Wadden Islands - Vlieland

  Wednesday, September 23, 2015 / Stephanie / Exploration  

Our nine-mile trip to Vlieland was a good test of Detour's capability for motoring upwind in 20-knots, through confused waves and opposing current.  The deck was doused several times.  We learned Detour's motion in these conditions, very different compared to s/v Rode Trip's rocking horse motion; much more comfortable, but when waves smacked the flat bottom of the hull's design it felt and sounded as though we'd crashed straight into the ground!  We did keep a close eye on the depth, and raised the centerboard once, as the tide was rising and we had little wiggle room through one narrow section of the marked channel.  We took turns driving and navigating.  The Open-CPN on the laptop was not reassuring as it is quite dated and our GPS position put us well outside of the currently marked channel.  Channels shift, charts don't.  But the channel was marked, and the buoy numbers coincided with the paper charts.   The entrance was intimidating, to say the least, but having watched two sailboats enter just prior to us boosted our courage.  Getting inside required full throttle and active steering by Brian and he did a fine job because we did not slam into anything!  Docking was hairy...but thankfully successful with a little help from our new dock neighbor catching lines and fending Detour's starboard side.  Our observations of the Dutch docking style tell us that most Dutch boaters dock at the fastest speed possible and initiate thrusters often.  Brian is sticking to his slow speed docking methods, but we've had a wide variety of docking scenarios which have tested our usual style.  This we know for certain, docking is the scariest part of cruising!  We'll welcome the day when we can drop the hook again!     This short trip probably sounded more treacherous than it actually was.  It was the only brief window for us to move to Vlieland before a weather pattern of strong north-northwesterly winds and rain kept us stationed at the island for the remainder of the week. We were actually shocked on multiple occasions to watch boats coming and going through gusts and downpours.  We've always been fair-weather sailors, trying to select best forecasts for passages, but had we become too soft in the canals?  Good thing we were reviving our sea legs out on the Wadden Sea!  At Vlieland, the scenery is similar to Terschelling although the island is a bit smaller.  The changes between sand dunes and pine forests seem more abrupt.  Vlieland does feel more remote as only permanent residents are allowed to have cars whereas at Terschelling, visitors too may travel the island in their own cars brought by the ferry.  One of our first ventures was a bird scavenger hunt, which brought us to all sides of the island.  The wind and rain did not damper our spirits, we simply huddled with the cranberries behind the sand dunes until the showers passed. Each day we walked downtown from the harbour to select a sweet treat from the bakery.  On one occasion we sampled the ice cream at Vlieland's theater; it was delicious!  By far the best treat, however, was our lunch date at a roadside fish fry where we tasted kibbeling; deep fried chunks of fish with a mayonnaise-garlic tartar sauce.  Yummy! The 18-meter tall lighthouse at Vlieland is open for the public to visit.  We had an exterior tour to admire the lighthouse and surrounding views from it's 40-meter perch.  Our stay at Vlieland coincided with an annual music festival called "Into the Great Wide Open."  According to the harbormaster, tickets go on sale the end of April and within days are sold out to 4,000 people!  Woah!  There were three outdoor stages set for the event, scheduled movie showings at the theater, children's areas/activities, surf school at the beach, and numerous outdoor food truck vendors.  Concert goers arrived for the 3-day festival and most were camping.  Boy did we feel for them because it rained...and rained...and rained and the wind blew upwards of 30-knots!  Rather than water, however, the island seemed flooded with bicycles!  Although you could easily walk between stages and events, everyone visiting rented a bike to go from place to place.  The Dutch and their bicycles are inseparable!  We did walk through the festivities several times and listened to various artists.  Whenever there was a calm spot in the wind at the harbour we could hear music from the nearest stage.   We bid farewell to Vlieland.  There are other Wadden Islands to explore, but we were headed back into the Ijsselmeer.  


  1. From Brian Grandjean on Sep 27, 2015
    Grey, We did put a lot of thought into the centerboard idea. Jimmy Cornell travelled extensively in a similar (actually less conservative) boat and answers a lot of questions about it here. http://cornellsailing.com/aventura/previous-aventuras/ovni-yachts-faq/ The additional sailing performance vs Rode Trip also gives us the option to sail on much lighter forecasts than we needed before.

  2. From Grey McGown on Sep 24, 2015
    great country, great photography...worry about the shallow draft on that big baby...but I'm sure the stabiltiy curves must look right or you wouldn't have chanced it...