Sail away

Denise Mosbach, Thursday, June 6, 2013 , 285 Views

I started my quest close to home, in Amsterdam. I must have taken a tour through the canals a hundred times before, but it’s always a blast. There’s the friendly atmosphere on board, the impressive canal-side houses, and with a glass of wine and a few Dutch and French cheeses, my day could not get any better.

But I felt I had to try something a bit different., so I stepped on board a so-called hydrofoil, behind Central Station. It was a fantastic experience, and really fast too. The boat looks a bit like it’s on water-skis. These hydrofoils push the craft at sufficient speed out of the water, making it go only faster- up to 60km per hour. You can sail (almost fly!) from Amsterdam to the beach in IJmuiden in no time at all.

If it’s peace and quiet you prefer, I can recommend a trip to the village of Giethoorn up north, where you can sail on a so-called ‘fluisterboot’. The name literally means ‘whisper boat’, as sailing with an electric outboard motor really is a serene experience. The pretty lakes and canals at the Weerribben-Wieden National Park help to create this calm atmosphere. It’s a perfect nature area characterised by its vastness - especially the marshes, numerous lakes and countless quantities of animals. I spotted silver herons, cormorants and three deer. Otters live here as well.

Even further north, up in Friesland, you have to experience ‘skûtsjesilen’. The Frisians have their own distinctive language, which is quite different from Dutch and in Frisian language It means sailing with a special type of boat. This skûtsje is a classic barge, made from wood or steel, with enormous sails, making it seriously fast, even for today’s standards. Today these boats are for recreational and folkloric use only. Just as in Giethoorn, it’s much quieter in Friesland, the landscape is wide and open. And although I didn’t understand much of what the captain was chatting on about, it was a simply unforgettable trip!

Nationaal Park Weerribben, Kalenberg

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