Antipole cruises

Makkum, Harlingen & The Waddenzee

We sailed from Medemblik on Monday and crossed the IJsselmeer to Makkum.  It started as a gentle dead run sail with a very light wind, so we set the spinnaker, which made a huge difference and we were soon roaring along.  Eventually the wind was up at force 5 and we had fun getting the spinnaker down again.

Makkum is in Friesland, which, uniquely in the Netherlands, has its own language (closely related to English but unintelligible to English speakers), and a distinctive culture.  (UK readers: think Wales without any hills.) Ynskje’s grandparents were from Makkum, and she spent many summer holidays there as a child, messing about in the canals, so it was a trip down memory lane.  We were met by her brother Danny and wife MariAnne, who live there, and had a lovely time seeing them and visiting them at home.  On Tuesday evening we had a meal together at their favourite restaurant.

On Wednesday we sailed for the Kornwerderzandsluis, and thus locked out into the Waddenzee, which is an extensive area of shallow waters with sand flats between the mainland and the Friesian islands.  This was the first time we have been in sea water since the end of June.  It was strange having to take care of tidal planning again.  We had a lovely sail, along with many other boats, to the town of Harlingen, which is yet another historic town with streets and canals in concentric circles.

On non-tidal waters it doesn’t matter when you set off, and as distances are small most seem to leave after mid-morning coffee, so it was a bit of a shock to find the tide required an early start on Thursday – out through the first bridge opening at 06:15.  It turned out to be a great and fast sail through the channels in the Waddenzee.  A good breeze and no swell mean we were making eight knots, and a favourable tidal stream added another one or two.  So we had arrived at Oostvlieland by 10:00 – before the mid-morning coffee!

The harbour is absolutely packed with boats, but fortunately there is  nice anchorage, much favoured by botters, which dry out on the beach.  Note in the picture the farthest botters have table and chairs out on the beach.  We chose to stay just afloat, as clambering back on board inevitably brings a lot of mud with you.

The Friesian islands are, basically, sand dunes separating the Waddenzee from the North Sea.  Vlieland is some 20km long and a couple wide at most.  Much of it is pine forest, planted to keep the sand in place.  There is only one road outside the village, and visitors’ cars are banned.  Cycle hire is the business to be in, and there is an extensive network of cycle paths.

We managed to take our folding bikes ashore in the dinghy and yesterday cycled to a very quiet spot on the north shore, where we had the sandy beach to ourselves.  The weather was great and a swim was very welcome.

From here we will be working our way further east, visiting other islands.

That’s the news for now

Love to all

Ynskje & Tony xxx


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