“You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over”

Nr 48. Serene Stellendam

The contrast between the vibrant Rotterdam and our next harbor Stellendam could not be bigger: Marina Stellendam is a tranquil harbor in the middle of a nature reserve. So we were used to wake up in Rotterdam in the Veerhaven with the city sounds of trams, people going to work, watertaxis passing by and restaurants and terraces being busy. In Stellendam we hear bird sounds in the morning and that’s it! It’s also a nice contrast, because in Stellendam it’s quiet and life moves on in a slower pace.

The sail from Veerhaven Rotterdam to Marina Stellendam was symbolic for the change: we started sailing on the busy river Nieuwe Maas and had to communicate a lot with all the sectors. When we sailed into the side arm of the river, called Oude Maas, it became less busy and once we passed the Botlek bridge and Spijkenisse bridge, it become more and more quiet. Only a small ferryboat with cyclists passed us by and no other boats were seen on the next river, called Spui. We passed the village of Nieuw-Beijerland and then we came into the waters of the Haringvliet which lays between the island of Goeree Overflakkee and Voorne Putten.

Haringvliet is an interesting water area, because since 1970 it was shut off by the North Sea thanks to the famous project Deltawerken: the Haringvlietdam was build then. Because of the Haringvlietdam the salt water disappeared as well as the influence of the tides. This change caused a lot of damage to the nature living there, certain fishes almost became extinct in this area of the Netherlands.

In 1997, the government started experimenting with opening up the Haringvlietdam again little by little to let in the salt water again. This caused much debate among the inhabitants of the surrounding islands, because the new tides had consequences for busy shipping traffic and people felt less safe on the islands because they were less protected from the North Sea waters. However, nature is getting restored again and the many birds returning to this area is a direct effect of the more salty waters nowadays.

We visited Bird Observatory ‘Tij’ in Stellendam (which is short for Dutch word The Egg and also short for the word Tides) which has the unique shape of a gigantic egg. So it feels very natural walking around in the round shaped Observatory, made by wood and other natural materials, and hearing all the bird sounds nearby. You have to check the water level before entering the footpath towards the Egg, because it can get flooded in the spring and autumn time!

In this tranquil area we invited family and friends over to enjoy this peaceful place and we sailed with them during quiet afternoons on the Haringvliet waters.