Sailing in the Netherlands – Pfingsten 2016

Last weekend, I went sailing in the Netherlands with one of our authors, Susanne, who goes every year over Pfingsten (Pentecost). I’m compiled all the pictures below. There were 13 of us altogether and I was very excited as it was the first ever trip to the Netherlands (I probably drove through or something at some point but that doesn’t count!)

Four of us were coming from the Frankfurt area, so we all drove up together on Friday – quite a long way – and arrived Friday in Terkaple, around 5pm. Slowly but surely the rest of the sailing crew turned up and a few hours later we were ready to set sail. On Friday we didn’t have far to go, with it being late as it was, so the four boots (of 3-4 people each) sailed to Terherne. It was a lot later than expected when we finally had all the tents up and everything was set for the night, and the problem was we still needed to have some dinner. Luckily, a nice restaurant took us 13 starving sailers in at around 11pm where wehad some delicious food and quickly set off back to tents and boats to sleep ready for the next day (and sleeping in tent was bloody freezing, to put it in the politest way).

On Saturday, the wind was strong, and ignoring the fact that when we tried to turn our boat we nearly ended up crashing against rocks because of how strong the wind was, we stopped a small café called Rufus, where a lot of people with boats were clearly stopping for some lunch. A hot chocolate and cheese toastie later, we set sail again and headed towards Langweer. We stayed at the old harbour and it’s safe to say that’s definitely the party harbour over Pfingsten – it was incredible to see so many boats with loads of young people with music blasting out of every boat. There was also some sort of party going on – quite cool!

After building up our tents again (partly as it huge hailstones fell on us), we decided to have a wander into the village, whilst half of the group went to shower. Langweer is definitely a small typical Dutch town, or it’s at least how I would imagine a Dutch town to be. Finally, we chose a quaint little restaurant where we enjoyed a beer or two before the rest of the crew joined us and we had some dinner. After a very rushed first evening back in Terherne, it was nice to have time to chat and get to know the others. The beer I had was delicious, though after having a few sips I felt myself swaying – how strong was that beer?! Turns out, it’s normal to sway when on land after being on a boat all day. But it also turns out that the beer was about 8.2%, so maybe it was a mixture of both.

We returned back to the harbour for sleeping to find a ghost town. Well, harbour. All the partying youngsters had disappeared, despite it only being around midnight. No complaints from us, as it meant a quiet harbour to sleep at. But before we all went to bed, we all piled onto Susanne’s boat. Susanne’s boat was bigger than the other three smaller sailboats and had a small cabin inside, which can fit about 10 people in if you don’t mind being squished up together. This was definitely my favourite evening – all 13 of us piled on board, 9/10 in the cabin and the others outside as it was chilly but not raining. We drank wine and shared whisky from a hip flask and chatted the night away, with no sounds outside at all apart from the swaying waves and the rattling ropes of the boats. Heaven! I’ve never seen myself as an outdoor kind of person, but that night definitely made me appreciate the peace.

The next day, my body decided to wake up at 6:30am. At 7am I decided to get up and shower before the queues started. I ended up walking round the village about 3 times before I found someone else from our group who was also up, so I helped carry the bread rolls from the local bakery and set up breakfast. This time we had a small wooden roof over our heads so we had no worries about it raining. As with the morning before, Susanne prepared the hot water using small portable gas (I think) kettle-like things and we all enjoyed various food that we’d all brought with us. Though the Nutella was very hard to spread. Susanne kindly stated that the weather was so nice last year that the milk actually went off. This year, because it was so chilly, this didn’t happen. So we may have been cold, but at least we had milk. Swings and roundabouts!

The weather forecast really didn’t look that great, so we decided to take a short route to a nearby harbour in Heeg. We didn’t have any breaks and the route was mostly one long canal, but the sun shined at least so it was a relaxing short route. As we arrived, as usual, we found places for the tents and got them sorted, and then it was time for a trip to get some more oil for the motors of the boats. After that, and long discussions as to where we’ll spend the evening eating and drinking, we found an equally quaint restaurant in the town where we were all suffering even more from the swaying on land (though I can imagine for those who slept on boats it was worse compared to me who slept in a tent). We brought some card games and I won a few times at UNO (which I obviously have to mention). After a few hours of being all warm, it was time to head back, and about half the group went into the cabin of Susanna’s boat again and enjoyed some more wine and whisky. Though you could tell that as the days passed, everybody was getting more and more tired and going to bed earlier and earlier. That also applied to me, and the third and final night was a lot better as I think I just got used to freezing whilst trying to sleep.

The next morning, we set up breakfast in the open, until to see big, dark, scary clouds, so we all marched into the big tent and squished 13 of us in there surrounding a blanket covered with all the food on. The road (well, sea/canals) was long that we had to take that day before we had to be back at Terkaple at 4pm. I swapped with somebody on the boats as they wanted to try out the smaller boats, so for the whole route I went on the big boat with Susanne which was really cool. We made two brief stops – one in Woudsend where we decided we’d only have a brief toilet break and then we’d have a proper stop on the way back at the Rufus café. Arriving at Rufus, we realised we didn’t have enough time, so after another toilet break we set off back to our starting point. Safe to say, we were a little bit later than anticipated, so we decided to go for one final meal together after we had cleaned the boats and packed everything into the cars.

We went to a small restaurant near the harbour and asked if we could have food that would be served quickly. The waitress recommended the menu for kids as those meals apparently are served the quickest. So we all ordered from the kids’ menu – I had chips and chicken nuggets with mayonnaise. Yum!

A long road trip back meant we got home at around 1:30am, and I had work the next day – safe to say, if I go again next year, I’ll be taking Tuesday off, too.

So I had an absolutely fantastic time up in the Netherlands sailing over Pfingsten. I have to admit, as the weekend got closer, I started to have my doubts about the whole thing, but I’m really glad I did and I would definitely do it again if the chance arose! I even stopped swaying on Tuesday evening!



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