Antipole cruises

The Waddenzee

We departed from Vlieland on Sunday 12th August with a south easterly force 5 and had a very fast if quite short sail to West Terschelling, where we waited for the right moment in the tide and then drove the boat onto the very flat sandy beach to dry out. We we able to walk ashore that evening and visit the town. Unfortunately, as we floated off in the night we got driven further and further up the beach by the strong wind, and had to motor off to avoid getting stranded. A rather disturbed night. So the next day we got ourselves into the marina, where we could easily unpack the cycles and explore more of the island.

Terschelling is the largest of the islands – some 27km by 3km, with a sandy beach for the entire northern shore. Again it is a mix of sand dunes, woodland and lakes, well served by a network of cycle paths. The town of West Terschelling is substantial with a busy ferry port.

We set sail from West Terschelling for Ameland on Tuesday. We had to make our way up a winding channel and eventually over a wantij, a section that dries at low water. It has to be approached on a rising tide with sufficient rise so that we could nudge over. Our shallow draft of 58cm is ideal for this. Most traditional Dutch boats also have a shallow draft, but, having just scraped over ourselves, we were amazed to be followed by a three master! The wind was a gentle force 2 which gradually failed, so we eventually had to motor the last part.

We anchored the first night at Ameland off the town of Ness, but the next day moved into the harbour in anticipation of an impending gale that night. We had a great day exploring the island, cycling to the town of Hollum in the west for lunch and then back via Ballum, where we had tea with Dutch appelgebak and the inevitable whipped cream. Perhaps it was as well that the wind was strongly against us on the way back, so we could work it off. Ameland was another lovely island of sand dunes, woods and lakes, but it is quite developed for visitors and busy, including static caravan parks etc.

Ynskje bringing shopping over the mud

On Thursday we left for the next island Schiermonnikoog. This was a longish passage with two wantij sections. The wind turned up a nice westerly and it was sunny too, so it was an excellent passage, all under sail. Schiermonnikoog is perhaps the most difficult of the islands to access. The yacht basin is small and the approach dries extensively. We put ourselves on the mud outside with some Dutch botters and waded ashore at low water.

On Friday morning as high tide approached, we took the cycles ashore in the dinghy and cycled around the island – again sand dunes, woods and lakes, with a beach the length of its northern shore. It is quite a small island with just one small town with tree-lined avenues and is relatively quiet. At midday we were back on board and sailed before we dried out again. This time we were headed further east, with a longish passage with three wantij to cross, which is scarcely possible on one tide. So we sailed to the first and anchored out in the middle of the Waddenzee to await the tide, with just seals to keep us company.  A swim at slack low water was very welcome.

Getting over the first wantij proved difficult, and eventually we forced our way over using the engine as we scraped the bottom.  Once across we anchored for the night and to await a new flood tide.  The next two wantij were not so difficult and we emerged into the Eems estuary and headed for Borkum, the western-most of the East Friesian islands of Germany.

In Borkum we had a 4km cycle into town for supper in a beach-front hotel. It felt very different to the Netherlands.  Although there were cycling paths, cycling in town is not permitted at most times.  We thought we had understood the rules here, but were promptly ordered off our bikes by the police when we got it wrong.

From Borkum we sailed up the Eems estuary to the industrial Dutch town of Delfzijl, where we locked down from sea level into the Eemskanaal and thence westwards to the city of Groningen, capital of Friesland.  Here we are invited to supper by friends Jan & Rita, whom we met in Willemstad back in June.  We have a couple of days here to catch up on things and restock the boat.  Then on Wednesday Tony will take the train to Amsterdam Schipol airport to meet three of his grandchildren, Lucas, Molly and Maisie, who will be joining us for a week.

Below is a chart of our track through the Waddenzee.  You can zoom in and see how we past over the drying channels.  Note that these are changing constantly, and the over-layed satellite images may show older courses than the channels as we took them.

That’s the new for now.  Love as ever, Ynskje & Tony

Makkum to Delfzijl 2

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