Noordoost Polder - Urk
When we were ready to leave Flevoland the weather looked a bit changeable so it was decided to go through the lock into the Ketelmeer and check out the wind and waves. Russel and Penny were with us and we wanted to go to Urk which was originally a small island 15 k from the coast in the Zuider Zee. When the Noordoost Polder was completed Urk and another island, Schokland ceased to be islands.
Cruising conditions on the Ketelmeer were OK so we continued onto the bridge and poked our bow out into the Ijsselmeer. Kevin would take Courlis anywhere but I am the one who quakes if the waves are too big. What a relief the sea looked reasonable so we cruised over to Urk.
Urk’s written history goes back to 966. The island was about 200 acres in size, the town built on a boulder clay hill covered about 30 acres and was high enough to weather the storms. The rest of the island was often prey to the raging waves.
These photos from the museum show Urk before and after a storm in the early days when it was an island, it certainly was prey to the waves.
We got a mooring on the wall of the town harbour which was really good as we could see everything going on around us.
The light house was built on the highest point of the old town and surrounded by houses.
Urk is still an important fishing town with a large fleet of boats. The trawlers fish in the North Sea for the fish processing canneries and export businesses in town.
Another fleet fishes the Ijselmeer, the main catch, eels, are brought to the harbour side and auctioned daily for the restaurant trade. Paling which is smoked eel can be bought from restaurants and streetside markets all over Holland.
We had an interesting time at the auction watching the weighing of the eels as they were brought in by the fishermen from boats lining the quay and then the auction itself.
They come in various sizes and amounts.
The fishermen bring the eels in tubs to be weighed ready for the auction
The auction is computerised on a large screen showing the ship’s name and weight and size of eels in each tub.
Once the weighing has taken place the buyers go into the auction room ready for action. The fishermen go in to see what their catch gets at auction and then if there is room the tourists get to squeeze in.
The auction starts the same as we call a dutch auction( now I know where that term comes from) starting at a high price and going down until one of the buyers presses his button to buy the catch. The buyers are very secretive with the bidding button under the desk.
Of course that night we went with Penny and Russel for dinner to a seafood restaurant on the harbour.
Later when Ray and Beth arrived in Meppel to spend a week with us we went by bus to Urk to show them the town and the eel auction.
We walked out to the lighthouse which was open for visitors that day and got some good photos of the town looking down on the beach, the port and the houses still on the original hill.
On our walk along the Ijsselmeer we came to this monument. It was in rememberance of approx 300 people drowned on Urk in storms and fishermen lost at sea. The figure is a woman waiting for the ships to come back to port. It must have been a very hard life in small wooden boats fishing so far from land. There are names from 1717 to 2007. While writing this we heard that a man had been lost overboard on the Ijsselmeer.
We left Urk with Russel and Penny and cruised across the canals on the Noordoost Polder to where it was joined to the original Zuideree coastline of the Province of Overijssel. From here we cruised across part of the Zwarte Meer or Black Lake which was named for the very black water which came from the peat bottom to Zwartesluis where we stayed for the night.
then onto Meppel where they are leaving their boat for the winter.