20 things you can do during a sailing trip on the Wadden Sea or the IJsselmeer with your own captain-to-be.
Everyone is busy planning for this summer, because will we be able to go on holiday at all? Will Ryanair still exist and will your station wagon still be allowed to cross the border into France?
Until suddenly your husband comes up with the bright idea of simply wanting to spend your summer holidays in the Netherlands. Not only that: He has heard that there are still authentic sailing ships sailing around on the IJsselmeer and the Wadden Sea and immediately goes feverishly in search of his captain’s hat.
For you this sets off all the alarm bells! Sailing?! Isn’t that when you’re sick to your stomach, sloshing and splashing around on the water all day? And do those old boats have plumbing and heating? Or even more important: A fridge so that if you are not shipwrecked and end up moored somewhere, the white wine is at least drinkable?!
Women who don’t like sailing can also have fun on the Wadden Sea
When you think of antique sailing ships, it may not be that they are equipped with all modern conveniences. The exterior may be antique, but inside and on deck everything has been renovated to modern standards.
So the wine stays cold and you stay warm. Especially when the sun shines on the spacious deck. Just sink into the cushions or read a book while hubby fulfils his childhood dream of becoming an aspiring captain.
You can also indulge yourself if you like cooking. Every antique sailing ship that organises group trips on the Wadden Sea or the IJsselmeer has a modern kitchen where you can cook for yourself or have someone cook for you. Most people choose the latter because, after all, it is a holiday.
You can choose from fresh salads, organic vegetables and meat, vegetarian food or send your husband out to pick a few cockles from the bottom together with the boatman during the dry run.
Fresh fish can also be caught, but this is not always a success and can lead to a few days of poor catch and a frustrated guy. The excessive feeling of hunger is no fun either.
In this case, make sure you have a back-up in the form of a real fisherman, an experienced cook with a stocked fridge or a box full of bon-bon bloc chocolate.
20 things to do on a sailing trip in the Netherlands.
You don’t have to do anything and you can do everything. If you wish, not only your children but your husband as well will be looked after. Most skippers have hours of tough guy talk or tell about the flora and fauna that will surely entertain your husband.
Your husband (and possibly your children) are also allowed to take the helm under supervision, and if the skipper is not in the mood for them either, he lets them hoist the sails or just pull some other ropes. That way they learn something and feel important.
1. Swimming in the Wadden Sea
It’s not as if you can just dive or jump off the boat anywhere and anytime, but when the sunbed gets too hot, a refreshing dip can be very welcome.
Of course, the ship will anchor, if possible, and if you wish, the captain will hoist the anchor (sometimes for fun and sometimes for an extra charge) before everyone is back on board.
Optionally, he can leave a pair of swimming bands or a dinghy behind and you will see the floater(s) again in the harbour a day or so later. Everything is, of course, safe and in consultation with you.
2. Tidal flat walk on the bottom of the Wadden sea
Tidal flat walking is done when the sailing ship has run dry at low tide on one of the sand banks around the Wadden Islands. You climb off the boat and in the middle of the mudflats you can light up a BBQ, hunt for crabs, take photos or plough through the sand in jackboots.
Of course, you can also stay on board and let the kids go on a voyage of discovery with your husband. He will call you when the BBQ is ready or if they want you to lower the rope ladder again.
The latter is not obligatory, by the way, if you are relaxing in a hot shower by yourself and pamper yourself with the facial mask you have just received as a present. Because your husband should also understand that if he wants to sail, you also need some time for yourself.
3. Sunbathing on deck
You can sunbathe on one of the many vast beaches on the Wadden Islands, but it is also possible on board. Such a ship is more than 35 metres long, so when the husband and kids are standing at the back of the deck, there is enough distance not to hear anything and to enjoy the gentle rolling of the sea.
If it is still too noisy, let a crew member turn up the volume of the audio system and you can imagine yourself on Ibiza or any other tropical island.
If the skipper changes course and you find yourself in the shade because of the sails, don’t worry. Move your sunbed or ask the captain to go back to his former course. After all, it is your holiday, so you decide where you want to go.
4. Island hopping in the Wadden Sea
There are only 5 inhabited islands in the Dutch Wadden Sea, but each one is beautiful to see, to walk, to cycle or to lie on the beach.
Usually, the harbour has many restaurants, cafés and shops. So while your man can taste a local beer, you can stretch his credit card limit a bit more.
5. Visit harbour towns around the IJsselmeer
When you think of a port city, you naturally think of rugged sailors and tough men hauling in the nets from their boats. Unfortunately, they are there too, but they go out to sea at dawn and often do not return until late at night. So you will have to make do with an abundance of terraces, restaurants, sights and a centuries-old history of Dutch culture.
Instagram will explode if you post some of the photos taken here. And the often narrow alleys and streets often make you think you are in Nice, France, or any Italian town. Getting lost or letting someone get lost is not an art here either, so even here you can find the necessary peace and quiet if you need it.
6. Visit special museums
You really don’t have to go straight to Ecomare or the Beachcombers museum on Texel. Although these museums are fantastic and attract large groups of people, there are also other types of museums to spend your time at.
How about the ‘museum’ Zegel lingerie on Texel? Or Tromp jeweller in the lovely village of Den Burg on Texel? And if you really must, you can always taste Nobeltjes on Ameland. Here they make home-brewed liqueurs that make your lips stick together. Not good for the waistline, but nice for the mood for once.
7. Playing tag on a sailing ship
Did you know that playing tag is one of the oldest games in the world? On board, it is a fantastic game that both children and hubby can enjoy immensely. Do not be afraid that they will trip over a piece of string here or there, as it is difficult to fall overboard. The railing is high enough and a plaster is easy to apply.
You can also play tag from the jib net. This is a kind of oversized hammock that extends a few metres forward from the bow. While you are being served the next cold drink, they may try to climb up to you. The fact that you then listen to a nice bit of music with your headphones will not bother them. It may take half an hour for them to reach you. Fun for them and peace for you.
8. Learning to sail, hoist sails and navigate
When your husband stood in front of you with the captain’s cap you bought at the flea market, you knew what time it was. He had to show his adventurous masculinity. Let him go his way and be glad he didn’t buy that parrot.
On board, you are in charge. Just like at home, of course, but you just don’t tell him that. Under the guidance of the Skipper, he can hoist sails together with the boatman, think that he is really navigating himself and for the next few years he can brag for hours about what a great sailor he is.
Take a picture of your husband and children at the helm, post it on Facebook and proud as a peacock you’ll be able to handle him for days.
But do this without that smile that you can have with your friends when you look back at the photos together. Pride and ego are not something to be played with lightly.
9. Seeing the starry sky without light pollution
Stars are more visible when there is little ambient light. That is why in the middle of the Wadden Sea and IJsselmeer the stars twinkle more. Do you know what else sparkles in the bright moonlight in the middle of the lake or the sea?
Exactly, that diamond ring with a man on his knees in front of you. His nose probably doesn’t sparkle, but that ring with matching bracelet and earrings does, of course.
Especially if he then romantically and finally asks: Honey, would you……get me another beer?
10. Playing board games on board
Strip poker is for young people. But you can also be very creative with the arsenal of board games and when children are in bed with Monopoly, Settlers of Catan or even the Game of the Goose.
It’s not about winning, it’s about the game, isn’t it? On board, there is plenty of time and space to enjoy each game.
Battleship was popular for a while, but the people who played it rarely came back or suddenly had a new partner. So that game is not recommended.
UNO is another such game. Although there are enough cabins on board to sleep all the way in your UNO, this did not turn out to be a success either.
Ludo is also a good recommendation. For some, it has a therapeutic effect and can cause excitement and sensation well into the night.
11. Karaoke at sea
Unfortunately, nightingales are no longer to be found in Dutch waters. Never was, by the way. But thanks to the silence around the ship and the microphone and audio installation that can go up to volume ten, you or your husband can be the first.
Do not expect an audience. Don’t be surprised if the crew jumps overboard, but have fun! Singing is an outlet and if there is one place where your singing talent may be heard, it is on the high seas where only the seals will surface.
12. Yoga and meditation on a dune top
Did you know that yoga and meditation are an excellent remedy for a hangover or a break from children and/or husband? It is not known whether that is the reason why there are proportionally so many Yoga and Meditation Schools on the Wadden Islands and around the IJsselmeer, but it would explain a lot.
On every dune top, there is a group in yoga leggings gazing at the horizon as if the British have prepared another invasion. You can often take part in these for a few euros.
But don’t expect the English to really come, as the last battle on a Dutch island was over 200 years ago. However, within an hour you will have got rid of your hangover and can start the day fresh and fruity again.
13. Golfing in nature
You are not a real man if you are not a golf player. Especially if you wear a captain’s hat. A joy to watch and even more fun when you look at the photos of that faked Hole-in-One afterwards.
The Netherlands is rich in golf courses that are very accessible and a beautiful course is located near de Cocksdorp on Texel. Guaranteed, you will see your guy again after a few hours. You will be on board or at post 17 while he will be meeting his new best friends.
Children – if any – can play on the beach for hours and you finally have time to exchange the latest gossip via Facetime while enjoying a smoothie.
Don’t worry that the kids will get sick from eating sand, because the beaches on the Wadden Islands are safe and extremely clean. Hardly any visitors come, so they don’t leave anything behind.
However, every few hundred metres there is a Jérome or Giovanni who watches over what is going on in and around the water from a high tower. Nice to see and safe for the children.
14. Surfing and kiting in the surf
In the Netherlands, windsurfing, wave surfing and kiting are extremely popular. You don’t have to do it yourself, because watching is already spectacular enough. But you can be sure that your husband will want to try and he won’t blow away to England in one go. Even if you wanted to, it is just too far.
Anyone can learn it under supervision, but why should you? It is allowed, but not required. Perhaps it would be more fun to hoist your children into a wetsuit during your holiday while you take it easy on land or on board. Or you join in bravely and show what you’re made of.
15. Horse riding along the coast
The Amazons used to rule over the men in their tribe. Without a saddle, they rode horses far beyond the horizon to protect their men. More often against themselves than against an enemy, but sometimes they just drove off to be with each other for a while.
The islands in the Wadden Sea are ideal for galloping down the long beaches on horseback. Let your husband practice new knots on board while you explore the horizon. Alone or in a group. Not because you have to, but because you can and is so unique in this setting.
16. Going to a spa
Spa is not only something you can drink on the Wadden Islands, you can also go there. Together or alone, of course, because on your holiday it’s all about you. Get your nails done, take a sauna or a massage and think of nothing at all. Just like your husband does the rest of the year.
There are several hotels with a wellness centre, but it is nice if you sleep on board again in the evening. So let a taxi or tuk-tuk pick you up and drop you off so you don’t have to go on a quest. And don’t forget to return the lovely plush bathrobe before you leave.
17. Culinary dining at special restaurants
On holiday is not the time to be constantly thinking about your waistline. Sometimes good is just good and the children and your husband enjoy it too. Both the harbour towns around the IJsselmeer and the Wadden Islands have very special restaurants.
Let yourself be driven by a taxi, give your husband the wheel of a rented Tuk-tuk or let him pedal for his life on a Tandem bicycle. Restaurants with a high culinary standard are always nearby. Unless you drive the Tandem, but that puts him back in shape. So there is a win-win, right?
18. Supping and kayaking in the sea
For those who aren’t familiar with it, supping is different from slurping. You can do it at the same time, though, as you stand on an oversized surfboard with a paddle in one hand and a Smartphone for Instagram – or a drink – in the other. Fortunately, today’s Smartphones are waterproof and the sea is not too deep, otherwise real accidents would happen.
Kayaking in the surf is more for the daring. Or as your husband would say: “I did this as a professional when I was 4”. The surf can be adventurously strong on the Wadden Sea, but relatively harmless.
Even if your husband has already had a few beers, it is nothing to worry about. The rescue team is always ready and – no joke – people rarely if ever die in a kayak off the beaches of the Wadden Islands.
Children with their fathers can scream, but that is always from the fun they have with their fathers. Hold your laughter when you film it. That makes it even more fun afterwards.
Climbing the lighthouses
The older men get, the easier it is to get a small belly. Of course, that doesn’t matter to you at all, but if it isn’t there… well. It does not matter.
But did you know that some lighthouses are tens of metres high and the top can only be reached by stairs? You may not be wearing the right shoes, which makes you want to come along, but you would rather see the photos that he takes (with your children) from above.
It may be a coincidence, but most lighthouses have a restaurant at the bottom where they sell the most delicious homemade apple pie with whipped cream.
A cup of coffee with an apple pie is always worthwhile. He burned a few hundred calories and you may gain a gramme. After all, it is the holiday he wanted, right?
20. Picnicking in nature
Day in, day out, you slave away to make sure there is breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course, your husband also gets the groceries at the weekend, but even with a list he forgets half of them. How nice it is that he can provide a complete picnic under the supervision of the crew.
The crew will give him a picnic basket that you have always dreamed about and he can tell you that he has prepared it especially for you. Fresh croissants, pressed juice and for the children – or yourself – surprise egg.
Finally, you have the peace and quiet to talk, babble or romantically enjoy the sunset. You feed him, he strokes you and, as the icing on the cake, he gets to cycle you home another two kilometres on a tandem. You can bet he will eat out of your hand.
You wanted to sail, you say just before going to bed. Oh boy, little did he know when you said yes
Love, the crew of Lotus Sailing and welcome aboard.