Day Three: The Ferry to Holland 

On the third day, we hopped on an amazing ferry with the empeg gang and rode to Holland.

The next morning (Friday), Henrick Blake, another Empeg owner headed to the meet with a friend of his, picked us up at our hotel in Cambridge. Luggage was much less of a concern this time, as I'm pretty sure they put their luggage in someone else's car. :-)

We rode across the beautiful English countryside eastward to the coast, to Harwich harbor, where we boarded the most amazing ferry. It was huge, almost the size of a cruise liner.
The next morning (Friday), Henrick Blake, another Empeg owner headed to the meet with a friend of his, picked us up at our hotel in Cambridge. Luggage was much less of a concern this time, as I'm pretty sure they put their luggage in someone else's car. :-)



We rode across the beautiful English countryside eastward to the coast, to Harwich harbor, where we boarded the most amazing ferry. It was huge, almost the size of a cruise liner.

The ferry had two levels worth of car parks inside, and it was just immense. I think this photo starts to begin to capture the scale of the thing.

It's essentially a giant catamaran, with two smaller hulls in the water and a space between them.

If you dig around on the Stena web site, you can find some fascinating technical information about this ferry. It's billed as the largest and fastest ferry of its kind in the world.
The ferry had two levels worth of car parks inside, and it was just immense. I think this photo starts to begin to capture the scale of the thing.



It's essentially a giant catamaran, with two smaller hulls in the water and a space between them.



If you dig around on the Stena web site, you can find some fascinating technical information about this ferry. It's billed as the largest and fastest ferry of its kind in the world.

This is just one side (half) of one of the car park levels inside the ferry. And this isn't from the back of the room, either, there were a few more rows of cars behind us. My mind was just boggling at the size of this thing whose only purpose was to get cars across the channel from England to Holland.
This is just one side (half) of one of the car park levels inside the ferry. And this isn't from the back of the room, either, there were a few more rows of cars behind us. My mind was just boggling at the size of this thing whose only purpose was to get cars across the channel from England to Holland.

Farewell, England!
Farewell, England!

We're on the rear deck of the ferry, here, watching England recede in the distance.
We're on the rear deck of the ferry, here, watching England recede in the distance.

Another inbound ferry passes us, this one much smaller, and its car park isn't indoors.
Another inbound ferry passes us, this one much smaller, and its car park isn't indoors.

Mark Lord, besides being the 'Linux IDE Guy', and the author of the Hijack Kernel for the Empeg Car player, is also an avid photographer.

'Now THAT's a lens!'

I think that lens costs more than my car. It's got mechanical image stabilization, so when he let me look through it, I was able to zoom in and focus on some very distant objects and they were rock-steady in the viewfinder. Amazing.
Mark Lord, besides being the 'Linux IDE Guy', and the author of the Hijack Kernel for the Empeg Car player, is also an avid photographer.



'Now THAT's a lens!'



I think that lens costs more than my car. It's got mechanical image stabilization, so when he let me look through it, I was able to zoom in and focus on some very distant objects and they were rock-steady in the viewfinder. Amazing.

Mark's also into GPS in a big way. His handheld unit shows our ferry's route as a "road" running from England to Holland.
Mark's also into GPS in a big way. His handheld unit shows our ferry's route as a "road" running from England to Holland.

Looking down from the rear deck, you see the huge jets that propel the ferry. There's two on each hull of the catamaran. The nozzles are steerable, we could see them turning as the ferry maneuvered.
Looking down from the rear deck, you see the huge jets that propel the ferry. There's two on each hull of the catamaran. The nozzles are steerable, we could see them turning as the ferry maneuvered.

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The jets turning as the ferry executes a turn leaving Harwich harbor at low throttle.
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The jets turning as the ferry executes a turn leaving Harwich harbor at low throttle.

After we cleared the harbor, they cranked up the throttle and these jets shot out immense plumes of water. I don't know how far above the water the deck was, but it felt like a hundred feet, makeing the jets seem all that much more huge.

Mark's GPS confirms that we're doing about 45 knots, which is over 50 miles per hour. I didn't think anything that big could move that fast so effortlessly.
After we cleared the harbor, they cranked up the throttle and these jets shot out immense plumes of water. I don't know how far above the water the deck was, but it felt like a hundred feet, makeing the jets seem all that much more huge.



Mark's GPS confirms that we're doing about 45 knots, which is over 50 miles per hour. I didn't think anything that big could move that fast so effortlessly.

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The jets at full throttle on the open sea between England and Holland. The height challenged among us (Jenny, Rachel, and Hugo) must peek through the railing instead of over it like the rest of us. :-)
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The jets at full throttle on the open sea between England and Holland. The height challenged among us (Jenny, Rachel, and Hugo) must peek through the railing instead of over it like the rest of us. :-)

Okay, that's enough watching the propulsion system for now. Let's head inside the ferry.

It's huge, there's restaurants and pubs, and even a small gambling casino.

Here, we're in the forward part of the passenger deck, in the pub. Hugo and his girlfriend Claire are in the foreground. Hugo drove his Acura NSX onto the ferry. Brave guy. :-)
Okay, that's enough watching the propulsion system for now. Let's head inside the ferry.



It's huge, there's restaurants and pubs, and even a small gambling casino.



Here, we're in the forward part of the passenger deck, in the pub. Hugo and his girlfriend Claire are in the foreground. Hugo drove his Acura NSX onto the ferry. Brave guy. :-)

At the front of the ship, watching 100 miles of sea rush by. The big windows we're looking out of are the ones you can see on the front of the ship in this photo.

The pub is behind the camera, the gambling casino tables are in the area in the upper right corner of the picture. There's an entire middle section of the ship that's got movie theaters, a dance club, and restaurants... yes, including a McDonald's... where the shake machine was broken. :-(
At the front of the ship, watching 100 miles of sea rush by. The big windows we're looking out of are the ones you can see on the front of the ship in this photo.



The pub is behind the camera, the gambling casino tables are in the area in the upper right corner of the picture. There's an entire middle section of the ship that's got movie theaters, a dance club, and restaurants... yes, including a McDonald's... where the shake machine was broken. :-(

There was an entertainer onboard who did a variety/magic show for the kids up near the front windows. We let Rachel go off to watch, and sat chatting in the pub with the gang.

Next thing I know, Jenny is pointing over my shoulder saying, 'look at Rachel.'

It's funny, when you're there next to them, encouraging them to volunteer, they're shy. But turn your back on them for a second and the inner ham comes right out. :-)
There was an entertainer onboard who did a variety/magic show for the kids up near the front windows. We let Rachel go off to watch, and sat chatting in the pub with the gang.



Next thing I know, Jenny is pointing over my shoulder saying, 'look at Rachel.'



It's funny, when you're there next to them, encouraging them to volunteer, they're shy. But turn your back on them for a second and the inner ham comes right out. :-)

She actually got up and volunteered more than once during his act. She was clearly having loads of fun.
She actually got up and volunteered more than once during his act. She was clearly having loads of fun.

Hello Holland!

This is the Hook of Holland harbor area, viewed through the front windows as we approach it. The entire trip took about four hours, but that's counting all the slow stuff where we're puttering in and out of harbors and such like this. The main sea crossing was actually pretty quick.
Hello Holland!



This is the Hook of Holland harbor area, viewed through the front windows as we approach it. The entire trip took about four hours, but that's counting all the slow stuff where we're puttering in and out of harbors and such like this. The main sea crossing was actually pretty quick.

Once we got off the ferry and began driving to Amersfoort, I noticed that the tulips for which Holland is so famous are all grown in hothouses. Acres and acres of hothouses.
Once we got off the ferry and began driving to Amersfoort, I noticed that the tulips for which Holland is so famous are all grown in hothouses. Acres and acres of hothouses.

Something I'd never seen before... A vertical car showroom. Very clever! Yes, those are actually elevators in there that raise the cars up. 

A short distance down the road was another one, selling Smart Cars, which was cube-shaped.

Edit: The Smart Car tower is pictured in Rob Riccardelli's gallery here.

Darn, I didn't get any pictures of Smart Cars while I was in Europe. They were everywhere. Americans probably have no clue about these things. Tiny little two-seater cars, about the size of golf carts. I'm guessing they are very fuel-efficient, hence their popularity... which is understandable because gas is incredibly expensive in Europe. And yes, those things did drive on the motorways (in the slow lane only).
Something I'd never seen before... A vertical car showroom. Very clever! Yes, those are actually elevators in there that raise the cars up.



A short distance down the road was another one, selling Smart Cars, which was cube-shaped.



Edit: The Smart Car tower is pictured in Rob Riccardelli's gallery here.



Darn, I didn't get any pictures of Smart Cars while I was in Europe. They were everywhere. Americans probably have no clue about these things. Tiny little two-seater cars, about the size of golf carts. I'm guessing they are very fuel-efficient, hence their popularity... which is understandable because gas is incredibly expensive in Europe. And yes, those things did drive on the motorways (in the slow lane only).

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