My Travel Blog

Sailing The Canals of Holland

We’ve had more excitement.  I know they weren’t thinking of Rabelo when they built Tilburg’s inner harbor, but give me a break. The Dutch take a small harbor and cut it in half by placing a fountain or sculpture right in the middle of their marinas.  When it was time to depart we found it impossible, because of that damn sculpture, to turn around under our own power.  The strong wind blowing up our stern didn’t help. Personally I thought the artwork would have been a nice addition to our bow.  Though I doubt if the city fathers would have approved.

That damn sculpture.

When things don’t go as planned on a 150-ton barge the pucker factor goes off the scale. It’s like driving on an icy road, and discovering that you can’t turn when you want to. Then multiply the anxiety level by 100. Eventually with the help of a friendly neighbor we managed to warp Rabelo around using our dock lines.  We learned something after our little misadventure. Because Rabelo doesn’t have a bow thruster we need to be more proficient at using our dock lines to maneuver our big baby.  And thank you Peter for all your help.  I’m really sorry about dropping that heavy rubber fender on your head.  It was an accident. The doctor said your recovery was going well, and you’ll only be left with a slight speech impediment.

From Tilburg we headed to Orischot on the Wilhelminakanaal (Wilhelmina Canal). Everyone talks about the beautiful French countryside, but the scenery today was as beautiful as any I’ve seen in France.  I was steering the entire time and didn’t get a chance to take many pictures, but the forests, pastures, and little villages could not have been more idyllic. What a great day to be on the canals of Holland.  Lisa and I are incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by such beauty.

We tied up a kilometer short of Orischot, in the middle of a forest, next to Brug (bridge) Groene Woud. There was only one house around owned by the guy that was going to do the stonework in our head (bathroom). For the next couple of days we explored the area around Orischot while our countertops, shower and bathroom floor were being installed.

Our mooring at Brug Groene Woud in the middle of the forest.


One of the many country roads we walked.

Lifting our car onto Rabelo for the first time.

From Orischot we went to Son where we visited La Trappe Brewery.  It is one of only seven Trappist breweries in the world.  Those Trappist Monks really know how to make a great beer.   Actually the locals do the real work.  The monks only have time to oversee the brewery operation, as they go to prayers seven times a day. Fortunately they built a beautiful church right on the grounds of the brewery, so it’s a short walk. When they are done with prayers it’s an even shorter walk back to the brewery where they can go back to drinking more great beer.

La Trappe Brewery.

A view from a kitchen window that needs cleaning Orischot, The Netherlands.


-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave” – 
a Chuck Palmer Adventure novel


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.