IJsselmeer, a region which was created specifically for boaters, offers numerous possibilities for navigation and a well developed infrastructure. Several tourist resorts makes this region even more attractive for groups who charter yachts, and if it is not enough, it is worth noting that Amsterdam is just a few miles away.
Sea & Coast
Not actually a sea as the name would suggest but rather a large lake, Ijsselmeer is a body of water with the area of 100 sq km in the central part of Netherlands. With an average depth of 5 to 6m, it’s easy to understand why it’s not classified as a sea but taking into consideration its size, it deserves that name. In fact, it’s the largest lake in Western Europe, why gives it a large potential.
IJsselmeer is an artificial lake created in 1932 when the inland sea of Zuiderzee was dammed, thus creating a huge body of fresh water that’s used both as a water reserve and as a recreational sailing area by boatmen. The regions this huge lake expands in the Netherlands are known as Flevoland, North Holland and Friesland and they are full of resorts with ports and marinas suited for sailing. Among one of the most popular is Monnickendam.
The geography of the IJsselmeer is perfect for safe sailing. Today the lake is full of fresh water, but prior to the construction of the dam, the access to the open sea meant the area was full of brackish water. Though considered a tourist region, the low shores have been turned into fertile land that expanded the surface of the country by hundreds of sq km. Unfortunately, what that means for the visitor is that the natural vegetation is all but gone, replaced by cultivation plants. Get ready for seemingly endless green fields along dykes and polders.
The weather is pretty much similar to that of the North Sea coast, except a little bit milder thanks to the vast masses of water and the low altitudes, and also less windier thanks to the continental mass to the west. The best time to visit is during late spring and early summer when the fields and in full bloom and the air and water temperatures are at their highest. Expect temperatures around the 23-25 degrees Celsius values in July, perfect for a holiday.
Culture & History
The IJsselmeer region doesn’t have a long history but ever since its birth it has been inexorably linked with sailing, and the Dutch practice a lot of sailing on these waters. Apart from a modern infrastructure, there are also a few thriving tourist communities on these shores where the visitor can get a glimpse of rural life in Netherlands.
Another reason for its popularity is the relative short distance to Amsterdam, a great European metropolis that can connect foreign crews to almost any place in the world. Places such as Volendam, Marken and Monnickendam are all just under 20km from Amsterdam and easily reached in under one hour by regular bus tours.
Seamanship & Experience
The IJseelmeer is a popular region for sailing especially for the lovely weather conditions and the relative safety it provides being a continental body of water. However, the vast surface of water does pose some problems, especially in high winds when, due to the shallow water, waves quickly get too high. skippers are advised to keep an eye on the weather report because weather changes here can occur quite suddenly in this region.
To those crews that want to experience the open water experience, there is the possibility of getting to Waddenzee (Wadden Sea) to the north via two locks on the dyke, but in order to do so, you must have knowledge of tidal navigation and also be in possession of tidal charts because this region is affected by tides and in bad weather by tidal streams.