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A family sailing trip on a traditional Dutch sailing ship

What could be more fun than to take your family or friends out on the water in the Netherlands for a weekend or longer and enjoy a relaxing trip aboard a traditional Dutch sailing ship.

You can read below what a weekend on board with your family can look like and what is possible. Whether you are stepping onto a ship for the first time, are looking for an active trip, have something to celebrate or just want to get away from it all in your own country, everything is possible on board.

Something to celebrate on board one of our sailing ships

One of the most enjoyable trips for us are those with families and especially when there is something to celebrate. For example, a family recently boarded the boat to celebrate grandpa and grandma’s 50th wedding anniversary. The children grew up with Dad’s sailing boat, which was always moored somewhere nearby on a nice stretch of water.

On weekends and holidays, they would go out with the whole family to sail and discover the best places on Dutch waters.

Meanwhile, the sailboat has long been sold and the children have families of their own. There is not much sailing together anymore, but everyone, especially the golden couple, has warm memories of those sailing holidays.

What a nice surprise for Pater familias to invite the whole family to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary on board a traditional real Dutch sailing ship of 36 metres long.

The family has grown so large that they no longer all fit on the small sailing boat they used to have. In addition, everyone, not least the bride and groom themselves, are in need of something more luxurious than rocking in the little cabin of yesteryear.

Welcome aboard the sailing ship Waterwolf

We can see them coming from afar, the grandchildren are running along exuberantly and the rest are soon following, looking for the Waterwolf.

Grandpa and grandma have brought all kinds of surprises on board earlier in the day and are already waiting for the offspring in the cockpit on deck of our sailing ship.

Of course, we have decorated the hold inside and there is cake and goodies waiting until the party is complete. Once everyone has found his or her cabin and is seated together with a piece of cake, we do a round of introductions and explain what everyone can expect from this festive weekend of sailing.

Of course, we are also curious about everyone’s expectations for the weekend and try to take them into account. For example, there is always a vegetarian in a party. Finally, we discuss the weather and wind forecast and the skipper explains the approximate route for the weekend using the current map.

What do you do with your family during a weekend of sailing?

We leave Saturday morning on time. It is the family’s wish to explore the IJsselmeer again during the weekend, as they used to do in the past.

After a delicious breakfast including freshly baked bread, eggs, fruit salads and fresh juice, it is soon time for a short instruction from the boat mate on deck. This, of course, consists of a short part about safety, where children under 12 have to wear a life jacket. The rest can do that too, but Grandpa said they didn’t have to.


Everyone wants to be at the helm, but after all, a traditional flatboat is slightly different from a sailing yacht of a few metres. However, sailing turns out to be just like riding a bicycle, you never forget it, but soon after we cast off, everyone got the hang of it. The sails are hoisted, Grandpa helps the skipper with the navigation and the grandchildren practice knots with the boat mate.

From Enkhuizen sailing onto the IJsselmeer is always a pleasure

With a nice wind, we sail from Enkhuizen straight into the IJsselmeer. After a few hours in the wind and sunshine, it is time for a delicious and, above all, festive lunch that the cook has prepared along the way.

The sails are lowered with unified force and the anchor falls into the water with a splash in the middle of the lake. Meanwhile, delicious smells are already coming from the galley. After this freshly made lunch consisting of homemade soup, an organic salad and warm baked rolls, it is time to see how such an enormous anchor is lifted from the bottom of the IJsselmeer!

In the meantime, the grandchildren have become a sailing team and, under the leadership of the boat mate, the sails are already heaving with wind.

Spend the night in one of the nice harbours around the IJsselmeer

By the end of the afternoon, everyone has nice red cheeks and we look for a nice harbour to spend the night. At Grandma’s request, we sailed to the Frisian town of Workum. Here in the small, cosy harbour we are getting ready for a pleasant evening. Spending the night ina port city around the IJsselmeer is actually cosy anywhere. But with a nice family on board that enjoys each other and the sailing so much, it becomes even more fun.

The adventurous day is discussed over a delicious snack and cold drink. The cook has made the necessary preparations and the skipper proudly polishes his barbecue skills. Soon, the deck has turned into a buffet of delicious salads, homemade skewers and vegetarian vegetable packets for the grill.

After dinner, the skipper discusses with the guests what the plans are for tomorrow, what the weather looks like and what time we will leave. The whole family disembarks to explore the centre of picturesque Workum. In the meantime, the crew on board ensures that everything is ready for tomorrow.

Sunday afternoon sailing to home port Enkhuizen

After a late night on board, Sunday also started with a rich breakfast buffet. The current wind is measured on deck and then it is time to leave Workum behind us. By now, everyone has assigned themselves a sailing task on board and competitions are held to hoist the sails. On the IJsselmeer just outside Workum, a large group of kite surfers makes use of the favourable wind. A true spectacle to behold that even grandma is impressed by.

We set course for the south of the IJsselmeer to return home. But not before we sail very close to the wind at the family’s request. In this way, we make a sporty Sunday afternoon out of it.

For a late lunch, we decide to call in at the harbour of Medemblik. The crew knows all there is to know about this oldest city on the IJsselmeer and after a joint lunch they can make a tour through the centre to see some of the highlights.

At departure, everyone is ready and waiting on deck in places of their own choice, and as a true competition team, the children, with the help of the mate and the skipper, of course, know how to manoeuvre the ship out of the harbour.

After tacking a few times to be able to sail against the wind, the harbour of Enkhuizen comes into sight again.

We would like to give the golden couple a nice souvenir of this trip and we also have a little surprise for the other passengers. We chat for a while and then it is time for the family to disembark.

Grandpa has an emotional speech in store that impresses us all. When we have said goodbye to the family, I think about what a special weekend it has been and how nice it is that we can give the family, young and old, this special memory thanks to our antique Dutch sailing ship! For us, it feels that young and old were truly united by water, wind and sailing.

This post is also available in: Dutch German