Two Sundays ago, HJ and I met up with Carlos (a colleague from work) and his family for their first time kayaking. We did a little loop in what-turns-out-to-be a recently restored wetland - Jantjesplaat. Read on to see photos from our trip, and aerial photos of the wetland before and after completion of the restoration project - so neat!
After slathering ourselves with sunscreen (a rare occurrence up here in the Netherlands/Belgium) and paying for a PFD for Jovan (seriously? we have to pay for a life jacket for a 6-year-old? I voiced my dismay - apparently no one is required to wear/have a PFD in their kayak), Carlos and Jovan enthusiastically piled into a double kayak. Roxi was less certain. I convinced her to trust me, more or less a complete stranger, and step into the boat as I held it stable. She got in smoothly, picked up the paddle, and after about 5 minutes of big eyes and wobbles she was well on her way. Off we went!
On the bike ride home, HJ and I passed Dajak (Dordtse kajak- en kanovereniging, i.e. Dordrecht kayak club). They are perfectly located on the river, just across the Nieuwe Meerwede river from the Biesbosch. Note to self: if I ever move to Dordrecht, join this kayak club!
Water nerding - kayaking through a restored wetland (Polder Jantjesplaat)
Funny story: During these types of restoration projects it's common to keep water out of the project area until excavation of channels, slope grading, and planting is complete. This makes it much easier for construction equipment to navigate the area, and therefore faster and less expensive construction. Then, when the project is complete, a dike is breached in a controlled way and the area is inundated with water, beginning a long, slow restoration process. This project was no exception to this approach. However, according to this old news article, on the night of December 30, 2012, a dike broke on the southeast side of the polder, causing the entire project area to flood earlier than planned, oops! It's not clear what caused the dike to break (I couldn't find reports of a big storm on/around that date). The project was nearing completion, but there were still some final steps planned. "As usual, there were some who profited from the new situation," laughed park ranger Albert Rook, "The geese, swans, and ducks all think it's great." The sand removed as part of the restoration excavation is being used to raise land in other places for development.
This map shows Polder Jantjesplaat before restoration - agricultural fields with linear drainage channels: http://np-debiesbosch.nl/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Brug_Deeneplaat_legenda.pdf
This map shows Polder Jantjesplaat in its restored condition, with tidal channels and wetlands: http://www.biesboschmuseumeiland.nl/downloads/wandelkaartje2013.pdf
Restoration of Polder Jantjesplaat: A Timeline in Aerial Images
More pictures from the kayaking trip... click to enlarge!
Duration: 1.5 hrs
Distance: 4.2 km (2.6 miles)
Weather: Hot and sunny!!