Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!

The very best wishes for you and yours in 2008!

West Greenland Kayak Design

During the last visit at the Ethnological Museum in Leiden I learnt something new about traditional kayak design. I thought the upswept bow and stern had to do with the rougher waters the West Greenland hunters paddled in - but that proved to be a common misunderstanding. In the Museum the following text was displayed along with some traditional kayaks:

"...Kayaks are different from region to region. Kayaks from West Greenland have bows and sterns that curl up. The kayak from East Greenland is the flattest. That was first attributed to environmental factors, but a researcher recently discovered that the protruding points disappeared everywhere when weapons arrived. With guns, hunters sometimes shot through the point of their kayak and went down. Spears and harpoons are thrown overhead, high over the bow. When guns came into general use, the West Greenland Kayak was already less in use, so it was less influenced by that.
When hunting for narwhals, mostly in Northern Greenland, kayaks now take precedence and traditional harpoons are still used. In East-Greenland people still live from hunting plentiful seals of various species - using guns and motorboats."
Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden , 2007 -"ALS HET IJS SMELT".

Valley says the Pintail is based on the classical lines of the Igdlorssuit Kayaks, but with rounded bilge hull sections. Igdlorssuit is the old name for Illorsuit - a place in West Greenland). In fact the relationship between the Greenland Design and the Pintail is more indirect. First was the Valley Anas Acuta (a hard chined kayak - more close to the original skin boat) and later Valley rounded off the chines and added a bit of beam - the Pintail was born. In an interesting interview in Ocean Paddler nr. 5 Nigel Dennis explains how he was involved in this evolution - somehow the NDK Romany is also related.

Since this last day of the year I am the very proud owner of an Anas Acuta - the white kayak next to the faithful Kajakwoerden Pintail. I am sure I am going to have a lot of fun with this new toy in 2008!

More history of the Anas Acuta and the Pintail kayak:
Memory Lane - blog item by Douglas Wilcox
Bryan Hansel on

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A perfect december paddling day

The last days of the year are calm: the office is closed - no chance to work (even if I would have liked to...). We spent the Christmas days with family and friends in Holland and Germany - very nice and "Gemütlich" - but now that I am home again - I can't sit still anymore - I want to get out! Yesterday I took a break on the racing bike (it was hard work with a westerly wind up to 5-6 Bft.) and today a winter paddle on the Grecht with Guus.
The ice has disappeared quickly. The picture below is taken behind our home in Woerden a week ago. According to Guus, big parts of the Grecht were still frozen just two days ago. Today there was no ice left. Let's enjoy a few paddling days! Severe frost is predicted (ice skating time?!) for the second part of the week.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Testing touring paddles

There is a strange thing between seakayakers and paddles. As a lot of kayakers experiment with different boat-designs and change kayaks during their kayaking career, most stick to their (first) paddle. The type of paddle you are using however, can have serious effect on paddling-pleasure and efficiency. Strange that most seakayakers don't experiment more with paddles.

One of the reasons for this might be that good occasions to try out different paddles are rare. Most people will give you a go in their kayak, but do hesitate to lent their paddle. Dutch kayak-gear suppliers (and as a matter of fact there is only one Dutch kayak-dealer that has a wider range of touring paddles in store...) don't offer test paddles. If you are seriously interested, and the chef has a good day, he might give you the chance to try out a paddle a few minutes on the lake before his store, but that's all. When you are about to invest 300 euro's or more in a new paddle there should be a better occasion to get a good impression of its qualities!

So I was lucky when I had this year the opportunity to try out a series of elite class touring paddles over a longer period. The tested paddles represent the top of the range of Lendal, Werner and Epic:
- Lendal Kinetic Wing - Paddlock system;
- Lendal Kinetic Touring - Varilock system;
- Werner Ikelos;
- Werner Cyprus;
- Epic Mid Wing Full Carbon Stiff (Blue) Shaft Length-Lock™.
Common on these paddles is that it are full carbon breakdown-versions, retail prices vary from around 350 to almost 600 euro's (the low exchange-course of the Dollar hasn't worked out in the price tags in the European kayak-stores). I used the paddles on canals and lakes around Woerden, at sea in surf and swell, on short paddles and multiple day tours, under circumstances varying from flat water to the rough stuff. Enough for a good impression. It won’t be long before there is a successor for my good old Lendal Nordkapp.

I am not going to do a review of the tested paddles, nor to do any advise on which one to choose. What’s perfect for me, doesn’t necessarily fit you. Choosing a paddle is personal: What’s the intended use, what’s the paddle style? Physical constitution, condition, power of the kayaker and type and size of the kayak - are just some of the factors that have influence on the performance of a paddle design and size. With this in mind, I like to share some of mine observations.

Wing blade vs. conventional blade:
A real advantage of the wing design is the very powerful catch and the lift it generates when it’s pulled through the water. The wing design forces to paddle in a efficient high angle style. I do love it – and see obvious advantages - also for touring use. I suppose most wing blades are designed for use in a fast racing kayak. The combination of a seakayak with a racing wing (my Brasca I) doesn’t suit me: to heavy – I lack power! I found the smaller blades of the Epic Mid Wing a perfect match with the bigger resistance of a seakayak. The Epic paddles give also a more robust impression for daily use than the ultra-light but fragile construction of the racing wing. That, despite the advantages in efficiency, the wing paddle won’t be my first choice for seakayaking has to do with the handling: forwards paddling, sweep strokes, bracing and rolling are no problem, but with the more playful moves like draw strokes, bow and stern rudders the wing blade sometimes has naughty surprises for me: sometimes it suddenly catched the water and took me of balance – the blade shape is non-forgiving. This is where the semi-wing design of the Lendal Kinetic Wing shows his advantages: it still needs some attention with the special moves, but it’s far more forgiving than a real Wing. With some practice it’s possible to perform most of the more playful moves with this paddle. But it is a compromise: the semi-wing design doesn’t offer a similar catch and lift as a real wing. It doesn’t force you in the high angle wing style like a wing does: it requires more concentration on your paddling technique to really benefit from it’s design.

Blade size: size really matters!
From the first minute I loved the refreshing light action of the small blades of the Werner Cyprus. The lighter action gives a dynamic impression and invites to accelerate continuously. But how do the smaller blades work out on efficiency? I find it very difficult to draw a conclusion on this aspect. I had no problem keeping up with faster groups with the smaller blade. But solo paddling and extensively measuring speed with the GPS I measured a drop of touring speed of about 10% when using the smaller blades. I suppose I do compensate this with paddling in a slightly higher rev when paddling in a group. And that brings it to the point - what is more fatiguing on a long distance: paddling in a slightly higher rev, or applying a bit more power on every stroke? My conclusion is that - as I still feel fit after paddling 40 km’s with the rather big Lendal Nordkapps – slightly larger blades fit me better. Length of the paddle is relevant too: I prefer a shorter paddle because of it’s handling – for the more playful moves and because it invites to a high angle style. ( I still notice much touring kayakers using long paddles of 2.20 cm or even longer, doing more low action sweep strokes than high angle power strokes).

Foam core blades:

The Werner and the Lendal Kinetic Wing blades offer, due to their foam core, noticeable more flotation than I was used to. It feels a bit different on the first moves but it’s great: planting in the blade feels very secure and pulling the blade out the water goes swiftly and effortless. The added buoyancy was also welcome with rolling and with the balance brace.

Cranked shaft/straight shaft:
I always paddled a straight shaft and never had any complaints about the ergonomics, but I was very curious about the handling of the modern ergonomic designs. The Werner cranked shaft felt very natural with forward paddling, bracing, rolling, rudders and draw strokes from the very first moment. I didn’t need any time to get used to it. But did it really feel “better” than a traditional shaft? Hard to say, for me handling was very similar and the only thing I can say about performance is that I didn’t notice much of a difference. Strangely enough the similar cranked shaft of the Lendal paddles took some time for me to get used to. I really needed two or three days to get used to it and to relax my grip on the paddle. But as I got used to it – the Lendal Paddle gave with forward paddling a feeling of higher efficiency - due to the increased leverage? I don’t know what the subtle differences are between the Lendal and the Werner crank shaft. Perhaps it’s all between the ears?

Ferrule systems:
All the tested paddles offer advanced systems to split the paddles. On high priced paddles like these it's almost a must -> to stow it safely away from eagerly eyes in your car or the cockpit of the kayak! All systems have proven to be reliable after long and extensive use. With the Lendal Varilock system you can not only vary the feather of the paddle but also the length. A minor disadvantage of the Lendal system is that an extra tool is needed to secure it – risking that at the moment that you need it – it won’t be there. But for private use that’s not a big issue – once you have found your ideal feather and length you won’t change it a lot anyhow.

The carbon blades make the paddles considerably lighter than I am used to. The difference with my Glass-Nylon Lendal Nordkapp is up to 350 grams... So after paddling one of these ultra light paddles my own paddle felt dramtically heavy. But luckily only for the first 10 minutes - and than I was used again to the extra weight. (But the light feelinhg won't be forgotten ;-).

1. It sure is worth experimenting with different paddle designs. Even minor details like the diameter and texture of the shaft, the way it's ovalized have effect. When I started comparing the different designs I wanted to make my choices as objective as possible. I did try to measure speed, stroke frequency, effect on heart rate etc. But going on I found out that something as subjective as "the feel" became the most significant criterion for me. I am no competition paddler - I want paddle that gives me the most fun: of course it should be effective in forward paddling, but it should also give a good feel and feedback with the so called special manoeuvres. 2. Are these "top of the range paddles" worth the extra money, compared with their middle range equivalents? - Yes they do - especially in the handling and feel they offer advantages. Ok, you can also look upon it in another way: compared to a decent standard paddle: the 10% extra fun will cost you 100% extra money... Make up your mind yourself, try it out...
3. "Don't blame your paddle" - sure there are (more or less subtle) differences in performance between the paddles - but no paddle will make a slow paddler a fast one (or a bad roller a good roller) - technique, power and condition are far more crucial!

With special thanks to Axel, Bernhard and Freya for letting me use the tested paddles over a long period!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A bit frost - consequences...

A bit frost is enough to to cover the cold sheltered waterways around Woerden with a (for kayakers) nasty layer of ice. I planned to do some paddle testing later this week, but because of the expected frost during the next few days I did the speed-tests today. This afternoon I could still paddle about 2 km's "icefree" from the boathouse of KV Wyrda. One more cold night and it's over.
I paddled the 2 km-course vice versa with two different paddles and checked the speed-differences with a GPS. The boathouse is in the center of Woerden: it must have been an odd sight: this solitary kayaker paddling alternating slow and fast along the "ice-fields", returning every 10 minutes at the pier, running to the boathouse, changing paddles, and paddling again. The neighbors don't wonder anymore: they have gotten used to me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The big thaw - consequences for residents of the North Pole

I am fond of the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden. Due to the extensive ethnological research work on the hunting communities in the arctic by the famous previous Dutch curators Nico Tinbergen and Gert Nooter the museum has an impressive collection of the arctic region - amongst which interesting kayaks and umyaqs. In his standard work on Greenland kayaks Harvey Golden has also described some of the kayaks in Leiden.

The big Thaw is a now running temporary exposition in the Dutch National Museum of Ethnology- Leiden: Our climate is changing. The ice is melting. The cause and effect is a topic discussed in the news every day. How will the world be in 50 years? The Museum of Ethnology is not making any predictions but is looking at and listening to those who are directly involved. Greenland, Canada, Alaska, Lapland and Siberia. The residents of these polar areas speak at length in interviews conducted specially for this exhibition. They talk about their country and culture, the present and the past. The Netherlands will also be affected by the melting ice. That is why the exhibition is also about the Netherlands. What does the possible rise in sea level mean for us?

This morning I visited "The big Thaw" with Lieke. The timing was perfect: last week some new scientific reports about the increasing speed of melting ice on the North Pole, yesterday the climate conference in Bali closed with a surprising positive deal, today the first ice on the water in Holland and the weekend started with my own broken "arctic" kayak trip.

This short wide kayak is from East-Siberia, a very manoeuvrable hunting boat to navigate between floating ice, used in combination with a sledge

Fascinating is the ease in which the Inuit people seem to adapt new technology and combine it with their traditional lifestyle. Adaptation is in the genes of these people: their culture has survived dramatic changes, we can learn a lesson from them!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Little surprises...

Sometimes things turn out a bit different than expected. So did the little wintry kayak expedition in the German Bight.

The first surprise was on the radio on Thursday when I was driving north, heading to Horumersiel. I thought Astrid was the "Glücksfee", but the meteorologists on German radio were speaking about the "Bernhilde-high pressure zone". What's in a name? It didn't make a big difference though, the weather was perfect.

The second surprise had a bigger impact. I was invited to this kayak trip that was announced as a "challenging seakayaktrip": winter conditions, open bivouacs on remote places, night paddling, long distances. The organizer had clearly stated this trip was meant for well prepared, advanced paddlers with a good physical and mental condition. It surprised me highly that, ready for departure late Thursday-evening in the darkness, one of the participants told this was his first paddle out on sea ever. He paddled a traditional skin-on-frame low volume Greenland qayaq, in which he couldn't pack a decent winter outfit -no cooker and tent for instance... The organizer decided nevertheless to depart with the complete group: (1) the novice could use some equipment of the 3 other paddlers, (2) tide was coming in so we had to hurry to get away and (3) it was only a short distance under sheltered conditions till the first stop. We paddled two hours out, made camp as planned at midnight. Because everyone used tiny 1 person-shelters, the novice sea kayaker could only sleep under my tarp. That's better than nothing, but not comfortable in winter! We got up at half past four in the morning - time to get ready for the big crossing of over 25 nautical miles. At six in the morning, after breaking down the camp and stowing the gear in the kayaks, the organizer made the only reasonable decision: to paddle back to the harbour in order to bring the novice back. Because we had to wait some hours until tide was running in, this gave us enough time to make a walk and to explore the island in darkness. Sun came up after 8 o'clock. Back in the harbour I felt no desire anymore to paddle. Strange, that rarely happens to me! I decided the trip was over for me.

This may sound as if I am very disappointed and didn't have a good time. That's not the case. I had two wonderful days in company of good friends which formed a strong team together. The night-paddle on Thursday-evening was spectacular, I enjoyed sliding down the mud in the harbour (we left near low tide), paddling under a starry sky, a fun midnight picnic under open sky, exploring one of the hidden treasures of the German Wadden-region in the early morning and midwinter rolling exercises out at sea and many more nice moments. Of course I am a bit disappointed I didn't paddle along the promised historic lighthouses in the German Bight (the Lighthouse "Roter Sand" is a absolute highlight). But: "things happen". I'll be back soon, and I picked up some new ideas for future paddles.

Everyone had his own lessons from this experiences. The organizer realized it was a mistake to accept a new unknown paddler on a trip like this. The novice seakayaker learned that good skills and condition are not enough - good practice and equipment are also essential. (Our novice seakayaker isn't a novice in kayaking: he is an advanced white-water paddler and an expert in greenland style rolling, but new to seakayaking. He had dramatically underestimated winter-paddling and wasn't familiar the habits and (safety- and group-) procedures of of seakayaking).
Driving back to the Netherlands I had plenty of time to reflect on the reason behind my feeling the trip was over for me at the moment we returned in the harbour. Was I tired, was it the temptation of the warm comfortable car, were it all the duties waiting for me at home or... ? This may all have contributed a bit, but what affected me most was the feeling I lost control...

PS: given English is not my native language, I found it hard to put my refections on this trip into the right words: it's difficult to bring in the nuances. I sure don't intend to make anyone black! Being smart afterwards is always to easy...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome Astrid!

A short message just before packing the car to leave to Horumersiel. In the evening starts a winter kayak trip with German friends. This time we miss the good company of Freya and her Feuerzangenbowle. Freya is paddling down under and enjoys the "Vorweihnachtszeit" in New-Zealand summer conditions. Read her blog about her New Zealand Circumnavigation. She is making great progress.
"Astrid" is the new and only female company this time. In Germany High Pressure zones are named since around 1950. In the beginning High Pressure Zones were female and Low Pressure Zones male. But in the last years the Germans decided to change this every year. Background is some kind of political correctness: no discrimination - in one year a man brings us good weather, in the other year a woman. I am happy with "Astrid", she came just in time - the last weeks weather was bad around here. We are covering some large distances the next few days, so calm weather is welcome.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A new addition to the kayak-library

Pesda Press just missed Sinterklaas, but it also makes a perfect Christmas-gift: the second edition of Franco Ferrero's book "Sea kayak navigation - a practical manual" has been released this week.

My kayak library slowly outgrows the bookshelf. So why bother with a new book regarding navigation skills? What does Franco's new book add to the comprehensive work on Coastal Navigation of Rietveld en van Groeningen or the excellent Kayak Navigation of David Burch?
The first book is the official Dutch learning guide for Coastal Navigation for sailing- and motorboats. The basics skills of navigation don't depend on the type of craft your using, but the book of Rietveld and van Groeningen covers a lot of stuff less relevant for kayaking. David Burch's book is dedicated to sea kayaking and offers a lot of practical little hints for figuring out where you are while keeping both hands on the paddle...
What I like about the new book of Franco Ferrero is (1) it's being compact and focusing on the essentials and (2) the wonderful illustrations. The explanation is very visual and directly chart related with only simple calculations. I am quit good at maths (supposed to be uncommon for a jurist?) and tend to think in formulas and more complex vector-diagrams. Sometimes I suppose everyone does... So for teaching others Franco's book is a welcome help. And beyond that, it's just a pleasure reading such a good book written by an enthusiast and very competent paddler and author.
The BCU recommends Franco Ferrero's book as supporting material for the courses for the 4 and 5 star awards. I can assure you it's also good for the NKB Zeevaardigheid and Zeevaardigheid-Extra-courses!

To get the book in time as a Christmas-Gift you can order a copy with Pesda-Press. I have no commercial interests here, but have experienced that these guys are really swift workers. Orders in before Sunday 16th December are likely to be delivered in time (in UK - outside UK, you should rush now).

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Picture of the Day

Picture by Gerard Tel

Gerard drew attention to this picture posted on the website of the Marex Offshore Review. The photo was taken on the way back home to Groningen from the NKB Zeekamp Vlieland in September. The kayaker is Patrick in his Q-boat built by Valley, Nottingham, England. The supply Vessel is the Shelf Express built by Damen Shipyards, Gorinchem, Netherlands.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Wonen aan het water. Iedereen zijn bootje, kinderen die, zodra het weer het toelaat, zo vanuit hun slaapkamer de sloot in springen, hengelende bejaarden, zonnebadende huisvrouwen langs de waterkant, kantoorpikken met een kapiteinspet op in een mahoniehouten sloep, ja, wij zijn een maritiem volk. Als het maar klotst en golft en waait, dan zijn wij gelukkig.
Een stukje nautisch shoppen erbij en klaar is Kees. Je moet toch ergens je bootschoenen en Helly-Hansen-jacks kopen.
Quote from Martin Bril, "Almelo" - de Volkskrant 29 nov. 2007.

Yesterday Dr. Orange repaired my Sony Ericson K 750i "Cameraphone". The picture of the River Wood advertisement is a snapshot I made in front of the Orange-store in Rotterdam to test the camera function. I was really angry with myself as I dropped the phone at the concrete railway platform of Woerden station in September. Stupid me: the LCD-screen was broken. A pity because I really liked the Phone with it's built in radio, MP3-player, organizer and kalender-functions and especially the built in 2 MP-camera! I have other and better camera's, but the Sony-phone is always at hand and the picture quality is more than sufficient for web-use. As I informed about the cost of repair at the Phone shops in Woerden, the indicated cost was at least 160 Euro, and the Phone had to be sent in for more than two weeks. Needing a soon replacement, I decided to forget it and bought a cheap basic GSM-Phone for 30 Euro. However I wasn't really happy with this, so as I was in Rotterdam yesterday I informed about a repair at the Flagship store of Orange (the provider of my GSM). They repaired the within 20 minutes, for 50 euro... Leaves me with two phones...

A wooden canoe on a vintage car (is it a 70's Jeep?) as decoration in a advertisement of a clothing company. It's all about the looks and the image. I must say it looks far more stylish than the mixed colours of my polyester kayaks on a ordinary green Astra...
The casual outfit of the models in the advertisement matches with the rest of the picture. I checked the website of River Woods: the models didn't change their outfit for paddling out on the lake. Nothing wrong with a jeans, but in my opinion not the most appropriate sportswear for canoeing or kayaking. It reminds me of myself almost 30 years ago: biking around Europe in blue jeans, cotton T-shirt and sweater on a dark green BSA ("British Small Arms")-bicycle with a Sturmey Archer geared hub. It would make a very vintage picture now. The 15 year old Hans wasn't aware of it. He just didn't know about the advantages a more appropriate bicycle-outfit. And if he would have known - he probably wouldn't have had the money. In the years afterwards my outfit became more adequate, I learned to appreciate the benefits of high tech materials, but the adventure of the first years was never beaten..

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bow Roll Rescue - to be continued...

The swimming pool season has started. This weekend I took two seakayaks to the swimming pool in Alphen aan de Rijn to exersice the bow roll rescue with René. I must admit that I found the bow roll rescue more difficult to perform than expected. It's important to have a good grip (or better say "close hug") on the bow of the kayak of the victim. To find the right position requires practice. Gravity should do the work and not sheer muscle power. Sometimes it worked and rolling the kayak (even with a non cooperative Rene in it) was easy. But other times my starting position wasn't good and I ended up struggling with a down turned kayak. I am not quit aware what was the difference with the good and bad times (grip, position, timing) - I am going to work it out - more poolsessions to come.
René has written a more extensive report (with pictures) of our experiences in his blog: you can find there also additional information and weblinks about the bowroll-rescue.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Seakayaking magazines - a big boy with a little sister...

Amongst the daily post on the doormat were today two envelopes I have been waiting for in anticipation: the 5th issue of Ocean Paddler Magazine and this years second edition of the NKB Mededelingen Zeekajakvaren. Surely it's a bit arrogant to compare the black and white, A5, 16 pages counting edition of the NKB with the professional made full color art-work of Graham Beckram (Ocean paddler Issue 5 is a A4-glossy of 82 pages). But there is one big similarity: de Mededelingen Zeekajakvaren and Ocean Paddlers Magazine are both a product of enthusiast seakayakers that are passionately driven to publish articles that will inform, enthuse and excite today’s sea paddler.

For the content of Ocean Paddler nr 5 see the preview. In the Mededelingen you find the obligatory editorial by the President of the Dutch seakakayak Committee (I am sorry guys ;-), and a collection of awesome kayak related articles: some impressions from last summers' seakayak-meetings, a description of a map case**, a report of a kayak incident near Vlieland, a technical article about LAT, MSL and LLWS on Dutch nautical charts, the new rules in the Voordelta, a summery of next years NKB-seakayak activities and more. Editor Ad has done a great job, getting all this together in a 16 pages booklet!

**Reinout has written a do-it-yourself guide to make a personalized map case. This is a refinement of the description of a map case in Elko Knobbe's book "Kanovaren op ruim water". Reinouts' design competes with Axel Schoevers' map case for the title of "the best Map Case of the World". (Elko's book is the Dutch classic about seakayaking. The book is published about 20 years ago, and as far as I know still the only ever Dutch seakayak-handbook published in a serious number sold in bookshops and kayak stores ;-( ).

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Doughnut with 2 paddlers

A doughnut, or donut, is a sweet, deep-fried piece of dough or batter. The two most common types are the torus-shaped ring doughnut and the filled doughnut, a flattened sphere injected with jam/jelly, cream, custard, or another sweet filling. A small spherical piece of dough, originally made from the middle of a ring doughnut, may be cooked as a doughnut hole. - Wikipedia

Spotted this afternoon at Dutch Water Dreams.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


The Steamboat from Spain arrived this afternoon in the harbour of Woerden. Sinterklaas reported in this interview in the Volkskrant about a stormy passage of the Northsea. Asked about sea-sickness, Sinterklaas told he isn't familiar with the feeling. But he saw many of his helpers (de Zwarte Pieten) hanging over the gunwale of the steamboat. "Poseurs" he thought. Not a very nice word of the Goedheiligman.

Friday, November 16, 2007

An invitation to New Zealand...

Today we got this e-mail from Stephen Law, with a very seductive invitation:

New Zealand Sea Kayakers Symposium - March 2008



My name is Stephen and I’m one of the six committee members planning and organizing the up and coming above mentioned event. Please visit to obtain a full insight into our organization and event.
Given the Dutch Canoe Federation has a large following and knowing how much many of your fellow country persons enjoy NZ or perhaps want an excuse to visit we would like to extend a warm welcome to you and your members.
Please communicate this event to your members as we would be delighted to have you guys along.
Please contact me via reply e-mail if you have any questions or require additional information.
Many thanks



...and I sure want an excuse to visit New Zealand! This is the second "excuse" in a week time. The first excuse to visit New Zealand is my dear friend AJ: last week I had the pleasure of inaugurating him as NKB Sea Kayak Instructor. As official member of the Dutch Seakayak Committee I am very happy with a new coach to organize kayak-activities, but this lucky guy is leaving the Netherlands next month to built up a new existence in NZ... Pity for our Dutch activities over here, but on the long term it might even be a better idea to have a outpost over there!

It's really getting busy with European paddlers in NZ:
Freya is down under right now;
Swedish Barbro Lindman is going in December;
and Justine and Barry are following in January.

Note: all are planning to circumnavigate the South Island, the Sea Kayakers Symposium of Coastbusters takes place on the North Island. This place looks very good too!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bow Roll Rescue demonstration

Last Saturday Bernhard and Stephan demonstrated the Bow Roll Rescue at the meeting of the Dutch seakayak instructors at Uithoorn. The Bow Roll Rescue is a technique for righting a capsized kayaker who hasn’t been able to perform a wet exit and needs help getting upright for air. The technique has been developed by John Martin, a sea kayak coach living in the US. John has written an extensive article on the Bow Roll Rescue in the October Issue of Seakayaker magazine. You can also find the text on the website of Seakayaker Mag (with links to video's of this technique). René has written a comment on the Bow Roll Rescue in his weblog (part1, part 2).

In mine opinion, the Bow Roll rescue is a valuable addition to the known rescue techniques. The demonstration showed that (just like the other techniques!) it requires good practice before you can successfully upright a non-cooperative victim. I am not sure how effective the Bow Roll works in rougher conditions. Like René said, you end up in not quit the most stable position. And before that wind and waves might bring the kayak of the rescuer out of the 90 degrees position into a more or less parallel position to the kayak of the victim - thus bringing the rescuer in an awkward position in which it is difficult to apply any torque to the bow of the capsized kayak. A paddle leash is also very useful in the Bow Roll Rescue.

And now I would love to practice the Bow Roll Rescue. But I am afraid I won't find many volunteers in Woerden to join me now in November. Water temperature is about 7 degrees, air temperature 3-5 degrees Celsius... No problem in a drysuit...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

German seakayak coach stuck in Dutch moor...

Sorry my fault! I had planned to paddle at sea with Bernhard and Stephan today. The storms on the North-sea (see Wenleys blog for an impression of what was going on out there...) this weekend hindered. After a copious Chinese meal, a good glass of beer yesterday-evening, we soon agreed on a relaxed inland alternative: a paddle in the Nieuwkoopse Plassen (a peat-soil moor with a lot of water near Woerden).
I added some extra adventure by navigating through the smallest canals. It's in my backyard, so I should know the way out, but this local guide succeeded to get lost twice ;-) Bloody dead-ends...

We made a tour of 27 km's in the "Nieuwkoopse Plassen" and the "Meije". A very Dutch countryside.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NKB Zeekajak-instructeursdag 2007

On the occasion of the yearly meeting of the Dutch Seakayak Coaches, we had a lot of fun working on rescue skills - in water of 7 degrees Celsius. I love my drysuit! More pictures of both the dry and the wet part of the meeting in the Picasa-album. Thank you Martin for taking pictures!
nkb Instructeursdag 07
click on the small picture to open the Picasa Webalbum

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tracklog Voordelta - Google Earth

Thanks to Paul and Guus: hereby the tracklog of the Voordelta trip on November, 4th. (Click on the pictures for more detailed views). Paul converted the tracklogs to Google Earth's standard, which is great: I love Google Earth! It offers many features to analyze a track and some great gimmicks: the "flight mode" is awesome, especially with the superb detailed images of this region.
The red balloons (A-I) indicate the buoys of the test-site. The yellow track is of Govert's group, the blue is of my group, we started 15 minutes later. As you can see we paddled closer to the buoys (on special request of our guest from the Department of Traffic and Watermanagement). Because we tried to avoid bigger waves with the double kayak, our course was less straight on: you won't say it when you look on the image, but the blue track is actually longer (26,5 km) than the yellow one (24,6 km) - probably due to all the little corrections.

The track on the nautical Chart is a trip in this region last year. It's interesting to compare the impression of the sands on the nautical charts with the satellite picture of Google Earth. Google Earth is far more detailed.

The location of the new closed zone ("rustgebied") of the Hinderplaat. Our route passed along the buoys that roughly indicate the seaside border of the future "rustgebied" - the new rules for the Voordelta will be introduced next year.

A Google Earth view in 2050? This idea of a giant land reclamation project is presented last week by the Innovation Centre of Dutch Government. It's inspirered by projects Dutch Contractors are realizing in Dubai. The tulip will sure offer some amazing new kayak-routes.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Respect for the sea...

"Respect for the sea" is perhaps a fierce title for a post about a nice entry-level paddle tour. Nevertheless it's the first thing that comes into my mind evaluating yesterday's NKB Voordelta paddle-trip. No wind and yet two participants who (wisely) preferred to stay on the beach, after capsizing in the surf directly at the beginning of the trip...

Purpose of this trip was to inspect (from the view of a kayaker) a test site for buoys of the Department of Transport and water Management. For this occasion a representative of the Department joined us - someone who had never been seakayaking before... The location of the test-site is on the seaside of the sandbank the Hinderplaat in the Voordelta. Because of the rather exposed location - in combination with an unexperienced participant -very calm conditions were absolute condition for me to organize this trip. Under windy conditions I would have had canceled it and moved to a more sheltered location.

We were lucky: Sunday was an extraordinary calm day. Wind was no more than 1-2 Bft. var. The windmills on the Maasvlakte were standing still. And the days before had also been quit moderate (NW winds up to 3-4 Bft.). But do take the sea serious: even under these calm conditions there was serious surf at the spot where we started: the Slufterdam. It's an exposed spot with a very steep sandy beach: no wonder it's a very popular spot for wave surfers!
Read René's impression of the paddle trip and realize what this place looks like with just a bit more wind!

Double fun: René has written an impression of the trip out of the cockpit of this double-kayak on his blog.

The visibility of the new buoys proved to be limited out of the cockpit of a kayak. Due to the low design just a little swell makes them invisible from a few hundreds of meters distance (for a kayaker).

More pictures of the trip are here. Alas most of the "on the water action-pictures" are ruined by a nasty water-drop on the lens..

Saturday, November 03, 2007

NKB Voordelta trip

A message for the participants of the NKB Voordelta Paddle, Sunday, Nov. 4th. The Nasa Satelite picture shows the Dutch mainport Rotterdam, the site where we start tomorrow.

De weerberichten zijn in de details nog een beetje wisselend. De verwachting is overwegend rustig: morgen een matige Noordelijke wind (windkracht 3-4 Bft. en waarschijnlijk minder). Eerst trekt er echter nog een kleine storing voorbij, vandaar enkele berichten waarin gesproken wordt over windkracht 4-5 Bft. Om 19.00 uur verschijnt het volgende marifoonweerbericht. We verzamelen morgenochtend op de afgesproken tijd, op de afgesproken plaats (zie het mailbericht van donderdagavond). Ik heb een paar berichten gehad van deelnemers die niet/cq toch komen. Vanavond check ik rond 23.00 uur de mail nog een keer en morgenochtend ben ik vanaf 6.30 uur bereikbaar op het mobiele telefoonnummer.
Tot morgen!

And now I am going to cook for Dinner fast, because this evening I am going with the kids to the first kayak-poolsession of the season from Kayakclub KV de Kromme Aar. See you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kaats' Blog - the "Zeeuwse Mutsen"- kayak-project?

Picture - Installation "Bewijs Stukken" - courtesy Kaat Hastings Sloggat

During the last weeks I got messages from several Dutch seakayakers who started blogging. Most of them write in Dutch, so I decided to add a dedicated list of Dutch links to this page. The first "new" blogging kayaker I like to introduce is Kaat. I met Kaat for the first time as she participated in my Zeevaardigheids-group at Vlieland 2005. For some reason Kaat missed the first two days of that course. She arrived one or two days later at Vlieland. The other participants were all male - after two days paddling together, a coherent group was formed and the men were curious about "that girl" that would join the group next day. To be fair: they were a bit worried: " Would she fit in our group ?" I can be very short about this: Kaat struck us all! And that's no wonder with Kaat's energy and striking personality. Since that week I have often had the pleasure of Kaat paddling in my groups. She was also present in 2006 at the Spiekeroog-course, where Theo also participated. Now Kaat and Theo are blogging together.

Kaat is not only an enthusiast paddler but also a creative artist. From home base Wageningen Kaat does all kind of cultural activities, ranging from performances, video's, musical to figurative art. The picture above this post comes from Kaat's Cultural Blog.
Today I discovered a cross-over between Kaat's cultural and kayaking projects. It's called the "Zeeuwse Mutsen"-project and comes with a blog and a website. I can't properly translate "Zeeuwse Mutsen", but I will try to explain. "Mutsen" is a plural for "cap", "Zeeuwse" means "from Zeeland" - a region part of the Netherlands. So "Zeeuwse mutsen" stands for the traditional headdress women of Zeeland used to wear. That's one part of the explanation. The other part is that "Muts" in Dutch is also a non-flattering description of a woman. Now to the essence of Kaat's project: that's bringing together a group of enthusiast female seakayakers and organizing an exclusive women-only kayak-weekend in Zeeland. This weekend the 2007 edition of the "Zeeuwse Mutsen" - project takes place. I am sure they will have a great weekend. The more women get enthusiast for seakayaking, the better.
For the paddle in the Voordelta I organize this weekend I have got 18 entries: 17 man, 1 woman... I wondered why, but now I know: competing with Kaat's "Zeeuwse Mutsen-weekend"... ;-)

Kaat at Vlieland 2005 - the guy in the red T-shirt is Jörgen.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The making of a greenland paddle

Result of 1 day working with wood: 7 new Greenland sticks - picture by Tom van Steenbergen

Tom and Dick of held a workshop Greenland Paddel Carving at the local kayak club of Amersfoort. I enjoyed a full day of woodworking - hard labour, but very relaxing. Still a bit sanding and oiling to do, but I am proud of my custom made stick. Can't wait to get out and do some greenland rolls with it! Up to now it was mostly a bit improvisation with an Euro-bladed paddle.

I will bring the stick along in the pool sessions this winter: time to practice what we learned from Freya in the Underground Rolling Factory!

Don't blame your paddle: Andrew recently posted a must-see video at his blog in which Leon Somme shows next to Dubside that almost all Greenland rolls, can be done with a Euro-blade. I manage some, but the Palluusineq (sculling on chest) with a euro blade is self-drowning for me. Leon makes it look like a piece of cake.

Thanks to Dick and Tom for a perfect workshop!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Voordelta - Lighthouse "het Westhoofd"

"Het Westhoofd" is one of the last manned lighthouses in the Netherlands. The coastguard station Ouddorp (VHF Channel 25) is located here. Probably this won't be for long anymore: Dutch Ministry of Transport intends to centralize Coastguard-control and to change "het Westhoofd" in a completely distance operated traffic control station. Radar and camera's will take over the job of the coastguard crew. A bad plan: no matter how sophisticated technical monitoring systems may be, they are no substitute for the human factor. We will not only miss the services and the local knowledge of coastguard crew of Ouddorp, the lack of the visual observations of the crew will also be a safety issue, especial for recreational traffic!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A farewell trip in the Voordelta

Kayaks on the beach of Goeree near "het Westhoofd" with the skyline of "Maasvlakte I" in the background. Note: this picture is taken with a strong telephoto lens: the distance from the kayaks to the power station on the Maasvlakte is about 18 km. The dark sky has a double meaning...

Today I paddled with Joris in the Voordelta. It was a cool, cloudy fall day, with exceptional good sight. More details about the trip later, first what came in my mind: 2 seasonal rambling remarks...

(1) Farewell Summer! The mornings are getting cold: the first frost is in the air. Outdoor-activities in shorts and T-shirt are definitely over by now, alas (but that doesn't match with the Dutch seakayak-dresscode anyway ;-). Today I paddled in the Palm-Drysuit again - it has been stored in the kayak-gear-closet since Anglesey. Oh not, that's not correct: the Drysuit has been in England for repair: Palm has replaced the tape on some leaking seams. I must say the after-sales service of Palm is excellent! I do hope the repair is durable and leakage stays out.

(2) Farewell Aardappelenbult! This was probably one of the last paddle-trips above the flooded sandbank "de Aardappelenbult". From April or May next year on, this popular seakayak-destination will be a strictly closed area: thanks to the expansion of the world port of Rotterdam! Directly adjacent to the current harbour and industrial area, Rotterdam will create the Maasvlakte 2: a new location for harbour activities and industry in the North Sea: thousands of hectares of industrial terrain that lie on a deep waterway. It will be built by constructing a seawall in the sea. Sand will then be sprayed into the enclosed area, creating new land. The construction of Maasvlakte 2 will lead to a loss of sea habitat and to reduction of the quality of the Voorne dunes. It is legally required that this loss be compensated.
The loss of sea nature will be compensated through the establishment of a sea floor protection area of approximately 25,000 hectares in "the Voordelta" off the coast of Voorne-Putten, Goeree-Overflakkee and Schouwen-Duiveland. Within this sea bottom protection area, the nature will be given extra protection. In addition, smaller bird and seal "rest areas" will be designated in which supplementary rules will apply.

The Aardappelenbult is one of these "rest areas" - the rules that will apply on the "rest areas" mean that in the future any human access (including us seakayakers) in these zones is strictly forbidden. The Voordelta is an estuarine zone that's noticeably affected by tides. Almost the whole Aardappelenbult is covered by water during high tide, but the "rest area" will be permanently closed. It's not relevant if any activity does have any disturbing effect at any moment - no entrance is a general rule - all the time. Playing in the surf above the flooded Aardappelenbult won't be possible anymore. It's over...

Detailed information about the upcoming new rules for the Voordelta (in Dutch):
Please note:
The Dutch authorities consulted the Dutch kayak-organisations in an early stage about the nature compensation plans for Maasvlakte 2. Over the past two years we had an intense and constructive debate about the possibilities to mitigate the consequences of the plans for the seakayakers. In general there are no (new) limitations for seakayking in the sea floor protection zone. The only (but radical) exception are the rest area's. In these areas it's "nature above all". Nature interests have defined the number and the location of these area's, but the interests of the seakayakers have been taken in account by the final location of the borders of these zones: the borders are (whenever possible) located in a way that popular seakayak-routes stay possible. The most NE-tip of the Aardappelbult is kept out of the rest area "Bollen van de Ooster" to reserve a spot for surfing activities.
Said this, the compensation plans do seriously affect future seakayaking in the Voordelta.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Seakayaking in Denmark

Phone-cam picture by Janine, Copenhagen - Wednesday-evening

Janine is in Copenhagen for a few days: she attends some kind of international orientated EU-conference on social issues, with lectures during day time and receptions, meetings and other official ceremonies in the royal palace and the town hall in the evening. Meanwhile life in Woerden goes on and the kids were looking out for a message from their mother. We were a bit surprised that the first picture Janine sent us, showed three seakayakers paddling in the harbour of Copenhagen, instead of the Little Mermaid or an other known touristic highlight of Denmark's Capital...

Kayaking seems to be pretty popular in Denmark - Janine reported that every time she left the hotel (situated on one of the Copenhagen's quays) a group of paddlers passed by.
That(sea)kayaking is hot in Denmark shouldn't be really new if you regularly check out Peter's Blog. Btw: Peter's kayaking club isn't located in Copenhagen but near Aarhus (for EU-insiders also a familiar name: the Aarhus-convention - concerning acces to information on environmental issues)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dutch skies over Vlieland

picture by Michael Knoester

Merel has created a webalbum for the pictures of the participants of the NKB Vlielandkamp. The first 8 photographers have uploaded over 500 pictures and still more to come....
I picked out some great skies that Michael (top 3 photo's) and Patrick (photo no. 4) captured: there is no light like the Waddensee light!

The Vlielandalbum is public. For the participants, to upload pictures contact Merel or me for the login codes.

pictures courtesy by Michael Knoester and Patrick Dousi

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Culemborgse broodjes

Culemborgs' delicacies: a Spanish Sandwich in front, a French one in the background

Finally sun is back in Holland! After a period of dark days a high pressure zone has settled and brings calm but pleasant autumn weather - no wind, cool nights, some fog early in the morning and than sun and in the afternoon temperatures around 16 degrees. Ideal conditions for an active outdoor weekend. No paddling this time, today I had an appointment with Linda for a bike tour in the Green Heart of Holland. Linda proposed 3 hours biking. We first argued a bit about my interpretation that 3 hours bicycling means 90 km distance. Than we decided to bike from Woerden along the Lek (one of the branches of the Rhine in the Netherlands). When you can't be on the water, you should be next to it! Near Culemborg we crossed the Lek with the ferry and noticed some paddlers from a distance. In the bright sun it were only silhouettes, but I can tell kayakers apart from their silhouette, the way they sit in their kayak and their paddle style - it's some strange anomaly that I always analyze paddle styles- and I recognized Cees and Ad. Knowing they live around Culemborg helped a bit of course...

On the market place of Culemborg we couldn't resist a terrace in the sun and ordered two "broodjes" (sandwiches). Linda went for the French style sandwich and I took a Spanish one. It was a bit strange interpretation of a Spanish Ciabatta (C. is supposed to be Italian?). According to the menu the "Spaanse broodje" should come with salami, salat, dried tomatoes, marjoram and olive oil. To my big surprise it had all this with bacon and egg on top of it... This bizarre combination tasted good, but was heavy stuff: a lot of calories to burn away!
We finally arrived back in Woerden after just a bit more than 3 hours biking and 95 km. Not a bad comprise, is it Linda?