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Submitted to Dinghy Cruising Journal

Dorestad Raid 2023

Wednesday 6 September - Akkrum

It was stifling hot in Akkrum. The motor barge 'In Dubio' lay baking in the sun as I arrived. Fortunately, the deck saloon was remarkably cool, no doubt helped by the airco. Soon other participants of the Dorestad Raid began to arrive and launch their boats, before driving their cars and trailers to Burgum, the final destination of the 4-day event.
This year there were 24 boats. Alain and Pierre-Yves from Switzerland sailed a Vivier-designed Minahouet with turbo rig. Veterans Paul and Robin brought their Morbic 12, Steve and Bob returned with their Goat Island Skiff Heidrun and Mark returned with his sailing canoe Lauren-Lou. It was the first Dorestad Raid for Martin from East-Anglia with a Waterlust canoe which he would also use for sleeping aboard. Other newcomers were Vincent and Inge with a beautiful Ilur built by himself and his son. The smallest boat was a Tabur 320 sailed by Hans for the first time at the Zonnewendetocht.
After dinner the skippers gathered their boats round In Dubio. Dusk fell and everybody enjoyed the evening cool on deck.

Thursday 7 September - Wijde Ee

The day started sunny. After the briefing by Joost the fleet left the Meinesleat and turned up the Kromme Knillis towards Grou. We were lucky to have enough wind to enjoy sailing along the scenic route. After rowing through busy Grou, we hoisted sail, crossed the Prinses Margrietkanaal and had lunch and a swim on the Starteiland on the Pikmeer. After lunch we sailed upwind along the Pikmeer, Kromme Ee, De Veenhoop and finally reached the Wijde Ee. The sunshine made our surroundings even more beautiful. Soon we were engaged in friendly competition with each other. Throughout the afternoon we drank lots of water and occassionally dipped our hats in the water to keep our heads cool.
Total distance was about 22km.

Friday 8 September - Himpenser Wielen

Another hot day with temperatures reaching 30C. We left In Dubio and sailed towards the Himpenser Wielen east of Leeuwarden. The total distance of the trip was around 21km. We had lunch and a swim near the Pikmeer. With all the moored boats, the jetty resembled a Wooden Boat festival.
After lunch we sailed to Wergea and then rowed through the picturesque town centre. Then it was only a short distance to our anchoring spot on the Himpenser Wielen. It was again very hot so we swam a couple of times round the In Dubio to cool off.
After dinner, Lieuwe presented his new Flerk 2.0 project: a 20ft open boat with a wing rig, bigger and better suited for overnighting than the original 'Flerk'. The hull is built from plywood cut from patterns that Lieuwe had calculated himself. It was looking good and Lieuwe and Douwe hope to sail the new boat at the 2024 Dorestad Raid.

Saturday 9 September - Drachten

The W2 was perfect for a trip through the 'Alde Feanen' towards the Smeleastersan just west of Drachten.
Joost had prepared four options ranging from a basic 19km route to the 'ultimate exploration route' of 26km.
Klarie and I sailed in company with Koos towards Wartena.
The narrow canal through Wartena was crowded with motorboats waiting for the bridges so we were glad to leave this little scenic town behind. We crossed the Prinses Margrietkanaal again to enter the Ringfeart and then rowed into the first canal to starboard to reach a little lake called Saiterpetten. The tree-lined canal was hardly wider than our boat with the oars sticking out. Yet there was a towering big hire boat breathing in our neck to get us out of the way. Its skipper steered with the bow thruster so it felt as if we were chased by an asthmatic dragon. We made ourselves small to let him pass and continued towards the Saiterpetten which lay glimmering in the sun surrounded by trees. In the distance we saw other boats of our fleet but they were gone as we sailed towards them. It took some time to find our way through the watery labyrinth to the Prinsehof. From there we continued to the Grutte Krite and reached the Krusdobbe. Although we had driven to the Alde Feanen before we had never expected it to be so beautiful.
After the Hooidambrug we reached the Wijde Ee, which was very busy compared with only two days ago. Open motorboats with boys and girls high on hormones were buzzing around and left us wallowing in their wake. As the wind died in the early evening we drifted towards In Dubio near Drachten.
Saturday night meant 'variety night' which meant that everybody was supposed to provide some entertainment. Koos and I re-enacted the starting ceremony of the recent Raid Extreme to a bemused audience. Sybren told a local Frisian horror tale and bee-keeper Freek showed us the waggle-dance of his bees. Paul, Robin, Steve and Bob brought us a singalong with 'Bully in the Alley', 'Wellerman', 'Rolling Home' and 'Nancy Lee'.
The highlight of the evening was Onno as King Willem-Alexander telling why he stopped using his big fuel-guzzling speedboat and would be endorsing 'Natuurlijk Varen'
The evening ended when the 'Pride of the Fleet' was awarded to Vincent and Inge with their beautifully built Ilur.

Sunday 10 September - Burgum

The last part of the raid took us from the west end of Drachten to Burgum where we would find our cars an trailers.
Our destination was only 12km but it was going to be a nearly windless hot day with much rowing. We started around 1000 hours and sailed towards the Opeinder Feart where we switched to rowing. After Opeinde we hoisted sail again and got onto the Leien, a little round lake. Then it was back to rowing on the river Lits and the Bergumermeer.
Since Klarie would be driving back to Dokkum with Koos, I dropped her off at In Dubio, where Joost, Tineke and Sander were in charge of getting the fleet out of the water and onto the trailers.
At 1300 hours I cast off and started my solo journey home, where I arrived six hours later.


This was easily the hottest Dorestad Raid that anyone had seen. Proof that global warming is here to stay and will have an enormous impact on our lives.
For me personally it is an incentive to use fossil fuels even more sparingly. My current view is that I will only travel to events by car if we can travel together and the destination can be reached in a single day. I seriously doubt whether I will return to big faraway events like the Semaine du Golfe.
The hot and sunny weather highlighted the stunning beauty of this part of Friesland at the end of the sailing season. We were all in high spirits all through the Dorestad Raid and being together felt like a big harmonious family. Looking forward to next year!

Weather prediction for a hot week.
Martin sailing Waterlust canoe. Photo Klarie
Frits enjoying spinnaker run on 'Bubbels'. Photo Klarie
Wooden boat festival at lunchtime. Photo Vincent.
Wolf and Lauren-Lou alongside Hatseflats. Photo Klarie
Mark reading map during lunch. Photo Frits
Caledonian Yawls Gjoa and Mousa seen from Murgh Masala. Photo Pierre-Yves
Wing-rigged Amice chased by Joost on Viola. Photo Vincent
Joost sailing Viola. Photo Vincent
Hans sailing in style on Tabur 320. Photo Vincent
Alain and Pierre-Yves on Murgh Masala. Photo Marlies
Dawn. Photo Vincent
Alain and Pierre-Yves sailing Vivier-designed Minahouet, Jelle and Marlies sailing Oughtred-designed Ness Boat. Photo Janko
All Oughtred boats: Stirn (alloy Tirrik), Poesjmipoeljoe (Ness yawl) seen from Gjoa (Caledonian Yawl). Photo Anneke
Mothership 'In Dubio' surrounded by her chicks after a long hot day. Photo Marlies
Frits towing Bubbels ashore. Photo Onno