A day on the water


Today is the day. Hein has had a folder for a tour on a whisper boat for over a year, but nothing ever came of it. But now is the time, a beautiful Sunday in September. We meet our friends at the boat’s mooring place. It’s a big vessel, enough space for eight people. Before we left, I, being the optimist I am, had not thought of how to actually get into the boat. Now that I’m here though, anxiety creeps up on me again. Shakily I manage to get in the boat. I spend the rest of the trip sitting down.

Even before we’ve left the harbour, Floor wants to jump into the water. We manage to keep her from jumping for a little while. After half an hour, we dig into our first treat: cheesecake. We’ve brought a whole suitcase of provisions; sandwiches, cheese, eggs, salad, chicken drumsticks, grapes, crisps, toast, beer, coffee and wine. Apparently we’re not the only ones. All of the boats we see along the way are marked by consumption. Cans of beer are cracked open and wine is served in cups from bottles and coolers. The Netherlands on a day off.

The kids are having the time of their lives. There’s a small compartiment in the bow of the boat that fits four people. The little trap door leading to it opens and closes a hundred times. They play out scenes from Titanic on the bow. They swim behind the boat, being dragged along on a length of rope. The bridges we pass have to be raised manually, so before you know it there’s a huge commotion on the bow of the ship, because everyone wants to help raise the bridge. Only our friend, the captain, stays at his post. Everytime they disembark, the mooring is completely ignored, to our captain’s annoyance. Every bridge is a different beast, a new adventure.

Our whisper boat gets overtaken on all sides by motor boats, so the advantages of having a quiet vessel are few. In one of the very few waterways where motor boats are prohibited, we immediately spot a bird of prey above us. The kids understand that this is something especially reserved for quiet boats.

We lose a mooring rope, which Floor is more than willing to bring back to the surface. We almost get stuck somewhere. The gentlemen among us decide to “release” a day of cola and beer overboard. This day is exactly what a day on the water should be like.

September 1999
Jeanet van der Vlist