Crossing sea (less then 10km) reccomendations

Hi, I am planning to do some island hopping in Nederlands (facing North sea) and was wondering how dangerous it can be? It’s a solo trip. Distance between islands and land tops 10km as maximum distance, mostly around 3-5km. I am crossing with a packraft (carrying a bike on top of it), to be able to ride on islands.

What should I study when crossing? Tides and winds? What are the optimal conditiins?
What should I equip? Gps device?

What are your recommendations?

Thank you.

You should learn to use local weather and wave forecasting resources that can give you a very accurate picture of what conditions you will encounter. My experience in places nearby ( Scotland, Denmark and Norway) is that even the best forecasts can quickly go wrong and the North Sea is very unforgiving with high winds and violent short period waves. You need a good deal of open water experience before you do solo crossings. Tides and currents in shallows between islands can be treacherous with bad wind directtions. Best to find local organizations to learn the skills you need. I’m not sure what you are calling a packraft, but if it is a rowed inflatable boat I would advise you not to try it.


If you are asking what you need to study it is likely to be very dangerous. Most kayaking tragedies have an element of poor judgement in them.

There has been an organization in the Netherlands that taught kayaking skills and certified coaches. If web presence is any indication it looks like the cutbacks of the pandemic did them in. BUT as of 2018 it appeared they were still around. You should try to find coaches or members of that group to hook up with to learn enough to consider such a trip. Called Waltersportverbond, or at least that is a major part of their name. Sorry but I don’t know the language.

And your current idea has a number of red flags. It would be wise to confirm if there might be some equivalent of a Coast Guard which responds to unprepared paddlers.

If you’re asking you’re not ready.


Paddling open water between islands can be treacherous and the distances you’re talking about are more than enough to get you into huge trouble. Add in the known dangers of the North Sea and this already sounds like a really bad idea. If this “packraft” is something that you’ll be towing behind a kayak, that adds another level of complexity and danger. If you’re actually thinking of paddling on a raft, that just sounds crazy! The fact that you’re considering doing this solo indicates that you really don’t understand the risks.

It’s commendable that you asked the question, but the best answer I can provide is don’t do it. As others have said, do the research, then if you’re still thinking about this, you need to learn the skills required for paddling, self-rescue and navigation. This is not something you can do in a week, or a month, or six months, it takes extensive instruction and practice. While you’re doing that, find a copy of the book “Sea Kayaker: Deep Trouble” and read it. It could well save your life.


Nord Zee is shallow and rough. Plenty of wind and tide.
Going solo is not very safe. The water is cold.
That is a lot of hazards 5 miles from shore.
I cannot recommend it.

I hope this is a joke.

You aren’t ready for such a trip, or even ONE crossing, if you have to ask WHAT things to know. Every item on your list (which is not adequate in itself) requires study and practice working with—which takes time. Many months of time/study/practice, not merely a few weeks.

You did not say when this trip is planned for. We’ve had people come here about to undertake (good term) trips wildly beyond their qualifications…next month.

Paddling or rowing a packraft across open sea isn’t the same as biking up a jeep trail to a tarn, inflating the raft, and then crossing that tiny tarn with the bike on it!!!

Brian, I live in the county where a premier packraft company, Alpacka Raft, produces its products. They would probably discourage OP from taking such a trip without extensive related experience and full knowledge of the environment. This area sees far too many fools “testing themselves” on a wing and a prayer, and Search and Rescue sucks it up.

I would suggest taking the ferry to a couple of the islands. Pay attention to anyone you see paddling those waters. If you see some on land, ask about their equipment and how it is paddling out there. Then if you still want to paddle to those islands, buy similar equipment as those kayakers have (because they will be in kayaks, not packrafts), and then enroll in classes to learn how to use the equipment and how to navigate those waters. If you really want to take a bicycle with you, stick to the ferry or buy a powerboat.

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I spent several days on the North Sea on an oil/gas rig. The safety briefing and prep were enlightening.
I agree with everyone. That is no place you want to play.

The tides are about 10’ and the areas around the islands have extensive mud and sand flats. Up to date charts and excellent navigational skills are essential. When the tide is running in many areas it is impossible to paddle against it. Trips require planning on the tides. Seas can be rough, especially when the tide is running against the wind. Windy days are common and boat traffic, including frequent ferries, can be heavy.

I would not do this as a first time solo trip. Take a ferry to an island that has an outfitter and ask them for advice about paddling around the island.

Are you towing or paddling a packraft? Very few packrafts are suitable for big open water and inflatables do not do well in windy conditions.

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If there is a ferry, use it.

I would think if the islands have roads (for bicycling), it would have ferry? (how else do cars and road construction equipment got to the island?)

So, take the ferry!

If you choose to do it, the “equipment list” is long:

  • pfd
  • wet suit
  • compass
  • bilge bump
  • marine radio
  • flare
  • GPS

Others can add to it. Basically, open water crossing is considered to be dangerous. Weather can change, fog can come in to obscure everything, you can hit rocks, or got stuck in mud…

Or you can get lucky. On a clear calm day, you could make it without fanfare. But how much do you want to bet your life on such lucky days?

:laughing: problem solved


Hi, thanks to everybody, some great advice and ideas here, and as expected lots of warnings. No, I am not foolish, I know I am far from ready and my plan is to go for the trip only when/if ready.
As my very next step I’ll probably follow your advice and take ferries and do some island hoping on bike without packraft, to check the configuration and hopefully to talk to some people, see if there are kayakers in area.


Thank you, I have found that have marine skills course at an accredited location to safely canoe on open water!

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Glad to hear! You will find that training makes these comments a lot clearer.