Through The Netherlands via the Standing Mast Routes

The Cruising Association publishes a series of guides to navigation on the basis of direct experience of Members. This new guide is a very important and valuable guide for those intending to use the Netherlands inland waterways. – Highly Recommended

NAME: Through The Netherlands via the Standing Mast Routes
FILE: R2826
AUTHOR: Andy Mulholland, James Littlewood, editor Gordon Knight
PUBLISHER: Cruising Association
BINDING: soft back 
PRICE: £10.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Standing Mast Routes, yachts, motor yachts, sail boats, Netherlands, 
Holland, schuyt, lock, bridge, meer


IMAGE: B2826.jpg
DESCRIPTION:   The Cruising Association publishes a series of guides to 
navigation on the basis of direct experience of Members. This new guide is a 
very important and valuable guide for those intending to use the Netherlands 
inland waterways. -  Highly Recommended

The Netherlands has expanded by reclaiming land from the sea which has also had an impact on the 
extensive network of lakes and waterways. These waterways serve several purposes, providing routes 
for commercial and leisure/sport vessels, regulating water within the country and being an important part 
of the sea defence system. For the size of the country the extensive network is remarkable but it also, 
like many countries, has to accommodate rail and road networks, provide a lock system to maintain 
stable water levels and cope with demands for housing, agriculture and manufacturing.

For the sailor, coming into the waterway network from the sea, it is essential to understand the potential 
dangers and the most suitable routes for the craft being sailed. The Netherlands waterways are both a 
magnet for leisure/sports sailors from other countries and a method of sailing from the North Sea to the 
Baltic in the relative safety and protection of the inland waters. For some, there will also be a desire to 
use these waterways as a gateway into the waterways of neighbouring countries. Some will arrive in 
motor yachts, but many will arrive in sail boats with standing masts. Both types of craft will have a water 
draft and both will have an air draft. It is therefore critical to understand the depth of water and the height 
of obstructions crossing the waterways. This means that this new guide is vital reading for both types of 
vessel, as is knowledge of places where vessels can moor, refuel and resupply. As this guide has been 
based on the direct experience of Cruising Association Members it offers practical advice that is current 
and accurate, coming from sailors with considerable experience of sailing the waters.

The Netherlands has always been careful to ensure that roads and railways do not unduly impede 
navigation of the inland waterways. In contrast, the Broads, just across the North Sea in Eastern 
England, has been rather less hospitable, with planning authorities allowing all sorts of low fixed 
bridges to save money for road and rail networks.  The result is that many sail boats using these 
waterways are forced to mount their masts in tabernacles to allow them to drop the mast to shoot low 
bridges. However, that still leaves an air draft to be considered and they are also likely to have a lifting 
keel to reduce water draft when not under sail. Every year, a number of these boats sail across the North 
sea to explore the Netherlands internal waterways and to use them as a short cut to the Baltic. That they 
could shoot Dutch bridges without them being raised does not mean that they should, or would be 
permitted to, so that information in this guide is equally important to them.

In general terms, motor yachts will have a lower water draft and air draft requirement than sailing yachts 
of a similar length. Inland waterways frequently offer a clear draft of 1.5 metres upwards. Typically 
depths of 2 to 4 metres will be common and, if regular dredging is not undertaken, there will stretches 
where that depth reduces on one or both sides of a channel. If air draft is not a consideration, there will 
still be, in many cases, locks at some point to regulate the depth of the waterway. It may be that the 
skipper has to moor up to open a pair of lock gates and then close them behind the vessel before opening 
sluices to fill or empty the lock to allow a safe exit. It may also be the case that sailors are not permitted 
to operate the locks which are manned by professional lock keepers and there may be schedules of 
opening times. This is all vital information that will make the difference between a safe and enjoyable 
cruise, or an experience best avoided.

Air draft can make for a more complex set of considerations. Generally, bridges across a waterway may 
have set opening times or require the sailor to radio ahead and follow instructions. The Netherlands has 
an amazing number of bridges with considerable variation in type. Many will not completely open, but 
rise to provide for a greater air draft, some may swing up to leave clear air draft and others will raise, 
providing clear air draft for at least part of the width of the waterway. For most stretches of waterway in 
the Netherlands, depth is regulated and not tidal, but there are some stretches that are tidal and there may 
be seasonal variation in water levels. The Standing Mast Route traverses four Regions of the Netherlands 
and it is not a single Route, but there is collaborative agreement between various Dutch bodies to link 
together and manage their various waterways. That may seem a recipe for disaster, but the Netherlands 
developed from Seven Provinces, each with significant autonomy and once with three Admiralties, 
providing protection for the country and its trade routes. A long time ago, the Netherlands developed a 
unique and effective environment of collaboration that is demonstrated by the smooth running Standing 
Mast Route.

The guide has many excellent full colour photographs to support the clear text. Although the guide is 
primarily intended for Cruising Association Members, it is essential reading for any sailor visiting the 
Netherlands in a private yacht, or sailing the waterways in a hire craft, or as a passenger on a cruise boat. 
It is also an excellent source of information on the waterways and surrounding areas for anyone wishing 
to improve knowledge of the Netherlands. All of this at a very low price.

For the keen sailor, the guide includes a 25% off the first year's membership of the Cruising Association 
with access to a range of very attractive facilities and services. An app is available to provid an inter 
active service.