Here's what you need to know about cruising the Frisian Islands
The Frisian Islands are in an area of rapid and constant change, so it is essential to use up-to-date charts. German chart pack 3015 is updated annually and comprises thirteen A2 size charts, including directions to marinas. Others covering the area include BA chart 1635 and Imray C26.
Pilots: Cruising Guide to the Netherlands and Cruising Guide to Germany and Denmark, both by Brian Navin, published by Imray. Also useful: North Sea Passage Pilot, by Brian Navin, published by Imray, and The Cruising Almanac, published by the Cruising Association.
The seegats should not be attempted in onshore winds of more than perhaps Force 4. Once into the narrow approach channels you may well have to motor-sail to cope with their twists and turns. Tidal streams in these channels along the south sides of the islands meet or divide at a watershed, often drying to about 1m, situated roughly two-thirds of the way along from the western end of the island. Drying parts of the channels are marked with withies (generally port-hand ones) and the deeper sections with buoys.
About the area
This is the real-life area depicted so cleverly in Erskine Childers’ The Riddle of the Sands. It is either the scenic route to (or from) the Baltic, or it is a destination in itself, providing a fascinating world that changes with each tide and challenges the navigator at every turn, although it also rewards the cruising crew with enchanting harbours and villages on islands with beautiful beaches and quiet roads and tracks.
Things to see and do
Each of the islands is reliant on tourism, so there are tourist information centres in the towns and plenty to do.
- Borkum Hire a bike, visit the old lighthouse and the bandstand, have a beach day with a ‘basket’
- Juist Beaches, swimming, concerts
- Norderney Bike hire, windmill café, birdwatching, Kaiser Wilhelm monument, beaches
- Baltrum Thatched church in shape of sextant
- Langeoog Walks and water tower
- Spiekeroog Walks to dunes overlooking German Bight with views to Helgoland, horse-drawn Museum Train and nature trail, wigwam-shaped church
- Wangerooge Train through nature reserve, lighthouse