Two bodies washed ashore in two countries, three months apart, seemingly unrelated. However, a Dutch detective specialised in persons missing at sea, John Welzenbagh, noticed a curious similarity when Interpol’s “black notice” came in.
Both bodies were clad in the same wet suit, same brand, same type. Through an a RFID tag embedded in the suit of the victim that had washed ashore on the Dutch island of Texel, detective John Welzenbagh had traced the wetsuit back to a sports store in Calais, on the French side of the English Channel, but the items on the bill that was retrieved for that purchase didn’t match any type of diving expedition Welzenbagh — himself an accomplished diver — could think of.
That is where the trail died, until Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet decided to pick up the scent this year. They found out who the victims were and what brought them together in Calais on a fateful October day.
(Link: Metafilter; photo of a Texel beach by Ralph Schulze, some rights reserved)
Tags: beaches, Calais, detecting, detectives, divers, diving gear, English Channel, France, norway, refugees, Syria, wetsuits
Big Think writes:
A combination of sex and drugs (and possibly rock ‘n’ roll) is forcing two governments to change the border that divides them. The Presqu’ile de l’Islal, a small Belgian peninsula stranded on the Dutch bank of the river Meuse, is to change hands to eliminate a zone that is, to all practical effects, quite literally beyond the law.
Due to its political status, the uninhabited peninsula is off limits to the Dutch police. And because of its geographic isolation, it is out of reach for their Belgian colleagues. These circumstances conspire to make the peninsula a sanctuary for unlicensed sunbathing, loud bacchanalia and unrestricted drug dealing.
In parts of Limburg the border is formed by the river Meuse. Over time gravel extraction has led the river to change its course, creating tracts of land that the Belgian police can only reach by taking a long detour over Dutch territory. Binnenlands Bestuur explained in 2001: “The peninsulas have become popular as a gay meeting ground. […] In the summer the beach is popular with youths. […] Recently there have been indications that the gays have been bothering the youths. These allegations cannot be verified because the Dutch authorities have no legal status in the area and the Belgian authorities cannot act there because,” and here the author cranks up the dramatic background score to eleven, “they would have to invade our country through the town of Eijsden!”
Oh the horror! The voice of sanity is one Johan Lahaye speaking for the town of Eijsden who told Trouw shortly after: “There is no gay beach there. We’ve had the grand sum of exactly one complaint.” By that time however the Dutch parliament had started to study the issue and the Minister of the Interior had promised to make the border correction a priority. Last year De Limburger reported on a border committee that had visited the area and was ready to send a report to the capitals of both nations.
The border correction is expected to take place in a year or two. Gentlemen, start your engines.
The last time the Netherlands changed its borders was in 2010 when it gained 3 volcanoes (a number which had been 0 since 1945) and its highest point became 887 metres (formerly 323 metres)—three of the Dutch Antilles became a part of the country.
(Map by OpenStreetMap contributors, some rights reserved; the big purple line is the border)
Tags: beaches, borders, highest point, homosexuals, islands, Limburg, Maastricht, peninsulas, volcanoes
The producers of the above video write:
Flotsam & Jetsam is a documentary based around the beachcombers of Texel, one of the largest Frisian islands north of Holland.
Due to Texel’s geographical position, tidal system and strong winds, an estimated two tons of Flotsam & Jetsam washes up on its beach each day.
The film follows the lives of the beachcombers (or Jutters as they are known), exploring their relationships and history as extraordinary people in extraordinary situations.
Beachcombers are people who ‘harvest’ flotsam and jetsam from beaches. I am not quite sure what the legal status is. Wikipedia claims beach combing is illegal in the Netherlands, but the only law text I could find (Book 8 of the Burgerlijk Wetboek, articles 550 and onward) seems to suggest that beach combing is a form of marine salvage, meaning that the owner of the goods can come and collect them up to two years after they were found, but must pay a decent wage in return.
The documentary is only 13 minutes long, and well worth your time.
‘Jutter’ Jan Uitgeest (73): “There are only eight of us left. Beachcombing is getting less popular because there aren’t that many finds any more. We are dependent on storms. Last year Terschelling had a large find of wood, and a container filled with snacks. On Ameland and Schiermonnikoog they found a container with mountain bike wheels and a couple of thousand coats, so that now the inhabitants of Schiermonnikoog are walking around in coats with nice fur collars.”
Link: Trendbeheer. Video: Vimeo / Flotsam and Jetsam.
Tags: Ameland, beach combers, beach combing, beaches, documentaries, North Sea, Schiermonnikoog, Terschelling, Texel, Wadden Islands
The city of Katwijk is going to pay students to dig holes at the beach which can then be rented out to tourists for an expected 4.50 euro a day, Algemeen Dagblad reports (Dutch). Apart from doing its bit to help fight the economic crisis, the Citymarketing Katwijk foundation also insists these holes fill a real need. This is borne out, the foundation claims, by a poll held among 300 people.
A popular view among the Dutch is that German tourists like to dig holes when ‘occupying’ a Dutch beach, but the foundation says it’s not just our Eastern neighbours who expressed interest in Katwijk’s rent-a-holes.
Katwijk is located at the mouth of the Old Rhine, a river that stopped having major economic import when it silted up around 1,000 A.D.
Photo of the sea at Katwijk by Michael Brys, some rights reserved. Via Z24 (Dutch).
Tags: beaches, city marketing, Germans, holes, Katwijk, Rhine