Published in Dinghy Cruising Journal 252
Dorestad Raid 2021
The 2021 Dorestad raid was held at the island-based sailing school of Leo and Hannah Versteeg in Heeg, a sailors' mekka in the province of Friesland.
Returning to the original format with the Leo and Hannah's In Dubio acting as the travelling mothership for the raiders was impossible because social distancing still had to be observed.
The strict quarantaine rules left our English friends no option but to cancel.
Ironically, the government released the social distancing rules within two weeks after the raid.
Hopefully the 2022 raid will return to the old format.
There were two newcomers this year: Frits with a restored 1975 Mirror dinghy and Sander with a Scandinavian GRP double-ender on steroids (tall rig, gennaker, and an innovative forestay arrangement to lower and raise the entire rig while sailing).
The sailing route of the day was announced every morning by a WhatsApp message from sailing master Joost. At the skippers meeting Joost explained that our first raid would cover 21km from Heeg to Workum and back passing various smaller lakes.
Glorious sunny conditions (24C) with the wind veering from SE2, S3 and finally to W3.
There were only two bridges, one of which quite small at 1.5m high and 3m wide. During lunch near the jetty at one of the smaller islands many of us went for a swim.
There was an evening mission as well: round two buoys at opposite sides of the Heegermeer.
This sounded easy enough but as we sailed onto the lake it was already dark. The lights above our heads made it very hard to look around for the unlit buoys. Several boats nearly sailed into a fishing net.
Still it was good fun to sail in the balmy evening and try to make out other raiders in the dark.
The opening times of the first bridge dictated an early start. After that there were 15 bridges in the smaller canals but could be managed quite comfortably with a height of 150cm. Little lakes were followed by little canals providing us with a a mix of pain and pleasure.
The smallest canals were too narrow for rowing and could best be negotiated in canoeing style with the crew paddling from the foredeck.
At the waterside cafe in Oudega all new arrivals were cheered to join for a coffee break. After that we sailed north to Abbeageaster Ketting and onto Ijlst.
After that it was all pleasure: a long reach to Heeg with only one or two bridges (after so many bridges you tend to lose count).
After exploring the countryside it was now time to raid a proper tourist attraction: the iconic water tower of Sneek, made famous by the Gaastra logo.
The route took us from Heeg via IJlst to Sneek. A reef in the sail and proper clothing compensated for the gusty SW3 with occasional rain.
Most of the route was plain sailing. After rowing through the centre of IJlst the fleet assembled and sailed into the town centre of Sneek.
It was busy with boats on the water and spectators in the streets and on the quays. The rain had stopped which made it all the more enjoyable.
We had lunch in a waterside park at the outskirts of Sneek before turning the corner skirting the south of IJlst, sailing up the Weinsleat and then back to Heeg. Total length around 24km of which about 8km rowing.
We celebrated our last evening at the island with a soiree about the theme 'what inspired you to navigate by sail and oars?'. This triggered memorable songs and poems. An impromptu quiz revealed that we had 60-odd boats between the 33 crew. Cockie received the Pride of the Fleet award for her Poo Duck Skiff 'Poti-Waka' (Maori for 'sail and oar').
After breakfast, eleven boats joined for a last 'walk in the park'. During the downwind ride on the Johan Friso canal and the reach on the Kufurd lake he pack stayed together. Lieuwe singlehandedly sailing Amice with its monster rig made an impressive sight.
As we were beating up the narrow canal into Woudsend, the fleet thinned out as the rowers got ahead of the sailors.
After Woudsend it was a long beat to back to Heeg and saying our farewells. A nice ending to a super sailing weekend with friends!
Swimming after Lunch - Sara Pleyte
Night Sailing on Heegermeer - Cockie Offringa
Sander and Tita Felice II:one man and his boat - Sara Pleyte
Frits and 1975 Mirror Bubbels - Anneke van der Geest
Sybren, Tineke and alloy Tirrik - Janko Lindenbergh
Bridge at Osingahuizen - Sara Pleyte
Fleet assembly before raiding Sneek - Janko Lindenbergh
Onno and Anneke before the iconic Watertower of Sneek - Anneke van der Geest
Hans and Nathia (Haven 12.5) - Onno van Sandick
Down the Johan Friso Kanaal - Janko Lindenbergh
Lieuwe and turbo powered Amice - Janko Lindenbergh
Caledonian Yawl Mousa sailing down the narrow canals - Cockie Offringa