Published in Dinghy Cruising Journal 242
Zaan Raid Report 1
The first ever 'Zaan Raid' was held from Friday 10th May until Sunday 12th May 2019 by the Dutch sail and oar organisation 'Natuurlijk Varen'.
The 'Zaan' is a small river running from Zaanstad to the Noordzeekanaal (which connects Amsterdam to the North Sea).
During the Dutch Golden Age, the Zaan river was an important part of the industrial infrastructure around Zaandam. Its banks were dotted with windmills, sawmills, shipyards and factories which supported the Dutch maritime industry.
The shipwrights in the Zaan area used sawmills to speed up the construction of their ships.
The Russian tsar Peter the Great travelled all the way to Zaandam to see for himself how quickly these ships went together. Some of the old glory was preserved in the Zaanse Schans, an open air museum which draws visitors from all over the world.
Eleven boats took part in the Zaan Raid and launched on Friday 10th May at Bijdam Watersport in Wormer:
- Viola - Viola 14 canoe - Joost
- Huibertje - Aalsmeerse Grundel - Willem and granddaughters
- Sea Miracle - Drascombe Scaffie - Boudewijn
- Kleine Tri - Kohler-designed Little Tri - Hans van der Z
- Hatseflats - 15ft sailing pram - Hubert and Klarie
- Blue Noddy - Welsford Pathfinder - Herman and Eliane
- Scarlett - Seil - Ben and Yvonne
- Poesjmipoeljoe - Ness Tawl - Freek and Sara
- Wuptem - Kuperus Sloep with pedaling mechanism - Hans and Margreet
- Time and Time - No Mans Land Boat - Eric and Sylvia
- Ultreia - Drascombe Coaster - Frank and Else
The plan for the first day was to camp on an island in lake Alkmaardermeer. Since we had been warned there would be no running water or electricity on the island we all came prepared to rough it out. Joost had strapped two waterproof bags with his camping gear to the deck of his Viola sailing canoe. Hans van der Zijpp had managed to put his stuff in and on his small trimaran (Kleine Tri). So had Willem on 'Huibertje' a traditional oak 15ft Grundel built in the 1950s.
On Hatseflats we had tied our tent, mattresses and chairs under the cockpit seats. Our food was in a watertight container. Alongside the daggerboard case we carried two jerrycans with water. Under the aft deck we had stowed our sleeping gear, cooking utensils and a 110Ah 12V battery to charge our phones, GPS, batteries etc.
Of course, the bigger boats came with all mod cons for camping in the wild.
We started with a watery sun and a force 2 from WNW.
The plan was to pass the lock of Jispersluis to get to the Noord-Hollands Kanaal and then onwards to lake Alkmaardermeer.
Instead of sailing directly to the lock we lost our way in a labyrinth of old peat workings crossed by little channels. We were lucky that the trees were still bare so that we could see the sails of other boats making better progress. Eventually we reached the lock at Jispersluis. It took three shifts to release all boats to the Noordhollands Kanaal.
After lunch on the banks of the Noordhollands Kanaal we short-tacked between the banks of the channel. The faster boats (Viola, Wuptem, Time and Tide and Scarlett) sailed away while the slower boats struggled as the channel got narrower after Spijkerboor. At Oostgraftdijk we decided to row.
Hans van der Z got ashore and put on his towing harness and started walking the towpath with the Kleine Tri following obediently. Herman followed suit with the Blue Noddy.
I tried to keep ahead but we were soon overtaken.
After Westgraftdijk we rowed under the bridge, hoisted sail and turned left into the Markervaart.
Finally we were sailing on the northern part of the Alkmaardermeer.
Half an hour later we arrived at the jetty of the 'ZO Island' at the corner of peninsula reaching into the heart of the Alkmaardermeer. The 'ZO Island' is managed by the home club of Hans and Margreet Arends.
Once we had pitched our tents we sat down to cook our evening meal.
After dinner we all sat around the camp fire, sampling Jenever (aka Dutch Courage) brought by Eric and poured in small measuring cups (Eric is a GP). I remember that the seaweed Jenever was rather mild.
Around bedtime, the temperature had dropped to freezing point, so we went to sleep in our clothes, despite our insulated Exped mattresses and new sleeping bags.
Herman towing Blue Noddy through the Noordhollands Kanaal. Photo:Sara