Ijmuiden has been the last port of call for me during my trip from Porto in Portugal traversing the Bay of Biscay to Brest and further on through the English Channel as part of a bigger homecoming sailing trip of the Bavaria 37 FREE WILLY – in this, Ijmuiden of course has a special meaning to me as here 10 days of tranquility and offshore sailing at its best has been drawn to an end. Ambiguous as I felt, it couldn´t have been a better place to leave FREE WILLY than Ijmuiden.
Ijmuiden is situated at the western entrance from the North Sea to the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. It´s a very frequently used port that will be accessed both by pleasure craft and commercial shipping as well. Like most of the Dutch territory Ijmuiden as well has been wrenched in a harsh, century old fight, from the rough seas, encapsulated by high dikes. But beware: Coming here you should not expect to arrive in the cheesy, romantic and often advertised part of the Netherlands. There is absolutely nothing romantic about Ijmuiden – but this is what makes it kind of interesting as well.
How to sail to Ijmuiden Marina
Sailing the North Sea either up North to the Frisian Islands and further on to Germany or Denmark – or coming down heading South for the English Channel, there aren´t many choices to find shelter against the often very harsh weather conditions along the Dutch coast. Well, at least if you do want to sail carefree and not taking the tides into account. Ijmuiden is next to Den Helder (a further bit North) the only of such deep water harbours of the Netherlands.
One might easily recognize Ijmuiden when sailing along the shoreline. The Dutch coast is not very exciting: A green stripe of some 10 metres of height, which is the dike, behind it an occasional church or chimney, that´s basically it. Ijmuiden is a moloch. From far away the sailing crew will be aware of its location by a plume of thick black smoke hanging over the small town. That´s the exhaust gases of many chimneys. Ijmuiden houses some industry, a huge fish-processing plant and, of course, an even bigger juggernaut in form of a steel works plant. Right next to it, just as if it was normal, the marina.
Mooring in Seaport Marina Ijmuiden
Seaport Marina Ijmuiden is a place that has been planned and executed completely aware of the necessity to provide a deep water tide-independent marina for pleasure craft. There are 650 berths available, many of which are leased to part time visitors. Upon arrival one steers to starboard, enters the large basin and will find a pontoon for all new arrivals to port side. After paying demurrage (either at the very friendly staffed harbour office or the automatic payment station) one can choose a proper berth.
When we arrived we had been greeted by a staff member and welcomed full heartedly. The Dutch – as I can see it as a German – are always welcoming, smiling and helpful. I´ve honestly never in my whole life seen a grumpy Dutch fellow. Ijmuiden marina houses a fleet of very different sailing guys: There´s the local daysailing family in a classy wooden jolly coming here to the sea from Amsterdam, the German charter crew, a fully equipped Cruiser from the UK, the mandatory Danish performance cruiser. A nice, exciting mixture of people gather here – which is the character of Ijmuiden: People meet along their trips down South or up North.
Demurrage in Ijmuiden Seaport Marina
With 28 Euros daily charge for a boat from 11 to 12 metres we found the price to be average. Regarding the fact that there is not much choice for sailing yachts to find shelter along the coastline of the Netherlands, I was honestly a bit surprised that the prices wouldn´t be higher. The marina also offers marine lift service, dry stands and a small yard for repair or maintenance works.
Just over the dikes there is a huge beach which will be occupied by thousands of people during summer time: That´s the home beach for all Amsterdam residents and even day-trip travellers from Germany will take a 3 hour-drive to enjoy French Riviera atmosphere. That recreational hot spot comes with the nice side effect that you might find beach bars with a wide range of delicacies along the beach: Pricing accordingly.
Bathroom facilities & Amenities
Seaport Marina Ijmuiden is a very large place. Choose your berth wisely because walking distance ashore to the bathrooms can be exhausting. Mooring alongside at the visitor´s pontoon would mean a 10 minute-walk just to take a whizz. The bathrooms may be accessed by a code. It´s a large facility with toilets, showers and loads of washing machines. The facilities are very (very!) clean at all time which boosts comforts much.
Besides these there isn´t really much in Ijmuiden Marina since the town is some kilometres away. If you want to replenish provisions on your boat you ought to take a taxi or rent a bike to reach the nearest supermarket. Ijmuiden is much more like a springboard to Amsterdam or a resting place for transients. It has a strange blend of industrial charm with slow-speed marina life, weather-painted seafaring guys with sunbathing beach beauties. If you open your mind and let it go it will be a nice experience.
Dining out and resting one´s Oars
Marina Ijmuiden offers a wide range of restaurants, ranging from Chinese Cuisine to Burgers and BBQ. I am honest, I do not fancy Dutch food very much. For my taste it´s often too salty, too much deep-frying going on. We tried a Japanese restaurant only to find out it was the occasional Thai-run tourist-feeding (nothing against Thai food though) and the day after sat on the beach in one of the bars feeding off of tasty sandwiches. We decided to switch to preferred onboard-cooking afterwards.
After all, Seaport Marina Ijmuiden was a strange experience: The marina is top-notch, fully equipped, good WiFi-connection with all amenities a sailor needs. On the other hand, the vicinity to the heavy industry creates a strange feeling (and if wind direction is North it may also be suffocating) – together with the large, crowded sandy beach the overall picture is unique. I quite liked it here.
My overall assessment of Ijmuiden Harbour is 7 out of 10 points
Link to Ijmuiden Website here
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