Excitement built on a dreary afternoon as we approached the Oranjesluizen. This was one of the larger lock systems we’ve traversed; four locks, side by side, that are primarily utilized for commercial traffic. Following the directional signs indicating ‘SPORT’ we tied to a waiting platform for a lift bridge that would raise on schedule to allow safe passage for our mast beneath the Zuiderzeeweg. Once through the lift bridge, again directed by ‘SPORT’ indication arrows, we entered the starboard-most Oranjesluis and were locked through into the River IJ. Steering clear of commercial ships entering and exiting the locks, we’d nearly reached our destination.Tucked away neatly behind the IJ River lies the tiny harbor of Sixhaven. Darting across the path of a ferry, Brian navigated across the river and into the very narrow entryway into Sixhaven. We selected a comfortable slip for Detour and made certain the dock lines were rigged well as this would be our final stop for the winter. Of course Detour could come and go freely, take a spin ’round the harbor or head out for a few days’ excursion, but it would be increasingly unlikely for us to set sail as the weather grows colder. A short man, neatly dressed in khakis and a Sixhaven windbreaker appeared at the dock. The Harbormaster. We’d corresponded with Hennie prior to our arrival to arrange a reservation. Hennie heartily greeted us and gave us the run-down about marina facilities; he’d settle up everything for our stay the following day. As I covered the mainsail that evening, how odd it seemed to have suddenly become a resident in a new neighborhood. We’ve visited and lingered at so many different neighborhoods, so many different countries for that matter, yet this new feeling of permanency struck me. It was the very first time we’d entered a harbor and known the duration of our stay.
The entrance to Sixhaven is labeled well, on approach from the IJ River. Here is a view looking out the entrance from inside the harbor; it is narrow, a slip between the concrete breakwater and the weeping willows. Once inside, the marina stretches back quite far – almost unbelievable how many boats are packed inside and it’s not full! Can you spot Detour? The city of Amsterdam is literally at our fingertips! Looking from our dock, the ferry is in view; a 5-minute walk and short, totally free ferry across the IJ River brings us directly to Centraal Station.Now for the perks (although the ferry to Amsterdam really sold it for us). Sixhaven has a harbormaster on-site; Hennie lives in a gorgeous sailing yacht. I’m told during peak, summertime season this tiny, bustling harbor has 15-harbormasters! The harbor is secure; it has video surveillance and a gated entry accessible via security code. Car parking and bicycle parking are available. All of the utilities are pay-per-use. Trash is included in our dock fees. A facilities card is used to pay for utilities (water, laundry, and showers) but electricity (6-amps available) is billed separately. A facilities card is purchased at an ATM-like machine for an initial cost of 3.50-euros and then a pre-paid balance is added to the card. When the balance runs low, simply recharge the card at the ATM-like machine. The toilet, shower, and laundry facilities at Sixhaven are brand spanking new! The absolute best part of dockside living is the availability of a washing machine and dryer…I’m not sure yet if the facilities card balance can keep up with my incessant laundry habits.And there’s still room left to play at Sixhaven.