Zonnewendetocht 24 and 25 June 2023
Joost Engelen conceived the Zonnewendetocht as a back to basics weekend trip for sails and oars boats.
"Back to Basics" meaning that the participants would be camping in their own tents and cooking their own food.
The trip would be held in the extreme north of the Netherlands on the border of Friesland and Groningen.
Unlike the nearby Lauwersmeer this beautiful backdrop is largely unexplored by the boating public.
On the Saturday we would sail from Lunegat marina towards Munnekezijl and return to Lunegat on the Sunday.
Since it is a round trip it is possible to sail clockwise or anti-clockwise depending on wind strength and direction.
Either way it is about 22km from Lunegat to Munnekezijl and back.
Joost,Leo,Maud - Goat Island Skiff 'GISWerk'
Viola - Viola 14 canoe
Hubert and Klarie - Norwegian pram 'Hatseflats'
Sander - Midget 13 turbo 'Vita Felice II'
Bernard and family - Drascombe Gig 'Wadrover'
Ben and Yvonne - Seil 'Scarlett'
Onno and Anneke - Caledonian Yawl 'Gjoa'
Henk and Heike - MacGregor sailing canoe
Hans - Tabur 320
Menno - Tabur 320
Bengt - MacGregor sailing canoe
Herman and Eliane - Welsford Pathfinder 'Blue Noddy'
Friday 23 June
I had decided to sail on my own keel towards Lunegat.
Therefore my preparations were limited to loading Hatseflats with supplies for four days.
Halfway through the morning I set off from the jetty behind our house.
I started sailing but switched to rowing as soon as I reached the outskirts of Dokkum.
Once clear of the town I hoisted sail and enjoyed the broad reach to the locks at Dokkumer Nieuwe Zijlen.
When I rowed into the Lunegat marina I had covered 15 km and sailed for 3 hours 45 minutes.
Klarie arrived a bit later on her bicycle having needed only 45 minutes for the same distance.
The other participants arrived during the afternoon.
Twins Hans and Menno had each brought a Tabur 320,
a small singlehanding dinghy that was popular in France in the early seventies.
The Tabur 320 was never meant as a cruising dinghy but Hans had fitted them out with oars
and a new sail with which they sailed surprisingly well.
We put up our tents in the marina, cooked our meals and enjoyed the evening quiet.
Saturday 24 June
Joost proposed to sail clockwise to Munnekezijl: eastwards along the southern part of the Lauwersmeer, then on to Zoutkamp before turning into the Muntesylster Ryd towards campsite Lauwersschans.
Hans and Menno had brought cake to celebrate their birthdays and then it was time to go.
We sailed with a SW3 towards the Lauwersmeer and landed at the 'Gin and Tonic' island southeast off the Schoenerbult.
After lunch we turned into the Zoutkamperril towards Zoutkamp.
It blew a bit more now.
Klarie and I kept an eye on Henk and Heike sailing their MacGregor canoe.
All went well but with their low freeboard they sometimes looked a bit precarious when they hit a wave or were passed by big motorboats.
After the lock at the Friese Sluis we hoisted sails and sailed onto the Muntjesylster Ryd.
The sky was blue and it was getting hot and families with children were using the river to cool down.
We ducked under the bridge at Lauwerzijl and moored along the quay at Munnekezijl.
We got our gear from the boats and put up our tents on the camp site.
After dinner we discussed to start at 0800 on Sunday morning because we expected to be rowing most of the time.
This would allow to make most of the morning coolness and reach the Lunegat marina halfway through the afternoon.
Sunday 25 June
I woke early but stayed put until 0700 hours when the alarms in the other tents went off and people got busy.
Klarie and I didn't want to hurry and left at 0900 hours after most of the fleet.
Despite the early hour it was already hot in the sunshine.
I hoisted the sail and tried to beat up the Lauwers.
The river was too narrow for Hatseflats build up speed between tacks, so I put down the rig and started rowing.
After a while we were overtaken by the Engelen family rowing their Goat Island Skiff.
On the heavily laden Hatseflats I had to take it easy in order to make the 20km to Lunegat
and then the remaining 15 km to our home in Dokkum.
Many low bridges and a couple of hours later we finally reached Gerkesklooster and turned right into the Strobosser Trekfeart.
The heat was oppressive but with sufficient water to drink the rowing was bearable.
The S2 wind helped us to 2 knots under sail but the many bridges slowed down our progress.
After sailing for an hour we passed Kollum and entered the Sylster Ryd.
We overtook Sander while he was raising the rig of his Midget 13 after the bridge.
We saw Herman and Eliane heading towards Lunegat marina but did not follow.
Around 1600 hours I dropped Klarie off at Engwierum to collect her bicycle at the marina and cycle to Dokkum.
This would allow me to sail straight to Dokkum and save valuable time.
I sailed on towards Dokkum in the ever decreasing wind.
After the bridge at Ee I lowered the rig and starting rowing.
It was hard going but I finally moored at our jetty.
During the day I had rowed about 30km out of 37km without so much as a blister on my hands.
All crews had thoroughly enjoyed this 'back to basics' trip.
Joost is already thinking about a trip along similar lines for the 2024 season.
A report with photos by the Proot family and their Drascombe Gig can be found on
Dutch Drascombe Owners website.
Satellite map showing round trip.
Camping in the marina at Lunegat - photo Onno van Sandick
Arrival at Gin and Tonic island - photo Heike Roloff
Henk and Heike nearing Munnekezijl - photo Menno van der Zijpp
Saturday evening at Lauwersschans - photo Klarie Bakker
Birthday boys Hans and Menno - photo Bernard Proot
Sunday morning cruise to Gerkesklooster - photo Heike Roloff
Under sail and oars - photo Menno van der Zijpp