Your beeper goes off and you sit bolt upright. It’s three in the morning and with one eye shut you read the incident briefing for the emergency currently unfolding somewhere on the rough IJsselmeer. It could be anything: from engine trouble to a sinking ship. The adrenaline surges through your body, which is why it’s important to stay calm now. In ten minutes you’ll be heading out into the dark on the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer, with its short-crested, choppy waves: badly underestimated by many people.
Menno Betzema has been working for eleven years as a volunteer for KNRM (Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution) in Andijk. His passion for helping people is huge, really huge. In his job as chief skipper, Menno has a responsible task and is sometimes called to make difficult decisions. “If I see that one of my crew members is in danger of falling prey to tiredness or hypothermia, I abort our mission. The safety of the crew comes first, irrespective of the situation, because they are the ones who form a vital resource in the marina at Andijk. They increase safety in this central water sports area.”
Eelco Haagsma has had a berth in the sheltered harbour at Andijk since 1993 and knows what he is talking about. “Years ago, I was out in the middle of the IJsselmeer when a force 12 storm broke out.” Luckily, I’d been warned beforehand and had lowered my sails and donned my lifejacket and lifeline. Many boats were in danger and when the KNRM came alongside and saw that I was okay, they quickly went on to the next boat. Once the wind had dropped, I returned safely to harbour, where people standing on the quay were clapping. It gave me a very warm, secure feeling, which is something that’s highly characteristic for this marina.” Eelco only lives eight kilometres from Andijk, but when he wakes up on his boat in the morning, steps outside and looks out across the IJsselmeer, he experiences the ultimate holiday feeling. “This marina has so much to offer. You can go in all directions from here. You can easily visit the lovely little historical Frisian towns, get out onto the North Sea, and when the tide is right sail to Texel in five hours. Sometimes I sail just outside the harbour and drop my anchor right in front of the bowl. Just waiting for sunset and enjoying the silence. Yep, that’s when I’m utterly content.”
Andijk Marina is considered as an ‘excellent marina’, run by an enthusiastic and professional team, with director Jan Mol at the helm. Eelco: “It has certainly been even more pleasant since Jan’s arrival. The site looks well tended and all the necessary facilities are present. There is a ship’s chandler, a maintenance company and a restaurant where you can have a delicious meal while you enjoy the view of the harbour and the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer that has never lost its character of the sea that it once was. The fishermen say that it can be ghostly at times, but when the water stretches calmly from coast to coast, the IJsselmeer is an oasis of peace and romance.
Andijk has a rural character, but with a bike borrowed from the marina you can be in picturesque Medemblik and Enkhuizen in no time. For children there is a playground in the harbour and the countless IJsselmeer beaches mean that they will never get bored. So life on the IJsselmeer in the West Frisian town of Andijk is good.” Eelco did look at another berth in a different harbour at one point, but it wasn’t the right one. The marina in Andijk is his ‘home’ and he doesn’t envisage ever leaving. At seventy years of age, he is still fit enough to sail. If a day comes when he is unable to, like his neighbours who are in their eighties, he can stop sailing and stay in the harbour. Enjoying the sunrises and sunsets, and listening to the chattering water birds.