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I want to organise an inland trip (on the IJsselmeer) next year, but I have no experience in planning a trip however I have a sailing licence (so the sailing should be no problem). We are 5 people and two of them are the skippers (one of them is me). What are the first steps? So how do I answer the following questions:

  1. how do I find the right sailing boat?
  2. how do I plan the route (i.e. with which programmes)?
  3. what do I have to pay attention to when planning the route?
  4. how do I find information about ports and berths?

If anyone has any experience, I would be very happy if they could share it with me!

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    Be careful, it is a 'lake' but it has still some sea characteristics, read up on the particular dangers of this water.
    – Willeke
    Sep 13 at 10:32
  • Hi @Willeke were can I Find this information?
    – Weiss
    Sep 13 at 10:34
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    While it is possible in some countries to hire a boat without any qualification, I strongly discourage this. The answers to all the questions you ask here (and many more questions you should be asking yourself) are taught in sailing lessons. Get yourself introduced at your local sailing school. They will teach you these things (much better than a simple answer here will).
    – PMF
    Sep 13 at 10:52
  • Alternatively, hire a skipper for your first trip. He/She will also guide you in these questions and instruct you on handling the boat, and on all other topics you need to be aware of (like safety equipment and their use, safe navigation, interpreting weather forecasts, provisioning, etc, etc. etc.)
    – PMF
    Sep 13 at 10:54
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    Hi @PMF, I know how to handel a sailing boat very vell (I have different licences (and about 2 years expirience)), however, I was only ever on day trips where you sailed out onto the lake and arrived back in the evening. But I have never organised a trip on my own, I have been on one but unfortunately I am not interested in the planning enough.
    – Weiss
    Sep 13 at 11:18

4 Answers 4

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If you look on an online map of the lake (actually, it used to be sea and it is only that it is behind a dike that it is now called a lake) and you will see that there are many smaller and some bigger towns and cities on the coast. All cities, most towns and villages and municipalities will have a website, mostly also available in English, where you will find the principle touristy information as well as local practical information. Most marinas and other harbours will also have websites and searching on a name on a map will mostly give you the websites.

Zoom in on any of the towns and you will see a marina or a few, more in bigger towns and cities. Most of those will be paid but some 'free places for limited time' are available. Once you have had a look and see how much is available, you will want a good site or book which does include details like prices, opening times and facilities.
A look at a map or chard for the area will show you plenty of marinas, if you do your planning right you can do almost no distance or quite big distances, but remember that not all marinas will have spaces at the end of the day. Many have plenty of regulars for which they hold berths, some of which might be available for one night while others will have the regulars come back to at night.

If nobody in your group is fluent in Dutch, make sure you have a way to translate signs and texts in harbours and marinas.
When sailing you need good chards, and an almanac with all the bridge and lock times for the area you are. I know there is a book, published every year, but I do not know whether you need that full book or can find things online.

While this is called 'meer' (lake in English) it is still very open to the North Sea and it is well known for very strong winds (storms) blowing up and causing havoc, and while you can be in sight of land for most of the time, you need proper navigation aids. (Some people only have a phone and find the connection fails when out on the water, especially when the weather turns bad.)
You will need to check the weather reports, more so than for lakes which are behind mountains from the sea, as weather comes in very fast and reports of boats that had come to a bad end are quite common (one or more every bad summer storm.)
I do not sail but friends and relatives do and they all have respect for this water, as it is more challenging than many people allow for.

Almost every thing you may want to know and all you need to know will be on internet by now, most of it also in English. And online translation software will translate almost everything, so your first steps may well be to look for information is available for you.

As with all rentals, you go to the site of a place where they rent out what you need. You will find many rental sites on and near the coasts, they will each state what kind of boats they offer and what restrictions they have (some may ask for a certain level of experience.) If you have experience on a certain kind of boat, or your fellow skipper, maybe look at a boat which is pretty much like it, so you know what to expect from it.

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Some suggestions have already been given, but I'll try it anyway. Do note that this answer includes personal opinion and your decisions will depend a lot on your preferences.

how do I find the right sailing boat?

There are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself here. The primary one is: How big a boat do we need? A big boat is usually more comfortable than a small one and safer in heavy weather. It also comes with more "gadgets", such as extra chart plotters, radar or bow truster. On the downside, bigger boats are (obviously) more expensive, it can be significantly harder to find a place in a harbor and the larger draft can limit the places you can go.

My personal recommendation would be, since the IJsselmeer is a comparably sheltered region, to hire a boat that's just as big as you need it. For five people, that would be in the order of 35 feet. As long as you stay in the Ijsselmeer (which has a more-or-less constant depth), the draft shouldn't be much of an issue. If you want to go out to the Waddensee, you could consider hiring a boat that can fall dry.

how do I plan the route (i.e. with which programmes)?

Modern chart plotters or navigation Apps can help your greatly with that, but on the IJsselmeer, if I recall correctly, there are no big navigational difficulties. You can just sail straight from one port to another. While of course you can look at travel guides to find out where you want to go, it's best if you make your travel plan as flexible as possible, to be able to sail in a direction the wind easily permits.

what do I have to pay attention to when planning the route?

Avoid rocks and shallows. The navigation hazards are clearly marked on charts and buoys are all over the place in the IJsselmeer. Charts (either electronic or on paper, or ideally both) must be delivered with your boat. Very accurate (and free) information can be found on OpenSeaMap.

how do I find information about ports and berths?

Modern charts (both electronic and paper) come with so called "harbour pilots". Extra documentation that tell you the specifics of ports, what to expect there and how to best enter them. There are also special books for this purpose. Most ports also have a website (linked also from the OpenSeaMap chart) that have information about the size of the berths and any specific navigational dangers.

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    Rocks are very rare but wrecks not so uncommon. Debt is shallow all over but more so in some places, so do study the charts.
    – Willeke
    Sep 14 at 10:08
  • It's been a long time since I sailed there, and then only as crew and only on the northern part, so I don't remember the details. I do remember that it's much more difficult outside the lock (mostly because it has high tidal differences and shallow water)
    – PMF
    Sep 14 at 10:37
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This is a whole bunch of questions and every answer will also depend on your preferences. So I will start with the easy one. There are plenty of handbooks for marinas that will list the layout of each. You will probably also find information on the website of most marinas.

Planning the route is quite depending on weather. After all, you are on a sail boat. Beating right into high winds and choppy waves for a full week is no fun, neither is motoring all day. So you might be able to make a rough plan, but need to adapt it from day to day. Keep in mind, that you typically need to return to your starting point, so you will be especially limited during the later part of your trip.
During peak season you might also need to pay attention to your arrival time, as many marinas may be filled up in the early afternoon. And do not forget your personal goals. Do you want to sail as much as possible or do you want to do some sightseeing as well? The latter requires you to spend a lot less time out on the water.

The same goes for the choice of your vessel. You can either have it ultra comfortable with electric winches, 3 bathrooms for 5 people, etc or you can go simple. In general a simpler vessel can be smaller and therefore will be simpler to handle in port.
In general I would recommend a rather classical yacht with a heavy keel as it has a lot of stability. The modern dingy-style "performance yachts" may sail faster, but will also reach their limits a lot faster. Another thing to consider is draft. The Ijsselmeer is rather shallow, so limited draft is an advantage.

But there really is no general answer to this, sailing a beach cat at home I would personally always prefer a simple yacht and a lot of time out on the water. If I want to visit some nice dutch villages I can do that a lot easier by car. But that is just me ;)

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I went on a sailing trip on the IJsselmeer in school almost two decades back. We chartered a "Flat Bottom Boat", something like this, but there are smaller ones, too. These are mostly chartered with a skeleton crew, in our case a skipper and first mate. These guys can sail the boat in a pinch, but it's very much encouraged that passengers do most of the sailing. You can have various levels of included services, from the bare minimum (you buy provisions, do the cooking, the dishes and general housekeeping) to full blown catered meals etc. We obviously did the former and it was a LOT of fun.

The skippers do know what they're doing and can help you choose the next marinas to go for, depending on weather, what you want to see or do, how full the marinas usually are etc. This would take most of the planning of the trip itself out of your hands and let you enjoy the trip more fully.

A very nice thing about these boats is you can go outside the IJsselmeer to the dutch Frisian islands, e.g. Texel and Terschelling and fall dry in the Waddensee on the way to see Wadden worms ;) I know that some boat-only charter firms disallow this.

To conclude: taking out one of these offers takes a lot of responsibility off your hands, especially if none of your group have experience with the size of boat required for a longer trip with five people (think crowded marinas...) and none of you has experience sailing on the IJsselmeer.

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  • Are you advising taking a flat bottom sail boat on to the open sea (perhaps the reason why some charter firms disallow it)? Sep 14 at 13:19
  • @WeatherVane That's not normally a problem. You see quite a few of those on the german and baltic coasts. They get their stability from their quite wide beam and possibly inner balast. They have to keep their stability regardless of whether they're sailing on sheltered water or not.
    – PMF
    Sep 14 at 13:23
  • I think what they disallow is falling dry. Mostly because it's very bad for the boat if done in anything other than very calm weather (because the boat can bump heavily on the sand before the water is fully gone or when it returns)
    – PMF
    Sep 14 at 13:27
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    @WeatherVane These boats have lee boards that can be lowered or raised as necessary.
    – arne
    Sep 15 at 5:59

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