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Kerr Barging Blogs

We have spent a fair bit of time cruising in the South Pacific aboard our 33 years young 11.1metre yacht, Pastime of Sydney. We are now cruising through the canals and rivers of France on our old barge, "Anja", which was built in the North of the Netherlands in 1903. Anja was 110 years old in May 2013 and we celebrated with good French Champagne- but the boat did not get any! In 2014, for Anja's 111th, we took her back to where she was built in the North of the Netherlands.
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Polders and Windmills

Since the 15th century, the Dutch have created "polders" through draining land and reclaiming it for residential, agricultural and industrial use. We have read that the land mass has been increased by 30%, originally by land- developers and more recently through Government projects.

The longest running Dutch court case was about just this issue: at first the owners of the land at the waterfront were deemed to own the land on which the in- fill took place. During his relatively brief time in power, Napoleon decided that the State would  in future be deemed the owner of the land and therefore all the proceeds. In 1844 the landowners won the case to assert some rights in this matter and a compromise was reached.

IMG 9361Windmill from approximately 150 years agoIn some cases a small amount of land has been filled in to make better use of it. In others the polder involves a very large area. We sailed through Flevoland, one of these most recent polders, over 40 kilometres long, 20 kilometres wide, where development began in the 1950s and continued well into the 1970s. It was made by pumping water out rather than making the level higher (except for the dykes all around). What a most amazing and huge engineering feat! The canals within Flevoland are 5 metres below the level of water outside the island, hence the 5 metre locks to enter and then to leave it. The water sits one metre below the land level so that the soil can be drained. Modern wind pumps and electric pumps are used to maintain the water level below sea level. They have put wind generators all over Flevoland and these generate enough electricity for one million people. We have yet to hear any noise even right up close. It is about time our own government woke up and properly exploited the power of the wind.

 IMG 9614Wind pumps and wind generators lining the shores of Flevoland

The waterways are in excellent condition and there are plenty of spots to stop and stay a few days. The canals are wooded with agricultural land predominating. Cycling is very easy because of the excellent cycle paths and the flat terrain. There are well- planned towns and excellent transport connections with such places as Amsterdam. When we read about it, it sounded rather artificial but in fact it is a very attractive and comfortable place to spend time.  

IMG 9629One of the canals on Flevoland- much more pleasant than we expected!

Of course the Dutch are famous for their windmills and there are many older windmills throughout the country, some still working or restored for demonstrations. We have also seen many wind turbines throughout the Netherlands and some farming properties and factories have installed their own turbine so that they are self-sufficient for power. One pole can produce enough electricity for several hundred homes.  However in recent years there has been a concerted effort to tap into this source of renewable energy which was judged the most appropriate for the Netherlands, and the two polders of Flevoland and Noordoostpolder (finished in 1942) have been chosen for intensive wind farms. The quiet, elegant turbines dot the landscape.
In 2010 the Netherlands was providing 4% of its power from renewable sources; it has committed to raising that to 16% by 2020, mainly through installing more wind turbines. The aim is to improve the Netherlands' levels of CO2 emissions per capita from a 2007 figure of 11.1 tons per person, above the EU average of 7.9 tons per person and 7th worst in the OECD. The sad comparison is that Australia at that time produced 18.8 tons per capita, third highest in the OECD (exceeded only by USA and Luxembourg). This was reduced by 2% by 2010, still a long way to go to fall in with OECD averages.


Best Regards,

Penny and Dave

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Taking Anja home!
Early perspectives- the Netherlands


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Wednesday, 12 June 2024

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