Friday, November 24, 2006

"My first Sony", listening Seakayak Podcasts

The first one: the Sony Walkman was the IPod of the late 80’s. As the transistor radio defined small music in the 1960s, the portable CD player in the 1990s, and the mp3 player in the 2000s, so did the Walkman define small portable music in the 1980s, with cassette sales overtaking those of LPs. It seems like ages ago. The Walkman never became a real favourite of mine. I regarded Compact Cassettes as an inferior medium and preferred listening vinyl records (LP’s) and used a traditional tape deck for recordings. Somehow I didn’t feel the urge to take music along with me while travelling. So the Walkman spent most of his live in a dark edge of a closet.

The favourite one: the Sony Cybershot digital still camera. It may look like a plastic toy, but it isn’t. It’s the ideal digital camera for action pictures on the water. It’s compact, waterproof, rugged, responsive, easy to operate with one hand and the picture quality is astonishing good. I am using it for almost 4 years now and haven’t seen a better kayak-camera yet. There are quite some other waterproof digital camera’s by now, offering more Megapixels, zoom and film-modus, but there is no camera coming near the Sony in ergonomics.

The new one: the Sony Ericsson cameraphone. It replaces the old Siemens cell phone I lost in the train last week (the second phone I lost in the train, NS (Dutch Rail), can begin a shop with all the gear I have forgotten in the train). This Sony is a miracle: a organiser that synchronises with the calendar, tasks, notes and contacts on the PC, it’s a radio, MP3-player, 2 MP Digital Still camera, Memory Stick, Internet Browser, E-mail, Memo-recorder, flashlight, SMS, MMS and you can use it as a phone… It will take some time before I am familiar with all these options. By now I do manage to use it as a phone, I have taken some pictures with it and I can listen to the radio. The picture quality is not as good as the Cyber-shot, but for publishing on the web it is good enough. The pictures of Sinterklaas at the meeting of the Seakayak coaches are made using the phone. As the Sony Memory Sticks of the phone are interchangeable with the Cybershot camera, I no longer need direct internet-acces to work on this blog. I should be able to post and publish pictures by phone: offering new possibilities for live trip-reports (don’t know if anybody is interested in my live reports, but I am happy with the sheer possibility).

And I discovered something new: podcasting. To be more specific: seakayak-podcasting. Simon Willis publishes twice a month a podcast with interviews on seakayak-themes. Surfing the web I am seldom patient enough to listen to long interviews, but now I can download the postcasts to the phone and listen to Simon’s interviews while commuting by train. After a long day at the office, I find this a very relaxing activity, sitting in the train back home listening to Simon’s perfect British diction and enjoying the charming accents of the people he interviews. Just a bit dreaming away. Risking to forget to get out the train at Woerden-Station.

1. Simon Willis recently started a seakayak blog.
2. I don't expect any rewards from mr. Sony for this free publicity. But I sure would appreciate it when Sony brings out a worthy successor of the Cybershot USC-U60 (6 Megapixel, movie capture mode 640x480 pixels please, and what about the idea of a integrated lens-wiper-system?)!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I did it!

I don't mean the rolling thing. That's René on the picture testing the Avocet with the Lendal Kinetic Wing Blade, last year at the IJmeer. No, I am happy because I finally managed to add some moving elements to this blog. Thanks to Blogger Beta. Click on the picture above and enjoy this little miracle!

Special guests at the meeting of NKB-Seakayakcoaches

Last weekend the yearly meeting of the NKB Seakayak-instructors took place in Uithoorn. We had several international guests: Urs and Bernhard (Seakayakcoaches from the German Salwasserunion) and Sinterklaas. On his way from Spain to Uithoorn/Netherlands Sinterklaas made a stop at the Seakayak-meeting to change over and embark the MS Luus, for the last few miles to the city of Uithoorn where hundreds of cheering and singing children were awaiting the “Goedheiligman”.

Main issue on this years meeting was the revision of the NKB-Zeevaardigheid certificate, the Dutch equivalent of the BCU 4-Star Award. We had a constructive discussion about the level of skills demanded for a paddler to take a kayak safely to sea under a competent leader. A draft of a new certificate is discussed. Main changes will probably be: more emphasis on the prerequisites of the test, and more realistic requirements on the techniques.
The BCU is reviewing the whole system of Star Awards, upgrading the 4 Star level and introducing a new seakayak-specific 3 Star entry-level. As far as I am informed, this new 3 Star-level comes close to the existing 4 Star. The new 4 Star Award will introduce some leadership-skills. In Germany a discussion is going on about the European Paddle Pass (EPP). The DKV has presented a draft for a German EPP with 3 seakayak-specific levels of certificates. The DKV introduces a new entry-Level 3, aimed at calmer conditions and with more simple requirements than the existing 4 Star/Zeevaardigheid-certificates. On the Seekajakforum a lively discussion is going on about the EPP. Alas this discussion isn't always constructive, sometimes rather offensive and emotional.
At the NKB-meeting it is agreed not to change the level of the Zeevaardigheid-certificate in itself, but to redefine some of the requirements of the certificate. According the planning the reviewed Certificate Zeevaardigheid will be introduced early 2007.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The ultimate Christmas Gift

KAYAKS OF GREENLAND, The History and Development of the
Greenlandic Hunting Kayak
, 1600-2000, by Harvey Golden. Published in 2006 by White House Grocery Press, 580+pages, 400+figs. and photos, 106 scale drawings of kayaks,79 scale drawings of paddles, 8.5 x 11 x 1-1/2" paperback. Need I say more? Perhaps a little bit pricy (99 US Dollars, incl. Shipping) for a gift, but don’t you buy must of your Christmas Gifts yourself anyhow?

Other suggestion: the limited edition of the Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch United East India Company. Appeared just in time for Sinterklaas and Santa Claus (buying this one however, will sure create some relational problems at home…).

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I still love Sweden: the Ljuscafé

After 3 days, finally new Blogger-beta is in control. The only resting issue is René’s report; the layout of the Kajakwoerden-feeds in his RSS-feed-reader is disturbed. I am afraid I can’t do much about it. Blogger-help reports of some known bugs with RSS-feeds in Blogger-beta. But after all, I suppose it’s not Blogger’s fault, but my own clumsiness that caused most panic with me. Blogger Heldesk gave a quick and adequate response to my questions. And I do like the improvements of the beta-version: posting pictures works better, it’s easier to add new items to the template of your blog, changing the layout and colours of your blog now is a piece of cake: the new dashboard works more “WYSIWYG”.

I used the new Blogger-features to lighten op my blog: can use some brightness, these dark days! I haven’t seen the sun since Sunday. Wednesday’s issue of the paper (NRC-Next) learned me it can be even worse: in the darkest days in Stockholm the Swedish enjoy a little bit of daylight only from 9.30 am till 3.00 am… A inventive entrepreneur opened in 2005 the Bright Light Café (Iglo Ljuscafé) in Stockholm. Artificial daylight seems to help against a Winter-depression. Also in the Netherlands Bright light–treatment for the Seasanable Affective Disorder Depression (SAD) is getting slowly more standard in public-healthcare. Personally I am not ready yet for a bright light-treatment: I do prefer using the spare bright hours left to go outdoors. Actvities in the fresh air do enlighten my sometimes somewhat cloudy mind. Kayaking, biking and hiking as a medicine! But, looking at the pictures of the Ljuscafé, perhaps I should drink my next cup of tea in the bright white family-bathroom, with the Halogen-spotlights switched on at full power....

Let me finish with some kayak-related notes. I added some new links to my bloglist. The blogging kayak-scene is steady growing: Douglas Wilcox of the Scottish Seakayaking Photo Gallery (what a scenery, great pictures!) started his own blog, so did Mark Tozer a Mountain Instructor and Sea Kayak Coach in North Wales sponsored by Rockpool Kayaks. And over the ocean I discovered the interesting blog of Susanita, a sporty and fast kayaking (competition-surfski’s) lady at the East Coast of the US. All blogs worth a visit.
A special bonus for the Carfree Girls: this link to the Hawaii-adventures of Rich Delong. Note the picture of the bike-kayak-combination. It brings together the best of both worlds: the Cannondale racing bike transporting a beautiful Greenland-kayak! Touring around with this stuff at the big Island of Hawaii: some guys have it all ;-)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Workers and players

The kayaktrip this Sunday was according to the forecast: windy, very windy! René joined me and Guus with his latest test-kayak: the SKIM–Distance. He wanted to test the behaviour of this long (5.85 m) and sleek seakayak under following winds. The conditions were perfect for this purpose. But before we could surf back, we had to fight our way out against the strong onshore wind: NW 7-8 Bft. according to the lighthouse guard. Wind against tide made it a bouncy ride. With 3 experienced kayakers in different kayaks it was remarkable to see how the different the behaviour of this kayaks were. While I was playing around in the manoeuvrable and assuring Valley Pintail, René and Guus with the SKIM Distance the Valley Nordkapp (a older classic HS-type) had a hard job keeping the boats on track and with turning in the wind. Under rough circumstances like today, the Pintail (not known as a fast kayak) makes much easier progress than the Nordkapp and SKIM (both with less rocker, a longer keel-line and under more normal circumstances faster). Of course this is all relative: with wind blowing around 7 Bft. against, you don’t make much progress anyhow!
After 3 hours fighting against the wind, we surfed back in half an hour. Just a little bit disappointing that the wind decreased: we had "only" 6 Bft. following winds.

Read René’s blog for his first impressions of the SKIM. I suppose a test-report will be published later at

Facts and figures:
Temperature: 10 degrees Celsius
Water-temperature: 13 degrees Celsius
Low tide Brouwershavensche Gat: 12.45 uur
Departure: 11.00 uur Return: 16.00 uur
Total distance: 15 km
Wind at start 7-8 Bft. NW, later decreasing 6 Bft.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Love and hate, computers

Information: everywhere, anytime: the blessings of the digital world are countless. Thanks to Bill Gates, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and all the others! Even seakayak-sport got a new dimension with access to the web. (Web-) blogging, mailing with kayak-friends all over the world (the seakayak-bloglist is growing fast), surfing the web for kayak- information, on line-information about tides, waves, weather: I spent quit a lot of time of kayak-related computing. Mostly I take a pleasure in it, but sometimes….
Last night I cursed this ICT-thing. Updating a laptop with Windows Office Pro, trouble shooting after synchronising a Pocket-PC with the webserver at work: it took all night. And after a long quest along the inscrutable paths of Windows and co, my friend Blogger gave me the final blow.
I signed the Kajakwoerden-blog up to Blogger Beta, used an existing Google-account, changed the colours of the template of this blog, all worked fine until Blogger Beta refused to give me access to my own blog. Hours of puzzling with login codes followed. I should have gone sleeping. Finally it works again (but I still don’t manage to personalize the templates of Blogger with my own pictures).

Back to one of the more pleasant themes: the weather forecast for Sunday. It promises a challenging sea-state for tomorrows’ kayak-adventure with Guus!

Dutch Coastal waters
The weatherforecast for Netherlands coastal waters and adjacent lakes and estuaries
Issued: 11 november 2006 19:22 UTC

A warning to shipping:
Flushing Hook of Holland IJmuiden Texel Rottum Delfzijl Harlingen
west 8

Low over the Norwegian Sea slowly moving east. Ridge west of Ireland later expected over the North Sea.

Forecast valid from 18:00 to 06:00 UTC:
Flushing Hook of Holland
west veering northwest 7-8,occasional showers possibly with hail, visibility good, in showers moderate

Forecast valid from 06:00 to 18:00 UTC:
Flushing Hook of Holland IJmuiden
northwest 7-8 decreasing 5-6,occasional showers, visibility good, in showers moderate

Sounds like fun!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Upside down

Yesterday, Saturday evening, was this years first pool session of kayakclub "de Kromme Aar" in Alphen a/d Rijn. I had no coaching or training job to do, so I enjoyed 90 minutes of rolling with the Pintail sea-kayak, the Perception-Sparc ww-kayak, and sevaral polo kayaks. The polo-kayaks are the most fun to roll. Offering a tight fit, low volume and a very flat deck, they roll up with the slightest body movement. You hardly need a hand to perform a handroll. But there still is some work to do to before the straightjacket-roll works with me -:(

I noticed I often closed my eyes while rolling yesterday. I had to force myself to keep eyes open to look around. It's a strange world under water.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Today we had the first autumn storm of the year at the Dutch Coast. Gales up to 100 km, 10 Bft from NorthWest caused the water in Delfzijl to rise up to 4.85 meters above sealevel, where high water normally reaches 1.30 meters. It led to a lot of inconveniences in the northern part of the Netherlands. Security teams were alarmed to inspect the situation on the dikes. The coastguard turned out to assist ships in problems. Land outside the dikes and harbours flooded. The storm brought quit a lot of damage. Dramatically is the situation with a group of 100 horses on a salt marsh. They got isolated by the water. More than 15 horses drowned, a rescue operation for the other horses is going on at this very moment. It’s unbelievable and so stupid that the landowner didn’t take his responsibility to bring the horses in at time. He was warned that the land where the horse stood would be flooded. This storm was no surprise, the KNMI had given out a weather-alarm the day before.

The waves out at sea must have been gigantic. One of the biggest lifeboats of the KNRM, the Anna Margarathe capsized during a mission this morning. The Anna Margaretha is a Rigid Inflatable Boat of the Arie Visser Class: length 18,80 m, twin jet, 2 x 1000 hp, max. speed 35 kts, capacity up to 120 persons. These boats are selfrightening, but also so unblievable stable that they don’t capsize (normally). There must really have been a huge sea outside. Breaking waves of 10 meters high were reported above the Wadden-isles.

And now it’s autumn. The temperature has dropped to normal figures. My constitution already felt some days ago this climate change was coming. Since last weekend I suffer a headache, are the muscles aching and is my mood rather cloudy. Darkness in the morning when I go to work, darkness in the evening when I come back from work (Daylight-saving time is over) don’t contribute to my temper…
So I was happy I had a few spare hours this morning. I went out for a short paddle (first I thought about a little rolling session but my head didn’t feel like it). Often I wish there was some more challenging paddle water here in Woerden, but in conditions like today the sheltered waters around Woerden are a big advantage. Even with gales up to 7 or 8 Bft, you can paddle here at ease. The worst thing that might happen is to get struck by a branche of a tree falling down. Perhaps I should better wear a helmet? (note: the use of a kayak-helmet is an item for one of the next posts in this blog). Anyway: my mood is much sunnier after a day with a few outdoor activities!