Nestled in the southwest corner of Delft lies Abtswoudse Bos. It's part of the Lage Abtwoudsche polder, which is on average 10 feet below sea level (it's surrounded by dikes). Contrary to it's name, which means something like "Foresty forest," Abtswoudse Bos is considered "land art," with grids of trees interspersed by well-manicured lawns. A massive Moeder Aarde (Mother Earth) is sculpted into the landscape - her body and limbs made out of elongated hills. She is easily identified in the air photos (see the Google Map at the bottom of this post). On Saturday, eight U.S. Fulbrighters in the Netherlands convened in Delft for a successful kayaking outing on an incredibly windy day.
The Biesbosch is a national park in the Netherlands, located about 30 minutes (drive) southeast of Rotterdam. On Sunday, Henk Jan and I hopped in the Beast (his 400k mile Volvo) and drove down to the Biesbosch for a day of kayaking. The Biesbosch is best explored by boat, since it consists of endless channels that weave around low-lying islands. The Biesbosch has a long history of inhabitants and water management. I'll tell you about that at the end of this post. We spent about 5 hours paddling through the channels, ending up with a solid 11-mile paddle for Henk Jan's first time in a kayak...
Water nerd alert! No kayaking in this post.
One year after the deadly floods of 1953, which killed over 1,800 people, the Dutch began construction on the Delta Works - the largest flood protection system ever constructed. The "Delta Works" generally refers to 13 storm surge barriers (stormvloedkeringen) and dams (dammen) constructed between 1954 and 1997.
In a previous post, I described the Maeslantkering, which was the final barrier completed. Yesterday, Henk Jan and I went on a roadtrip through the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland to visit 3 more structures: Haringvlietsluizen, Brouwersdam, and the Oosterscheldekering. Read on...
[I wrote this post back in January 2015, but I keep it updated each time I learn something new! I will add sailing terms soon!]
While I consider myself a fairly fluent Dutch (/Flemish) speaker, I was surprised at my limited kayaking vocabulary when I first joined the Windhappers kayaking club last September. It's hard to convince someone that you're a competent paddler when they ask you if you know how to do a boogslag (sweep stroke) and you return a blank stare. In the same vein, many of the otherwise-fluent English speakers did not recognize the English terms that I offered up in an effort to reach a mutual understanding.
So, to shrink this gap in communication for myself and anyone else in the same boot, I put together this list of common kayaking and canoeing terms. A big thanks to Tim, Leon, Sytse, Eric, and Jan of the Windhappers for helping me translate the more challenging words. It's a work in progress. Please contact me if you find an error or have suggested additions. Click Read More to see the list of terms!
This was the first field visit for the EMERGO project, a project by TU Delft and NIOZ (the Netherlands Institute of Sea Research) that I'll be working on during my time in the Netherlands. The overarching goal is to understand the morphological and ecological responses of tidal flats to different restoration measures. The project was sparked, in part, by the ongoing loss of intertidal habitats (tidal flats, oyster reefs, marshes, sea grasses) in the Oosterschelde. Between 1976 and 1986, a storm surge barrier was constructed across the mouth of the river. This barrier was the largest component of the 50 year Delta Works flood management project to protect the Netherlands from flooding after devastating floods in 1953. Stay tuned for a future post about this barrier - an epic bike trip is in the works that will involve biking across many of the storm surge barriers.
Anyways, the barrier reduced the tide range in the river (i.e. the tide does not go as high or as low as it used to). Since intertidal habitats depend on being dry and wet for a certain amount of time, this smaller tide range has lead to rapid shrinking and loss of tidal flat and marsh habitat. Many pilot projects are in the ground already to test ways to slow/stop this degradation, including artificial oyster reefs and tidal flat sand replenishments. The EMERGO project will look at how well these (and other) actions address the unraveling of intertidal habitats.
Let's visit some artificial and natural oyster reefs!
How can oyster reefs help restore the Oosterschelde?
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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