The Netherlands has a new King… and ‘Free’ is still here!
Well in the former case, The Queen has abdicated in favour of her son Wilhelm-Alexander and Amsterdam went ‘orange mental’! In the latter, my British Small ships registration ran out and finds me stranded still in the Netherlands…
Carro and I decided to cycle down to Ijplein to have a look at the festivities as it was impossible to cross the Ij into the main city. The whole area was awash with orange silliness…. delightful! Music, vomit, laughter, drunkeness and noise, were all in abundance as the ‘Oranje’ went mental!
So why am I still here?
Quite simply, my British small ships registration has expired leaving me illegal and fodder for every ‘little Hitler’ from here to Hamburg. If I am boarded before the Baltic, there may be a hefty, unpayable fine levied on me resulting on a possible confiscation of my beloved ‘Free’.
At this point one may enquire… “Why don’t you just renew it?”
A reasonable, obvious question; however, we are not dealing with sensible, intelligent folk such as yourselves. No, we are dealing with the famous ‘Computer says no’, category of British pen-pushing official. Having sailed for five years under the register, I was informed that I had to live in the UK for half of the year with a utility bill as proof. No amount of mitigation, could melt the icy, bitter little pen-pusher behind the phone, so many miles away.
So… a warning to all you mariners of the live-aboard variety. The vice is tightening for our small ever dwindling group of free spirits. We are a dying species in a world where rising mooring fees and heavy-handed officialdom are growing, even as I write.
Please do not think that they won’t come for you eventually, dear reader. One day we are going to wake up in a world where only the rich can afford to travel, having our freedom squeezed out of us… Condemned to a life of apathetic slavery.
There is still some fight left in this Viking though… And help has come from the Swedish Cruising Association and their fine club: Svenska Kryssarklubben.
Danne and Carro have given me some great advice about the Baltic in general and Sweden, specifically. They threw me a lifeline by informing me that I may be able to sail under their protection by joining them and receiving a Certificate of Registration. This is apparently, ‘Computer says no’ proof! After talking to the friendly and delightful Anneli Ekholm over the phone, I was able to register and now am waiting for the arrival of my new documents.
As I await my new documents, final preparations to ‘Free’ have been made, including sailing in the Markermeer to Monnikendam and Muiden. ‘Free’ is sailing well and my engine ‘Polly’ is running smoothly thus far. I have done as much as a girl can do to promote the seaworthiness of my steadfast little motorsailer…
Now it is up to the Gods…