ten – den haag – navigandum per hereditatem

The city

New day, new city. Today we left by train with our bikes from Amsterdam Central Station towards Den Haag. Holland’s third-largest city, Den Haag is a majestic and regal location, filled with sumptuous palaces, home to embassies and luxury residences, as well as boulevards and green parks. The Hague, whose official name is ‘s-Gravenhage (‘Count’s Hedge’), is the seat of the Dutch government and the residence of the royal family. It was also the country’s capital until 1806, when Louis Bonaparte established his government in Amsterdam. Eight years later, with the expulsion of the French, the government was again moved to The Hague, but Amsterdam retained the title of capital.

During the 20th century, the city became the seat of numerous international legal bodies, including the United Nations International Court of Justice, where important trials are regularly held that propel Den Haag into the headlines. The city is also home to all foreign embassies in the Netherlands, and is inhabited by a large community of foreign residents.

Welcome to the Europe House

Indeed, we are here because of institutional commitments. Since Gloria is an Ambassador of the European Climate Pact, we have been hosted at the Europe House, home of the Representation of the European Commission and the European Parliament Liaison in the Netherlands. Here we met the Coordinator of the House of Europe, Amber Scheele, to whom we presented Navigandum per hereditatem project and started discussing presenting our report. It would be the perfect place where to talk about our experience!

In addition to institutional activities, the House of Europe is an information point where you, as a citizen, can just walk in and see, in an interactive way, what the European Union can do for you. This is the place where you can learn about Europe. You can also stop by this meeting place and take away leaflets on all kinds of topics related to the European Union. There are also people ready to answer your questions. If you want to voice your own opinion, you can do that too at the House of Europe. Debates are organized, and the meeting and debate room can accommodate more than 100 visitors. Under certain conditions, civil society organizations can use this space free of charge.


After chatting with Amber and visiting the beautiful building, we had lunch in front of the ancient Parliament, the Binnenhof. The Binnenhof is a group of buildings located near to the Hofvijver lake in the heart of the city. Along with the Ministry of General Affairs and the office of the Dutch Prime Minister, it serves as a meeting venue for both chambers of the Netherlands’ States General. The Gothic fortress, which was mostly constructed in the 13th century, served as the counts of Holland’s primary residence before it was transformed into the political hub of the Dutch Republic in 1584. The top 100 Dutch heritage sites include it. The Binnenhof is one of the oldest still-in-use Parliament buildings in the world.


A full immersion into Dutch Art 

But it started raining little later, so we decided to enjoy the city visiting the famous Mauritshuis Museum, which is particularly known for its collection of paintings, which includes masterpieces by artists of the Dutch Golden Age-including Joannes Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Carel Fabritius, Jan Steen, and Paulus Potter-as well as other Dutch and European painters such as Hans Holbein the Younger, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens, and Anthony van Dick. The museum houses also the most well-known of Vermeer’s works, Girl with a Pearl Earring. It is a “tronie,” a painting of an imagined figure, rather than a portrait. Tronies often feature a specific kind or character, in this example a female dressed exotically with an oriental turban and a surrealistically big pearl dangling from her ear. Light was Johannes Vermeer’s specialty. The girl’s gentle features and the glimmers of light on her moist lips in this photograph demonstrate this. Of course there is also the brilliant pearl.


Visiting Mauritshuis, we also had a chance to look at Rembrandt’s amazing works. The Dutch Golden Age painter changed his style and techniques throughout his life. Among his first masterpieces, there is for sure The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp (1632). When Rembrandt was commissioned to create the portraits of the Amsterdam surgeons, he was only 25 years old. The doctors are shown in action by Rembrandt, and each of them is focused on a different object. The stark contrasts between light and dark give the scene more dynamism. The teenage artist showcased his renowned technique and his exceptional aptitude for painting lifelike portraits in this group portrait. 

Instead, if we look at the end of his life, we find a new expressive freedom. For instance, in Self Portrait (1669) it’s amazing how he painted the face with such forceful brushstrokes. Rembrandt suggests a real-life guy with his thick, almost model-like layers of paint. This is truly a work of art.

This collection of Dutch art permitted us to discover much more about the Holland style and cultural background. So, we concluded our day in Den Haag artistically fulfilled.

nine – amsterdam – navigandum per hereditatem

Picturesque canal network, rich history and thrumming cultural scene. Here we are in  the capital of the Netherlands: Amsterdam.

But before diving into the city, we had some technical duties to perform. Indeed, it is the perfect moment to replace the broken part of Tetide’s engine. A gentle man volunteering at the harbour helped us finding a mechanic expert. So, Gloria removed the part and then we went into this repair shop. They need to order a new gear; that’s why they asked for few days to fix everything. 

At the Monuments City Department

After taking care of our boat, we could deservedly enjoy the city. We ate our sandwiches with a gorgeous view on the canals, and then we reached the historic De Basel building where we have an appointment with the Monuments & Archaeology Department City of Amsterdam.

Beside the municipality activities, the building mainly acts as the Amsterdam City Archives, the world’s biggest city archive and, according to many, the most attractive. It features a library, vast audio, video, and photo archives, as well as a historical topographical collection with millions of maps, drawings, and images. Visitors can explore Amsterdam’s past to discover more about how the modern city was created. Additionally, the Archives host both transient and ongoing exhibitions and provide guided tours.

It was a magnificent place for a meeting. We have been welcomed by Inez Weyermans, project leader at Municipality of Amsterdam, Bureau Monuments & Archaeology. She mainly works for the Unesco heritage of the city: the canal belt.

The end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th centuries saw the construction of the historic urban ensemble known as the canal district of Amsterdam. It consists of a system of canals to the west and south of the ancient old town, the medieval harbor that encircled the old town, and the Singelgracht, which was moved interior along with the city’s defensive borders. It was a long-term project that required draining the swampland, building a network of canals in circular arcs, and filling in the empty places in between. These areas allowed for the growth of a uniform urban ensemble that included gabled homes and a number of monuments. The biggest and most uniform urban extension at the time. Up until the 19th century, it was used as a model for extensive town planning and was a source of inspiration for people all over the world.

Inez explained that the canal belt raises several issues which have to be handled by the Municipality. 

Firstly, she illustrated us the city’s attempt to involve the local community in their cultural heritage. Indeed, Inez underlined the need to increase the historical acknowledgment by the citizens and, especially, by the new generations. In order to reach this goal the Monuments & Archaeology Department together with Amsterdam Museums had developed an educational programme for all the Amsterdam’s schools. It provides for three lessons for 12 years old students: the first one is held at the De Basel building by a specialized teacher; in the second one children go around the canals by boat; the third one is a focus on the Holland colonization. This issue, indeed, has become increasingly important by virtue of the fact that the Golden Age obscures the nation’s colonial origins and is in some ways the story of the winners. In addition to hiding slavery, it also obscures overall poverty. Not everyone participated in the Golden Age, not at all. Promote wider inclusion of what you consider to be “Dutch” if you wish to safeguard a free and democratic system. People assume they are familiar with the Golden Age’s narrative if you mention it. What the traditional historiography fails to mention is that barely 1% of society was affected. People in Holland were suffering from poverty, there were ongoing internal battles, and slavery was also present. The current population of the Netherlands includes offspring from both the 99 percent and the 1 percent. That’s the reason why the UNESCO department wanted to include this lecture within the educational programme.  

Secondly, she told us all the difficulties in tackling the climate impact on the country. She explained that there is a programme office dealing with this topic and working in a cross sections way. For instance, they collaborate with the Monuments Department and with technicians to do maintenance of canals, bridges and banks. Drought and rising seas play a dramatic role in making matters worse. In particular,the municipality of Amsterdam seeks to take preventive action and has a heart fort the issue since the canal system has been a national heritage site since 1999.

At the De basel building we had the chance to meet also Annette ten Doeschate, the sustainable heritage coordinator of  the Spatial Quality Committee of Amsterdam Municipality. Among her activities, she works at the digital desk giving directions on heritage policies and simplifying the legal and technical frame for the citizens. The idea is to make more feasible private initiatives for the renovation of buildings, especially when citizens want to decrease environmental impact. Indeed, their wills often collide with public bans and complicated regulations. That situation mirrors the conflict between old heritage legislation and new guidelines for climate change. Thanks to her position, Annette can better understand what should be modified in the legal frame and what technical innovations the city needs. Indeed, she also communicates with the police making departement to make it aware. 

Moreover, her team had developed many instruments to facilitate pro-clima actions. For example, they mapped and classified all city’s buildings according to their possibility to install solar panels, according to their economical and cultural value, and according to many other criteries. Mapping makes administration more accessible!

Finally, we discuss with Inez and Annette the current impact of climate change on the city of Amsterdam. They told us that no physical signs are already noticeable. However, the Municipality wants to prevent problems with a good water management, investigations on future risks, and protection of the buildings most at risk. 

A real Amsterdam pub

This meeting has been incredibly interesting! So, we deserved some spare time at Caffe Hoppe. The Hoppe is one of Amsterdam’s best-known brown cafes. Located in the lively Joordaan district, this bar, which opened in 1670, offers a wide selection of local beers as well as traditional Dutch gin.

Café Hoppe has been located on the Spui since 1670. Hans van Mierlo laid the foundations of the liberal D’66 party here,and even our recently abdicated Queen Beatrix honored the café with a royal visit when she was still a young princess. 

Here we spent amazing time with our new friends we met some days before in Harlingen.

eight – enkhuizen-amsterdam – navigandum per hereditatem

The quiet of Enkhuizen is perfect to check the engine before leaving. We noticed that the engine transmission belt needed to be tightened. Therefore Gloria took her toolbox and tried to fix it. After many vain efforts, she did it !! 

Thanks to this completed mission, we were full of energy and ready to start our daily journey. 

matters of sailing

The sea was flat and there was no wind at all. Therefore, we decide to navigate without setting the sails. As soon as we left the harbour we passed through a new dike that was luckily already open. After that, we found ourselves in a magic atmosphere. All around us, the horizon line was dissolved and we could just see some light figures. 

We spent our navigation time eating grapes, dancing and singing ABBA’s songs! 

While boating, a stronger smell came out from aft. So, we started looking for what was wrong and finally, we discover there was a leakage of water in a part of the engine. After collecting some advice from a mechanic and Gloria’s expert dad, we decided to keep on and fix everything in Amsterdam, our daily destination.

At that time we started being super enthusiastic about our entrance into such a big city. We switched off the music e called all the city’s harbours to find a spot.  Luckily a cosy little harbour welcomed us. It is called “Sixhaven” and is located in the centre of Amsterdam on the river ‘IJ’ opposite the Central Railway Station. The Sixhaven is situated near the centre of Amsterdam, which can be reached by a short ferry trip. Once we moored the boat, our neighbours gave us a present two new life jackets. We felt so well received. 

first steps in amsterdam

Finally, we had a restful lunch on board and a little power nap just to be more energetic. Once rested, we rode our bikes and went around the neighbourhood called Noorderhof and located in Amsterdam’s Nieuw-West district, formerly Geuzenveld/Slotermeer district. The urban design was produced in the 1990s by the Berlin office of the Luxembourg architect Rob Krier and his partner Christoph Kohl in collaboration with the housing association Het Oosten and the city district. The construction of the district, which has 230 homes, started in 1995 and was completed in 1999. 

street art and installations

Another peculiarity of Noorderhof is street art. The neighbourhood is mostly a shipyard with a lot of vacant structures. It has developed over time into a cultural masterpiece for the city of Amsterdam and has a ton of beautiful graffiti art and even a museum. Some artists continue to reside in these structures or in defunct trams. Numerous well-known artists have completed various pieces here. Edward Boer, who is well-known for his container street art, is one of them. The iconic 24-meter-high mural of Anne Frank was created by Eduardo Kobra, another well-known street artist. Last but not least, there are a variety of other painters that are highly renowned for their murals, like David Walker, Logan Hicks, and Shepard Fairy.

Getting around, we have not only seen magnificent murals, but also new installations. For example, we came across the “Barrier Tape”. With this installation, SpY, the artist, transforms a ubiquitous urban object, which is frequently used to control people’s movement, into an intriguing work of art that invites viewers to engage with the installation. The interplay between the artwork and its natural surroundings is highlighted. Visitors can round and circle around the installation, which creates a large, constantly shifting surface. The ribbons, which are suspended on parallel strings and are driven by the wind, swing together as a single unit, producing a tremendous sea-like sound and a wave-like movement throughout the music.

It has been magic to go through it.

To conclude our day, we had a slow time chilling in pub Pllek with an outdoor area on the sea. Then we enjoyed the golden hour with a panoramic view!

seven – harlingen-dokkum – navigandum per hereditatem

The sun is up and the Dutch landscapes look gorgeous from the window of planes and trains on which Allegra is travelling to reach Gloria.

ready to sail

The journey from Milan to Harlingen lasted many hours, but still, we managed to be together at midday. 

Before leaving the Harlingen harbour, we had a coffee on board with three gentlemen just met on the dock. We immediately discovered to share many interests as demonstrated by their membership in Europa Nostra, the leading citizens’ movement to protect and celebrate Europe’s cultural and natural heritage. Europa Nostra is the voice of all who believe that cultural heritage is vital for our economy, our society, our culture, our environment, our well-being and for the future of Europe. Definitely, something we agree with!

So, after these fascinating chatting, we finally started sailing and set the sails. It has been Tetide’s first time and intense emotion for us. 

Unfortunately, we had some trouble in rolling the genoa: Gloria tried to fix it while Allegra was helming, but it was not possible to solve the problem. Nonetheless, we had to navigate only with the mainsail, we were in good mood. We were extremely happy to have started finally our travel and to be together again after a long time. 

the great dike

En route to Enkhuizen, we had to cross the biggest Holland dike.

The Afsluitdijk is a major dam and causeway in the Netherlands. It was built between 1927 and 1932, and it stretches 32 kilometres from Den Oever in North Holland province to the village of Zurich in Friesland province, with a width of 90 meters and an initial height of 7.25 meters above sea level.

We were so curious about such great engineering work that we explored a bit it’s history.   

Flooding was a possibility in the Zuiderzee region. Due to this, the Zuiderzee was already going to be sealed off in the 17th century. In 1892, engineer Cornelis Lely created his initial blueprint for the Afsluitdijk. The dyke was necessary to block off the water and lessen the likelihood of floods. The potential to establish additional agricultural polders with the land was made possible by the construction of the Afsluitdijk, which was advantageous for the economy and the food supply.

The dyke was not only historically interesting but also entertaining from the sailing perspective. Once we arrived in front of the dyke, we had to wait for the traffic light to become green. We were not alone: a lot of other boats were waiting with us. And as the dam has been opened, everyone went chaotically into it. It looked like rush hours in the city centre!

the ancient Enkhuizen

Then, we kept on sailing until Enkhuizen, where we arrived at 8 p.m. This little town welcomes us with a parade of typical tall ships at the entrance of the harbour. They are known as the “Holland Sail fleet” and are composed of a variety of faster clippers or traditional tjalks – a dutch type of barge with a flat bottom instead of a keel. Each ship has a unique layout allowing for different numbers to stay on board.

Luckily, we found a place in the harbour that allow us to see these boats during the golden hour! 

After appreciating this view, we have taken a tour of the town on our bikes. 

There are places in Enkhuizen where it appears as though time has stopped. The ambience of the XVII century is still present throughout the city. Indeed, Enkhuizen was one of the most prosperous cities in the Netherlands in the 17th century. It gained power and influence – together with the city of Hoorn – as a member of the Dutch East India Company.

Happily, numerous stunning fortifications and monuments have survived. For instance, we had the pleasure to have a drink in front of the beautiful “Drommedaris”. It is the southern entrance to the city of Enkhuizen. The building, which was originally on the Westfriesian dike was constructed as a fortification structure at the entrance to the Old Harbor. Later, the dike section close to the Drommedaris was removed to make room for the new harbour. The building’s ground floor chamber and the artillery cellar both date to 1540 and are parts of the original structure. Both rooms have cannon holes in niches along the walls where cannons that could cover the harbours formerly stood. A rib vault is present in the upper room. There was a structure with still-existing prison cells on the roof above the building.


The discovery of Enkhuizen has been the perfect ending for one of the longest days ever.

six – harlingen – navignadum per hereditatem

On my last day on my own, I woke up to quite a stressful realisation.


The Wadden Sea is one of the world’s largest tidal areas. The region stretches across three borders, from  Den Helder to Danish Esbjerg. The Wadden Sea is a one-of-a-kind see part of the UNESCO World Heritage. At least twice a day, the world changes. At one point, you come across a kilometre-long stretch of mud flats. The next thing you know, everything is submerged. The weather is frequently violent and difficult to predict. You must adapt if you want to survive. And it looks like Allegra and I will need to start our trip adapting as well. In fact, on top of the normal tide tomorrow Harlingen will experience another exceptional high tide from 10:20 to 14:40.

flat lands

Therefore tomorrow we will not be able to leave the harbour as soon as Allegra arrives around 12:30 as the two sluisen (dikes) will be closed in order to protect the city of Harlingen, its canals, and the whole countryside behind. In fact, the main characteristic of Dutch geography is the flatness of the land: about half of the territory is less than one metre above sea level and a substantial part (27% of the total area, where 21% of the population resides) is below sea level. The lowest point, 6.7 metres below sea level, is located near Rotterdam. The highest point, the Vaalserberg, has a height of 321 metres and is located in the southwest, at the convergence of the borders of the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Today, 65% of the Netherlands would be underwater without the system of dikes, sluices and canals that regulate its level: a cohabitation painstakingly built over two thousand years of complex relations between man and nature. A polder is a Dutch invention that changed the physiognomy of the Netherlands forever and has been used in various other parts of the world since. Polder is a Dutch word that originally denoted a plot of grassy land that emerged from shallow marshes, land of this kind, later reclaimed, reclaimed is now called polder. This is how the use of windmills developed, around the 17th century, which used the power of the wind to operate the pumps with which to draw water from the polders. To increase the land needed for agriculture and a growing population, the Dutch built bigger and bigger dams and canals. For the past sixty years, everyone has had their feet dry and agricultural land, nature reserves and housing areas have increased without harming the climate. If one compares two maps, one from the 14th century and the other from the present day, one realises that seventeen per cent of the country’s surface area has been claimed and obtained by water. After all, place names tell the story of centuries of Dutch engineering: ‘dam’ means dyke and the major cities have names associated with the first, ancient defence works. The Dutch have a unique bond with water, their best friend and most fearsome adversary. Economic prosperity has historically come along the waterways, a valuable element not only for trade but also for creating energy and for an agriculture that is now the world’s second-largest exporter after the United States. Water has, moreover, caused tragedies in the past, the last one in 1953. The flood came from the North Sea and eight thousand three hundred and sixty-one people died. The water swept away nine per cent of the cultivated area. 

outstanding protections

The Delta Works project defends the Netherlands from the enormous amount of freshwater they are crossed by and the salt water they are totally surrounded by. Thirteen large dykes have been built, together with sluices, tidal barriers, polders, and artificially dried land, most recently an entire province, Flevoland, in 1976. The Delta project, as far as large structures are concerned, was completed in 1997 and is characterised by its ability to give space to water when it is not dangerous. The work as a whole has been declared one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Such a high level of vigilance and protection is not improvised: the windmills, with their ability to pump water, are a symbol of the early efforts of the Dutch to protect themselves. The nineteen windmills built around 1740 near Dordrecht, in Kinderdijk, have been declared by Unesco as a common heritage site of outstanding universal value. The Zuiderzee, the gulf called the South Sea, was transformed into a lake in the last century: in 1918, civil engineer Cornelius Lely’s project was also approved after several floods, which put an end to the doubts of part of the public. 

necessary compromises 

All defence works are a compromise with nature: the dams allow, except in critical conditions, the normal flow and, in this way, clean water enters and polluted water leaves. The barriers have made room for large green areas: the Eastern Scheldt National Park has been carved out of dunes and sand and mud flats. Open dykes allow fish such as salmon or trout to migrate through special openings. More space is being created for some of the rivers to balance the impact of the works and also to create freshwater reserves that, it is estimated, will soon be precious. This is why the project involves the periodic flooding of some land considered indefensible and no longer inhabited. Living with water and even in water: a futuristic answer, but one that is very trendy, is the floating houses, usually, high-quality villas or duplexes, often designed by well-known architects, passive in terms of energy and super-technological in terms of equipment. The visual impact is remarkable. Indeed, environmental care, according to former Delta Works commissioner Peter Glas, must be taken responsibly, looking at the facts and listening to science. “We deal with, and prepare as best we can, even hypothetical scenarios. Even if the sea level were to rise by two metres.”


On top of that, in the North Sea, the currents are very strong and parallel to the coast. The sea is shallow and very flat, so much so that it looks like a continuum of land. The Wattenmeer (the sea between the coast and the Frisian Islands) has a depth of about 30 metres, while in the more central area of the North Sea it is about 200 metres deep. The Mediterranean Sea can be up to 4000 metres deep. The North Sea is therefore characterised by the large difference between the Flut (high) and Ebbe (low) tide. This major difference is due to the currents parallel to the coast and its shape. The tides depend on the attraction that the moon and the sun have on the earth. A lunar month lasts 28 days and is divided into four weeks in which the phases of the moon alternate: full moon, first quarter, new moon and last quarter. Each week the moon is in a different position in relation to the sun: there is a maximum tide in the full and new moon phases, i.e. when the moon and sun are aligned on the same axis. In this case, the vectors of the moon and sun add up and the tide is called a sigiziale. There is a minimum tide in the first and last quarter phases i.e. when the moon and sun are perpendicular and not on the same axis. 

why exceptional

Tomorrow we will not only have flut tide, but an exceptionally high one, a trend more and more common in the Netherlands because the sea level has risen by 12 to 20 centimetres between 1902 and 2010. The rate at which sea levels are rising has accelerated. It has risen twice as fast in recent years as it did in the twentieth century, at a rate of 4 to 5 millimetres per year. The rate at which the sea level is rising also continues to increment. The study “Effects of sea-level rise on tides and sediment dynamics in a Dutch tidal bay” demonstrated that sea-level rise (SLR) not only increases the risk of coastal flooding, but it also has the potential to change tidal regimes in estuaries and coastal bays. The study considered the impact of SLR on tidal dynamics in the adjacent North Sea. The findings show that compared to the nearby shelf sea, the bay experiences higher increases in tidal amplitude and stronger nonlinear tidal distortion as a result of SLR up to 2 meters. Tidal asymmetry during SLR up to 2 meters influences an essential part of sediment transport. The altered tidal asymmetry may result in increased export when merely taking into account sand bed-load transfer, which could have effects on coastline management.

As a result, I will simply need to leave Noorderhaven earlier in the morning and dock outside the dike on the incredibly high Waddenzee while waiting for Allegra’s arrival. Thankfully the harbourmaster will be my crew for a few minutes of support, and the Harlingen harbour authority will allow Tetide to dock right outside the dike, basically in front of the train station. Not too bad at the end of the day, but not thinking about the tangibility of climate change impact is impossible.

five – zwolle – navigandum per hereditatem

First train ride today, thrilling travel to Zwolle. 

After a morning dedicated to accounting and general boat maintenance, I got confirmation of a very sweet opportunity. 

fons’ support

Fons Janssen, the Coordinator of the European Climate Pact Ambassadors of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg was visiting Mello and offered to spend some time with me offering moral support and guidance in the beautiful city of Zwolle. Excited by the opportunity of being finally able to meet him in person after many calls online and emails I accepted. After having – as always – jumped on the train right before it left from Harlingen Haven I enjoyed a peaceful ride through the Frysian countryside. At my arrival in Zwolle Central Station, I had Fons waiting for me on the spoor (platform) and bringing energy as well as three much-appreciated gifts. The first one was a batch of free-range chicken eggs coming from his family farm Zorgboerderij de Haam, he also kindly brought me a black and white decorated red bandana, actually a farmer’s handkerchief, and finally a t-shirt of the European Climate Pact

the city

The ancient cities of the Hanseatic League have preserved to this day a culture unparalleled in Europe, from Germany to the Netherlands to the Scandinavian countries. Zwolle, in the Netherlands, is one of them. The current capital of the province of Overijssel, with 115,000 inhabitants, is located about 120 km from Amsterdam and very close to another Hanseatic city, Kampen. Zwolle is not a seaside town, as perhaps its history might suggest; the powerful German league chose it for its river connections: today the city is situated on the waters of the Zwarte, a small river that flows into the river Ijssel, but at one time this small hilly area was surrounded by three rivers (I]ssel, Vecht and Zwarte). The name Zwolle derives from Suolle (hill), which was given to the town immediately after its foundation, which took place in the year 800 by merchants from Friesland and the troops of Charlemagne. In 1294, the city became part of the League and thus in 1361 took part in the war against Valdemaro IV of Denmark. In medieval times and especially in the 15th century, the city flourished economically, thanks to the trade brought about by membership of the league; art and culture followed as usual. Many palaces built in the period – sadly still – known as the Golden Age can still be admired in the old town, bearing witness to a rich and prosperous history.

the visit

Immediately on a first visit, Zwolle appears as a lively city with many opportunities and a vital economy. Easily accessible by road, river and rail networks. Just north of the railway station, we find a bought medieval centre. Most of the ancient walls that once surrounded it have been demolished, but the defensive channel is still clearly outlined. Within walking distance of each other, one can find many old buildings and picturesque streets. Fons and I firstly enjoyed a coffee in Nieuwe Markt before a chill walking tour in the city centre. The first sight we observed was Grote Kerk which is located in the centre of the Grote Markt square and is also known as the Sint Michaëlskerk church. It is a large sandstone building and can be regarded as one of the most unfortunate churches in the country: it was struck by lightning three times in less than 150 years. Inside the church, there are some examples of Renaissance sculptures and an organ that dates back to 1721. The rest of the church is straightforward in style compared to other Dutch churches. The Hoofdwacht is a beautiful building attached to the Grote Kerk, built in 1614 and formerly used as the city’s guardhouse. Public executions were only carried out outside the Hoofdwacht. At the front of the building is an inscription with the text ‘Vigilate et Orate‘ (watch and pray), perhaps a warning when considering the terrible punishments once carried out here. One of the places we mostly enjoyed were the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady) located just outside the Ossemarkt, is an old Catholic church from 1399 with a difficult history. In 1580 it was closed to Protestants and was used for various purposes, was later returned to the Catholics and reopened in 1809. The structure has a neo-Gothic style and is adorned with an interesting tower known as ‘De Peperbus‘, one of the tallest church towers in the Netherlands. The Doopsgezinde Church, a large church located at Wolweverstraat 9, is one of several churches created by members of the ‘doopsgezinde Societeit’ (Mennonite Christians of l Anabaptist sentiments). The church was built in the early 17th century and was extended and renovated in the late 1800s. We walked by the Museum de Fundatie and its amazing round-tiled roof before getting back to the Sassenpoort: a Saxon gate from 1408 located at the end of the Sassenstraat. It was originally built to protect the southern entrance to the city and is the only surviving medieval gate. The brick building with five spires currently houses exhibitions on the history of the town and it represented the perfect background for a lovely institutional picture. 

dutch dinner

Find and I enjoyed an early dinner again in Nieuwe Markt during which we managed to better understand how we could cross our actions and he shared with me exciting plans for the European Climate Pact Ambassadors community. I caught the train back to Harlingen and had an early night. Already planning tomorrow and the preparations for Allegra’s and my new departure for Navigandum per hereditatem.   

four – harlingen – nph

   Good morning, good news.

Allegra confirms she will be joining Navigandum per Hereditatem as of Tuesday! She has recently graduated and was looking for something meaningful to devote her time to and she managed also to bridge it with her passion for sailing coming from her grandfather.

This information sparked new enthusiasm in me and I gathered the necessary energy to adjust the trip and make the best of this stay in Harlingen. 


The morning was devoted to replanning the whole trip as the days that will be spent in Harlingen will delay the sailing too much and will prevent us to be in Bruxelles and Bruges in time for our meetings. So instead of completing the whole itinerary by boat, we decided to leave the boat in Amsterdam and move around by train hoping to find hosts in the two Belgian cities we will visit. Afterwards, instead of sailing through Zeeland, we will sadly have to get back, but this way we managed to get some extra time to visit the Randstad. This is a large polycentric conurbation in the Netherlands that consists of seventeen towns connected by a mixed network of fully integrated road, rail, and river routes. We will also have extra time to visit Floriade thanks to the tickets sponsored by the City Council of Purmerend. The Floriade Expo 2022 is a celebration of green and sustainable technology that will take place in a park. At this living laboratory, guests will have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge innovations in the fields of greenery, food, energy, and health, as well as solutions developed by national and international innovators that make our cities more enjoyable, more beautiful, and more environmentally friendly.

the slave trade

I dedicated the afternoon to following again the itinerary on the slave trade traces in Harlingen, discovered by my friend and artist Fiver Locker and beautifully presented in the book Sporen van het slavernijverleden in Fryslân (“Traces of the slavery past in Fryslân”).  I already had the pleasure of discovering these hidden clues of the dark past of the not-so-Golden Age in this Frisian city when I guided a group of students and Professors participating to the Summer School on Minority Management for Social Justice of the University of GroningenCampus Fryslan

Fryslân is a traditional seafaring region. Many Frisian sailors braved the world’s seas, surviving the infamous scurvy or other diseases on board and in remote locations, while others succumbed to one of the many hardships. Their journeys in all directions were profitable, especially when trade in the Baltic and North Seas was extended to other continents at the end of the 16th century. The United East India Company (VOC), founded by the States General in 1602, and the West India Company (WIC), which followed in 1621, both played important roles in this. Both private commercial companies divided the overseas trade monopoly between ‘the East’ in the Asian region and ‘the West’ in the areas surrounding the Atlantic Ocean. The Dutch Republic’s Admiralties were also involved in this overseas trade, which they secured with the power of cannonballs and grenades. The occupation of areas outside Europe as part of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands’ Expansion Policy became associated with the slave trade and slavery. That was true both in Southeast Asia and in the Atlantic region. Harrowing histories of the transatlantic slave trade in West Africa, as well as plantation economies in Brazil and later the Caribbean, have long been known. We now know more about the Asian world’s slavery and forced labour, which Dutch administrators, planters, traders, clergy, and sailors used to relieve their own work and gain status. Slavery and colonial trade were inextricably linked from the 17th century until the 19th century. Friesland has never been an isolated region. On the contrary, the province developed into a dynamic centre of various markets, attracting many Frisians from the Baltic Seato the Wild Coast in South America, as well as those from Amsterdam, Cape Town, and Batavia, as well as Deshima, Japan. Approximately twenty-five thousand Frisian seamen and soldiers sailed and fought in the service of the VOC, the WIC, and the Admiralties during the 17th and 18th centuries. ‘Friesland had its own Amiralities department. Some interesting places to learn about Harlingen’s slave trade history include:

  1. The Frisian Admiralty was once housed in the restaurant ‘t Havenmantsje. We pass a brick monument to Admiral Tjerk Hiddes de Vries on our way from the train station to the centre, over the bridge from ‘t Havenmantsje (Sexbierum 1622-1666 Vlissingen).
    2. De Drie Roemers, a colonial-style grocery store;
    3. De Groenlandsvaarder, a tobacco shop in Voorstraat 37.
    4. No. 61 Voorstraat is the birthplace of author Simon Vestdijk.
    5. V(F)olkert van der Plaats & son’s bookshop and publishing house in Voorstraat to no. 67.
    6. The Hannemahuis, Harlingen Culture and History Center. After visiting the Hannemahuis in Voorstraat, proceed to no.54-56. 7. Frederik Schuman’s home in Brouwerstraat no. 10, the child of a freed slave and the slave owner.
    8. The abolitionist Rev. Voorhoeve and the performance of the American ‘negro singers’ at the Grote or Nieuwe Kerk. William Booth Street, on the other side of the canal, along the water at the Frankeneind, is the fourth street on the right, named after the British founder of the Salvation Army.
    9. The Groenewoud family left a substantial colonial inheritance to the Mennonite orphanage.
    10. The residence of fur weaver Harmsen and fur ship owner IJzenbeek. We then take a right along the water to numbers 69-71:
    11. Anna Casparrii Hotel-Restaurant in Noorderhaven 69-71, directly in front of Tetide’s berth.
    12. The warehouses Java and Sumatra at Noorderhaven 74 and 80, refer to trade between Harlingen and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia.

Harlingen ongeschut

In the evening I was surprised by people setting up stages, stands, and dance floors all over the city, and filling the inner-city canals with lights. I did not know I was stranded in Harlingen on the very day the city commemorates one of its most famous festival. Harlingen is not called de voorstad van Londen (“the suburb of London”) for nothing. The city has a bustling harbour, lovely canals, historic buildings, and several nostalgic bridges. Sailing gives you a completely different perspective on Harlingen than walking along the canals. Harlingen Ongeschut was unquestionably one of the highlights of the city folklore since 2012. More than 350 boats of various shapes and sizes responded to the invitation to take part in the new Harlinger event. It was a grand, pleasant, and festive cruise through Harlingen’s canals. A request has been made to all residents and ship owners along the route to install/hang a light point outside along the quay and/or in the trees, as well as to decorate the ships. This year, especially for this festival, the SAS, the gateway to the Wadden Sea, closes the inner locks, allowing you to enjoy a fantastic and one-of-a-kind round of Harlingen. ‘Harlingen Ongeschut’ is also accessible by foot or bicycle. Various musical and theatrical acts surprised me during the cruise, and I experienced the fairytale atmosphere on the water.

hoping for the best

I went back to Tetide full of energy after this day full of excitement. Still hoping that the Instagram outreach I made during the day to find someone willing to accompany me from Harlingen to Stavoren, or at least to Makkum, would have a positive outcome. Moving the boat a bit south would ensure that Allegra does not have to start her trip with long navigation and would give us more ease in reaching Amsterdam in time for our meetings.


three – harlingen -nph

We wake up, we pack, and we say bye.
Elena left in the morning to get back to Italy and she had a terrible 8 hours trip awaiting her because of strikes and delays.
I sat in my cabin contemplating Elena’s health, my options, and the feasibility of the trip but still decided to continue Navigandum per hereditatem.
The rest of the morning a part of the afternoon were devoted to cleaning up the boat and contacting every young sailor and heritage enthusiast possible, as well as trying to reach out to Elena’s contacts in the Netherlands hoping to find a travel companion for the following weeks.
Later in the afternoon, I decided to take the chance of visiting again Harlingen to discover more about its heritage, and I decided to start with the City Council Museum het Hannemahuis which I have never had the chance to explore. The Gemeentemuseum is located in the major street of the village and I only needed to walk a few minutes under the bluest sky I had seen in days.


After getting married to Liesbet Scheltema in 1744, the merchant Sjoerd Hannema moved into the house they had just purchased. He had a new front wall constructed. The right side of the building can still be identified by this bell gable. Another member of the Hannema family, Sjoerd Jacobus Hannema, was responsible for the construction of the left wing of the house in 1825. This wing featured a cornice. Leendert Jacobus Hannema was the last descendant of the Harlingen merchant family to live in this house. He was known as Jacobus. In 1957, he established a museum in a portion of his home that he owned. He passed away in 1964, leaving the house as a bequest to the city of Harlingen, which carried out the terms of the will by maintaining the museum in the residence. Objects that are closely related to the history and art history of Harlingen are collected and displayed. These objects include Harlinger tile and pottery, maritime objects, centuries-old paintings (such as Granida and Daifilo by Jacob Adriaensz Backer), photographs, silverware, various old documents, and furniture. In addition to that, there is a room named after Simon Vestdijk. In this section of the museum, in addition to a number of other items associated with the Harlingen-born author, visitors will have the opportunity to view his entire body of work in its first edition form.

on the visit

Entering the museum from the gift shop and passing into the original waiting room of the house suddenly made the reasons why I want to take this trip resurface. The meaningfulness of heritage sites and their impact on individuals and communities is invaluable, and the threat posed by climate change is real. Being Friday afternoon I did not manage to find a manager or senior employee of the Museum available to talk about its eventual adaptive strategies, therefore I simply enjoyed the visit.
The first room is devoted to the history of the city. Harlingen is one of the Friese elf steden, which are eleven cities in Friesland that received city rights in the 13th century and also serve as the name of the Elfstedentocht skating marathon. Harling is possibly the least Frisian of all of them, and few people speak Frisian as their native language. It is a charming little port town that became wealthy through fishing and trade. Numerous commercial boating routes continue to depart from here for Scandinavia and beyond. Some of the original fortifications, the canals, and a significant number of historic warehouses and mansions have withstood the test of time. Harlingen began to expand in the 12th century when monks from a nearby monastery dug canals to facilitate trade in the region. Harlingen was granted a city charter in 1234, as a result of the increased commerce. In contrast to the nearby university city of Franeker, the town remained of minor importance for several centuries. However, as the harbour expanded, so did Harlingen’s wealth and reputation. Today, the majority of shipping is associated with the transport of salt from the local salt factory, and the harbour (s) are the most vital part of the inner city. This information was displayed through physical historical artefacts and digital tools were accessible even to kids, sadly no English was available and it was the same for the whole exhibition.
After passing a beautiful garden containing statues by local artists, I reached the second room that was dedicated to a focus on the sailing traditions of the Netherlands and on their history in Harlingen. Skilled hands constructed ship models with fine ropes and miniature pulleys for both decoration and crew training. Shipowners also enjoyed having their vessels painted, preferably at sea with full sails. The ship portraits represent the owners’ pride. In addition to objects such as a figurehead and a foghorn, the maritime collection also contains stories such as that of Commander Klaas Hoekstra. According to his journal, he left for Greenland in 1825 in order to hunt whales. His brand-new galley ship shattered in the Arctic ice, but after a year filled with horrors, the crew returned to Harlingen despite being presumed long dead. Additionally, the merchant navy and admiralty are discussed, and sadly no information was available on the role of Harlingen in the slave trade.
Harlingen is the birthplace of the pottery industry in Friesland. This region has utilised the technique of tin glazing for over 400 years. The Hannemahuis provides an excellent representation of what Harlingen has produced in recent centuries, including loose tiles, tableaus, an earthenware colander with a harbour view, playful saying dishes, and much more. Harlingen was also one of the most significant centres in the Frisian silver tradition. I could see how much silversmiths had to offer in the silver room. Harlingen family Radsma served as “city clock players” for more than 250 years; they determined the daily rhythm in Harlingen. The museum’s clocks are true works of art: the dials are exquisitely crafted and painted, and the cabinets are glued with fine veneers, inlaid with flower and bird motifs, and topped by angels playing the trumpets.

gedachten aan zee

The Museum, in conjunction with the City Council, is undertaking the project known as “Thoughts of the Sea.” At the top of the Zuiderpier in Harlingen is where you will find the city’s post box. Hikers are encouraged to share their own personal reflections, poems, drawings, and love letters by posting them in the red container. Anyone who wishes can write down their “thoughts by the sea” and place them in the former PTT’s red letterbox to share their thoughts (anonymously). The mailbox is emptied once a week. The initial idea was to create an annual booklet filled with beautiful, unique, or amusing letterbox contributions, but now some can be seen in the exhibition, which features a large number of very personal messages that, at times, can be quite moving.
I was very touched by one contribution in particular which talks of the sea and how they see it changing not only daily basis or following the seasons, but how much harsher and more dangerous it became since they were a child.

Zee, zee, die elke dag verandert, als ik me omdraai en als ik terugkom.
Zee, zee, die verandert met de seizoenen je verspilt nooit tijd aan vrouwen en liedjes.
Zee, zee, stijgt en daalt wat is er met je bewuste ritme gebeurd?
Zee, zee, nu ben je hoger en hoger en sla je de dammen met een geschud ritme.
Zee, zee, verdwijnt soms en laat de kust kaal en droog achter.
Sinds ik een kind was, speelde ik en ik zag in jou een vriend om te respecteren, maar
oprecht, zee, nu herken ik jou en de veilige bronnen van het leven niet meer.
Zee, zee, wil je de haven binnengaan en de oudste relatie ter wereld vernietigen?
Ik zou misschien hetzelfde van ons moeten vragen, mannen die huilen wat je niet meer bent.

Sea, sea, which changes every day, when I turn around and when I come back.
Sea, sea, it changes with the seasons you never waste time on women and songs.
Sea, sea, rising and falling what happened to your conscious rhythm?
Sea, sea, now you’re higher and higher, hitting the dams with a shaken rhythm.
Sea, sea, sometimes disappears, leaving the coast bare and dry.
Since I was a child I played and I saw in you a friend to respect, but
sincere, sea, now I no longer recognize you and the safe springs of life.
Sea, sea, will you enter the harbour and destroy the oldest relationship in the world?
I should perhaps ask the same of us, men who cry what you are no longer.

good prospects

After the visit, I stayed a bit longer in the quiet library annexed to the museum working on notes and pictures from the previous day. In the meantime, I realized it rained and the sky was back to its deep grey. Walking back to Tetide and Mosè I received a positive message from a friend, Allegra Grillo, who was just looking for something to do after her gradu  ation in Law. She told me she would let me know, after having properly thought it over, if she would have joined me in Navigandum per hereditatem.

two – from dokkum to harlingen – nph

We left Dokkum having the sky crying insted of us this time. 

Planning to leave at 9, when the Altenabrug would open for the first time, we waited an extra half an hour hoping that the rain would calm down. Sadly we did not have any luck. 

Elena also woke up worried as she could not hear well from her right ear and so we started the second day of our trip with two weight, both mental and physical. 

The plan is to get to Harlingen as soon as possible considering the 6 hours and an half of navigation – still one less hour compared to yesterday – and to talk to local citizens on their perception of climate change and its impact on cultural heritage. The rain is so strong that it is almost painful when it hits your face as the wind gets quite strong too from time to time. With Elena being sick and relieving hard moments lived in the past, Gloria stays on the helm most of the time. 

on water and canals

Even if the rain is terribly annoying and soaked us despite many layers of technical cloathing, we are also quite relieved to be able to experience the “normal” Dutch climate. In fact, as of the month of August, the Netherlands has been declared to be in an official state of water shortage. Comuing from Lombardy, the Italian region of which Milan is capital and that hosts all major lakes – Como, Garda, Maggiore, and Iseo -, we are well familiar with water crisis. 

It may sound strange, but the nation of dikes, canals, rain, and reclaimed land is actually suffering from a lack of water. The effects of climate change are already being felt all over the world, including in the Netherlands, which is known for its abundant rainfall. A drought not only causes the amount of available fresh water to be lower than it should be, but it can also have an effect on the quality of the water that is used for drinking. Because there is less water flowing, there is a greater possibility that harmful bacteria will grow, which poses a threat to the quality of the water that is used for drinking. Another danger associated with drought is that salt water could begin to seep into the groundwater and the soil, which would present difficulties for agricultural practises in the Netherlands.

During times of crisis, new and often perplexing terms are coined, and it is not always easy to understand what they all signify. You have probably come across the phrase “drought phase 2” in recent times, and you are probably curious about what it means. To put it succinctly, it indicates that a crisis team has been assembled in order to deal with the situation. The group has been in charge of determining the destination of our extremely valuable fresh water. It has been four years since the last time that drought phase 2 was announced, so despite the fact that there is no need for panic, the situation should definitely be taken seriously.


Due to the lack of precipitation, dike walls have a greater risk of drying out and becoming unstable. Dikes are typically constructed out of peat. Specialized boats that pump water from the canals onto the embankments of smaller dikes made of peat and built primarily inland along canals and rivers are used to irrigate the embankments of these smaller dikes. Due to the fact that the country is expected to be plagued by droughts in 2018, 2019, and 2020, their use is becoming increasingly widespread. There has not been sufficient precipitation to adequately hydrate the levees and replenish the groundwater. It is against the law for farmers in the southern part of the Netherlands to use water from canals and rivers to irrigate their fields.

The Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management, Mark Harbers, has issued a plea to the general public “to give careful consideration to the question of whether they should wash their car or fill their inflatable swimming pool all the way up. The Netherlands is a country built on water, but water is also a precious resource in these parts.” According to what he had to say, “the water shortage is already having a negative effect on shipping and agriculture in particular”

The low water levels in the rivers and canals are making it difficult for barge traffic as well as the traffic of the smaller ferries. And we have been experiencing discomforts as well, even in these two short days of navigation. In fact the inland water infrastructre, part of the National Heritage of the Netherlands, works thanks to a very delicate balance between sea water, water coming from the dried lands, river water, and rain. When one of these key elements is missing the whole system is shaken and multiple actions of transferring water where needed are necessary. This causes sluisen (dams) to be operated more frequently making our trip longer as often they can be left open in water-balanced situations. Also the levels of the canals are sometimes unpredictable making the navigation more stressfull. 

Part of the cultural landscape of the Dutch countryside is the green layer of plants that grows on the surface of canals during the summer and that survives until the end of September normally. These plants thrives in warm still water, keep the temperature stable, and provide shade and shelter to local fauna. Because of the need to move water around and the lack of rain of this summer, we could not see these traditional green carpets on the canals and we fear for the already much anthropized ecosystem.

arriving in harlingen 

Tetide in Noorderhaven

Elena’s hearing got progressively worse during our trip and passing spiked canals of the capital city of Fryslan, Leeuwarden, we decided she needed to go to the hospital as soon as we would get to our destination. Soaking wet we managed to get to the outskirts of Harlingen around 4pm and we starte     d manouvering to get in the first harbor before the dike as we planned since the morning. Being the sluis doors open, the tide was too strong for Tetide engine to safely enter the small gate of the first harbor. We then decided to cross the sluis with a very strong favorable tide that pushed us at the crazy speed of 11 knots between the two tight 10-meters cement walls leaving us excited and a bit shaking. After almost half an hour we managed to enter the Noorderhaven and we docked next to another sailboat. The nice Dutch owners, together with other German boat-neighbors, helped us get Elena to a doctor. He prescribed her cortisol and suggested her to get back to Italy as soon as possible to get urgent care

Elena rested and planned her trip home while Gloria started looking for another person to continue the trip with. Both tired, worried for one-another, and for their commitment to the trip, we went to sleep hoping for better winds tomorrow.

one – from groningen to dokkum – nph

We untied Tetide from its berth. 

We cried a bit, we smiled a lot. 

The first bridge opened in front of the stern, the Reitdeip canal in front of us.

Groningen is behind already, and Dokkum very slowly approaching. 

In fact on Tetide sailboat, a C&C 34/36 from 1989, we have an average speed of 5 knots, 9,3 kilometres per hour. The right rate to take in all the Dutch landscape has to offer us. The first day was a good one. No rain, and little wind, which is always good when navigating a tight canal and you don’t want to get stuck on the muddy banks. 

The Retidiep canal leading from Groningen to the Lauwersmeer

It was also a good day for the most favourite hobby of sailors in Dutch canals: cow-watching. They are many, pacific, a bit annoyed by the sound of the low-consumption engine. They resort to looking at you with their lost gaze, and keep chewing their grass. In these moments you find yourself embarrassed by your own presence, willful to pet those big, calm eaters, and conscious of their terrible impact on the climate. Intrigued by our thoughts, we researched a bit of the facts while passing through the Lauwersmeer: the area where in ancient times, fresh and saltwater flowed into each other in the Lauwerszee. Fear of flooding led to the construction of a dam in 1969 when a beautiful new landscape arose on the former seabed, a real bird paradise and a National Park.

on cows

Flat, verdant fields dotted with horses, sheep, and the world-famous black-and-white cows would probably be what comes to mind when one imagines the countryside in the Netherlands. This is the image that most people have of the Netherlands. And there is some truth to each stereotype: there were an astounding 1.57 million cows in the Netherlands in 2021, which is almost one-tenth of the country’s human population. 

Despite the fact that agriculture is responsible for 16 per cent of the Netherlands’ total greenhouse gas emissions, the Netherlands are the second largest exporter of agricultural products in the world, behind only the United States. Methane is one of the most powerful greenhouse gases, and cows’ digestive systems are a major source of methane emissions. In the Netherlands, livestock farming is one of the primary contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases; as a result, climate change poses a threat to the low-lying fields in the country. In addition to this, livestock produces manure, which, when combined with urine, results in the release of ammonia, a compound containing nitrogen. An excessive amount of nitrogen can cause damage to sensitive natural habitats if it enters lakes and streams via farm runoff. For instance, it can encourage algae blooms, which can reduce the amount of oxygen present in surface waters.

The Netherlands has been dealing with what it refers to as a “nitrogen crisis” ever since the highest administrative court in the country found in 2019 that the Dutch government was in violation of EU law by not doing enough to reduce the amount of excess nitrogen that was present in sensitive natural areas. To reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere, the daytime speed limit on highways has been lowered to 100 kilometres per hour, gas-guzzling construction projects have been halted, and a new law requires that 50 per cent of protected natural areas have healthy nitrogen levels by the year 2030.

Now, civil servants working in the ministry of finance and agriculture have drafted proposals, one of which includes reducing the number of livestock by 30 per cent. This plan is one of the most radical of its kind in Europe. Farmers in the Netherlands are finding themselves cornered by the government, which is giving them the ultimatum that they must either make their farms more friendly to the environment or find new employment elsewhere. Some farmers could be forced to sell their emissions rights and possibly even their land to the state under two different scenarios that have been proposed.


Zoutkamp from Tetide

To be expected from the Dutch, who always manage to disrupt the established order of things. They had the ingenuity to construct a network of dikes and canals several hundred years ago so that they could live on land that would have otherwise been inundated by flood waters. This allowed them to continue to exist in the area. The Netherlands are also responsible for the conception of sustainable cell-cultured meat; the leading start-up company, Mosa Meat, has its headquarters in Maastricht, which is located a train ride’s distance southeast of Rotterdam. And now in the middle of Rotterdam’s Merwehaven port, where ships used to dock, there now stands a floating dairy farm: a three-story facility spanning 1,800 square metres, the farm has been open since May and is currently home to 35 cows as well as 4 calves that were recently born.

Food production that takes place closer to where consumers live and that is done in a “climate-adaptive way” is what the owners of this property hope to highlight with its unusual setting, which stands in stark contrast to the typical landscape of rolling green hills. These cows are a part of an experiment being conducted in the Netherlands to rethink the way in which cities are supplied with dairy products while simultaneously promoting a more sustainable food cycle. The cows are fed the grass that has been removed from nearby soccer fields, the potato peels that have been discarded by businesses that make french fries, and the leftover bran that has been removed from nearby windmills. Electric cars are used to collect these resources and transport them to The Floating Farm where they are used.

We are not sure this is a solution that will be able to solve the impact that livestock has on the Dutch climate and waterways, therefore threatening the cultural heritage that is always directly connected or touched by water, nor that it will allow the cultural landscape and traditional activity of raising cows. But it surely represents a laudable initiative of adaptation. 


Berth in Dokkum

Continuing our navigation we left the province of Groningen and entered Fryslân – or Friesland, in Dutch-, the northwest province of the Netherlands that maintains a unique culture and pride. From their language, endangered but spoken and learned in school by many, to their versions of traditional food, and their immense sailing skills and history. The Wadden Sea, part of the World Heritage, can be found along its borders and completely encircling its barrier islands. In the summer, the province is known for its famous skûtsjes sailboats, which cruise along the province’s lakes and canals. In the winter, the province is known for its Frisian skaters, who take to the ice with their hands clasped behind their backs.

We finally got to the lovely city of Dokkum on the canals that maintain the star shape typical of the defence system of the 16th century and we docked right under the Zeldenrust, a smock mill. We enjoyed a walk in the beautifully preserved town centre and we celebrated our first reached goal with a cold beer immediately followed by some hot tea.