Sunday, November 1, 2009

An Expensive Photograph

In a roundabout way this photograph cost me 35 Euros. It happened like this. I was cycling down the main cobbled street in the Port of Hoorn, one of many such small ports on the coast of the inland Zuider Zee (Southern Sea) in The Netherlands when I was stopped by two ladies in Police Uniforms. The short story is that I should have seen the no cycling signs and walked with my bicycle, but all that I saw were large numbers of parked bicycles, and a few bikes being ridden along the street.

I thought that after I had listened to the no cycling explanation from the Policewomen I would be given a warning, a friendly pat on the shoulder and sent on my way with cream buns and a thermos full of hot tea - (A Johnny Foreigner can get this impression after weeks of amused chortles and smiles at ones accent - gosh! you say to yourself, don't they just looove Kiwis! -- and you are right, except for two Policewomen in the port of Hoorn, who deliberately left a Russian Gulag to make my day an expensive one.)

"The fine is thirty five Euros" I was informed.
"I don't have thirty five Euros on me," I said lying through my teeth.
"There is a bank and a money machine over there" I was informed.
"What if I don't pay?" I inquired.
" We will take you to the Police station and lock you up until you do pay" she replied, mouth twitching at such southern hemisphere cheek.
"Oh" I said and went to the machine which was around a corner out of sight, pulled thirty five euros out of my wallet and promptly paid.

I then gave what I thought was a rather excellent dissertation about how this would never happen in New Zealand and that a warning would be sufficient for a tourist who can't read Dutch. But all this was ignored including my statements about how highly offended I was, blah, blah, blah - but to no avail - I had broken the law, I had been duly fined, the Dutch economy saved by my thirty five euros and two Policewomen who were in fact only doing their job - did their job.

As they turned to go and startle other bike riding miscreants I had an overwhelming urge to pinch one of their bums - not with any sexual connotation but in the deliberate and malicious way I used to pinch John Ryan's bum when I was in primer three at Central New Brighton Primary School - I swear he once attained the height of one metre above his chair - pure fright, pure joy.

BUT - none of this stopped me from enjoying the delights of Hoorn which is a lovely little port - and it was in a canal of this port that I found a rather nice housing arrangement that is a delight to a sailor such as I.

The house in the photograph is floating on the water on the top of a steel barge. Access is from the street on the left through a quaint gate in a large bushy hedge. The house has nice indoor, outdoor flow onto a small deck area where one can sit and take in the surrounding view.
The yacht is called Sirius (I would rename her Delight if she was mine) and is of Scandinavian pedigree - a clean, mean, speed machine - I know she sails beautifully, her lines have a pure poetry of purpose.

I personally would love, love, love, love, love, love to live like that - a floating house with my yacht moored next to it - ah, it would be bliss indeed for an obsessed old sailor such as me.


Dan Gurney said...

A floating house right on the water with a yacht out the front door appeals greatly to me as well. Near here are several such places. Sausalito California has a houseboat community comprised of domiciles similar to the one you photographed. Along Tomales Bay in Marshall California is a strip of houses right on the bay and there are several other places 'round here, too.

I love the yacht you photographed and I'm sure she'd sail ever so sweetly.

The Hobie Adventure Island has lots of YouTube videos. Here's one:

Alden Smith said...

Dan, perhaps we can have neighbouring floating houses with our yachts moored outside, one needs neighbours who talk about things that matter.

I looked at the Hobie Adventure site - it's really a very small trimaran isn't it - I should think it would be very wet in any sort of seaway - but exciting, and these outrigger pontoons attached to a much larger voyaging kayak would mean large distances could be covered if the wind was in the right quarter.

Hmmmm I feel a kayaking adventure coming on - maybe the inland passage from Seattle to Glacier Bay - What sort of gun to you recommend to deal with the Bears??

Delwyn said...

It looks like you have found your the end of the rainbow...

Happy days

Alden Smith said...

Yes Delwyn I have found my dream at the end of the rainbow - a real pot of gold it is too.

Jerr Dunlap said...

That really is a beautiful shot of a classic sloop! I enjoyed your story and am looking forward to more.
- Jerr

Alden Smith said...

Hello Jerr, thanks for comment. I tried to leave a comment on your very interesting Blog but wasn't able to - something about having to be a member etc - how does all that work?? tell me so I can comment.

Ben Bongers said...

The beautiful yacht you saw in Hoorn is a "Scherenkruiser" or "Nordischer Seekreuzer" . Year of construction 1930. Length 39 ft, 330 sq ft (30 m2) of sail.
Your encounter with the Dutch police woman remembered me of an experience as a 10 year old kid biking in a pedestrian area. The fines were a lot lower then.
Great to be back home isn't it.

Alden Smith said...

Hi Ben, yes that name rings a bell, I think the translation into English would be 'Skerry Cruiser' or a '30 Square Metre class' which corresponds to the sail area you have given. I think I have some plans and lines of these Scandinavian designs in an old book from the 1930's - I must take a look and see.
Thankyou very much for the information, I appreciate that.

In regards to the Police women, I wasn't surprised that I could be fined like that, but was surprised that the fine had to be given to the Police women - this is not usual practise at all in New Zealand. Of course I was more surprised with the fine than offended and the lesson is, 'when is Rome do as ...' (and read the no cycling signs :-) )

It is good to be back home, but I must say I left a part of myself in your lovely country - I truely enjoyed it so very much - its a great place and wonderful for cycling as you know. There is still much for me to see in The Netherlands so I will be back again soon I am sure.

Kathryn said...

I can't believe how unkind those 2 policewomen were you to you, Pal. They will not be doing anything positive for tourism in their country will they? So that was an expensive photo, but a very beautiful one.
I have enjoyed reading about your adventures. You must have had a wonderful time.
Maybe I should take up (serious) cycling, if you lost so much weight!
Just joking, of course :-)
You sound as if you are very happy to be home. It doesn't matter how great the holiday is, it's always nice to come home, isn't it? Especially in springtime.

Alden Smith said...

Hi Kathryn, a fine of 35 euros is more than 80 New Zealand dollars so it was a pretty stiff fine - but the Dutch Police don't set the exchange rate so that's not their fault and I guess the ladies were just doing their job.
Yes, it is always nice to come home again and as you say, its Springtime (although the weather office has said that this NZ October has been the coldest for decades) - yes nice to come home so you can start dreaming about your holiday!!
I did lose some weight but will have to try really hard to keep it off and not fall into my old ways again - so its a bike ride or a swim tomorrow thats for sure.

How is the painting coming along - have you done any more lately?? Might we see one posted on your blog? :-)

Ben Bongers said...

Some more info on the yacht. The Dutch word "Scherenkruiser" comes from the type of coast: Scheren: the coast with shallow waters and rocky islands well known in Finland, Sweden and South Eastern Norway. Design by Abeking and Rasmussen (Germany). The design is 101 years old. It is still a specific sailing class 30 m2. See
In your language look for the book "The world of square metres".

It is a pity that you did not visit Belgiƫ. Great beers. Personally I like the trapist beers, made by monks.

Alden Smith said...

Thanks Ben for the extra information - I think Belgie and the beer will be on the itinerary for the next trip. I did however enjoy Heineken beer brewed in Amsterdam (the real thing as opposed to Heineken brewed under licence here in NZ)

Kathryn said...

The exchange rate is cruel isn't it?
No more painting yet, but I have been thinking about it.....

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