The Port of Rotterdam is the largest in Europe, over 40 km long with nearly 150,000 vessels passing through each year. Among those are the England-bound ferries that leave Europoort on the southern side of the main river channels. There isn’t much out there, lots of gas refineries and storage tanks, windfarms, rail and coal yards.
I was almost late arriving, having misunderstood that Hoek van Holland was actually on the north side of the port. After a full day at Keukenhof Gardens and with an overnight ferry ride ahead, I thought that avondeten and a bierje would be nice ahead of boarding.
But it was 90 minutes until boarding as the bittergarnituur arrived, washed down with a watery Jupiter.
Then, the 50 km drive around the haven to the ferry docks. Fortunately, traffic was light on a Sunday evening; I tucked the car into the hold with 15 minutes to spare.
The sundeck gave the best views of preparations for sailing as the sun set behind the refineries to the west. As closely as the Dutch watch the river’s flow in rainy seasons, the British study the seamanship of the dockmen and deck crew. I think it’s in the national character: there are always folks having a beer at the rai, discussing wind and tide, pointing out the best way to edge the stern away, and shaking their heads over the use of thrusters.
The Pride of Hull towers over ten stories above the water, its 104 ft beam and 705 ft length half-filling a standard Manhattan city block (264 x 900 ft). For me, it’ still amazing how delicately the crew handles such a huge, ungainly craft.
At sunset, 8:30 pm, we turned into the long-square channel leading to the North Sea. It was windy and cold, but really incredible views of the Port: I lingered on deck to work on my landscape photos (maybe someday to get back to my charcoal renderings).