In a kind of exception, our weekend guests, instead of only at the end of the afternoon, board the Waterwolf on Friday morning at 11.00 am.
They are excited because, despite having travelled halfway around the world, they had never been on board an authentic sailing ship. In fact, they had never even been so close to home ‘on holiday’ in their own country.
As is often the case, the guests arrive hurriedly and with the world of information, distraction and a little stressful. Often with their minds still in the passed busy week at work.
The introduction on board of the Waterwolf
The introduction is warm. Soon everyone has found their cabin and our guests are amazed by the space and the cozy and nautical atmosphere below deck. Many people also get caught up in the sight of all the sails, masts and the jumble of lines on deck.
We cast off and while enjoying a nice lunch, our guests get explanations on deck from our boatsman. Of course the emphasis is on safety and cooperation and it doesn’t take long before our crew for the weekend hangs in the ropes to hoist the mainsail.
We decide, as always, to make the most of it and even though we only have one weekend, we want to give our guests an experience as complete as possible. We are therefore heading for the Wadden Sea.
Falling dry in the Wadden Sea
The skipper has calculated that one of the most beautiful sandbanks in the wadden region, De Richel, can be reached. We have to keep up the momentum and pull out all the sails, and our guests are welcome to help with that.
Soon we arrive at the lock, where the men are amazed at the agility of our boatsmate Hanna, who puts the 36 metre long flat-bottomed boat aside as if it were a small boat and not a two-masted clipper made of 120 tonnes of steel.
After the lock, people now understand what is intended with the sails and it doesn’t take long before the sails are in the wind again.
Sailing makes you hungry so there are snacks and a well deserved beer on deck.
Little by little, everyone is unwinding. There is resignation in the fact that sometimes there is no Internet connection. As an alternative, people look less on screens and more around.
The skipper uses a measuring stick to calculate and gauge whether we are lying properly and then the anchor is dropped. We don’t come in a harbour this evening but stay out as it is called. In the middle of the Wadden region.
Just outside the fairway and with the necessary lighting to make us known as a stationary object for other passing ships, we get ready for the night.
Finally, the Brandaris lighthouse is called in to tell them what our plans are and how many people we have on board.
The first night at the Wadden Sea
The night doesn’t roll so smoothly, although we do roll a bit. It was the combination of waves, strong currents and the absence of the predicted wind. This caused our sailing ship to end up on the waves quite a bit.
Soon everyone finds out that the only thing that helps is to lie down in bed. This is a good thing because it is low tide early in the morning and to reach the sandbank we have to sail a little further.
If we want to be at the Richel before low tide, it is at 05.00 o’clock that we have to raise the anchor. The engine is started and the anchor is raised. It’s only a short distance after which everyone can still sleep for a few hours.
The swell is gone and only a soft murmur can be heard against the wall of the ship. Everyone falls into a deep sailor’s sleep.
mudflat hiking in the Wadden Sea area
By 08.00 the ship smells of fresh coffee and soon everyone is excitedly talking about last night. The skipper appears in shorts and with a few buckets to take the guests to the sandbank.
Here all questions are answered about the many birds you see, the impressive sunrise and the striking floating house on the sand bank at low tide.
Knowledge of skippers of the Wadden area
The skipper tells us with enthusiasm about everything we encounter along the way. Fish, shells, a single washed up jellyfish with beautiful colours and the many paw prints of different birds in the sand. In the distance we can see seals lying down and the buckets are not without reason.
Even though it is chilly, everyone digs along and soon we have two buckets full of cockles, which will serve as an appetizer for that evening’s dinner.
Once back on board, the ship is nice and warm and the cockles are hung overboard in a special net to wash the sand from the shells.
On deck with a warm chocolate milk to warm up, everyone notices that we are lying in the sun while showers are passing by all around us and a beautiful rainbow appears. One after the other comes into the rhythm of the Wadden Sea and gets an eye for the special flora and fauna around us.
Heading for Terschelling
As soon as we come loose, we set course for Terschelling where everyone helps to fold the sails.
The crew tells all the guests about the great places and things to do on Terschelling, especially in the beautiful autumn season and soon everybody is gone.
Time for dinner preparations. By dinner time we hear footsteps again and soon the galley is filled with enthusiastic guests, who all want to share their stories and pictures of the most impressive seascapes and dune landscapes.
Fresh clams from the Wadden Sea
With lots of curious looks and helping hands, we clean the cockles together and tell the secret recipe of the most delicious preparation. A delicious dinner follows and until the wee hours there is laughter and talk.
Every sailing trip comes to an end
Because of the many impressions and the different places we have been, we all have the feeling on Sunday that we have been on board for much longer than just two days. There is a good sailing wind and a lovely autumn sunshine. We zetten dan ook gauw weer koers richting de afsluitdijk en het IJsselmeer.
Our guests are now an accomplished crew. Everyone has taken on a task under the leadership of the boatswoman on board. Everyone is chipping in with everything and a few want to steer and help with navigation.
We say goodbye to the Brandaris lighthouse, sign us off and cross the IJsselmeer with plenty of wind and convex sails.
At the end of the afternoonthe harbour of Enkhuizen comes into sight again and it is time to return to the families and busy lives. What remains is a reminder of a weekend of active relaxation to the rhythm of the Wadden Sea, which will be talked about for a long time to come.
A memory of slow tra vel on an authentic sailing ship like only in the wadden region. We too have enjoyed ourselves and cannot wait for the new group of unknown origin to be warmly welcomed again for the next journey.