The Dutch open Veenvaart – a canal route for pleasure boats and leisure activities

Veenvaart 2 Veenvaart 1

Jantje on the Veenvaart canal system

Last weekend see the opening of the Veenvaart, a new canal complex in Holland for use by pleasure boats that includes an important new section built for the purpose.

I think it’s an important example of what can be achieved when vision, imagination and enthusiasm are brought to bear, and frequent Intheboatshed contributor Hans-Christian Riecke has written to tell us about it.

The revitalised canal system is situated between the villages of Ter Apel and Erica in the Dutch province of Drenthe – you can read about the new canal at if you can manage the Dutch language – but many of us will find the English language brochure helpful.

It took just five years to plan an dig the waterway. Originally the plan was to reactivate the old Scholtenskanaal, but this was not possible because of a new motorway – so project manager Wim Paas and colleagues decided instead to reopen parts of the Osterdiep Canal, dig a new canal to connect it with the Scholtenskanaal, reopen parts of this as well and call the whole thing Veenvaart. The name means ‘bog way’, and the canal route is so named because it cuts through old swamps and bogs in north west Europe.

The idea of the canal is to provide a recreational experience that extends beyond boating: there are foothpaths and cycleways, campsites and pubs, and one stretch of the canal passes through the Veenpark open air museum.

Intheboatshed contributor Hans-Christian Riecke described it this way: ‘It is a fantastic experience. The Graf Ship Association’s sailing barge Jantje was one of the stars of the opening, as it was the second boat passing through the canal and the new locks.’

‘We had a lot of guests on board and meet a lot of great people. There was brilliant sunshine and the inhabitants of the area were celebrating wholeheartedly.’

Graf Ship campaigns to open the canals in North-Western Germany for leisure and other purposes.

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