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Ruderreisen | Ruder

by Dami Roelse

RoeiReizen in Hindelopen

Führung in Hindelopen

If you have found yourself weary of going to compete in regattas, tired of loading the trailer, rigging and de-rigging boats, your rowing fun doesn’t have to end. You’ve put in your time to hone your rowing skills, you’ve shown that you’re disciplined enough to do your strength training twice a week and make it on the team. You’ve also gained a team spirit that will serve you as you venture into the different phase of masters rowing: international rowing. No this isn’t rowing with the national team, this isn’t olympic rowing. Next comes an opportunity for a fun, active rowing vacation away from home without having to rig or de-rig your boat, without loading the trailer and driving down a long freeway, without finding a spot along a busy regatta waterway to see what’s what.

Sounds too good to be true? That’s what ten of us thought when we embarked on a rowing vacation in the Netherlands in June of 2016. What better country to get to know than the “Venice” of the North, with water everywhere (more water than land), waterways, canals, rivers, lakes and the bigger inland sea accessible with a sturdy “wherry” rowing skull. A cox seat for two that allows for lounging, reading the map of the journey for the day, take pictures of windmills, draw bridges, historic buildings, and admonishing your fellow rowers about slipping oars in narrow canals, lying down to fit under low bridges and holding steady as a stiff breeze blows waves up to the gunnel. Until it is your turn to put your hands on the oars and work off some of that pastry you just had at a coffeeshop, or the beer in a local tavern along the way. Sounds too good to be true? It gets even better!

img_4809Not only can you row from picturesque small town to small town, you can spend your evenings on a converted 80 foot cargo barge, with sails, motor and side board, a mahogany trimmed lounge with long tables, tasting meals from fresh local products along the way, toasted with a local brew. Each evening, if you don’t want to chat with neighboring boat people from your comfort seat in the “kuip”, the back deck seating area, you can wander around a new small historic town and learn its lore, before you retire to your private cabin bunk, while moored in the local harbor with other unique and beautiful vessels all around (the Netherlands is a land of boats and has been for centuries, you’ll find many lovingly restored old boats in use everywhere).

On a sunny windy morning your skipper may ask you if you’d like to sail out onto the big inland water of the IJsselmeer. Together you raise the big sails, the motor stops and all you hear is the wind, the lapping of the water against the hull, the swish of water in the wake of the boat as you put your body against that 4 foot wooden tiller to hold it steady so the ship will lean into the wind.

If you’ve had enough of rowing or sailing and want to see the country side from land, there are bikes on board for your use and you can plan a bike ride along the many bike paths through the country side. You’ll meet your fellow rowers again in the next town. Feeling really lazy? Just stay on the mother ship and motor along with the crew for all or part of the day. You will get stories about life, their life in the Netherlands.

All of this must come with a hefty price you probably think as you read this. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. The cost is actually 1/3 of the cost of kayaking off a small mothership in Alaska. The cost is minimal compared to a cruise ship and the fun is active, unique, truly local, historical and personal. All you have to do is put a group of 8-10 rowers together, sign up with roeireizen.nl and the fun of planning can begin (once you fly over there you probably want a few days in Amsterdam and another part of the country). This adventure is for master rowers with experience. It takes skilled rowers who can adapt to the unique circumstances of rowing in the Netherlands, but that makes this rowing adventure so much fun. You learn (rather quickly) what it takes to stay afloat in foreign waters.


September 2016

copy right, Dami Roelse