Sunday, August 21, 2011

De Biesbosch - in transition...

The National Park De Biesbosch is one of the largest remaining freshwater tide areas in NW-Europe. It consists of a network of rivers and smaller and larger creeks with islands (with 3 large fresh water basins in the middle). The Biesbosch is an attractive place to paddle on a short distance from home (half an hour by car), but it has been more than a year ago I paddled there for the last time. Today I had an appointment with Govert for a paddle-tour in the Biesbosch.

It was quite a different experience compared to last time. Our last visit was in winter. Most of the creeks were covered with a layer of ice, it was quiet, the Biesbosch was deserted - we did only meet a fox, a few deer and a lot of birds. Today was a warm summer-day, at the end of the holidays and the Biesbosch was over-crowded with loud people in motorboats. A lot of people, few wildlife. We passed by a real traffic jam when one of the large cruise-boats was manoeuvring through the creeks. Surprisingly we did hardly meet any other paddlers. That's quit strange with such fantastic weather. But so we still had the smaller creeks all for ourselves ;-)

In transition: not only the season changed - the National Park itself changes too: as part of the national sustainable flood risk management strategy and in order to restore the natural situation, agricultural areas are transformed into wetlands and added to the estuary. This summer the former "polder" De Zuiderklip was flooded (the satellite picture of Google Maps dates from before the inundation). It was amazing to see today how fast wildlife returns, obviously the waterfowls (white herons!) feel already very comfortable in the Zuiderklip (no acces to the Zuiderklip, but a good overview from a bird-watch station). An upcoming change is that(2012) most creeks in the centre zone of the Biesbosch will be closed for motorboats. A measure that definitely will change the experience of a summer-visit of the Biesbosch!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Marsdiep

View on the skyline of Den Helder over the Marsdiep, seen from the SW-tip of Texel. Den Helder looks close, but the distance is almost 2 nautical miles.

The Marsdiep is the gap between Den Helder (on the mainland of Holland) and Texel (the largest Dutch Wadden Island). The Marsdiep connects the Northsea with the Waddensea. Four times a day the water squeezes itself through the narrow gap.
The exposed location in combination with the strong tidal currents, the busy shipping lanes, the complex setting of buoys and the nearby sandbanks make the Marsdiep the favourite location for the leadership assessment of NKB-Zeevaardigheid Extra (= the Dutch equivalent of the BCU 4 Star Leader Sea Award). Yesterday 2 seakayakers passed the test. Congratulations!