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The Challenge Naviguer Leger - the trip I didn't make

Early in the Spring of 2022, Joost, Koos and Hubert heard from Emmanuel Conrath that the Challenge Naviguer Leger would come to the Netherlands. This is an informal raid of a week for 'voile-aviron' sailors which is normally sailed in French coastal waters. It was started by the French 'Chasse-Maree' in the early 2000s.
The sailors must be self-supporting and prepared to sleep on their boats. No engines are allowed and the length of the trip is about 100-120 nautical miles.
When we first heard of it the plan was to sail up the Ijsselmeer. Because the Ijsselmeer does not have many sheltered areas like the coast of Bretagne, Joost and Hubert suggested a route along the 'Randmeren' into Friesland. Then it became quiet for a while until Emmanuel emailed us that the CNL would be held from 12-19 June starting and finishing in Jachthaven Naarden. The route would be decided after arrival at the scene on 12 June.
At the same time, Roger Barnes the chairman of the DCA and one of the CNL participants, had contacted Hubert to meet some of the Dutch sailors. Hubert asked around within the Natuurlijk Varen app group. Cockie, Joost and Hubert would meet the CNL sailors in Naarden. Joost, Koos and Hubert intended to join the CNL trip during the second part of the week.

Sunday 12 June

Cockie, Joost and Hubert met with the French sailors and helped them to get their boats launched. Apart from 11 French boats the trailer slip was also needed by a 26ft speed boat, some Laser dinghies and about 10 Optimists. A good while later all the boats were in the water and it was time to discuss the plans. The sailing regime consisted of:
  • Sleeping aboard your own boat.
  • Be self-sufficient
  • Leave each morning at 0800 hours each morning to make the most of the day.
Also, the following decisions were to be considered:
  • Sail on the Ijsselmeer hoping for good weather or sail up the Randmeren into Friesland?
  • Sail a round trip or stop at the furthest point and collect the cars and trailers?
The majority was in favour of the round trip and the route over the Ijsselmeer. Hubert indicated he would not take Hatseflats to join the trip but would be available as a crew on Friday/Saturday. The CNL sailors deferred the decision about the Randmeren option to Monday morning when a better forecast would be available.
With the first part of the decision making in place (a bit like the French election system) we all went to the Porterhouse restaurant to have dinner and met up with Roger Barnes and crew Mary Dooley.

Monday 13 June

Emmanuel Conrath wrote: "Tonight we are in Hoorn after a quick stop for lunch on Marken. Long day sailing against the wind, slow and tiring. Tomorrow, we go to Enkhuizen un the morning and visit the Zuiderzee museum in the afternoon."

Tuesday 14 June

Lighter conditions were forecast and the fleet prepared to sail to Enkhuizen. Joost helped with routing advice to get through the locks from the Markermeer into the Ijsselmeer. The fleet passed through the locks in the early afternoon and visited the Zuiderzee museum.

Wednesday 15 June

The fleet sailed into Friesland via Stavoren and ended up in Kuilart at the mouth of the Fluessen.

Thursday 16 June

The plan was to sail from the Fluessen to Lemmer. Since the route seemed to use the Prinses Margrietkanaal, Joost warned that this would be breaking the law and suggested to follow the advice by Koos to go through Woudsend and Sloten and have lunch/coffee at cafe de Watersport in Woudsend before continuing through Sloten, followed by Brandemeer and Groote Brekken before finally arriving in Lemmer.
Halfway through these suggestions, Emmanuel 'drowned his phone' so Pierre Mucherie stepped in as the fleet contact.
Other than that everything went fine and the fleet arrived at Jachtwerf Maronier in Lemmer late in the afternoon.
Regrettably all the NL participants had to cancel their plans for the remainder of the week: Koos could not join the tour after testing positive on Covid.
Joost struggled with lower back pains and was terribly busy at work.
Hubert understood he could only sail with the fleet during Friday and decided not to put in 6 hours of travelling for 6-8 hours of sailing.

Friday 17 June

The fleet sailed back from Lemmer to Enkhuizen for those who failed to visit the Zuiderzee museum earlier in the week.

Saturday 18 June

Roger Barnes and Mary Dooley remained in Enkhuizen while the rest of the fleet sailed the 25nm on a reach from Enkhuizen towards Muiden. On the way the fleet stopped at Marken and Pampus. At 1730 the fleet arrived back in Muiden and were met by Onno van Sandick the president of the Dutch 'Natuurlijk Varen' foundation.
Onno reported that the French were very enthusiastic about the past week and would like to return for more sailing in the Netherlands, possibly for the Raid Extreme or the Dorestad Raid (sleeping aboard their own boats).


It was good to meet with the French CNL sailors. They seemed happy with the open water of the Ijsselmeer and seemed to know their boats and each other well enough to make their collective decisions work for all participants.
With good weather, prudent sailing and good seamanship it is possible to sail the Ijsselmeer with cruising dinghies. We Dutchmen may have discarded the Ijsselmeer too quickly. The French were more experienced in coastal sailing. Hats off to the French CNL sailors, or as they say in Iceland: "Chapeau!"
Some of the French boats like the unstayed Montaubin designs are well suited to coastal sailing but cannot strike their rig to pass low fixed bridges. Perfect for the Raid Extreme, not so for the Dorestad Raid!
Next time I will join the CNL with my own boat Hatseflats. I am not going to miss another chance.

Useful links:

Gilles launching Wallabi
Jean-Louis rowing Silmaril in the background
Proposed route from Stavoren to Lemmer

Moored at the Jetty:Monotype de Pertuis
Hotel Emmanuel on GIS
Jean-Louis hauling out his Silmaril
Saying goodbye over Silmaril
Transom view of Silmaril
Emmanuel Mailly on his Ilur
Emmanuel's GIS is for sale.
Marco's Viola sur le rouf
Bonne route!