Messabout "JollenFlottille 2019" in NL 07 - 10 June

It took quite a long time for the "Segeln-Forum" members to find a suitable date and venue, but now we have agreed to meet in Woudsend, Netherlands at the "de Rakken" marina and campground over Whitsun. Up to now, three or four MIrror dinghies and six small cruisers have reported that they'll be attending. Some are coming earlier and some staying a bit longer too.
The plan is to make day outing from there.
This is a totally "open" meeting and anyone wishing to join must arrange their own accommodations etc. There are several other marinas in this area on the de Fluessen / Hegemer Mar area. Perhaps some of our Dutch friends would even like to meet us on their home waters.
The discussion thread on the Segeln-Forum (in German - but there's always Google translate) is https://www.segeln-forum.de/board9-community/board10-termine/71575-07-06... .
I'll try to report on the event more promptly than I have in past years.

Der Zeitraum und der Ort für die JollenFlottille 2019 steht nun fest. Wir treffen uns über Pfingsten in Woudsend, Friesland, am Jachthafen/Zeltplatz "de Rakken". Bisher sind drei oder vier Mirror Dinghies und sechs Jollenkreuzer verschiedener Klassen (Kim, Lis mit Kajüte ...) "angemeldet". Einige kommen schon früher und/oder bleiben länger, als nur über das Wochende.
Die Teilnahme steht allen Interessenten offen und alle müssen sich selber um Unterkunft usw. kümmern. Im Gebiet de Fluessen /Hegemar Mar gibt es mehrere andere Yachthäfen/Zeltplätze. Vielleicht möchten ja auch einige unser niederländischen Freunde uns auf ihren heimischen Gewässern treffen.
Die Diskussion im Segeln-Forum finden Sie unter https://www.segeln-forum.de/board9-community/board10-termine/71575-07-06... .
Ich hoffe, dass ich diesmal etwas früher über das Treffen berichten kann.

Cheers;
Gernot H.

PuffinInTegel's picture

So, on 06 June I drove the 660 or so kms to Woudsend and found the marina, where one of the group had already arrived and been given a berth.
The gent at the "De Rakken" marina was very friendly and pointed out that my choice of camping on the Hegemer Mar site would put me three kms from the Marina and suggested I take a berth and camp at the Marina instead. The slipway, unfortunately, was not directly on the marina grounds. Considering that after having a drink or two, I might have to walk back to camp in the dark along a country road, I accepted his suggestion and was given a berth one space away from my friend's "Austernfischer". I did not launch "Puffin" as I reckoned we could lift/slide her over the side of the dock on sailing days.
marina camping
camping by the dockside
To my dismay, two other Mirrorists had cancelled their plans to come. Christian who had come to the Schlei last year had written that he'd come on Whitsun Sunday, so there were only two JollenFlottille boats there on Thursday. "Kapitano", one of the participants of the second JollenFlottille (2010), was due to arrive tomorrrow.
07 June
It was blowing a virtual gale on Friday and navigating out of the marina and through the canals to get onto the lakes was not a good prospect. Luckily it was quite warm and not raining. so we hung around town, went sightseeing -- there is a working traditional wind-powered flour mill there and the miller was taking advantage of the strong winds. We also walked along the town canal to see the historical (also wind-powered) restored sawmill and admire some of the traditional flat-bottom barge-style yachts. When "Kapitano" arrived with his "lis" minicruiser, we helped him launch and I got on his boat to assist him getting it to the marina, which involved going into the teeth of the gale along about 300 metres of canal first. We started out with the "small" electric outboard (so as not to drain bthe battery), but even with me paddling with all my might and the outboard at full thrust, we soon ground to a halt but managed to tie up to a pole on the banks to stop us being blown back. Luckily, a bigger electric engine was on board and this, again assisted by my paddling, got us to shelter of the marina. But by the time the boat was moored at her berth, the battery was flat.
As the wind did not abate, we sat by the dock and swapped yarns and had dinner in the nearby pub.
08 June
The wind did not let up, but had increased in the night. To make things worse, rain set in and we needed PLAN B. I'd read that there was a maritime museum in Sneek and suggested we could go and visit that. The suggestion was accepted and K.-H., who is familiar with the area and sails there frequently, drove us there. We had to walk from the car park through the historic town center in rain, but the museum made up for that. It was very interesting and explained why the barges had been so important in Frisia/Friesland - up to the late 19th century, many villages and towns were only accessible by waterway in the autumn and winter, the roads being too boggy or even flooded most of the time.
We later drove to Heeg, where we'd originally planned to stay (all campsites had been booked out over Whitsun, however). There we were able to experience the full power of the storm. In the photo, note the yacht heeling over at her berth due to the wind on the bare rig.
leaning upwind
09 June
On Whit Sunday, the wind had let up somewhat, the sun was shining and we started preparing to set out together. Owing to the predominant wind direction, K.-H. recommended we motor to the Slotermeer, which would ensure that getting home would be easier. Puffin was launched over the dockside (demonstrating that one can push a Mirror bow-first into the water from a height of 80 cm or so).
Sadly, "Kapitano" developed a health problem that would make sailing all day a risky business. He decided to forego the trip and return home. A bitter pill, considering that he'd come from about 400 miles away. Christian, having seen the weather forecasts for the coming days, had decided against coming, so our "fleet" was reduced to just the two boats.
After we'd said farewell to "Kapitano", K.-H. took me in tow and we joined the crowd of boats of all sizes waiting to get through the bridge. There was a lot of traffic coming the other way and we had to wait until they were all through. With the wind blowing and me in tow, it was impossible to stop in line (as the power boats with bow thrusters etc. can do) so we had to tie up and then jostle our way back into the fleet as the signal went green in our direction. Quite an experience with everyone navigating at extremely close quarters, but we got through without any collisions.
traffic jam in Woudsend
Jostling to get through the canal while the bridge is open
Finally ... the bridge
Getting through on time is important

We were met by a stiff breeze and a bit of chop on the Slotermeer, but had enjoyable sailing until we decided that something a bit more nourishing than on-board iron rations were called for and put into a rather disused landing at the entrance of the canal to the village of Balk. There is a beach-side café there and I was able to get a late (it being after three p.m.) meal and a beer while the other skipper preferred more traditional afternoon coffee and cake.
Finally ... the bridge
In Balk, taking a rest

The wind had dropped considerably but was blowing onshore so the best way, for me, was to leave the dock rowing out onto the open water to set sail there. We made another circuit of the lake and then motored back through the canal to our marina. Most other holidaymakers seemed to have left earlier and there was little traffic on the canal. The bridge was even open as we approached, so no waiting there.
10 June
Monday was a sunny and mild day, but the wind had gthered force and was blowing straight into the marina entrance once more. Tomorrow's weather forecast included rain and strong winds and so K.-H. said that rather than stay and have to pack up in rain tomorrow, he'd prefer to leave a day earlier. I'd no objections but decided to hang on, hoping that the forecast would be wrong.
I drove to Heeg to see it in sunny weather. There was a fleet of "Skutjes" with lots of young people aboard in Heeg's port. These flat-bottom boats are raced every year with paying passengers aboard (https://www.skutsjesilen.com). In spite of the winds, several boats were out on the Heegemer Meer, mostly with reefed sails.
barge fleet
Skutjes sheltering in port
I walked through the village and found the boatyard that restores old traditional wooden boats and also builds new ones to the traditional flat-bottom designs. Unluckily I'd taken more videos than photos and my camera battery was flat by now, so I have no pictures of the yard. On the way back to the car, I bought a local magazine on traditional craft as a souvenir and a toy windmill for our grandson. I'd looked for a toy sailing barge, but only found those mantelpiece display objects (probably also made in China), doesn't anyone make real toy sailboats anymore?

After returning to camp, I found that K.-H. was ready to roll. We had lunch together and then I bade him farewell, sat by the marina with a beer and looked through my souvenir magazine. Later I walked to the campsite at which I'd originally planned to stay. It was really quite a hike. The Frisian countryside really is incredibly flat and it's odd to see sails travelling across the meadowland, the canals frequently being higher or at least level with the surrounding countryside.
In the night the weather deteriorated, as forecast.
11 June
It was cold in the night and raining when I woke up in the morning. One bright aspect was that the showers are free of charge at "de Rakken" and a hot shower was a welcome way to start the day. My camping cooker heats up the tent quite well even with the wind tearing at it. I made myself as comfortable as possible, writing up my log after breakfast, while drinking many cups of coffee. As the wind did not drop much and although the rain stopped before noon, I'd had enough. I asked some young people who were camping in a "Valken" next to my mooring to help me get "Puffin" on the roof rack. I'd always thought Mirrors were common in the Netherlands but these two youngsters had never heard of them before. They obliged and helped me, in exchange for me taking pictures of their departure. I even made a little video for them and later found out that they'd given me an incorrect e-mail address. Perhaps they'll find this article and contact me.
By three p.m., I was on the road. The nearer I got to Berlin, the hotter it got and as I approached home, it was over 30°C and I was welcomed by a fireworks display of lightning and thunder.
Looking back, it was disappointing - coming home a day early and only one day's sailing in four. But one can't forecast the weather months in advance of planning such a trip.

That's a good write up of a disappointing event due to bad weather. Dinghy sailing can be frustrating, no wind or way too much for a small boat. When the weather gods smile there's nothing like it.
I'm sure it hasn't put you off.

Thanks for your trip report Gernot, interesting as always.