a rapid transit that preceded our trip to the Baltic in 2011.
A rough plan gelled out, with an aim to reach Dordrecht which would serve as an ideal base for further exploration in that region. There were different ways of reaching that objective, but we decided not to be too prescriptive and devise our route as we went along, choice being dictated by lock opening times, distances, weather and our interests. To me, allowing an element of serendipity adds spice to a journey. We also wanted to visit cities in Belgium such as Bruges and Antwerp, and agreed to devise our methods of reaching them later when we knew how timescales were panning out.
Timescales were important, Rex and Meryl had an important engagement in Chester to keep, and I needed to be back home well in advance of my youngest daughter giving birth to my second grandchild. As always, weather conditions would dictate North Sea crossing schedules.
Much engineering work was carried out on Duonita before the voyage, the bulk being devoted to installing a bow thruster, and Rex and Meryl had spent many hours on refurbishments. Within the week before our departure the engineering work was completed, the boat returned to the water, and a trial run undertaken just to check all was ship shape. At last we were ready and our adventure could begin.
The actual route taken can be examined on the route link. How the story unfolded can be revealed by following the diary link.
Read and enjoy!