Cruise on the western islands of Amsterdam

Cruise to Western Islands

Cruise on the western islands of Amsterdam

Duration: 1.5 hours Lowest bridge no. 161 Singelgracht: 1.33 m +NAP Source: The Amsterdam sailing guide Back to all cruises This cruise leads from the starting point of café ‘t Smalle in the Jordaan, via the Westerdok to the Western Islands: Bickerseiland, Realeneiland and Prinseneiland. These islands were of great importance to Dutch shipping, especially in the Golden Age. While the Eastern Islands were used for shipbuilding, the Western Islands mainly served as goods storage. While sailing you will see that a very large part of the warehouses, also called nails (derived from spiker: breadbasket), have been preserved. The canal belt has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since August 2010.  Cruise on the western islands of AmsterdamWarehouses are important business monuments. There is no city in Europe with such a large collection of such monuments as Amsterdam, which was the staple market of the world in the seventeenth century. Almost all goods traded globally were stored in Amsterdam warehouses. Until about 1600, goods were stored in attics in the merchant’s home. As trade became more important, the need for storage space increased. In the early seventeenth century, warehouses were therefore built on a large scale with characteristic designs: narrow, deep and high.

We sail from café ‘t Smalle in a northerly direction. Under bridge no. 124 we turn to port. We are now sailing on the Prinsengracht. We sail under bridge no. 60.

There are two cafés on the starboard side: the Vergulde Gaeper and the Twee Prinsen. Both are worth a visit with their spacious terraces. Further on on the port side we see the Noorderkerk. The wooden roof and the graceful turret are a fine example of carpentry. There was originally a cemetery around the church, but it was closed in 1688.

We now arrive at the Eenhoornsluis, which connects the Westerdok with the center.

Be careful, at this point more tour boats often enter the center one after the other. They don’t budge!

After passing the locks, we sail into the Westerdok.

Two centuries ago, there were no technical means to prevent a port from silting up. The Oosterdok and the Westerdok were constructed at the beginning of the nineteenth century to prevent the port from silting up and thus ensure sufficient draft for shipping. On the port side are the three Western Islands. The first island is Bickerseiland, named after Jan Bicker. The shipbuilder, merchant, alderman (city manager) and mayor, bought the island in 1631 and had a house built there with a high tower to keep an eye on his ships. The tower also served as a landmark for arriving ships. The street names on Bickerseiland, such as Touwslagerstraat, Zeilmakerstraat and Blokmakerstraat, give a good idea of the trade and industry of the time. We pass the Realengracht, a transverse canal that separates Bickerseiland and Prinseneiland from the more distant Realeneiland. We leave the Realengracht for what it is and sail straight ahead.  Cruise on the western islands of AmsterdamRealen Island is named after the ship Reynier Reaal. At the beginning of the seventeenth century it took considerable effort to fill this island with companies. Initially, the municipality focused on herring packers. When this was not exactly a boom, attention shifted to carpentry yards and shipbuilders. On the port side we see the Zandhoek and Realeneiland Marina on Realeneiland. Zandhoek owes its name to the sand barges that in Amsterdam were only allowed to moor here to load and unload sand, which was used to fill building land. De Zandhoek has one of the most beautiful rows of facades in Amsterdam. These buildings were saved from demolition in the early 1940s and are now among the most coveted homes in Amsterdam.

We leave port on the Zoutkeetsgracht.

On the starboard side we see a colossal baking deck cruiser named Nimphaea. Until the Second World War, the Nymphaea served as a private yacht for Albert Goudriaan and his family. From its permanent berth, the Veerhaven in Rotterdam, the ship made many weekend and holiday trips to, among others, Zeeland (Veere), the Wadden Islands and the Baltic Sea. Albert Goudriaan kept an accurate account of these journeys in various, fortunately preserved, logbooks. Further on on the port side is the Bierenbroodspot yard, where ships up to 22 meters can be sloped under cover for maintenance.

We turn port in front of bridge no. 318 onto the Smalle Padsgracht.

On the port side we see fifty meters deep, former wine warehouses of Paarlberg and Levie. These buildings go by the names Potaschvat, Luik, Aleida and Gerrit.

Past these warehouses we turn to port onto the Realengracht.

Cruise on the western islands of AmsterdamWe are now sailing under the Drieharingen Bridge. This connects Realeneiland with Prinseneiland and owes its name to the first house on the island with De Drie Herring hanging above the door. Ans Markus sales workshop is located on the starboard side. “I paint women who want to be free,” she once said about her own work. If you are free, a visit to its permanent exhibition space is well worth it. Visiting groups of up to approximately 100 people can be received by boat via the Ans Markus Steiger.

After passing the bridge we sail starboard out of the Bickersgracht. On the starboard side is Prinseneiland.

The buildings on Prinseneiland mainly consist of warehouses. This warehouse island is named after a house with an image on the gable stone of Prince William of Orange together with his two sons Maurits and Frederik Hendrik. By the way, this house has disappeared.

We are now sailing under the Gallows Bridge that connects Bickerseiland with Prinseneiland.

Galgenstraat is an extension of this bridge. The bridge and the street owe their name to the view that people used to have here of the Volewijk in Amsterdam North. Here the execution gallows were set up for the ‘education and entertainment’ of the people. For many a witch, thief or murderer, the city council literally made this a major issue.

We continue our journey and follow the waterway towards starboard, parallel to the so-called ‘between the arches’ under the railway. At the end we turn starboard from the Prinseneilandsgracht.

On the port side we see the New Tar Gardens. The name is derived from the many tar cookeries that were located here in the past. On the starboard bank we see a beautiful row of warehouses with striking names such as Teerpon, Kaphout and Koornschuur.

We sail past the Teertuinen again through the Smallepadsgracht. We go port side out of bridge no. 318, under bridge no. 318. Once we have passed the bridge, we sail port side from the Westerkanaal.

We pass the Westerkeersluis (for opening times, see Sailing Details) and see the Haarlemmerpoort on the port side. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, measures were taken to curb the increasing carriage traffic. A driving ban was even issued for carriages from outside the city. They had to remain at wagon squares outside the city. The Haarlemmerplein was one of the results of the then parking policy. We pass bridge no. 151 and sail straight ahead onto the Singelgracht. Before bridge no. 155 we keep to port side and follow the Singelgracht. Like the Weteringschans, the Marnixstraat, located behind the Singelgracht, was originally part of the seventeenth century defense belt around the city. The belt consisted of a defensive moat (the current Singelgracht), a stone-clad earthen wall and an inner moat (the current Lijnbaansgracht). From Realeneiland in the northwest to the island of Oostenburg in the northeast of the city, twenty-six bastions and eight gates were included in the ramparts.

We continue straight ahead and pass bridge no. 161. Be careful: low bridge, 1.33 m +NAP!

After passing bridge no. 165, we immediately turn port. On the starboard side is the Raampoort Police Station. The building dates from 1888 and was designed by the architects De Greef and Springer, who were also the spiritual parents of the Blauwbrug over the Amstel. From the water, the building resembles a medieval fortress or castle.

We sail under the Marnixstraat and immediately turn port from bridge no. 118. We are now sailing on the Lijnbaansgracht.

The Lijnbaansgracht owes its name to the many rope makers (lijnbanen) that were located here in the past.

We turn starboard under bridge no. 127 through the Egelantiersgracht in the direction of our starting point café ‘t Smalle.

If you have time to spare, it is worthwhile to visit the Sint Andrieshofje (Egelantiersgracht 105-141). The Sint Andrieshofje is, after the Begijnhof, the oldest existing courtyard in Amsterdam. In 1614, the wealthy, unmarried livestock farmer Ivo Gerritsz. it was determined in his will that his estate should be spent on an almshouse, for ‘assuming honorable poor persons’. So it happened. The courtyard was built in 1617 and provided shelter for destitute Roman Catholic widows.