Sailing without a skipper with the bicycle ferry near Drachten

Fancy a minor cycling trip in the vicinity of the town of Drachten?That will soon be possible thanks to a bicycle ferry between the small towns of De Wilgen and Opeinde, which shall extend the existing ferry route around the De Alde Feanen National Park. The municipality of Smallingerland – in collaboration with the Province of Fryslân and the Innovation Cluster Drachten – is determining whether this ferry shall be able to operate either completely without or merely with the limited help of a skipper.

The idea of introducing an autonomous bicycle ferry here was developed last year. Technasium students of the CSG Liudger conducted a study regarding its development. They further developed the concept of a self-sailing bicycle ferry, which aligns perfectly with the image of Drachten as an innovation and production industry hub.


Whether the ferry shall be able to operate completely without or merely with the limited help of a skipper, shall be assessed via a feasibility study. Marinminds – a company based in the small town of Workum and specialised in autonomous sailing – has been commissioned by the municipality of Smallingerland in this context and is indeed currently conducting this study. The first research results are expected by the end of the year.

Waterfront Drachten

The bicycle ferry shall be part of the Waterfront Drachten, thus connecting the Gaastereiland near the Gaester Djip with Opeinde. The project has been partly made possible by the Province of Fryslân, @north, Marinminds and the high-tech companies within the Innovation Cluster Drachten.

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