Hundreds of thousands of Dutch people and tourists take to the water in boats every year. Cosy sailing with friends or family. One may enjoy one of the many lakes, another may brave the wind in the Wadden area and yet another may speed across the IJsselmeerin a rented speedboat. But no matter what sport you do on the water, the Dutch waters are not always without danger.
So wherever you go in the Netherlands, it requires preparation. The weather, currents, other pleasure and sailing boats and freight traffic can sometimes present a challenge. Here are a few tips to keep your watersports adventure fun and enjoyable.
1. Knowledge of your belongings on a hired boat or your own boat
Wherever you go on the water in the Netherlands, it is important that you know something about the equipment you will be sailing with. Understand how your sailboat is put together and which strings to pull to raise or lower a sail. Make sure you and everyone on board knows what to do in case things go differently than planned.
2. Knowledge of the environment on Dutch waters
It is also very important to know what to expect on a trip. You don’t want a repeat of your parents trying to decipher the map of the south of France together and getting endlessly lost while you were sitting in the back seat. Do you remember?
So make sure you know where to avoid the back seat [zandbank] and get tothe nicest harbour towns. All Dutch waters are relatively shallow and many people have experimentally found this out before you.
3. Knowledge of wind and weather
On that same holiday in the past, your tent with or without you in it may have almost blown away. The predicted storm that your father could not quite translate on the transistor radio turned out to be more violent than expected. Then the whole family, as well as the rest of the people at the campsite, spent days searching for all the household goods and missing children.
To avoid stormy surprises, it is a good idea to have some knowledge of the wind and weather in general. Fortunately, in most sailing areas you can always call the traffic control tower such as the Brandaris if you are not sure.
4. What is safe water?
You can drink the water in the Netherlands, but you can also drown in it. In the Netherlands we have very clean water, you can drink our tap water, even that from the toilet. You can also bathe in natural water in many places.
The Netherlands is one of the few countries in Europe and even the world where learning to swim is a standard part of education. If you don’t learn it at school, your parents will sit with you in the local chlorine hall every week until you know how to float and you have three diplomas. Not surprising, because wherever you go in the Netherlands, you are soon at the water’s edge.
Besides, mum and dad also want to enjoy their holiday with peace of mind and not have to chase the little ones around the pool in terror.
Yet perhaps that also causes a bit of arrogance. Every year, people still drown on Dutch lakes and at sea because they go overboard in their sailing boats without wearing life jackets and cannot be rescued in time.
Do not underestimate the water, not the current, not the temperature and not the treacherous waves.