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Sailing on the Wadden Sea
or the IJsselmeer

Discover the Waddensea or the IJsselmeer on one of our antique sailingships

The IJsselmeer is known amongst sailors for its diverse picturesque harbors. Each harbor has its own rich history, leading back to the Golden age, when Holland flourished in the field of seafaring.

The Wadden sea has a totally different character than the IJsselmeer. The untouched nature and the countless sandbanks make it possible to anchor and enjoy a stunning star sea above your head at night.

The captain passionately teaches you to navigate, steer the ship and hoist the sails. You will be carried away in the stories of the ocean, that have been passed on from father to son for centuries

A flat bottom in the middle of the mudflats

Sailing on the Waddensea

Traditionally, the flat-bottomed boats like ours used to sail the coasts of Holland. Flat bottoms are so called because they have a flat bottom without a keel. As a result, they have little depth and can sail through gullies that are inaccessible to other ships and lie dry on a sandbank.

The Wadden Sea (Frisian: Waadsee, German: Wattenmeer, Danish: Vadehavet) is the inland sea between the Wadden Islands and the mainland of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The area has developed over thousands of years and stretches between Den Helder in the Netherlands and Esbjerg in Denmark.

The Dutch Wadden sea region consists of 7 islands and is listed as a UNESCO heritage site. That makes sense because the area is rich in diverse flora and fauna. Seals swim freely in nature and the various birds hide behind wild bushes.

In the middle of a sandbank flatbottoms ships can get stuck without danger and you can get off the ship and experience what it’s like to do some mudflat walking. From the mudflats the dunes are often within reach for a nice hike but many also enjoy a nice barbecue surrounded by what used to be the wadden sea during the daytime.

What people say about us

Sailing with the Waterwolf is really enjoying the most beautiful surroundings the Netherlands has to offer. Enjoy nature and the elements on a beautiful ship. Being on a journey and experiencing unique moments. Actively relax and experience what a skipper goes through. All this has been completely taken care of with the hospitality of Olaf and Nicci. Delicious food, more than fine stay on the boat and everything very cosy!

It was an experience to never forget and to tell everyone about

Bas Bosman

The seven wadden islands in the Wadden area

The first island of the seven is Texel. This is the most densely populated and touristic island and is known, among other things, for the seal sanctuary Ecomare. Here you can not only see the seals and other mammals up close, but you can also learn everything about their habitat and habits.

The second island is the family friendly Vlieland. An oasis of tranquility, where cars are not allowed. On the west coast of the island you’ll find ‘the Vliehors’. This is an impressive sandy area of 20 square kilometers, no wonder they call it ‘The Sahara of the north’

The third Wadden Island Terschelling is known for its impressive lighthouse the Brandaris. This is the oldest still working lighthouse in the Netherlands and still serves as a beacon for all shipping in the North Sea and the Wadden Sea.

Special about the forth island Ameland is that we can sail our ships right up the beach. From there you can take a walk along the stunning shoreline or visit one of the four nostalgic little villages.

The smallest inhabited and fifth island is Schiermonnikoog. The nature of this Wadden island has been able to develop without human intervention. Therefore it is extremely rich in a variety of birds. Thanks to the constructed cycle paths this island is a feast for the eyes during a bike ride.

The last 2 islands are Rottumerplaat & Rottumeroog. These are the youngest islands and also uninhabited islands that, just like Schiermonnikoog, are known for their many bird colonies. Mooring or sailing onto the shore by boat is not permitted here for nature conservation reasons.

Wadlopen tijdens een zeilvakantie

Mudflat hiking

Mudflat hiking is walking on the seabottom at low tide. Traditionally ‘Wadlopers’ or Mud flat walkers, crossed from the mainland to a Wadden island.

Every day the area between the mainland and the Wadden Islands is partly dry. At that moment, which only takes a few hours, the whole environment changes. Where you first could swim from the sailboat, huge sandbanks suddenly appear and even the species of birds change. A walk on these dry plains is a different experience every time because nature cannot be captured.

The beach of Ameland

Fresh mussels & oysters

The Dutch wadden region is rich in original Japanese oysters.

You can’t get them any fresher than picking them during a hike over the sandbanks! There are also many mussel beds and you stumble over the cockles. This way you will soon have a delicious fresh lunch.

Seals

In the 1970s, the seals in the Wadden Sea were almost extinct. The number of seals in the Wadden Sea has risen sharply in recent years thanks to environmental policy and the various shelters. Seals are playful and curious animals and like to swim with sailing boats. They also enjoy lazing around, which is why you often come across them on the sandbanks around the Wadden Islands.

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1 day out on the water

A beautiful day at the IJsselmeer

A weekend away

Learn to sail on an antique flat-bottomed ship

A week away

Discover the Waddenislands

Sailing on the IJsselmeer & Markermeer

The IJsselmeer was first part of the ‘Zuiderzee’ and was created at the beginning of the last century by the construction of the ‘Afsluitdijk’. The name was created because the river IJssel flows into it. With an average depth of 4.4 meters, it is seen by many as a shallow tub of water, but due to the constantly changing winds it is pure pleasure for sailing enthusiasts to sail on.

Markermeer

The Markermeer is the southern half of the IJsselmeer and is surrounded by various authentic fishing villages and towns. In the golden age the Markermeer [toen nog Zuiderzee] was the gateway to Amsterdam where all VOC ships anchored.

The rich history of the area around the Markermeer provides many public cultural and natural monuments. In addition, in 2016 the construction to build the Marker Wadden started. This creates new nature areas that contribute to biodiversity. These nature reserves are all publicly accessible.

Picturesque and authentic harbors

The Markermeer is famous at home and abroad for its traditional fishing villages such as Monnickendam, Marken and Volendam where they still sell fresh fish dressed in traditional clothing. Old crafts seem to revive here and even the buildings have stood still in time.

The rich history of the V.O.C.

The VOC era provided the Netherlands with prosperity in the golden age. This can still be found in port cities such as Enkhuizen, Hoorn and the Frisian hanseatic city of Stavoren. Here are replicas of VOC ships, but you will also find original VOC trading houses and some rich mansions from that time have been converted into a museum.

Friend or family trip

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Book a weekend away with a minimum of 6 people and discover the secrets of the Wadden Sea

A day or more days sailing on an antique Tjalk or Clipper

Where one person can enjoy weeks on board, the other is already tired after one or a few days. Sailing does not have to be in your heart to sail longer or shorter. It is enjoyment for everyone, from young to old and you decide how long you want to do it. That is why we have standard and custom packages.

A day trip on the Wadden sea or the IJsselmeer

Day trips start around 10 am and last until the end of the afternoon. Unless you want to enjoy a generous barbeque or dinner on board. We sail from Harlingen or Enkhuizen and decide in advance which locations fit into the day program.

For culture lovers, for example, it is the open-air museum Batavialand in Lelystad or we can go to the traditional VOC harbor city of Hoorn, where a true replica ship from 1600 is located.

Nature lovers can indulge during a guided walk on the Marker Wadden. Here you will learn everything about the flora and fauna of this new nature reserve

For the sailors or those who want to learn, the sailing adventure starts as soon as the sails are hoisted. The day becomes as active as you want with destination “the horizon”.

A day trip from Harlingen can consist of a visit to the Wadden Islands Terschelling or Vlieland. At a favorable tide you can also walk out of the mudflats on one of the many sandbanks or take a dune walk or bike ride. Of course you can also stay on board and enjoy the view while lounging.

A weekend or week sailing

More days a board means more to see and experience More days on board means not only seeing and experiencing more, but also learning more about sailing and the Wadden area or the IJsselmeer. During a multi-day sailing trip you can visit all the Wadden Islands and sail under the stars at night on a clear night.

What you can see and where we dock depends on the plan we draw up together, the changing wind and the tides. That is why a multi-day sailing trip can change per day, because we want to keep the wind in the sails.

A weekend away on board of an authentic sailing ship

During a weekend away, you usually get on board on Friday evening and on Sunday afternoon we moor in Harlingen or Enkhuizen.

On Saturday morning the weather forecast and wind forecasts are first shared to determine which course can be sailed. After the bunches are loose, we set sail to one of the Wadden Islands or cast off to the IJsselmeer on our way to one of the many port cities.

Sailing holidays in the Netherlands

A week or longer on holiday in Holland

For true sailing and nature lovers, it is a pleasure to spend a week or a longer holiday on the dutch waters on one of our authentic sailing ships. During this wandering over the Wadden Sea, every day is determined by changing tides and wind directions. Thanks to the endless passion and experience of the captain who knows everything about this, you will be captivated daily by the beauty of nature and the rich history of the Wadden region.

Sailing for a week or more is an alternation between nature, culture, effort and relaxation. You sail through trenches where few other ships can reach and you anchor at night on the open sea or moor in one of the many harbors. Longer sailing trips are something you do together. You, us and the sailing ship.

Other options

Sailboats are ideal for groups such as a school class, companies, associations or a group of friends. The intimacy of the sailing ship brings people together and creates connection. On or outside the ship, because together you hoist the sails or storm the bars of one of the many harbors. Sailing is something for everyone.

This post is also available in: Dutch German