Trip down memory lane to when we bought our first 24 ft. sailboat Bolle

Buying Bolle

It was March 2021, one year into our Covid era, and dearest Freek came to me with his now infamous 'I received a message from a harbour. We can get a box if we have a boat'. Up until this point in our lives, we had only talked about sailing, about how it was his wish and how he seriously thought about the possibility to maybe buy a sailboat again. Maybe.

But here we now were. Living near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, leaves us with a multitude of options on everything if you are willing to pay the price. Harbours around Amsterdam are full, and if you are lucky enough to find a spot, please also bring your bricks of gold. But as luck would have it, Freek found a box for our yet-to-buy boat in a harbour in Almere. And the opportunity was too good to pass up. We drove the 15-minute drive to look at our box in stormy, dark weather. I still remember the first time we stood there, looking at a 4 by 9 meter box we had just rented. Eery, but magnificent.

There really was no way back now. During the previous years, Freek had been dropping hints (or flat out telling me) that he wanted to buy a sailboat and sail the world, go explore. I had no real sailing experience and did not feel the same at all. How would I ever be able to actually sail the world? But the seed had been planted, and here we were, actively looking for a sailboat to home in our harbour.

We had a few weeks to find a suitable boat, so our mornings were spent on phone calls and our afternoons spent on driving through The Netherlands. Seven or eight boats in total we've seen, ranging from very empty, to very crowded and very olds to slightly less old. In the end, we settled on an Eyghtene 24 (7.3 meters) in Rotterdam. A lovely boat from 1984 called Bolle, a name we kept as it was very fitting. A tiny cabin in which we could sleep and sort of cook with a small toilet and some space to chill. Perfect for first time sailboat owners.

So now we owned a boat, a box for the boat to live in and a shelved dream that came more alive with each day passing. I still couldn't see myself sailing the world, but that was years off. Our first step would be to sail Bolle to Almere. One step at a time.

Freek's vader joined us in the first weekend of April 2021. The weather was okay for Dutch standards: grey and rainy, but not too bad. Without any certifications and limited prior experience, we picked up the boat in Rotterdam. The mast was lowered, so the plan would be to sail to Almere inlands, over something that we call the 'Staande Mastroute'. A route through the Netherlands from Zeeland to Groningen that boats can take with masts still standing. On the journey, you will encounter a lot of bridges (40+ just to Almere) and locks.

Luckily, with our mast lowered, our waiting time would be limited and we estimated our trip to take about 1,5 days including an overnight stay in a harbour.

The trip itself was pretty cool. I was there just for the fun and experience, because Freek and his dad were in complete control. It was awesome sailing through places you've only seen from land. Your mode of transportation is pretty slow (12 km or 5 miles per hour maybe), but that also gives you ample time to look around and enjoy the view. Especially once the anxiety drifts away.

Our overnight stay in a harbour near Leiden was awesome. We drank some wine and whiskey, watched a show and had some food. I didn't sleep a lot that night, due to snoring, alcohol and the fact that three adults were confined to quite a small cabin, but it was an adventure.

After 1,5 days and in total sailing for 16 hours, we reached Amsterdam. With Freek and me both living there for 10+ years and Freek's dad working there, we had a really nice time reminiscing and telling each other cool facts about architecture. We called some of our friends that lives alongside the IJ, a Dutch canal, and they waved to us. It felt like we were coming home after weeks of adventure.

To get to Almere, we had to cross the Markermeer, and as it was my first time crossing a lake in semi-okay conditions, I also had my first real sea sickness experience. All part of the journey. We managed to sail Bolle into her box. She was home, we were home. This was the beginning of our big plan. But first we had to learn how to sail.

Buying Bolle

Trip down memory lane, buying our boat Bolle and our first steps into the sailing life.

1/7/20243 min read