Wednesday, August 30, 2006


While the weather is breaking records in the Netherlands (July being the hottest month since 300 years, August the wettest month ever) we are now suffering rain and thunderstorms for weeks. No inviting circumstances for outdoor sports. Hardly any member of Kayakclub Wyrda comes to the weekly paddle lately. Yesterday I was the only one. And I must admit that I was wondering myself for just a moment: “what am I doing here?”. I had this thought, while I was all alone carrying my kayak from the boathouse to the pier at the Singel. Putting the kayak along the pier, pulling on my sprayskirt, inhaling the clean humid air, it’s no question anymore, it’s clear: I am going to paddle! Stepping in the kayak, and balancing to sit down the thoughts change: “Is there really no one else feeling that strong restless desire to paddle, to enjoy the few moments between the last rain shower and the next thunderstorm?” I can’t be the only addict? As always: after the first paddling strokes all questions disappear, no more pondering, just paddling in a steady state of mind.

All this August humidity is caused by the extreme warm sea (temperature 20-24 degrees Celsius, that’s 2-6 degrees above average), in combination with cold polar air. It comes together with wonderful skies. Every morning I travel 40 km’s by train from Woerden in the inland to The Hague at the coast. I enjoy looking out of the window of the coupe at the clouds coming in from sea. In the morning an endless armada of big white clouds is rushing in. Within minutes they change from friendly white cauliflowers to all kinds of dark grey monsters. Sometimes they stay compact, and all at once they grow kilometres upwards. I love clouds. I suppose that’s why there is mostly much sky on my kayak-pictures.
Just before the vacation I bought a little booklet with a lot of pictures of great skies: “How to identify the Weather, by Storm Dunlop” (Dutch edition from Veltman Uitgevers: “Het Weerboekje”). An interesting matter, but alas (maybe because of the Dutch translation) it is a bit dull to read. It is still fun to browse through yet, although I doubt if that’s appropriate to increase knowledge… “Boerenverstand” (=common sense) must do. That’s sufficient to interpret clouds like the giant on the picture above this post. Half an hour after I took the photo it became very dark in Woerden, a moderate breeze arose, a few lightings, thunder and a lot of rain…

Worth a visit: the webpages of Storm Dunlop, and (Dutch) the background information on the KNMI site.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Zeekamp Vlieland - Last minute reservations!

This evening I phoned Jannie. Together with Sido, Jannie organizes the “NKB Zeekamp Vlieland" from 9 – 16 September. In English I suppose it would be called "the Vlieland Seakayak Symposium" - sounds good! Jannie spent a big part of last weekend arranging the final things that come with organising the Symposium. And that sure wasn’t the first weekend Jannie and Sido invested in it. It’s a lot of work organising a Symposium, we should be very grateful to Jannie and Sido!

Vlieland 2005

Meanwhile most participants have entered, the groups are arranged, the coaches divided. There are multiple groups of all levels, from beginner to 5 star (=ZVE). In some groups there still is room for some extra participants:
- Beginners-course: 2 places
- 5 star training-course (ZVE-opleidingsgroep): 3 places
- 5 star touring-group (ZVE-toergroep): 3 places
So when you want to join: pick up the phone and call Jannie or Sido! For more information and phone numbers: click here.

If kayaksymposiums could get star-awards in the Michelin-Guide, the Vlieland-kamp would be nominated for the first place with our chef de cuisine, star-cook Michel! Culinary highlights after paddling: life can’t be better!

Here and here some impressions of last years Zeekamp Vlieland.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Watch out for Marine Mammals!

Vlielandkamp 2004 - I want a zoom on my waterproof Sony-camera!

Cailean keeps an interesting Scottish Seakayak-blog. He writes regularly about developments on the BCU coaching certificates and the star awards – the standards were the Dutch qualifications are originally based upon. It ‘s fascinating to see that similar discussions are taking place on both sides of the North-sea.

Also at the point of interaction with wildlife conservation organisations there are parallels. Yesterday Cailean referred in his post to the draft of the 'Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code'. This Code is a guidance for everyone on how to act around wildlife so that it stays wild, and stays in Scotland. It’s a delicate matter concerning the thin line between enjoying wildlife and disturbing wildlife. The perception of the individual tourist (or seakayaker) and the people on the wildlife protection-side on this matter may differ widely! I refer to the ongoing discussion in the Netherlands about the interpretation of the Code for aquatic sporters in the Wadden Region and the introduction of a Sea-reserve in the Voordelta. It’s good to develop user codes and guides of best practices on this theme. Awareness of the impact of ones behaviour is essential. And although a seakayak is a small and silence craft, it has the potention to disturb wildlife.

What struck me with the draft of the Scottisch Code was that there is a separate chapter dedicated to kayaking. Striking that a organisation of Natural Heritage pays attention to kayakers in the marine environment in their documents! In the contacts with similar Dutch organisations and authorities I often notice that they have hardly got any idea of the existence of seakayaking (or what it is about). Unknown makes unbeloved. Regulation and codes are primary focussed on sailing-boats and motor-vessels, with sometimes strange consequences for kayakers. There still is a lot of Mission-work to do!

Btw: the news around Simonszand inspired René to brainstorm on how to go on with camping in the Waddenzee; a marvellous area with sandplates, creeks and so on. Group camping is of the record nowadays, René explores the resting possibilities. It's a thin line between...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Kom je buiten spelen? -> Come and play outdoors!

It turned out to be the good decision to go to the IJmeer. Showers and thunder, we had it all today. Protected in the southwest by Amsterdam and IJburg however, we hadn’t to fight with wind and waves on the IJmeer. Under threatening skies, with lots of rain and between the thunderstorms we paddled from Kaapkot to Blijburg (two of my favourite beach-pavilions/beach-clubs – the best Dutch beachclubs are on the inland?) to Burgerdam (dry picknick in the music-pavilion) and back to Kaapkot again. The appletart of Blijburg is an absolute recommendation!

The sandsculpture with the invitation to play outside is a piece of art on the beach of Blijburg. 8 paddlers accepted the invitation!

The pictures of the day are added to Mijnalbum – for day 2: scroll down to the rainy pics!

Saturday, August 19, 2006


Tomorrow is the follow up of last weeks’ introduction to seakayaking from KV Wyrda. On the first day we did exercises on the IJmeer. I planned for the second day a short kayaktrip at sea in the Voordelta. But now the weatherforecasts says there is a good chance for winds up to 5 or 6 Bft and gales on Dutch coast. It’s a pitty, but that’s to heavy for the group.

And now I am in doubt what to do. Cancel the whole day? Looking for an alternative? The weather situation is changing from day to day lately and the forecasts often tend to be far more dramatic than the real situation…
We could go to a more sheltered area like the Grevelingen or the Haringvliet. That’s near to the coast, so when the situation turns out to be better then expected, there still is a chance to kayak at sea. But that’s a long ride and because of the tidal schedule we have to go out early.
The other possibility is do again the IJmeer/Markermeer. That’s nearer and because the bad weather comes from southwest, probably with more modest wind-conditions. But this option eliminates the chance to go out on salt water… On the other hand it’s only an half hour ride, no tidal schedules to deal with, so we could leave later. The group wasn’t to enthusiast about my idea of getting up early on Sunday…

And it’s going to be: the IJmeer. I have just looked once more at the different weather-sites: now they all predict 5-6 Bft SW for the south-west coast, beginning early in the morning. For the IJsselmeer-region it’s only 3-4 Bft SW. But for the whole Netherlands there is a chance for showers and thunderstorms. The western part of the IJmeer offers (1) the possibility to paddle rather sheltered and (2) many exits. So we are heading for Kaap Kot tomorrow!
(And stay one hour longer in bed!)


Finally it’s weekend again! The first weeks back at work are heavy. I have seldom had so much difficulty getting back in the “9 to 5 routine”. At the moment a strange mixture of quietness (many colleagues are still on vacation and in provincial politics nothing happens in summer) and a indefinable personal feeling of “must do this and that” rules at work. It makes me very restless. In the evening-hours there is much to do for the NKB-seakayaking-committee with Axel and Reinout. I enjoy it, but that’s the reason why little time rests for blogging lately, and it took two weeks before I finish this post about some magazines I read during the summer-holiday.

We spent two weeks in the northern part of France: Pas de Calais and the Picardie. Though this is an surprisingly interesting region for seakayaking (I must write about that later on!), I didn’t paddle. We planned to have a relaxed holiday with time to play with the children, to stroll around and to rest. Janine and the kids did bring a lot of books with them. But I am to restless for that, on holiday I can’t sit for hours reading books, I want to move! So I packed my racing bicycle on the car, and made every other day a short bicycle tour/training round.
Instead of the books I took Dutch newspapers and magazines with me.

The first thing I read were some old weekend editions of the Volkskrant. I won’t bother you with old Dutch news. A bit painful for me was the confrontation with my limited English knowledge. I do my best to write this blog in English, but you will surely have noticed lots of mistakes. In the Volkskrant was an item (Dutch) about Gonny van Oudenallen (a new member of parliament, with a bizarre past history of (suspected?) corruption and intrigues). One of her enterprises is called “Dreams come true”. Reading this I realized I just gave one of my posts the title: “Dreams come through”. Stupid Hans, sorry for my readers!
After the old newspapers came the newsmagazines. I enjoyed the ongoing discussion in Intermediair about the pro’s and cons of the Scandinavian economic model (started by Wouter Bos - "lessons from the Nordics"). I suppose there is no paradise on welfare facilities on this earth, but when it comes to paddling, Scandinavia is very near to paradise!
Between the collection of Dutch papers and magazines was SALT; a free nature adventure magazine distributed at some Dutch Sport and Outdoor-stores. Lot’s of advertisements of course and the editorial and commercial messages and interests are in transition (how sincere is sustainability for the big enterprises in the outdoor and adventure world, is it really more than just a marketing-tool? Let’s hope so!). I like this magazine. In the July-edition there was an item on Discovery Channel’s series “I shouldn’t be alive”. On paper it’s better than on television -see my post about the "Swept away"-episode. Much watersports items are on surfing, but there are also some nice kayaking pictures in it. Very funny is the list of Epic Trails. The top 10 of “must see place’s” for the adventurous traveller: Dutch spots like deWieden, de Veluwe in one list with the Great Divide MTB route in Canada/USA and the Ghan-railroad in Australia…. The Dutch are not very modest!

After a few days I had read all Dutch papers and magazines I could find. We had such a relaxed holiday that I almost regretted I left my books at home. So I went tot the “Magasin de Tabac” – the local place to buy a book, newspaper or magazine. Off course all literature only French…. No problem, its vacation I have enough time to read. I was very happy: between the sports magazines I found a Special edition of the French Magazine Canoë-Kayak on seakayaking (“Kayak de mer”). The magazine offers beautiful pictures and it is interesting to read about the French interpretation of seakayaking: lots of sit on tops and outrigger-boats (“le Va’a”). But I expected/hoped to get more information about the French seakayak regions. At this point it was somewhat disappointing: only Bretagne and the delta of the Gironde were covered. And Polynesia of course, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea: I would almost forget that’s French ("Territoire d'Outre mer")! Isn’t that the region in the Pacific of the French nuclear testing? In Canoë-Kayak it's a very tempting paddle paradise..

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A mystery guest on the Wyrda IJmeer-clinic

Here is a delayed post about the trip of Kayakclub Wyrda on the IJmeer Sunday. It took me two days to finish it because Blogger’s Upload tool refused to work yesterday. Grrrr…

Yesterday’s trip was more a clinic than a tour. The day was meant for preparing a group of 6 Wyrda paddlers (novices on seakayaking) for their first daytrip on the North sea next week. I offered them a relaxed program, not paddling big distances. Everybody trained skills like self- and partnerrescues, paddling in a group, handling winds from different directions. That sounds like work and we all got wet, but with coffee on the beach and Hans baking pancakes during the picknick (on one of the little islands in the IJmeer) time flies! After my first week back at work I enjoyed being outdoors again. It’s so nice the sun came back after a very cloudy, dark and rainy week. So bad the weatherman said it is only for one day…
And the weatherman was right: today (monday) it was raining all day with terrible showers in Woerden: when I came home from work (in the Hague) the garage was flooded. Everything was soaking wet. I hope the dryer and the washing machine (standing in 3 inches of water) survive… That’s the price we pay for living below sea-level.

Back to the IJmeer trip: during a break on one of the islands suddenly a solo paddler in a white Mariner seakayak turned up. It was Arthur, a Dutchman living half the time in Canada/British Columbia (Shawna and Leon’s place, it must be great kayaking over there!). Arthur had done a introduction on seakayaking in BC and was up to starting with kayaking in the Netherlands. We invited him to join our group for this day. He was very enthusiast to the get the chance to paddle out with us and to catch some nice surfs, paddling in a following sea. Of course I couldn’t resist the temptation to advertise the activities of the NKB-Sea-kayaking Committee; I think we have one more participant on the Vlieland-kamp! ;-)

For the Wyrda-people: Some more pictures of the IJmeer-trip on Making photo’s and doing wet exercises isn’t a good combination: water on the lens makes blurred pictures. Sorry: I had forgotten the piece of cloth to dry the lens.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Paddling Fun (NL: "Peddelpret")

You might not have noticed, but this week is the week of “Paddling Fun”. At least it should be according to this weeks advertisement campaign of C1000, a big Dutch chain of grocery stores. C 1000 surely planned this summer-season campaign unaware of the persisting low pressure area that dominates Dutch weather since more than a week with low temperatures, showers and thunderstorms….
I am not sure what attracted my attention most: the inferior quality of the plastic paddle she is holding, or the pretty smile of the lady on the cover. Fact is that I grasped a copy of this weeks C1000 receipt-booklet while I was shopping for dinner. I have never done so before. The marketing-people of C 1000 did a good job. I am now even writing about their campaign. Don’t know if it increases sales…
Btw: in the week of “Paddling Fun” you are supposed to eat artichokes with vinaigrette, crispy salads with strawberries and an Indian style stewing-meal with couscous.

Another thing you might not have noticed this week is that the 2006 Canoepolo World Championships are taking place in Amsterdam. It’s the fate of a sport not common known by the general public and without big commercial interests: hardly any attention on TV and in the newspapers, even in the Netherlands where it’s taking place and with the Dutch athletes performing well. You can mourn about it, and think it’s unfair. You better be happy that this sport isn’t yet perverted by commercial interests, and there is still place for a fair sporting competition and a lot of Paddling fun; even on the high level of the World Championships.
No comparison with the cycling-sport, my other passion next to kayaking. A lot of public attention for cyclingsport in the media, but though the performances of the international cycling-heroes are superhuman, sportsmanship is far to seek, and commercial interests leave little room for cycling fun in the big Championships lately…

Monday, August 07, 2006

Rope gymnastics at the Woerdense Singeldagen

“The rope gymnastics are useful for practicing and exercising in all seasons of the year. These techniques are excellent exercise for working and strengthening your muscles and tendons. If you want to be an excellent kayak roller and strong paddler you should practice rope gymnastics! Practicing rope gymnastics will make your body strong and flexible”.
Quote: Maligiaq Padilla, Greenland National Kayaking Champion

My first acquaintance with kayak rope gymnastics was at the Anglesey Seakayak Symposium in 2003. Between the cars parking at Nigel Dennis' Outdoor Centre Maligiaq Padilla gave a demonstration of his skills. There was a rope setup improvised between the roofracks of two vans. Very basic scenery, but the show of Maligiaq was so impressive (and such a pity I missed his rolling session at the pool that year).

Afterwards I learned rope gymnastics are a regular activity at meetings of Greenlandkayak-enthusiasts. Earlier this year Freya and Bonnie published photo's and posts of rope sessions on Greenland symposia in the States and Greenland. Greg Stamer has written an extensive article on the art of rope gymnastics in Sea Kayaker Magazine february 2003 (published online with pictures and video on

And now the ropes come to Woerden. There was a nice rope setup, next to the spot where Kayakclub Wyrda rented out the canoes and I did my rolling yesterday. Not quite a setup conform the rules of the Greenland National Kayaking Championship, but in Dutch style: crossing the Singel from one side to the other. Dutch are great in building bridges.
Lieke first assisted me whith the rolling demonstrations. When she finished, she did her own act on the ropes. Wow, I am so proud of my daughter!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Back home: Woerdense Singeldagen

picture KV Wyrda; by Paul Linckens
I just returned from a short break of two weeks in northern France. Without a kayak -alas- and no internet connection, but it gives enough inspiration for new blog posts. That will follow later.
First an announcement of the Woerdense Singeldagen: lots of activities on and around the water in the city of Woerden this weekend.
Kayak club Woerden (KV Wyrda) is also involved: they lend out canoes for free. Anyone who wants is invited to make a paddle tour around the Singel. And the big surprise, undoubtedly the absolute highlight of this weekend ;-) is a rolling demonstration of Hans (me!) on Sunday afternoon!
I am very honoured with the invitation, just getting a little a nervous about all the crowds gathering along the Singel next Sunday to look at my humble solo-presentation... Am I so special?