Your beeper sounds and you sit up, wide awake. It is 3 AM. Barely awake, you read a brief description of the incident taking place somewhere on the ferocious IJsselmeer. It could be anything from a faulty engine to a sinking vessel. Adrenaline takes possession of your body but you need to remain calm, especially in moments like this. You'll have to set sail on the IJsselmeer into the dark night within ten minutes. The IJsselmeer with its short, tough waves is dangerous and underestimated by a lot of people.
Menno Betzema has been working with the KNRM (Koninklijke Nederlandse Redding Maatschappij) [Royal Dutch Rescue Company] in Andijk for eleven years now. His drive to help people is endless. As the head skipper, Menno has a responsible task which sometimes requires him to make tough decisions. “As soon as I notice one of our crew getting fatigued or hypothermic, I abort our mission. The crew’s safety comes first, regardless of the situation, because of the important role they play at the Andijk Marina. They increase the safety of this central water sports area.”
Eelco Haagsma has had his own berth at the secluded Andijk harbour since 1993 and knows all about it. “Years ago I was sailing at the centre of the IJsselmeer when a storm hit at wind force 12. Luckily I was forewarned so I had lowered my sails and put on my safety jacket and connected my lifeline. A lot of boats were in trouble and when the KNRM came by and saw that I was OK, they quickly continued to the next boat. Once the wind subsided and I returned to the harbour safely, people were clapping on the quay. This made me feel warm and safe, which distinguishes this marina.” Eelco lives at a mere 8 km from Andijk, but when he wakes up on his boat in the morning, steps outside and glances over the IJsselmeer, he feels like he is on a vacation. “This marina has so much to offer. You can go everywhere from here. You can easily visit one of the cute Frisian historic towns, sail out onto the North Sea and if the tide allows it, you can sail to Texel within five hours. Sometimes I just exit the marina and anchor right before the bay. Just waiting for the sun to set and enjoying the peace and quiet. During these moments, I am completely happy.”
Andijk Marina is considered to be an ‘excellent marina’, operated by an enthusiastic and professional team led by director Monica de Vast. Eelco: “This place is only getting better, especially since the arrival of Monica. The terrain is properly maintained and all the facilities you may need, are there. There’s a boating store, a maintenance company and a restaurant where you can enjoy a delicious meal with a view of the marina and the IJsselmeer. The IJsselmeer has never lost the character of the sea it once was. Fishermen say the waters can be treacherous but when the water is smooth from coast to coast, the IJsselmeer becomes a true oasis of peace, quiet and romance. Andijk has a rural character, but with bicycle borrowed from the marina, you’ll be in the picturesque Medemblik and Enkhuizen before you know it. The marina boasts a playground for the little ones and the many beaches around the IJsselmeer are a constant source of fun as well. The West-Frisian Andijk by the IJsselmeer makes for some good times.” Eelco has explored other marinas but ended up staying put. The Andijk Marina is his ‘home’ and there’s no way he is leaving. At seventy years old, he is still physically capable of sailing. When the day comes that he no longer can, he will do the same as his neighbours who are already in their eighties: just stay put in the marina. Enjoying the sunrise and sunset, listening to the chirping water birds.