The Zuider Zee may be the sole name that many adults recall from their elementary school study of The Netherlands. The exotic alliteration doubtless served to deposit it in our memory banks. Now the body of water that bore that persistent name has been separated from the North Sea by dikes. The shallow bay has been divided into several smaller lakes, called meren in Dutch. Now disconnected from the sea, the lakes contain fresh water. They no longer provide a habitat for the shoals of herring that sustained the fishing fleets of the Zuider Zee for centuries.
The Zuider Zee Museum is in Enkhuizen, a fishing village with a harbor that could accommodate our cruise ship. In the morning, we walked through streets of neat brick homes and shops. Bricks also formed the pavements and lined the tops of the dikes. Enkhuizen’s 17th Century buildings were meticulously tended and still in use. The Zuider Zee Museum was mostly outdoors, comprising much of the village, but Enkhuizen was not altogether quaint. Though the herring were no longer at their doorsteps, fishermen still plied their trade. Sailors mended nets while their fellow villagers smoked fish for sale to tourists. And there was a huge marina packed with so many private and rental sailboats that their masts looked like a stand of dry reeds. After lunch aboard the ship, we queued up at a ferry dock for a ride to the far end of the village. The air was warmer by then. After disembarking from the ferry dock, we covered as much of Enkhuizen village on foot as possible. We went into the indoor museum to look at antique sailboats and maritime artifacts, all displayed in an impressively modern facility. As we left at closing time, the rain resumed. It began falling heavily as we wound our way back to the dock and our dry quarters aboard the M/S Harmony.
I have been to some fairly remote places, and thus feel confident in deeming Enkhuizen a candidate for the title of The End of the World.
Some Dutch boats have wing-like leeboards to help them maneuver in canals and shallow bays.
As this herring smoker plied his trade, we watched him feed bits of fish to a sullen tricolor cat and to a heron that the man had nearly tamed.
There was a replica of Henry Hudson’s ship, The Half Moon (Haelve Moon), in Einkhuizen harbor. The Dutch sponsored Hudson’s voyages to North America, though the explorer was English.