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Coastal view with tjalk. Painting by Ludolf Bakhuizen

The heydays of the Roads were coming to an end. Countless wars and the rise of French and English competition slowly chipped away at Dutch trading networks, definitively ending the Golden Age. Furthermore the Spanjaardsgat (Spaniard’s channel), the main route connecting the Roads with the North Sea, silted up.

In that same period, a harbour was dug in Skil. It wasn’t large or deep, and wasn’t meant for sturdy merchantmen. It was created to aid the local fishermen and the small freight ships which transported goods and people to and from the island: the tjalks and smacks of the barge skippers.

At the same time, two natural harbors on Texel were lost to the elements. The fishermen and pilots from Den Hoorn had relied on an anchorage near the Spanjaardsgat, which fell in disuse. And the fishermen from Oosterend traditionally moored their boots on the Oyster grounds, but those also silted up. A harbor was therefore dug at Skil, where locals expected minimal sand or mud precipitation.

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