Sailing in Zeeland
Almost rhymes, eh? Say it softly: sailing, Zeeland. Sailing is what we do to travel across all the water around us. Whether by water taxi, a sloop, kayak or sail boat. Other vessels too. To be on the water is a great way to relax. The wind, the 360° nature and the water, they all combine. Sometimes you do the work, other times, a local skipper. They know the water, the ways, and the places to be.
Ferry nice ferries
During our ferry years, Zeeland had more than one hundred ferries. They were often the only way for people on one island to get anywhere else. Today we have dams, bridges and tunnels and most of the ferries have retired. A handful still operate, to transport cyclists and pedestrians across short distances that by road would take several hours. Passengers save time, and win that uplifting feeling of a water journey. There are various routes, including between Schouwen-Duiveland and Noord-Beveland, Zeeland-Flanders and Walcheren, and Zuid-Beveland and Tholen.
In Vlissingen you can almost hail ‘n sail, booking a water taxi to travel between the bustle of the town centre and the railway station and Sluiskop area. Passing through the harbours, you’ll see its many maritime sides. Fascinating.
The Veerse Meer was just made for sloops. Comfortable, but in the elements. Moor up on one of the islands, walk up an appetite, take time for a picnic. The lake is not tidal, so the swimming is +1. Sail around a bit, sunbathe, eat, drink, swim. Then shuffle the playlist and start all over. And so the day unfolds. A few hours on a rented sloop, and you’ve set up your own mini-cruise. Captain’s table every minute.
Here’s the deal. A handful, or bunch, of you gets kitted up and y’all climb astride this floating banana, right, about the size of an orca whale. Yellow, of course. It sets sail, turns, dips, leans over, and loses its passengers. Yells drown the noise of the splashing. You’re the last one aboard? Tell the folks back home! See, Mum, there was this banana, see, and look, here’s one of Granny sliding into the water… Yeah. In Brouwersdam.
Calling all kayak captains and crews! Tired of drifting across inland lakes in the kayak, same old paddle? Need a bit more of a thrill? Going out on the open sea is something else, you’d better believe it. In your special sea kayak, your paddle firmly attached to the leash, and your life-jacket done up. Paddle your way through the breakers, against the wind and the waves. Done that? Got wet? Turn around, head back to shore. The waves are wanting to scoop you up more. On the beach now? Another go? Another intrepid chapter of man’s endless quest to conquer the sea? Yes!! Various places will indulge you, like on the Oosterschelde and Westerschelde estuaries. On the (guided) seal search at sea, at the Kop van Schouwen?
Me sailor, you skipper
Need some authority? In Zeeland, real skippers with real sailing boats will take along the real you. Out sailing on the Oosterschelde, you at the helm. A unique view of the Delta Works. Leaving the harbour, raising the sails, finding time to appreciate the views. Another option is to hitch a ride (as paying passenger, not stowaway) on the Morgenster, an old Belgian clipper, still classy, launched in 1901. It now plies the waters of Zeeland from its home port of Zierikzee, from its ‘t Luitje quay. Or, same quay, board the passenger sail boat Scaldis. Both charming, both Zierikzee.
You’ll also have an embarrassing choice of organised excursion trips (‘rondvaarten’). To nature reserves, family group trips, voyages across the Oosterschelde. Seal safaris. These (mini-)voyages of discovery are a great way to embed memories of Zeeland in your mind.