The Sailing Club's Adventure in the Netherlands

In June 2001, 15 members of The Sailing Club participated in a trip to the Netherlands. We chartered 3 Dehler sailboats and spent 10 days exploring the waters of what used to be the Zuiderzee.

Most folks arrived on Saturday. There was some concern about provisioning and crowds, since our first weekend was part of a three-day holiday. It turned out there was a grocery in the airport, so we actually provisioned for 4 days at the airport. A van picked us up at the airport, so not only did we provision, but the van took us and our groceries right to the boat! From the airport, we first stopped in Amsterdam to pick up folks who had arrived early to tour Amsterdam before the sail. After picking them up, we headed to Monnickendam, which is about 20 miles north of Amsterdam, where we boarded the boats. The boats were in excellent condition. We had 3 Dehlers (similar to Beneteaus), two were 39ft long and one was 41ft long. All drawing 1.95 meters (about 6feet 6inches).

The wind was howling, and the jet-lag overwhelming, so we did a little more provisioning, ate in town, and slept on the boats. The next day the wind continued to howl, and we had some periods of rain, but we decided to get underway. Out of the harbor, it was blowing a steady 30kts, with gusts over 40kts. The boats handled well, but we couldn't find a sail combination that would work, so we just motored to Enkhuizen. Enkhuizen has a museum very similar to Mystic Seaport, so we decided to spend the next day in Enkhuizen visiting the Museum, which was well worth the visit.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, that to get to Enkhuizen we had to go through our first lock. Going through a crowded lock with 30+kts of wind was an exciting, learning experience. Getting lines on quickly is a very good idea.

After reading through the cruising guide, watching other boats, and asking the locals, we figured out the signals and the fact that commercial vessels, including classic boats had the right-of-way. The fact that the weather was less than ideal, proved good for us, as there was never much of a wait at any of the locks we used.

One of the first things you notice when sailing in this area is the number of classic boats that are still actively sailed. Everywhere we went, there were beautifully preserved vessels underway. These boats are ideally suited for this area, with their leeboards, which can be raised when sailing in shallow waters. It was a pleasure to watch these vessels expertly handled.

After staying over the night after visiting the Zuiderzee Museum, we left Enkhuizen and headed offshore. This meant locking out of the Ijsselmeer and heading into the North Sea. Well not exactly, since we were heading to a barrier island called Texel, which separates the Netherlands from the North Sea.

The wind continued to blow, now hovering around 20kts, and the weather was clear and gorgeous. Dehlers are pretty racy boats. They are tender, but they are also fast. This made 6kts-8kts a fairly regular occurrence, so we zipped by many a boat. After the sail, we toured Texel, which was the birthplace of Willem Barents, and had a nice maritime museum. The next day we sailed through the sands behind the barrier islands to another island called Terschelling. We had a great sail, again good winds, nice weather. Of course monuments such as this one - to fishermen who didn't return - are sober reminders that we who can pick and choose which days we sail, and which we don't have much to be thankful for.

Unfortunately, for the following day, they were predicting increased winds, so we decided to spend the day on Terschelling. Actually, some folks took the ferry to Harlingen, since they felt they had exhausted the possibilities of Terschelling. The best thing about having to stay is that we learned a shortcut for the next day's sail from one of the local sailors.

The next day was fine, good winds, great weather and we sailed back to the Ijsselmeer, this time using the eastern lock to a fascinating town called Hindeloopen. It was just a great place to walk around in, and Bill and Cathy found a great restaurant where many of us ended up, learning about Frisian cuisine.

The next day, the winds were light, but this was ok, because the plan was to cruise in the canals. The original plan had us spending two days in the canals, but with the weather stops, we decided to just utilize a different route, and only spend a day in the canals.

The weather was fabulous, still in the 60's with sun, with maybe 5kts of wind. We locked into the canal system at Stavoren, and then motored surrounded by cows and other sailboats. The northeast coast of the Ijsselmeer is in the province of Friesland, and there are a number of lakes as well as the canals. The lakes are really shallow, but there were tons of small sailing boats on the lakes.

It was days like this that make you appreciate the motor.

About 2/3 of the way through our canal trip, we turned right to return to the Ijsselmeer by way of the Prinses Margriet Kanaal. This canal is used by barge traffic, and goes right on through to Germany. We just nestled behind a tug and barge, and made our way back out to Lemmer, which is on the Ijsselmeer.

Unfortunately, the town was quite far from the marina we chose, so while some folks walked to town, others just ate at the marina. The next day we sailed to Lelystad, which is on land that was reclaimed from the Ijsselmeer in the 1950s and 1960s. The wind was 5-10, so we had a nice sail, but since there were two museums we wanted to see in Lelystad, we turned on the engine after sailing for a couple of hours. Some folks visited the museum which described the process of land reclamation, but it turned out we were a bit rushed.

The next day, we locked into the inner part of the Ijsselmeer and sailed across to Edam (we had to visit at least one cheese city!). Edam is very scenic, and since the sail wasn't that long, we had a good bit of time to walk around the city. A large amount of cheese was purchased, as well as cheese slicers, and other appropriate cheese accessories!

Next day we motored the 4 miles back to Monnickendam, returned the boat, and took a van to Amsterdam.

Most folks stayed over in Amsterdam. We had arranged an English tour of the Maritime Museum on Weds, which was quite fun. A small group spent the rest of Wednesday walking around Amsterdam. The next day, a van took some folks out to Arnhem (which is in the south of the country) to visit a museum (with 270 Van Goghs) and a royal palace (Het Loo) both of which were nice, while others took the train to Belgium. Luckily, the weather continued to hold for us. The last day brought some showers, but didn't too adversely effect a canalhouse/garden tour.

Hopefully, some day we'll return to this beautiful country with its excellent environment for sailing.

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