How I Went Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands and Enjoyed Birdwatching

Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands
Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

Crushing on Captain Jack Sparrow for aeons I thought it was time I tried my hand at sailing. My heart ached when I found out that sea monsters with tentacles and handsome drunk pirates were mythical creatures. As a consolation, I discovered that sailing comes with a lot of bird and horizon watching. So, I went sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands.

I piled my bag with motion sickness tablets enough for the Titanic, wrong coloured shoes, (yes, there is a dress code for sailing) and waterproofed everything should the boat hit an iceberg.   

Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

Dutch villages are known for iconic windmills, beautiful tulip gardens, impressive old towns with stunning architecture in the form of churches, archways, museums, and bridges.

Dutch villages are known for iconic windmills, beautiful tulip gardens, impressive old towns with stunning architecture in the form of churches, archways, museums, and bridges.

Andijk, “at the dyke” in English, is one such village surrounding Lake Ijssel in the province of North Holland, the Netherlands. An ideal destination for sailing enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Medemblik, Enkhuizen and Hoorn are other beautiful villages within a radius of 20km.


Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands
Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands
Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

Learning to sail

I was surprised to learn that the essential factor for sailing is not a handsome captain but wind. Everyone complained about not having enough wind to sail. Oh! I’m qualified in utterly unprepared trips, don’t believe me? Read this.

I felt flattered when my skipper (a term also used for captain especially for small ships and boats) Wolfgang, discovering my naivety, chose me to steer the yacht. I got a crash course in sailing which included safety protocols, sailing jargons, and phrases to be yelled at people in distress. 

It only took me ten minutes of steering to gather why everyone else refused to do the job. The job was quite simple. Have a reference in the horizon, orient yourself and keep steering while keeping an eye on a couple of meter readings. Only ten minutes of steering sucked the joy out of my day. I yawned like a water buffalo. Yes, I just made that up. Watching my yacht-mates bask under the sun, snacking and drinking while taking in the gorgeous views that came with a side of tranquillity wasn’t aiding my situation. 

Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands
Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

A very little about sailing

Depending on weather conditions and type of sailboat there are different ways to sail.  But, here are some very basic steps:

  • Turn the boat into the wind
  • Start the motor 
  • Hoist sails
  • Head down wind

Depending on the amount of wind blowing one can either sail with the help of only sails or with a combination of sails and motor or only motor. 

There you have it. 


Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

If you ignore the steering task given to you (or me), everything else about sailing is divine. You enjoy the best sunrise and sunset; birdwatch and spend quality time with water birds; have a lot of me and sea-time gazing into the horizon, which has a calming effect on you and as a result you are even willing to forgive your skipper. And finally, after docking your boat, you get to explore a new town, make new friends and taste local delicacies.

The best part I enjoyed was bird watching. I sailed at a peak breeding season. The dock was teeming with parent birds either building nests or foraging and feeding the chicks. 

I spent hours with a family of crested Grebes, parents and three eternally hungry chicks. The pair toiled to feed the screaming chicks. Every time one of the parents caught a fish it called out to the chicks from a distance, and the excited chicks responded in a cacophony of cackles. I lost a few a kilo just watching the relentless parents make several trips to feed the chicks and decided never to have children. 


Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands
Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

A sea of seagulls

Since I spent more time with birds over people, my kind skipper made a trip to Insel De Kreupel (Island of Kreupel) this time with him behind the wheel.  Boy, was I impressed! With the Island I mean. Insel De Kreupelis an artificial island within the Ijsselmeer, (pronounced Iselmeer). It is built with a low stone wall or groyne as a bird sanctuary. 

Living in a coastal city sighting seagulls is like sighting pigeons. The island was a seagull haven occupied mainly by Black-headed seagulls and I haven’t seen anything so beautiful surrounded by ubiquitous seagulls. The stone wall surrounding the island was painted white with Seagull poop and looked artistic, like some contemporary bird art.  The flying cormorants, ducks and other water birds dotting the sky added to the gorgeous scene, an emotional and fulfilling experience. 

I held back my tears of joy, took off to the front of the boat, enjoyed the scenic views of sailboats ahead of us in the horizon, cool breeze in my face, massive waves beneath us.  Just the thought of it soothes my mind. 

Sailing in Andijk, the Netherlands

Travel Tips

Hoorn is the closest train station to Andijk

If you’re in the Netherlands you can plan your travel using the local travel portal or Flixbus or Eurail from within Europe

Closest airport is in Amsterdam


Things to pack for Sailing 

  • Sleeping bag. One could also rent bedding depending on the location. 
  • Airy T-shirt
  • Long-sleeved shirt when it’s cold or to prevent sunburn
  • Thin sweatshirt
  • Fleece or softshell jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Wind and waterproof outdoor jacket
  • Shorts or convertible zip pants 
  • Long trousers or zip pants
  • Jeans or regular trousers
  • Water and windproof pants
  • Sandals or trekking sandals
  • Slippers or flip flops
  • Firm shoes with a white sole
  • Waist pouch or fanny pack could be handy
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses ideally with a safety strap
  • Swimwear
  • Towel
  • Bicycle gloves (optional)
  • Medication (including motion sickness tablets if you become seasick)
  • Toiletries 
  • Sunscreen lotion
  • Sun hat 
  • Torchlight
  • Waterproof bags to store electronic devices and documents 
  • Waterproof watch if you prefer wearing a watch(optional)
  • Snacks, energy bars

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  1. Thanks for the handy tips as to what to pack when going for sailing! It seems like you had a blast. I am glad you had nice sunny weather to enjoy it the most! Bird watching would have been the highlight for me.

  2. That sounds like the kind of trip I’d love. We’ve spent a fair amount of time on boats in Belgium, which I imagine would be similar. I never realised quite how many different water birds there are before taking those trips. I’m glad you got to see all the young birds too. The parents do work so hard to keep the youngsters fed and safe, and it’s fascinating to watch.

  3. I’ve never been sailing but it sounds great. To be on the open water, the quiet. Sounds heavenly. And I’m sure I’d enjoy the bird watching as well. It’s not normally something I would do, but I guess you can’t help yourself out on the water, especially if the horizon is only water. I don’t think I’d be much good at steering either.

  4. Great pictures, and good tips. Seems to be great fun. Bird watching is not that easy in my terms, but going through your blog you have handled it in a right way. Good to see it.

  5. A fascinating read, I didn’t know about Andijk. We love to try new experiences and to immerse ourselves in nature on travels, so this looks like it would be something we would enjoy a lot. Thank you for the inspiration!

  6. As someone who sails frequently your post made me smile, especially the bit about the shoes.It looks like you had a wonderful day and saw a beautiful part of the Netherlands.I loved the photos as well.

Let me know your thoughts