Sept - Nov 2023

From zutphen to the waddenzee

By: Bela Evers

After having got our boat, it took a while before we started training with Ambrosia due to schedules. But once we started it was a matter of GoGoGo. Our aim is to get as much training in as possible, not only on rivers but out on sea. Also training with boat equipment etc.. So our aim is to row from Zutphen to Ijmuiden in stages before Christmas. That way we not only go on adventure, see new parts of Holland, but we have a great training and meet some wonderful people along the way. Here’s the story up until November. We now have the Waddenzee and North Sea still to go.

Rowing from Zutphen to Kampen 

We had trained in August and early Sept in and around the Harbour of Zutphen, but now (end Sept)  it was time to leave our trusted harbour in Zutphen (Noorderhaven) where we were looked after by the harbour masters. This time it was only Sara, Wilco and myself. Paul was abroad for work, and besides that we were transitioning team member since Paul could not commit to the Pacific trip anymore due to personal reasons. Paul however will still be part of the team but more as a training buddy which is great news.

Our ‘set off’ started a little different than planned since we spent the first 30 minutes trying to net out Wilco’s phone that fell into the water as he stepped on board. Ouch, a lesson that Wilco will not forget. While trying to fish for the phone, we got talking to the harbour master, which happens to be a good friend of Bela. When she heard there was a space free on the boat she immediately volunteerd to jump on board. Adrie has a love for water although is less of a water sporter but even so, she was thrilled with the opportunity to row with us. A chance of a lifetime.
The weather was perfect, the last of the summer days. The sun was shining and a chance to test out our newly sponsored Julbo sunglasses. You could still feel the summer vibe as we watched the cyclists, walkers, boats passing by. We probably passed about 5 passenger ferries which gave a touristic feeling and a chance to get some extra looks from passersby. The Ijssel was at its finest (as always). As we got into Kampen it got windier but not too much to spoil the excitement. By this time Adrie was happy to steer more than row.

Another 52 kilometers were clocked on our rowing times, a total of 6 hours. Not bad having a novice on board. The harbour was not new to us as we were there 6 months earlier with our training boat. We left Ambrosia (our boot) moored up in a fine harbour under a lamp post which gave a kind of spotlight effect, accentuated as the darkness began to fall.

Rowing from Kampen to Lelystad

Only 2 of us (Wilco and Bela) could make the training today which would take us from our stay in Kampen to Lelystad over the Kettelmeer and onto the Ijsselmeer. It was also the day when Bram would do a ‘trial’ training to see if it would click as the fourth team member and replacement of Paul. Bram sailed in his earlier days and always dreamt of sailing an ocean, but when he heard you could row an ocean it seemed like an adventure of a lifetime. Coming from an adventure lifestyle background, and having the mental and physical stamina of a police officier, Bram was a actually a great guy to have on board. He had a big smile on his face even though he just came out of his night shift. Bram picked up the technique really well, the only thing he had to get used to were those initial blisters and bottom pain. Yes, it’s a crime to begin with but it’s about training every part of your body… literally. We had another guest rower on board that also has a love for water and loved the idea of steering us. Leaving the Ijssel River going onto the open lakes was a great change of scenery. Big windmills towering over us as we got onto the Ijsselmeer, and just before coming into the harbour we tested out our autopilot. Another 39 km ticked off.

Our stay in Lelystad

The weather wasn’t always on our side for training, so we stayed a bit longer in Lelystad than we planned. But we must say it was one of the most social harbours. There was a small coffee canteen where you’d grab a free warm drink and have a chit chat with the other boat owners. We’d get interested chats going as people couldn’t quite comprehend the challenge we’d be undertaking.

We spent one of our non-rowing days wisely, and instead used the time to go through the boat equipment, unpacking the Para anchor (floating anchor for at sea) and jumping in the water with our safety suits on. Also going through the manuals and the outstanding training needs was a useful exercise. Of course we also had to mark the day with a celebratory drink in the bar – toasting to the fact that we were complete as a team… and it felt good. Bram left for home while Bela, Wilco and Sara spent the night on the boat and testing out new  freeze dried food ..a little bit cold but totally fine.

The following day we got a visit from Ralph Tuijn, an ocean rower pur sang, who has several ocean rowing records under his belt.  We were fortunate to row his boat earlier in the year and now invited him on board ours to take a look. He was curious with our new boat and with his knowledge he answered some of our questions. It was super that he was with us that morning, before departing back home.

You can take a look at the video we made about the boat here 

Lelystad to Enkhuizen

We had one training around Lelytstad… but now the weather conditions were good to make the trip. It was Sara, Wilco and Bela as Bram had to work. A Saturday afternoon when the wind started to die down a bit, still a little choppy at times but good for the training. We soon put the boat on autopilot so the 3 of us could row together instead of one hand steering. That was chill. Our rear mirror view was super helpful as well as taking a look out from time to time.  Once in Enhuizen we were treated to the beautiful harbours that Enkhuizen has in its portfolio. We arrived into Buyshaven after 4.5 hours just before sunset having rowed a distance of 28km. We are super thankful to this harbour as with all the other harbours who have supported up by donating a box for us. Once moored up we got talking to our sailboat neighbours (Pim and xx) who were mega curious about our trip. It was super spontaneous and social that we ended up sitting on the pier next to the boat, with a beer in our hand, closing off the day as the sun began to set over the marina.

Enkhuizen to Den Oever

Our first night row. This is an essential part of the training as well as getting into the rythmn of rowing in shifts. We decided to rotate every 1.5 hours instead of 2 so we would stay warmer by not sitting still for too long. We set off just after the sun had set after 17.30. The lights shining around Enkhuzien were magnified as we started to row out onto the darker Ijsselmeer. The weather was cold but clear. Soon the stars began to shine brighter and brighter. Once out of the shipping lane we set the navigation on.. and began our adventure in the dark. It was cosy as we talked on board, no one sleeping yet as it was still early. In the individual pause moments, we boiled water using the jetboil… made our freeze-dried meal and returned back on the oars. It was a good training also for the autopilot and navigating in the dark. As we got to Den Oever we saw how tricky it was with fishers nets, but managed to get into the harbour and moored up safe and sound. Another 34km clocked up. It was early hours of the morning and managed to get some shut eye before the media team would show up in the morning. The men in the small back cabin, and the ladies in the luxury front cabin. How fairly split right :). Of course the girls had to finish off with some karaoke with the famous Abba songs, hopefully not disturbing the boats next to us. Take a look at the video we made to give you an impression. 

It was morning, we all seemed to sleep well but short although I think Bram had to pit up with a bit of snoring from Wilco. Opening the cabin door to blue skies and a beautifully still water was a treat. It seemed like a holiday to be honest. Two fishermen were busy trying to catch Seabass around our boat and ended up spectating their great fishing skills, whilst asking them 101 questions. Really curious and insightful.

After freshening up Sara and Bela were looking around for a boat we could use for the media team who were coming that morning for a shoot, when suddenly we came across Dick Koopmans on his sailing boat. Dick is our weather router and we had informed him we would be in Den Oever. It had to be…. Dick offered his boat for he film crew and welcomed everyone with a good cup of coffee. We got ourselves ready. Duc from the film crew joined us for shots in the boat while the rest, Sjors, Jorrt, Bo and Meyke were on the sailng boat of Dick that sailed next to us.

There was virtually no wind, the Ijsselmeer was flat and the scenery was magical and a bit mystical. Beautiful shots were made and we are sharing a few here to give you a good impression we hope. Back in the harbour we had a team shoot and an interview, and finally closing off the day with some studio shoots for our campagne material. Energy was buzzing..and we are really excited to have this amazing media team as part of Team Ocean – visualizing the journey and mission.

Den Oever to Den Helder (part I)

Weekend rowing in mid Nov didn’t go ahead because of weather, so picked a day in the week when Bram was off. Unfortunately Bram could not make it at the end of the day, so it was Wilco, Bela and Sara who had taken time off work on the Tuesday afternoon to make the 22km crossing from Den Oever to Den Helder. Wilco volunteerd this time to organize the trip together with the input from his sailor friend who has Waddenzee experience, and figured the leaving time. Ideally we’d need to leave before high tide but Sara couldn’t leave earlier from work. We ended up leaving just at the peak of high tide, and with one rower short, plus the fact we had to wait a bit at the lock before it opened up, meant we were challenged by every minute.

Once the lock doors opened we entered the big wide Waddenzee later than scheduled but had faith to give it a go. The sunset was falling and the skies lit up in a burnt orange. The waves where busy and the current was sturdy. The current was so sturdy that we were pushed towards the narrow shipping lane. It posed a bit of a challenge seeing that it was at times 5 meter deep with only 0.5 meter on the sides. Staying in the narrow shipping lane while having to navigate using the chartplotter inside the cabin was a challenge in itself. It began to get darker and the bouys were getting harder to see, so had to rely more on the chartplotter in the cabin. That was a challenge and not having an extra rower meant we soon were pushed onto a sand bank. We tried to row ourselves out of the situation but this was next to impossible…. It appeared that the water was getting shallower. Wilco jumped out of the boat to see if there was any leeway to push the boat back on course, but it was truly stuck. We thought the options through but first we wanted to see if the coastguard could help out. We called them on the mariphone, however by now it was getting pitch black and we waited until they arrived.

After half an hour a boat with shining lights approached us, stopped about 400m away (due to low tide) and 2 of the crew had to walk to us. We were happy to see the men from the KNRM rescue service. They basically gave us  2  options …. Stay on the boat and continue rowing when it would be the next high tide moment (6 hours later in the middle of the night), or put the boat on anchor, transfer to Den Helder to sleep and pick up the boat in the morning at high tide. Given the options, not having warm sleeping bags with us and the fact that Sara needed to be present at work the next day we chose for the latter. Even though Bela would have chosen to stay on board with the boat, it was apparent the majority would prefer to get off the boat – also on recommendation of the rescue team. The decision was taken to put the boat on anchor and take a lift to Den Helder. It felt very strange as Ambrosia is a team member and she now has a night out there without us. The AIS (location) and navigation lights were kept on so that we could monitor that everything was OK with Ambrosia.

We stepped off Ambrosia wearing our safety suits (thermal floating dry suit) and walked through the water at ankle height towards the motorboat of the KNRM. The crew got us on board and were ready for the speedboat ride to Den Helder. What a fun experience that was even though that was not our main goal. We realized what heros these men were. Working on a voluntary basis and bringing people to safety out on sea. A very thankful job that should not be taken for granted. We were now their new donators. Back on land we waited to be picked up by Walter (an acquaintance of Wilco and owner of ‘Bouw je Avontuur’ who had a hostel for us to stay in). Because Sara had to be at work she already left for home. The stay at the hostel was pretty cosy and comfortable at the end of the day. Different than being stone cold on the boat. Wilco knew someone else in Den Helder who popped by the hostel. That was Sebastian who had done a Podcast with Wilco earlier in the year. The four of us Wilco, Bela, Sebastian and Walter exchanged adventure stories, ate pizza and had a few beers. It was all surreal, but little did we know that our adventure was already making news in the Wieringa paper. That was not our intention of course and didn’t think of it as a big deal, but hey it was news and not planned for, even though we did everything we could to keep the boat and ourselves safe which is, at the end of the day, most important. Sometimes things don’t go to plan and then as a team you need to make decisions. It is interesting how everyone goes about such an incident. But also the learning moments this trip brings with it. It brought new insighst but also tested our resilience in such a situation. Of course this training would not be representative of what we will be doing on the Pacific. But setbacks is one of the things you grow with. The Pacific is the deepest ocean in the world whereas the Waddenzee is the shallowest for boats and a place where where even the  chartplotter depths don’t always tally up to what the depth really is. It can be misleading and as a small powered vessel we did not have much chance. As we took to our sleep, Bela checked in on the AIS tracker to see if everything was OK with Ambrosia. It was, and that gave a piece of mind to sleep further.

The next day at 11.30 Wilco and Bela had to report at the KNRM office in Den Oever to go back to the boat and get it pulled back into the Den Oever marina. The question was if the boat was floating or still stuck. When we got to Ambrosia with the KNRM speedboat and crew, we were pleased that the boat was floating and still on anchor where we left her last night. That was a relief. We could now get her transported back to Den Oever marine. Ambrosia was secured well by rope to the speedboat and was carefully towed back to the harbour. We could tell we were in good experienced hands of the KNRM. Once back in the harbour we thanked the crew once again, hoping not to see them ever again.

Unfortunately, the story continued with the North Holland paper giving not such a good headline to Sara’s name. It is a pity that even though we see this as an adventure and lesson, papers can take down people with it. We learned and grew as a team and it is the mission that is most important and what we are proud of. Not everyone can do what we will be doing …. Rowing 4500km non-stop from California to Hawaii for our mission on water. So let’s give it up for our mission for which we are in seek of donations. If you haven’t already you can donate at

July 2023

UK Adventure: Picking up our boat & training row UK-NL

By: Bela Evers

So another adventure: Not only did we pick up our boat in the UK, we had planned to row her back to the Netherlands. An eventful experience in itself with many highs and dealing with the unexpected as a team …this is the story…

Welcome Ambrosia

Early June, it was time to return our training boat (Rose II) to Ralph Tuijn (world’s ocean rower). For eight months we were able to train in Ralph’s boat which took us across rivers in the Netherlands with many guest rowers and a mixed bag of weather. (Read our other blogs). Ralph had found a buyer for Rose II, a US team who plan to row the Pacific in her in 2024. So who knows, maybe we will run into our training boat again. In the meantime, already for a few months, we were scouting a new boat for Team Ocean and luckily found Ambrosia. A Rannoch RX45 ocean rowing boat that was built last year and who took the AmbroseBouys across the Atlantic in December 2022. We were really happy to take (second) ownership of the new boat. We had planned to pick her up from the UK on 2nd July (as Paul was in the UK anyway), and had planned to row her back to the Netherlands, as a training row. A distance of 280km from Burnham on Crouch to Ijmuiden, following waypoint to waypoint (and avoiding windfarms and shipping lanes). Unfortunately Sara, our new team member, could not join us as she was guiding a group in Charmonix, and instead we had Ananya take her place. Ananya is Paul’s girlfriend who would use this as a training row for her solo race in 2025. 

Sunday 2nd July arrived and Wilco, Bela and Duc (a cameraman and land support) drove to Burnham on Crouch where the boat was stalled (at Rannoch Adventures). After a 10 hour journey we got to our destination. Behind the gate we found Ambrosia. A magical feeling to see her and her newness – the first owners really took care of her. We checked off the equipment and repaired the seat bearings in preparation of our planned row to the UK the next morning. However, the weather conditions weren’t looking favourable to leave, so decided to do a check in the next morning with the weather router John. 

The next day, on Monday 3rd July, we officially got the boat handed over by Rannoch. Such a great milestone, because having the boat makes the team complete and makes everything more real. Without a boat, we have no expedition. Often a boat is seen as the fifth team member. You need to get to know each other, how she reacts, operates and manoeuvres. Taking ownership was like having Christmas come early…exciting!

Preparation and weather router

Immediately we started to pack the boat, tied all the loose equipment on deck and managed to get a trailer lighting board organized so that we were able to set off. After checking in with the ‘weather router’ we decided to postpone our trip by 12 hours, due to high winds on the UK side. 

A weather router is an important member of the land crew – they are the eyes of the crew (on land) – having access to various weather and traffic charts. We are super excited to work with John and team on this project (more news to be announced).. As an experienced sailor, he is momentarily helping 5 teams cross the pacific and has a wealth of experience helping rowing teams cross the Atlantic. It’s all about safety at the end of the day and that’s why this trial run with John was a great test of cooperation and trust.

By postponing the row, we were able to organize the boat a bit more and do a training row. The space on a boat is limited so you really need to be selective and efficient in how you pack the boat. Once packed up, we launched the boat and waited for the winds to die down before going for a test row. While launching the boat Wilco got his thumb stuck under the safety cable of the trailer when the trailer slipped from the clutch 10 cm or so. But that caused an injury that was concerning, as we weren’t sure if he would be able to row. At one point Wilco thought his thumb would be lost…(gosh)!! The pain was high but he was determined to give it a try without putting pressure on his left thumb (and which worked out OK in the end). 

Making the most of it

Since the boat was already in the water, and the wind had eased off (at around 20.00), we decided to give the boat a spin. Duc the camera man jumped on board for some footage and we not only enjoyed an amazing sunset but also the rise of the full (Buck) moon! Ambrosia rowed with ease in the choppy estuary, even on the autopilot. 

When we got back at 23.00 the tide was high enough to get the boat back on the trailer so that we would be ready to set off early in the morning to Harwich, from where we booked the ferry to Hoek van Holland. 

You can watch the evening UK row on Youtube here.

Journey back

Tired yet satisfied, we set off early in the morning towards the ferry port of Harwich, arriving well on time. Of course with an unusual rowing boat on the back of the trailer does get some sort of attention, so no wonder we were stopped at customs. After a quick check, we quickly settled onto the ferry. 

The journey back gave us time to rest after an intensive 2 days and to reflect. Analysing the lessons learned, how we operated as a team, and the plans for the coming period. At least the mission to get our new boat back to Holland was accomplished and could not have done this also without the support of the cameraman Duc. Row or no row, its safety that counts at the end of the day. Satisfied and excited now that Ambrosia is ‘in da house’, and looking forward to getting her prepped and taking on the next steps of our journey towards the start line.  

May 2023

Amsterdam here we come

By Bela Evers

A while ago
It had been a while since we trained. Six weeks to be precise. Last time we rowed into Naarden from Harderwijk. In the meantime, Wilco had been in Corsica for active holiday and Bela in the UK. We couldn’t wait to get back in the boat again which is a good sign.

This time rowing from Naarden to Amsterdam (19km) to continue our adventure through the Dutch waterways. A great way to get in those miles and see the beauty of Holland. It was our pleasure to ask Otto on board as a guest rower this time. Otto from the Coastal Rowing Club in Naarden kindly hosted our boat in his private harbour. Due to his dogsitting commitment he passed on the honours to Tess from his rowing Club who is a fanatic rower and lives partly in Hong Kong and a few months in the year in the Netherlands.

What a treat it was to row with Tess. A bubbly enthusiastic rower who looooooved the fact that she got this opportunity to row in such a different boat. What did Otto miss out! We met in Naarden and was waved out by Otto and his girlfriend’s dog.

From a peaceful sunny harbour we quickly faced some serious short wavy and windy conditions. Sometimes our oar would hang longer under a wave while the other oar would miss the water. It was kind of turbulent, and for Wilco and Tess it was their first experience of a kind. Both Paul and Bela were pretty used to the waves being out on the Atlantic, only these waves were short after each other while out on the ocean they a much longer and bigger.  


En route
We passed a few mini-islands, but the one that guided us was Pampus Fort Island. What was special about this Island? After the French-German war of 1870, the Dutch parliament felt that Amsterdam could be threatened. For the safety of the city they decided to build a fort island which was completed in 1895 and handed over to the council of Muiden. Funny enough it was not used as a fort for protection in the second world war, but as a training base for the Germans who took over the eiland. After the period of captivation, the Dutch used the island to detonate bombs safely.


The word Pampus is even older than the Island and means the fairway is naturally shallowed through sand. This was particular in the area between Marken and Muiden. In Dutch there is a saying ‘voor Pampus liggen’ (Laying before Pampus). Large boats couldn’t pass through and there were inventive ways to get the boats across (besides waiting for the right tide). From a pump, that pumped out the water in order to lift the boats to the other side, to creating a platform to help move goods from boat to boat. Sometimes it took weeks before a boat could pass or empty its goods. No worries for the crew as they took plenty of drink and women on board to pass the time.

Into Amsterdam
While rowing towards Pampus we noticed it was pretty shallow around the sides, but before we got stuck ‘again’,  we changed direction and rowed straight into Amsterdam. Next time we’ll definitely take a stop there where you can visit this unique place.

Tess steered the last bit into Amsterdam. It was a for a her a great experience as prefers to row. She had a grand feeling when on the steering ropes of such a big rowing boat while tackling the waves. Paul took over as we got closer to Amsterdam and it was a treat to enter a big city. Ijburg (Amsterdam), was our destination and we had to enter a narrow lock to get to the harbour. Once out of the lock the wind had gone, the sun was out and the atmosphere was buzzing. We got a lot of interested looks from the people on the terrace where we docked the boat. Kind of weird, but huh, I guess it’s not every day that you see such a boat in a harbour. It was thanks to Toine, a friend of Wilco (who Bela also happened to know), that helped us get a place in the busy harbour. Our temporary home base for the training boat until we move on again. He welcomed us in. Before we headed back to our ‘normal’ homes, it was time for a beer, a bite to eat and planning our next bigger adventures.


April 2023

Roei.NL 'Van De Ijssel naar de Stille OCEAAN'

By Jos Wassink

Jos was invited to our kick-off in Zutphen. Great to read his article.  

April 2023

Rowing the dutch waterways

By Bela Evers

Spreading our wings

After being based out of the Zutphen’s harbour for 5 months, it was time to broaden horizons. We were ready to go on longer trips from harbour to harbour along the Dutch waterways. Real adventure while getting some serious rowing hours in. Pretty fun and seeing a bit of Holland at the same time.

At the beginning of March we already did a 2 day stint first rowing from Zutphen to Kampen and then Kampen to Harderwijk. A tour of over about 120km. Beautiful to row along the Ijssel, into the Drontemeer and finaly towards the Ijsselmeer. A friend of mine had a place reserved at the Harderwijk harbour which was our temporary base for a months. Having had some glorious cold and sunny rowing days it was time again to move on. Wilco, Paul and myself had agreed to row our training boat from Harderwijk to Naarden. Continuing our tour along the Dutch waterways by rowing boat. Joost, who has been training with us while at Zutphen, stepped in as the 4th rower.

Easter Saturday
After having left one car in Naarden in the early morning, we drove further with another car to Harderwijk, picking up Paul on the way. It was our last time in Harderwijk, where we’ve had some great training sessions with various guest rowers. And what a beautiful day it was. Blue skies and sunshine with a light breeze. Probably the first time we all rowed in short sleeves. You can definitely tell it was feeling like Spring. For the first time we found it busier than usual on the waters, especially being Easter weekend. It seems the water recreationalist have come out of their winter sleep.
Joost was reminding us of how the the coast of Harderwijk was once the coastline of the Netherlands. The Afsluitdijk that was built in 1932, creating the Ijsselmeer, changed the face of Harderwijk and other inner coastal towns. Fishermen who once earned their income lost their jobs as the salt water became sweet.

The changing landscape of the waterways
It is a real gift to be able to row along this stretch of water and experiencing the different changing waterways. After leaving the broader Wolderwijd lake of Harderwijk, we entered into a more narrow stretch of water, lined with trees, plenty of swans and many tourist villages along the way. It took a good hour or two before the scene changed again. We entered a broader lake (Eemmeer), lined with huge windmills which made us feel pretty small. When we got to Huizen, rowing into the Gooimeer we realized it wasn’t long anymore. Throughout our journey we kept to a rythmn of rowing 1.5 hours and steering for 30 minutes, We’d rotate every 30 minutes.

Last Shift
Bela took the last steering shift before entering Naarden. The wind surf foilers were a pleasure to see on the way. Joost was convinced we were taking a wrong route, but Bela was sure of her navigation bringing us nicely into Harderwijk. As we turned into the private waters next to the harbour we were warmly welcomed by two members of the Naarden Coastal Rowing Club. Bela had arranged with one of the members to be able to moor our boat in his ‘box’. It’s our temporary base for the next few weeks before setting off again into the big wide world of the Dutch waterways. Next destination – Amsterdam.

For now satisfied with more than 5 hours of rowing with 44 more training kilometers under the belt!

March 2023


Geschreven door: Wilco van Rooijen

Oefenen en team uitbreiden
Op vrijdag 3 maart was het plan om de IJssel af te gaan varen met onze oceaan boot. Ik zeg ‘onze’ maar in feiten mogen we ons gelukkig prijzen dat Ralph Tuijn zo aardig was om ons deze unieke oceaanboot waar er niet zoveel van zijn in Nederland ter beschikking te stellen. Bela en ik konden zo op de IJssel trainen 2x per week vanaf oktober. Maar eind maart moet de boot weer terug!

De week voor 3 maart houden we onze Kick-off in het Koelhuis in Zutphen om mensen, vrienden en sponsoren kennis te laten maken met ons team en de oceaanboot. Bela ik geven een presentatie en stellen ons zelf voor. Ook Paul Heerenma is van de partij. Hij is zeer geïnteresseerd om deel te nemen in ons team van uit eindelijk 2 mannen en 2 vrouwen. Maar Paul moet eerst thuis en op zijn werk nog wat zaken regelen voordat hij definitief ja kan zeggen. In de ochtend hebben ook Carien Bornebroek en Roos Evers voor het eerst als mogelijke vrouwelijke kandidaten mee geroeid.

Echter tijdens de laatste roeitraining in de middag van de Kick-off hadden we te maken met een catastrofe. Midden op de IJssel is de boot plots letterlijk onbestuurbaar. Ik sta aan het roer, Paul en zijn vriendin zijn aan het roeien. Bela wacht voor ons bij de haven. Gelukkig zijn we op de terugweg en varen we met de stroom mee richting de haven van Zutphen. Maar ondanks de stroming die we mee hebben gaat de boot van bijna 9 meter lengte gewoon om zijn as. Hoe ik ook manoeuvreer met het roer, de boot doet waar die zelf zin in heeft. Nadat we zeker 3 tot 4 keer rond zijn gegaan zie ik tot overmaat van ramp ook nog zo’n enorme rijnaker van een binnenschip aankomen. Ik zie letterlijk het rampenscenario zich al aftekenen voor mijn ogen. Of we gaan in aanvaring komen met dat enorme binnenvaartschip of we weten hem naar de kant te krijgen maar varen we op de talloze keien langs de IJssel. Gods zijdank blijkt nu de ervaring van Paul die de Atlantische oceaan in 2018 al heeft overgeroeid. Hij weet met de riemen dusdanig te trekken en te duwen dat hij de boot recht weet te houden op de stroom. De as gemaakt van carbon van het roer waar de helmstok aan vast zit blijkt volledig door de midden te zijn gebroken!

Ongelofelijk. Hoe kan dat? Maar die vraag is voor alter. Een feit is een feit. Belangrijker nu, hoe lossen we dit op? En is het roer onder de boot foetsie?Verloren in de stroom. Maar warempel blijkt het roer nog op 3 centimeter aan de onderkant van de boot te zijn blijven hangen.

Geluk bij een ongeluk komt een zeer goed bevriende relatie Robert al met een idee. Hij kent nog wel een vriendje van een machine onderdelen fabriek die hier wel raad mee zou weten. Diezelfde week word het roer gerepareerd met RVS, epoxy, een draadeind en 2 hele dikke moeren zodat het roer nooit meer zou breken! De klus werd geklaard door de Jong Technics uit Sliedrecht. En zo zijn we weer een ervaring rijker. Liever dit op de IJssel dan midden op de oceaan. Les geleerd!

Op avontuur
Zo kan het avontuur om de IJssel af te varen vanaf Zutphen naar Kampen en via Kampen naar Harderwijk toch doorgaan. Op vrijdag 3 maart laten we de boot met gerepareerd roer weer te water. Bela, Paul, Carien en ikzelf verzamelden rond 8.30 uur. Rond 9.30 uur kunnen we vertrekken. Warme kleren, handschoenen, muts en slaapzakken mee, slaapmatjes, eten, water, thee, koffie wat broodjes en een emmer als WC aan boord. Vanaf de roeiclub Isala uit Zutphen worden we uitgezwaaid. Het is prachtig om als 4 mans team voor het eerst in de boot te zitten. Eén persoon sturen, 3 roeiers en om de 30 tot 40 min wisselen de stuurder met één van de roeiers. Als roeier krijg je het snel lekker warm maar als stuurder sta je vol in de koude wind want je moet ook boven en voor de boot uitkijken. De IJssel slingert prachtig door het Nederlandse landschap maar om de bocht kan er zo maar zo’n enorme rijnaker op je af komen en die hebben wel ten alle tijden voorrang. Het is een prachtig gezicht zo vanaf het water. En wat een natuur in al die uiterwaarden. En wat een vogels! Van ganzen tot zwanen, reigers, kuifeenden etc, etc. Dan zien we de brug van de A1 al in de verte over de IJssel bij Deventer.

Even later passeren we de grens provincie Gelderland – Overijssel. Dan weer verderop het pondje bij het prachtige plaatje Olst waar ik met de racefiets nog wel eens oversteek. We roeien verder door naar Hattum waar we Carien afzetten omdat zij in de middag nog een training moet verzorgen. We doen onze laatste koffie met elkaar, kletsen wat, eten een broodje en nemen afscheid. Dan vervolgen Bela, Paul en ikzelf onze weg richting Kampen. Maar eerst Zwolle. In de verte zien we eerst de brug van de A28, de snelweg naar Zwolle. Toch grappig om nu eens de andere kant van de brug te zien.

Eerste bestemming
Wat reken ik me rijk dat wij hier lekker roeien en niet op vrijdag in dat drukke verkeer zitten. En wat een vrachtauto’s het lijkt wel één lange trein.Na Zwolle maakt de IJssel een paar prachtige grote speelse bochten. Plekken die ik nog nooit van mijn leven gezien heb. De natuur op en vanaf het water blijft me fascineren. Richting Kampen wordt de IJssel steeds breder en qua natuur ook minder mooi want de menselijke industriële activiteiten nemen toe. Vroeger toen de grote schepen vanaf de Noordzee de Zuiderzee opvoeren moest de lading worden overgeslagen op kleinere schepen die dan de IJssel weer verder op konden varen naar Deventer, Doesburg en dan bij Lobith de grens over naar Duitsland.

De aanblik na de eerste brug die we in Kampen onder door varen oogt vooral industrie. Maar dan na het passeren van een tweede brug wat verder op zien we het historische stadje Kampen met al zijn lichtjes, authentieke kerken en prachtige oude zeilschepen aan de kade. En dan mogen we ook nog midden in het kleine haventje aanleggen binnen in Kampen. Dit was een adres van Bela van haar vorige oceaan tocht. Toen zij hier trainde met de Dutchess of the Sea in 2020 zag de plaatselijke roeisloep vereniging Kampen dit en bood hun spontaan hun clubhuis aan. Dat adres had Bela onthouden en we zijn weer van harte welkom! We mogen onze boot langs hun prachtige 12 man grote roeisloep aanmeren die net in de winter zijn jaarlijkse onderhoud weer heeft gehad en prachtig in de lak staat. Bela heeft de man ingeseind en terwijl we aan het afmeren zijn komt de man al aangefietst met zijn dochter om ons in het sfeervolle clubhuisje boven een botenloods van harte welkom te heten.

Kampen gastvrijheid
Tja, we hadden hardcore in de boot kunnen gaan slapen maar aangezien we daar nog lang genoeg onder extreme omstandigheden in mogen bivakkeren sloegen we het aanbod om nu in het 10 graden warme clubhuis te mogen slapen niet af. Op het terrein waar ook de sloep vereniging haar clubhuis heeft liggen er ook nog historische botters. Een botter is een typische oud Nederlands vissersvaartuig met een bijna vlakke bodem die vooral op deZuiderzee gebruikt werd. Paul die eigenlijk net als Bela meer Engels is dan Nederlands zoekt het woord ‘botter’ op via Google translate en krijgt als vertaling: fuckbonescrew! Tja, die Engelse …..

De man neemt ons nog mee de stad Kampen in en we zijn alledrie verrast hoe gezellig en authentiek Kampen is. Het moet hier zomers een gezellige drukte zijn met al die terrasjes en die prachtige oude gebouwen en kerken. We krijgen uiteraard ook het folklorische verhaal van de koe toren mee. Een prachtige toren midden in het centrum van Kampen.

Boven‌ ‌op‌ ‌de‌ toren‌ ‌is‌ ‌er ooit een‌ ‌koe‌ ‌omhoog‌ ‌getakeld.‌ ‌Hij‌ ‌graast‌ het‌ ‌gras‌ ‌er‌ ‌af.‌ ‌De Kampenaren geloofden dat dat een goedkope‌ oplossing‌ ‌was om‌ ‌het‌ ‌dak‌ ‌grasvrij ‌te‌ ‌krijgen.‌ ‌Maar‌ ‌niet‌ ‌echt‌ slim,‌ want‌ ‌halverwege dat de koe naar boven werd getakeld aan zijn hals, hing haar tong al halverwege, iets wat door de Kampenaren werd geïnterpreteerd als dat de koe al erg veel zin in het gras zou hebben. Tegenwoordig is de‌ (plastic)koe‌ ‌een‌ ‌folkloristisch pronkstuk‌, vooral te zien in‌ ‌de‌ zomerperiode‌ ‌ ‌tijdens‌ ‌bijvoorbeeld‌ evenementen.‌ ‌

Na de beste pizza uit Kampen te hebben gegeten en sterke verhalen te hebben uitgewisseld hebben we behoefte om te gaan slapen. We hebben bijna 70 kilometer geroeid en dik 7 uur in de boot gezeten. Nu al een record voor mij maar ik had het nu al voor geen goud willen missen. Het voelt als een mooi avontuur dat pas net begonnen is. En eigenlijk had ik al heel lang geleden de IJssel of het Amsterdams Rijnkanaal willen afvaren met een niet gemotoriseerde boot. Ik dacht in de eerste instantie aan een kano of kayak maar dat het uiteindelijk in een oceaanboot zou zijn was in mijn wildste dromen nog niet voorgekomen.

Op naar Harderwijk
De volgende ochtend zijn we weer om 8.15 uur bij de boot. De mannen van de 12 man sterke roeisloep gaan ook trainen. En elkaar uitzwaaien is wel een mooi begin. Om 8.30 uur arriveert Roos zoals afgesproken en zij zal de hele dag met ons meevaren. Haar man is zo aardig om haar helemaal vanuit Hengelo (gemeente Bronckhorst) te brengen. We bedanken de mannen voor het gastvrije gebruik van het clubhuis en beloven als tegenprestatie om een praatje in het najaar van 2024 na de Pacific Ocean tocht te komen geven. Ze verheugen zich er nu al op!

We varen de IJssel weer op richting het Kattendiep en Keteldiep. Daar begint het IJsselmeer. Gelukkig is het plan niet om het IJsselmeer direct op te roeien want het weer is onstuimig met harde wind en regen. We hebben de hele tocht tot nog toe geluk gehad en echt prachtig Hollands weer gehad. Dus mooie bewolkte luchten. Heel veel bewolking soms grijs maar gelukkig ook tussen de wolken door prachtige blauwe luchten. Maar boven het IJsselmeer hangen er dreigende wolken en regent het ook in de verte. Ook staan er flinke schuimkoppen op het IJsselmeer dus we zijn maar al te blij dat we linksom het Vossemeer op draaien richting Drontermeer en vervolgens hetVeluwe meer. En met het draaien naar het Vossemeer krijgen we de harde wind ook gelukkig in de rug. 

Leer moment
De ochtend was zwaar begonnen met wind 
tegen en dreigende luchten maar nu kunnen we even weer op krachten komen. We besluiten de vers meegebrachte grote kan koffie van Roos te nuttigen en ik heb nog wat stroopwafels uit te delen. En zelfs met niks doen beweegt de boot met zo’n 2,5 knopen de goede kant op. We houden koers op de rode betonningen van de vaargeul. Maar plots lijken we stil te liggen. Ik doe een check op onze Garmin Inreach en jawel de snelheid is 0 knopen. Dat is gek? Zouden de stromingen elkaar hier opheffen? Maar wat blijkt? We zitten vast aan de grond. Hoe dat kan? Dan valt het kwartje. We zitten aan de verkeerde kant van de rode betonning niet in de vaargeul maar er naast. We hadden de groene betonning aan de andere kant niet zo dicht aan de waterkant verwacht. Afijn, hoe nu los te komen? Paul toch de zwaarste (en misschien wel de sterkste;-) van ons allemaal gaat op de achterklant van de boot hangen terwijl wij met zijn 3-en maximaal roeien. Eerst zien we alleen maar modder en zand omhoog komen zonder dat de boot in beweging komt. Maar heel langzaam blijkt de boot toch centimeter voor centimeter in beweging te komen. We roeien en maaien met de riemen zo hard als we kunnen. Uiteindelijk lukt het en roeien we half door de modder terug waar we vandaan komen en steken we door richting de andere kant van de vaargeul. Daar is het water in plaats van nog geen 50 cm diep zo’n 5 meter diep. We hebben weer wat geleerd. Les 3. En we zijn trots hoe we dit ook weer als team organisch hebben opgelost. Situationeel leiderschap wat kracht uitstraalt voor de toekomst.

Na opgelucht weer vlot getrokken te zijn roeien we weer met 3 posities en 1 stuurder door een prachtig natuur gebied rond het Vossemeer met eilandjes en heel veel vogels. Dan even later zien we het begin van de Roggebotsluis en via de marifoon geeft Bela door dat we er aan komen. We kunnen zo de sluis invaren en na heel weinig hoogte verschil ook zo de sluis weer uit. We roeien door en de natuur op het water blijft prachtig. Nooit gedacht dat het hier zo mooi varen zou zijn. Naast heel veel recreatie huisjes kun je je hier zomers voorstellen dat het druk is met plezier vaart. Maar nu niet. We hebben misschien 3 pleziervaart motorboten gezien en 1 zeilboot. Wel veel vissers met kleine snelle vissersbootjes. Na het eiland Reve gaan we de Revesluis door en komen we op het Drontermeer waar ook nog de nodige eilandjes zijn en prachtige natuurgebiedjes. Dan varen we de brug bij Elburg onderdoor entrekt de wind aan. We hebben de wind schuin tegen en dat zorgt ervoor dat de boot schuin komt te liggen. Dat wil zeggen naar 1 kant. Dus aan de linkerkant moet je zorgen dat de riem wel het water in duikt en aan de rechterkant kletst het water als je niet uitkijkt tegen het blad van de riem aan boven water. Dat zorgt er dan voor dat je riem 45 graden verdraaid en dus geen afzet heeft in het water. Heel irritant. Maar wel weer een les! Zo werkt dat dus. Hoe moet dat wel niet op de oceaan zijn met nog veel hogere golven en een steeds kantelende boot.

Laatste loodjes
Afijn het venijn zit het altijd in de staart en ook nu weer geld de laatste loodjes wegen het zwaarst. We denken dat we er al bijna zijn maar tussen de brug van Elburg en de brug bij Harderwijk wordt het nog even flink afzien. In plaats van zo’n 10 km geschat is de totale afstand nog 18,7 km roeien met de wind schuin op de kop. We tellen de laatste rode betonningen in de vaargeul af tot onder de brug bij Harderwijk. Onder de brug door van de N302 mogen we links af slaan naar de Knar haven waar Bela weer iemand kende en we de boot mogen afmeren. We hebben vandaag dik 8 uur gevaren en het is alweer 16.0 uur in de middag. In de haven blijkt de boot eigenlijk te lang voor de ligplekken maar we krijgen uiteindelijk een speciale ligplek langs een steiger bij het havenkantoor. Gelukkig is Vincent de man van Bela zo aardig om ons qua vervoer op te halen en thuis weer af te zetten. Zo eindigt een fantastisch avontuur van dik 120 km roeien in 2 dagen en voelen we allemaal ons lijf. We zijn toe aan een relaxte zondag. Even niet de armen-, rug-, nek-, benen- en buikspieren gebruiken maar lang uit op de bank. Nu het nog kan! 

February 2023


By: Bela Evers

A great article in Dutch, putting the adventure into perspective. Thanks to Diego from the Stentor. 

De Stentor


Adventurers row non-stop across the Pacific Ocean for two month


‘There are situations that almost go wrong, but it’s just that that stimulates me’


Bela Evers


Bela Evers and Wilco van Rooijen will be gone several weeks on the ocean. For such a journey, you must properly aligned.”


“The ocean has touched me, because you are close to nature’ 
-Bela Evers


De Stentor

Thousands of miles from civilization, …as far as you can see …just water and several dangerous animals hiding beneath the surface. For some a scary thought, for Bela Evers and Wilco van Rooijen a dream world that are eager to start. Next year they will row more than 4500 kilometers across the Pacific Ocean.

Today, Bela Evers from Tonden and Wilco van Rooijen from Voorst were training on the fresh water of the IJssel. Maybe less exciting but much needed. “For such a journey of eight weeks long, you have to look after each other” says Van Rooijen

“Both mentally and physically. Everything can go wrong. Then you have to rely on each other.”

It turns out that their journey is special given the facts. Only about eighty people have successfully completed the trek from the United States to Hawaii made in a rowboat. “Team Ocean”, as Bela and Wilco are called, will be the first Dutch national mixed team ever doing this journey.

“There is no lack of experience with the two. Evers has already rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 2020 with three other women. A journey of more than 4700 kilometers which lasted two months.

Experienced adventurers

It was tough, hard, sometimes even a bit frightening.“Why do you still want to make such a trip? ,We are a little crazy,” she jokes. What attracts me is the vulnerability. You see nothing for days except the people in the boat. There are situations when it almost can go wrong, like with high waves, but that’s what motivates me. The curiosity; what does such a situation do to me?”

And, perhaps even more important is the fascination with the ocean. ‘The ocean really touched me the last time. You’re close to the nature, you see whales and dolphins. That is pretty unique.”

The same goes for her team-mate, Wilco van Rooijen, with whom she has already trained for hours. As a mountain climber he defied many dangers. From the white world on the North and South Pole to the mountain tops of the Himalayas. ‘With rowing I actually had no affinity at all. During the training I got more enthusiastic about the idea. Ultimately, such a journey is a mental battle.”

‘It’s not for me’

The two got to know each other at a workshop by Van Rooijen about dealing mentally with such similar situations. Bela’s team with which she rowed the Atlantic Ocean, came to do the workshops “When I first heard about their adventure  heard, I thought: that’s nothing for me?’

Until the two met again and Bela told about her new plan. “I first trained in such a boat before I got used to the idea. You start watching movies about such a trip, and get more excited. You grow into it,” says Van Rooijen. “With the experience of Bela it doesn’t feel like you’re starting at zero. She knows what to do and what not to do.”

The Voorstenaar is not afraid. He’s climbed mountains without extra oxygen. Then you play with the balance of life. You have the idea that you have it under control. It is no different at sea.”

A hellish journey of 4500 kilometers, where you don’t get much more space than a meter or two. Preparation is essential. Not only physically, also mentally. You give each other your manual about the type of person you are. Everyone must be able to handle his/her  frustrations and be able to express themselves. Thoughts must  stay on the boat. If those fall outside the boat come, it becomes difficult to focus again on the end goal” says Evers.

Before the trip begins, two other rowers are needed. Every two hours, two will be rowing in alternated patterns, while the other two rest, eat or perform maintenance. And sleep. “You sleep maybe three times an hour per night. That’s really tough the first week”, Evers remembers.

For one of the vacant spots, they have a man from Amsterdam. He rowed the Atlantic ocean before. It’s quite a journey: so a person needs to fit into the team. Soon we will practice for five days on the North Sea. Then you really see how the team reacts to  each other”, says Evers. ,It would be great to have one more woman. That search is still going on.”

Awareness for the climate

The two want to use their journey to create awareness for climate change. “At Hawaii, our destination, you see the effects of climate change due to rising sea levels already We hope to inspire others change their lifestyle. We do this as a challenge, even on the ocean we need to be precious with our energy and nutrition. That’s what we should do more of in the Netherlands’, says Van Rooijen.

They are still talking to several companies as potential sponsors “We’ll combine this with a charity for sustainability together” says Evers. Even private donations are possible. For every donation a percentage will go towards planting a tree (for example the Voedselbos on Voorst). 

October 2022

How it started

By: Bela Evers

Having rowed an ocean, knowing its untouched beauty, there was a silent energy drawing me to reunite with that feeling again. The adventure never really ended I realised. It’s funny how things develop organically, driven by that positive flow that draws a dream and team together. 

It was June 2019 when I met Wilco van Rooijen for the first time. In that period, I was training to row across the Atlantic with 3 other ladies and we had a mental coaching session in Wilco’s basecamp located in Voorst, (close to where I live). He shared his expedition experiences and lessons of teamwork, which helped us paint the picture of the challenge ahead of us.  

Since then I kept in contact with Wilco, especially since he was literally a far neighbour. After we had completed our rowing adventure somewhere in March 2021, I sat with Wilco sharing our stories over a cup of coffee, at the same asking ‘isn’t it something for you?’. Water adventure wasn’t top of his list but then later that year he was asked to sail across the Atlantic. On his return from his sailing trip in February 2022 he shared his stories and we realised we had the very same appreciation of the nature on sea, the elements, the milky-way, the animal life. Asking him again the question ‘isn’t rowing across an ocean something for you?’ This time the answer was ‘let’s first see how it is to ocean row’. 

That year Wilco had an expedition to the Himalaya’s and on his return we tried to fix a date to row in an Ocean boat. There are only a few boats in the Netherlands. I called Ralph Tuijn, a professional ocean rower, who offered us to row with him and a mutual friend. It was a windy day and Wilco got the hardest way to learn, but managed pretty well. Despite the blisters and back side pain he was still enthusiastic. Ralph offered an ocean boat for loan during the winter period which we were extremely grateful for. If we didn’t have that we would not be were we are at now. We would just be talking about it without action. But this made it so much  real and accelerated our dream even further. So Thank you Ralph. The following week we picked up RoseII and brought her to the Noorderhaven where our training journey and plans to row across the Pacific begins….