Saturday, June 30, 2007

"Het akkoord van Schokland" The UN Millenium Development Goals

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015 – form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions. They have galvanized unprecedented efforts to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. The agreement on the Goals was made by the leaders of the nations in the year of 2000. We are now exactly half-way in time, but far behind in schedule. It is a bloody shame! Government leaders and politicians are to be blamed. But reaching the Millennium Goals isn't solely a task for governments and NGO's. We all bear a responsibility. Today, at the historic place of Schokland, hundreds of private enterprises, organizations, well known and less known Dutch have signed the "Akkoord van Schokland" (= The agreement of Schokland) in which they declare to deliver a personal and concrete contribution to the Millennium Goals. You can also sign in on: (nb: this is an invitation...)

Schokland before the reclamation of the Noordoostpolder

Schokland is a special place: as a symbol of the struggle against the sea, it stands for the history and culture of the Netherlands. For centuries, Schokland was a densely populated island in the Zuiderzee. But the sea level kept rising and Schokland became smaller and smaller. By the early 19th century the situation had become intolerable, but the Schoklanders refused to give in. In 1859, after repeated flood disasters, the last villages were finally evacuated by royal degree. The island was abandoned to the elements and the Schokland culture came to an end. In 1942 a large part of the former Zuiderzee was reclaimed, wich meant that Schokland ceased being an island and could be reached from all sides via the former sea floor. Schokland is so special that it was the first monument in the Netherlands to be included on the Unesco World Heritage List, joining such structures as the Reims cathedral, the tower of Pisa end the pyramids of Giza. According to Unesco, the island ‘island’ in the polder is a place ‘of exceptional universal value’. There’s no better recommendation than that. Schokland is a must for all who want to learn about the Netherlands.
Click here for a panorama of Schokland (Quicktime required)

Schokland situated in the middle of the Noordoostpolder

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Anglesey picture report

This morning I returned with Govert from a fantastic week of seakayaking in Wales. There are a lot of pictures to select and many stories to tell, let's start with a first impression. Hereby a small extract from our logbook The weather situation was "unsettled", another word for real British Weather - it changed by the day and even within the day: sun, rain, wind, no wind, warm, cold - it all passed by: and we liked it -> it made every kayaktrip unique! We stayed at the campsite of Anglesey Outdoors and made day trips. Because we came with one car and high tide was (in the beginning) late in the morning this meant: leaving with the flood stream, returning to the starting point with the ebb stream. Time schedule bevame every day more relaxed: love the long days in June.

(All weather forecast below refer to the inshore weather forecasts issued by the Coastguard from St Davids Head to great Ormes Head incl. St. Georges Channel).

Sunday 17-6-2007: Porth Dafarch - the Stacks: "Exploring the races" - 22 km
7.00 UTC: North backing West 3-4, occ. showers later rain, visibility moderate, sea state slight-moderate.
Start and finish Port Dafarch.
Perfect conditions for a first exploration of the famous overfalls and tidal races of Penrhyn Mawr, South Stack and North Stack. We had a playful nice "roller coaster ride". A surprising sunny Sunday that a lot of other seakayaker were also enjoying. We met Mike with the Royal Navy Kayak Club, Phil leading a NDK 4*-course and Justine, Gemma and Barry playing at Penrhyn Mawr. Seakayaking seems to be popular around here. But the rest of the week the waters of Anglesey were for the two of us...

Monday 18-6-2007: Circumnavigating Holy Island: "Playing with Dolphins" - 35,8 km
7.00 UTC: East - South-east 4-5, occ. 6 Bft, later 3, rain or Showers, sea state slight or moderate.
Start and Finish: Port Darfarch
The weather forecast being to unsure for a trip to the Skerries, we did a anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Holy Island. A nice divers paddle. The experience of the day was being accompanied by five dolphins demonstrating tricks and playing a hide and seek game with us at Rhoscolyn Beacon. Wow!!!!! WW-fun: passing the tunnel in Four Miles Bridge with the flood streaming through creating a standing wave inside the tunnel. The finishing little sweet was lively water at North and South Stack at the last miles (Penryn Mahr was quit calm).

Tuesday 19-6-2007: Menai Strait up and down- "White Water (river) kayaking?" - 28,2 km
6.00 UTC - East-Southeast 4/5 later 6, rain and showers, visibility moderate-good, sea state slight-moderate later rough.
Start and finish: Y Fellinheli.
Again the weather forecast wasn't favorable for our Skerries plan, so we decided to do the Menai Strait. Just after spring tide water was running good and there were some nice spots to practice white water skills at the Swellies. Again the actual weather and the forecast didn't match: returning from Beaumaris we had a powerful northerly wind blowing in the back: easy paddle!

Wednesday 20-6-2007: Porth Darfach in and out: "Rough stuff!"
7.00 UTC - strong wind warning, south-southeast 5/6 later decr. 4, Showers later rain, visibility good-moderate, sea state moderate-rough later slight.

Starting the morning with a powerful wind blowing at least 5-6 Bft. we had a challenging day at the races in mind. But as we paddled out in the surf at Port Darfach and saw what was going on at Penryn Mawr we decided to return to the beach. An hour later we looked from land at the races at Penryn Mawr and the Stacks and concluded returning was a wise decision...

Thursday 21-6-2007: Porth Darfach - the Skerries vice versa: "Unbidden guests" - 43 km
6.00 UTC: Southeast-East 4/5 occ. 6 first, later var. 3, rain and showers, visibility moderate/good, sea state slight-moderate.
Start and finish: Port Darfach.
At night wind had decreased, sea state was moderate again. With the forecast promising wind would go down to 3 Bft. Thursday was a perfect day for a journey to the Skerries. The Skerries are a group of small isles with a Lighthouse about 12 km north of Holyhead. As high tide was late in the afternoon, there was no need to start early. In the morning we visited the kayak-factory of Seakayaking UK. Dave Williams told us all about the production of the Romany's, Explorers and Greenlanders, very interesting!
After lunch we drove to Porth Darfach to start our paddle trip. We reached the Skerries after a swift paddle within two hours: this is including playing in the races of Penrhyn Mawr and the Stacks (once again: can't get enough) and waiting 10 minutes for the Fast Ferry coming in -> the tide was running fast, the GPS showed continuously speeds around 13-14 km/h.
We did look out to visit the Skerries, but when we were there we felt like (and were) unwanted guests. The Island is the home of a giant tern colony. I must admit I really felt guilty visiting this place in the middle of the breading season - I didn't realize this bad timing before - stupid me! All over the place were eggs laying and terns breading and feeding their helpless youngsters. To minimize the disturbance of our visit Govert and I didn't move from the stairs at the landing point. Here we were tolerated by the birds and we had a unique insight view on the live in a tern colony...
On our way back we were surprised by a giant swell building up between North and South Stack. The wind rose and approaching the races near South Stack breaking walls of water came in sight. We changed course to avoid the heavy stuff.

Friday 22-06-2007: Cemlyn Bay to Porth Wen and back: "Looking for a mouse" - 24 km
6.00 UTC: Var. North-Northwest 3-4 Bft, showers, visibility good, sea state slight to moderate.
At the campsite of Anglesey Outdoors we enjoyed a very sunny morning. At noon we drove to Cemlyn Bay for our last paddle of the week. The north coast of Anglesey was hidden in fog. We lunched very long at Cemlyn Bay hoping the sun would make the fog disappear, but the fog stayed. So we decided -on this calm day- to leave in fog and headed north, perhaps there would be less fog a mile out at sea. It wasn't any better out at sea however - we tried to find the little isle Middle Mouse but we missed it (the tracklog of the GPS showed us that we must have passed by Middle Mouse on less then 100 meters distance....) and decided to paddle back to shore and stay close the cliffs to find Porth Wen. At Porth Wen the fog slowly disappeared and sun took over. During an extensive break at the ruins of Porth Wen I headed for a swim in the cold water, Govert went fishing. On the way back we finally reached Middle Mouse. The Mouse rewarded our visit with one of the best tidal races of the week: wind and ebb stream created wonderful standing waves to surf.

Picture of the Dolphins at Rhoscolyn by Govert

Friday, June 15, 2007

Gone paddling...

Picture and text:

Only a few hours left before we leave:

Our two cruiseferries have set the standards in passenger comfort, accommodation and style. Whilst onboard, you have a choice of places to eat and drink, whatever your appetite - so you can enjoy a great coffee and a snack in the coffee shop, or savour a wholesome cooked meal in one of our restaurants. Whether you choose the Four Seasons with its carvery and buffet-style dining, or the first class menu in Langan's Brasserie, you are guaranteed an excellent meal.

After you've eaten, why not enjoy a pint in the bar, relax with a glass in the wine bar, or take in the breathtaking panoramic views from the Sky Lounge. For great entertainment watch the latest films in our 2 cinemas, or catch the live cabaret show in the Sunset Show Lounge... you can even have a flutter in the casino!

For your convenience we have a bureau de change onboard, offering commission free foreign exchange. And of course don’t miss the bargains to be found in our onboard shopping areas, with savings of up to 50% off UK high street prices. We've got travel entertainment covered with our great range of books including the top 20, magazines, newspapers, kids' activities and toys, so you can keep the kids entertained and get stuck into a good read yourself.

Not a bad start for a holiday.

A flat tire

I really like Freya's kayak trolley. Read my earlier comment on the trolley. Advantage of the big inflatable tires is that they roll quit good on sandy beaches. Inherent to every air-filled tire is of course that leaks may occur. Annoying: just as I packed my gear for the trip to Wales this morning, one of the tires of the trolley proved to be flat...

Properly inflated the tiny sturdy wheels fitted on kayaktrolleys are quit resistant to punctures. As a matter of fact I never had a punctured tire on any of my trolleys. The weakest spot of the trolley tires is the connection of the air-valves. See the picture on top of this post. This tube leaked at the little crack at the bottom of the valve. Problem is that repairing a leak at this spot is hardly possible. You will need a replacement. So I rushed to the shops and bought the last two 3-4.00 tubes available in Woerden this morning.

There is quit some difference in the quality of tubes. All tubes are made in China, but some of the tubes in kids toys (the ones most bike-shops sell) are of noticeable lesser quality than the ones sold by suppliers for professional building-hardware.

Even within one brand there are surprising differences. The pictures below are of the tubes I bought this morning. Both came right out of the box (same shop, same supplier, same brand).

Note the reinforced connection of the valve on this tube.
The second tube lacks this reinforcement, but still is tougher than the original tube.

Recommended tire-pressure 1,5-2.0 Bar. More pressure doesn't improve rolling!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Camping Food

With a Tesco on every corner of the street, there really is no need to bring much food along to Anglesey. Yet I will take some Dutch goodies with me. The "Boerenkoolstamppot met rookworst" (Curly Kale with potatoes (stew?) and sausage) from Maggi is since the early 8o's one of my favorite camping meals. OK, I prefer fresh ingredients and really like to put some effort in cooking around the tent, but when it's up to quick and easy nothing beats the Boerenkoolstamppot. It's compact and light to pack, just add some hot water and it's ready. It tastes good and the 2 persons portion fills the stomach good!

Btw: this Boerenkoolstamppot has made quit some kayak trips in the last half year: it has visited the Germans Isles Amrum, Hooge, Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge. Let's see if I will eat it in Wales... (-> Another big advantage of Maggi's Boerenkoolstamppot is the shelf life).

Wet dreams of Anglesey

It's quit busy lately, so working on this weblog is slacking down a bit. It feels like I am a squeezed in a narrow gap between kayak-weeks. Hardly recovered from Spiekeroog and now Anglesey is on. Life isn't so bad! In between there is family, work, a Seakayak-committee (this list is written in the social accepted order, really don't know what costs most time lately. Ssstt... ;-) and more - hardly any time left to prepare for the next kayakweek.
On the other hand - Anglesey should be a real kayak-holiday: no coaching job, just paddling for fun together with Govert (a great companion and a very experienced seakayaker). So there is no real need to work out a programs, to inform participants and so on. Just pack the gear and leave! Don't worry, just see what next week brings. Let it happen, this is freedom!

Yet I am a bit of "the conscious kind" and always feel some urge to prepare something. This morning I took time to organize nautical trip-information: tides and streams, VHF Channels: I put the information I collected from the visit with Axel in Anglesey (back in 2003), from the Pilots, and the copies of an old Admiralty Chart, on one Ordnance Survey Map. Maybe an useless activity of mine, because we will buy a new Nautical Chart in Wales and all this information is already available in a perfect accessible and condensed format in the outstanding book Welsh Sea Kayaking by Jim Krawiecki and Andy Biggs (thanks for the hint Axel!), but arranging this information helps myself in understanding how it works with the tides, streams, eddies and races around Anglesey.

If you don't know yet why Anglesey is every seakayakers wet dream, and why it attracts kayakers of all over the world: just enjoy the This is the Sea-Video's of Justine Curgenven andr have a look at the blogs of Derrick (122 pictures...) and Axel who recently visited Anglesey.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Tracklog Rondje Venen

Thanks Paul for sending in the tracklog of the Rondje Venen! Amazing how much information a GPS offers. Speed was mostly above 8 km/h, total distance 39,1 kmh, start 9.02 finish 15.30, two pauses and some short breaks at the sluices. Click on the picture for a bigger view.

This weekend canoeing

Saturday: fun with canoeing in replicas of prehistoric dugouts:
a kids party in Archeon.

Sunday: Serious kayaking? the "Rondje Venen" organised by kayak club Wyrda: paddling in the Green Hart of Holland is always fun. I showed 12 participants my "private (kayak-)backyard". It was a group of good paddlers, the 40 km distance was paddled swift. More pictures of this tour will be published soon on the website of KV Wyrda.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On TV: BBC Coast

While Dutch Television works on it's reputation with a provoking kidney-donor-show, British Television is known for outstanding documentaries. Tomorrow (Sunday, 3 May) a new edition of the award winning series Coast explores new stretches of shoreline, and revisits old favorites. Sundays at 8 pm BST (=21.00 Dutch summer time) at BBC2: Good inspiration for seakayaking!

PS: The Kidney-donor-show proved to be a publicity stunt. Let's hope the commotion leads to a change and (1) people fill out a donor-card, and (2) - even more important - the hypocrite Dutch legislation on organ donation is finally adapted!