A few days ago Yves and me went to the Western Scheldt estuary to make an interesting packraft day trip. The Western Scheldt is the funnel shaped mouth of the Scheldt river where the sea tides of the Northsea reverse the water flow in the river twice a day, making the water levels rise and drop every time by 6 meters. Many sandbars emerge above the water line in the estuary at each low tide and mudflats and salt marshes surround the estuary on many places with the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe being the biggest brackish marsh in Western Europe. What is more unique is the marine traffic that is continuously taking place through the estuary between the Northsea and the seaport of Antwerp, which is lying 70km inland from the sea as the crow flies. The Western Scheldt is a very interesting packrafting destination but at the same time the most dangerous place to do some flat water packrafting seen the strong tidal currents, all the ships passing by and the winds that can easily blow you away from the shore into the sea lane where the marine ships are passing through and guess what, no they don’t give way for a mortal packrafting soul! The weather forecast promised us weak winds staying ashore and sunny weather with temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius. Now, don’t stay dally with such circumstances!
Wednesday evening we headed to the small town of Paal along the southern shore of the estuary and searched a place to spend the night in our bivy bags. That we found on a dyke between the fields. At five o’clock in the morning, the sun even didn’t show up yet at the horizon, we took our stuff and headed for the brackish water. We had to start so early to profit from the current going inland before high tide was reached, otherwise we couldn’t make it to the Drowned Land of Saeftinghe as the currents in the estuary are stronger then the speed one can paddle upstream with a packraft. And so we made a nice day trip on the Western Scheldt and through the many creeks of Saeftinghe. The pictures tell the story.
This giant took us by surprise as about one minute after I took this picture it pulled all the water out of the shallow Speelmansgat creek where we just had arrived and all of a sudden we just were stranded at the bottom of the creek until a wave train with up to 1,5m high waves quickly invaded into the creek again. Luckily we did not capsize but we sure were impressed. After that we stayed playing in the waves with every other ship passing by.