After forming a single state for the Frisian people, the 3rd century is when the first documentation of Friesland and its inhabitants came to be. Named after the people for whom it was created, Friesland today extends through Germany onto the Netherlands, from the Weser River, the Jadebusen Bay over East Friesland, Emsland and the Rhine-Maas Delta to the Belgian city Bruges. In the 7th and 8th centuries, this same area was called the “Great Frisian Kingdom” (Magna Frisia). After the Francs invaded the region, the Frisians were quickly known as brave fighters and warriors as well as skilled boat builders and zealous seafarers, the latter skill leading them to gain the so-called “Frisian Freedom” (Fryske frijheid), which the coastal inhabitants achieved through their victories in battles with the Romans, Vikings and Normans between the 9th and 15th centuries. Because of the subordination under the Emperor and the lack of a feudal system in the area, the “Seven Sea Countries” of Friesland enjoyed great independence and self-confidence. Only at the end of this privileged time did the area divide into many small tribes of constantly fighting groups led by very powerful and self-assured “chiefs” (hovedlinge). Nevertheless, Frisians are to this day connected with the consciousness of a stand-alone and culturally authentic nation with old traditions and a language of its own. As one of the four officially recognized national minorities in Germany, the Frisians enjoy representation and protection of their interests through the Friesenrat in the Schleswig-Holstein Federal State Parliament. Besides the customs meetings such as the “Friesen-Droapen” (Frisian Meeting) on Helgoland, individual professional groups and the “Fryske Akademy” (Frisian Academy) in Leeuwarden also take care of Friesland’s interests. A radical state independence, like from the “Groep fan Auwerk” (Group from Aurich), was proclaimed in 2003, but these days, the majority of Frisians aren’t aiming for that.
Considering the historically strong fragmentation and frequently changing borders, it’s difficult to say the exact pieces of land that do and do not belong in Friesland’s boundaries. The Frisian regions that today solidly belong to Friesland are the region West Friesland on the western shores of the Ijsselmeer in North Holland around the cities Hoorn, Enkhuizen, Schagen and Alkmaar; the province Friesland (Fryslân) on the opposite shore and the islands Ameland, Vlieland, Texel, Terschelling, Rottumeroog and Schiermonnikoog as well as the larger cities and municipalities Leeuwarden, Súdwest-Fryslân, Smallinggerland, Heerenveen, Tytsjerksteradiel, Opsterland, Achtkarspelen, and Skarsterlân in the Netherlands. In the German state Lower Saxony, East Frisia is the area between the cities Leer, Wittmund, Emden, Aurich and Norden plus the islands Norderney, Baltrum, Lengeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge. The subgroup of Sater Friesland is what the areas around Clobbenburg are called, and the district Friesland on the Jade is around the cities and towns Bockhorn, Jever, Sande, Schortens, Varel, and Wangerland, as well as Butjadingen, Lemwerder, Berne and Stadtland in the Wesermarsch district. The Land Wursten in the municipal areas Cuxhaven and Osterstade, including the towns Cuxhaven and Osterholz, are also part of Friesland. Hamburg’s network of islands in the Elbe in the southwestern Elbe estuary also count as part of East Friesland, as does the island Helgoland, which is part of the Pinneberg district, in the North Sea. The Weddewarden district of the Bremerhaven municipality in Bremen as well as the North Friesland district with its cities and towns Husum, Sylt, Tönning, Friedrichstadt and Reußenköge, plus the North Frisian islands and Halligen Sylt, Uthörn, Föhr, Amrum, Pellworm, Nordstrand, Oland, Langeneß, Gröde, Habel, Hamburger Hallig, Hooge, Nordstrandischmoor, Norderoog, Süderoog, and Südfall in Schleswig-Holstein, are also all part of the old Frisian kingdom.
This list of cities, towns and regions along the North Sea coast of the Netherlands and Germany probably make the hearts of many water sport partakers and skippers beat a little faster. Indeed, almost all of the named towns of both countries enjoy very good reputations as relevant and known destinations for beach-going and the many activities one can do on, in, or under the water. Sailors and surfers going on vacation will appreciate the proverbial “stiff breeze” on the Frisian North Sea. The island Sylt is the setting of the annual German Windsurf Cup on Brandenburg Beach by Westerland, and the additional surf and sail spots on the Blidselbucht Stronghold between Kampen and List, as well as by Rankum, enjoy international renown from wave riders. On the island Norderney, a spot at Januskopf is another great place to surf, though it is very demanding and causes even old birds of surfing to be taken by surprise by the speed of the waves. In St. Peter-Ording, a lane of water is specially designated for wind- and kitesurfers to use. In East Friesland, surfers of all levels make a pilgrimage to the Ems estuary of the Dollart and to the local Ort Knock after going to Echwarderhörne on the Butjadingen peninsula, on the Große Meer (Great Sea) between Aurich, Emden and Norddeich. They also visit the North Sea resort in Horumersiel-Schillig in Wangerland, in the district Upleward von Krummhörn, on the East Frisian islands, and Hooksiel north of Wilhemshaven. In that area, the spots at Banter See, Geniusbank and Suedstrand are also worth visiting. In Dutch Friesland, the Ijsselmeer and its surfs spots on the western bank in Gaast, Hindeloopen, Lauwersoog, Makkum, at the Mirns Cliff, Molkwerum in Starvoren and Workum, and on the coasts of both the Ameland and Terschelling islands are very popularly visited and well liked.
More than 70 sailing and motorboats in Dutch part of Friesland and four sailboats in the German part are waiting for adventurous skippers and captains at the new platform for worldwide yacht charter, YACHTICO.com. The best value German sailing yachts are ready to rent for a little over 400 euro per week, but there area other options as well. The sailing yacht Feeling 30 DI, built in 2010 and which feature 6 berths in 3 cabins, is available from the marina in Hooksiel from 1600 euro per week. In the Frisian marinas in Germany, you can get a smaller yacht from 400 euro for seven days. For the historic sailboat Brave Hendrik, built in 1917 and featuring 5 cabins, you can sail from Zuiderhaven for a bit more than 3700 euro for a week.