Wednesday, July 25, 2007

VHF-radio or cell phone? the ICOM IC-M71

The pros and cons of VHF-radio’s and cell-phones are an everlasting subject in the German Seekajakforum and the British UKseakayakingguidebook. I have nothing new to add, just want to point to a news item in today’s Metro (one of the Dutch free Tabloids).
For the Dutch readers: click on the picture above this post for a full size and better readable view. For the non-Dutch readers: The KNRM (the Dutch Maritime Lifeguard/Rescue Organisation) is worried by the fact that more and more yacht owners go out at sea with a cell phone instead of a VHF-radio. The KNRM strongly promotes the use of a VHF-radio in emergency situations.

The ICOM IC-M71 is the successor of the ICOM M1-Euro (The radio I lost last winter ;-). The M1 was already a handy and reliable tool for seakayaking use: waterproof, compact, and a powerful Lithium-Ion battery. The IC-M71 is even more waterproof (to a higher standard) and compact (a minor difference) and has slightly higher output (6 Watt instead of 5). Biggest improvement in mine opinion though, is that squelch and volume adjustment are no longer combined around one button. That makes using the M71 with cold fingers and in a waterproof bag* far more practical: adjusting the volume of the M1 was quit difficult without (unintended) changing the position of the squelch button. (* Though the M1 and M71 are really waterproof, on salt water I use them in a Aquapack to prevent corrosion from the contact-points).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Behind the scenes - Organisation Zeekamp Vlieland 2007

The first batch of NKB-syllabi, ready to post to the participants of "Zeekamp Vlieland"

Blogging is getting a bit behind lately. Perhaps I should look upon the guilty feelings about this as a warning. In some ways blogging comes close to an addiction (or an obsession ?) that takes quit a lot of time ;-( Don’t bother, as long as it’s rewarding and gives pleasure, and it doesn’t disturb normal social life to much, there is nothing wrong with a little addiction;-)

Is there normal social life, for someone heavily infected by the virus of seakayaking? This hobby begins quit innocent with some extra hours fun on the water, but soon it reaches a stage where day in day out there is some contact concerning kayaking.
Contact-moments like this come to a climax during the organisation of a seakayak event. At this moment I am busy (together with Paul and Sien) with the 2007 edition of the NKB Vlielandkamp. Besides creating a kayak-related program of clinics and tours for groups of kayakers of all levels (from beginner to advanced) the organisation concerns more logistic things like registration, transport, camping, meals, financial stuff and so on. Last week the syllabi had to be updated, printed and divided and sent to participants in time. All these little activities create together a lot of work. Luckily there are enthousiast helpers that make NKB events like this (besides the Vlielandkamp in September: Spiekeroog and Anglesey in May, Zeeland in July) possible every year. But I do realise the work that accompanies these events is close to the limit you can ask a volunteer. The events are reaching a point where the organisation is almost a professional job. I think “we” (I am speaking on personal terms, but with “we” I mean the NKB) should soon take action and evaluate the organisation of the events in order to try to change things a bit and to get some more professional support for our volunteers. Said that, I once more want to say that all the people “behind the scenes” (like Govert, Bram, Axel, Sien, Paul and Reinout) are doing a great job in making the events possible again this year!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Thunder and lightning

No salt water today! The forecast predicted a hot, steamy day with occasional thunderstorms along the Dutch coastline. No good conditions for the "Seakayak-clinic for starters" KV Wyrda planned today. Gathered by the boathouse at 8.00 am, after a short discussion, Paul, Gus and I decided not to risk 2 hours car-driving for a spoiled day at the coast, but to make a tour around Woerden. Paul was eager to break his personal record of 30 km's paddling on placid water. Gus and I are always in for a longer distance and supported Paul with his goal.
We started with sunshine, but around 10.30 am - not quit by surprise - thunder and lightning came to us. It was quit hefty, we got out of the water and looked for shelter. The picnic place was not the perfect spot to hide, but better then on the water anyhow.
Once more the big orange survival bag proved to be a real versatile piece of equipment: one of us left his anorak at the boathouse....
Facts and figures: we paddled Woerden - Nieuwerbrug-Meije-Zuideinderplas (Nieuwkoop)-Meesloot-Slikkendam-Woerdense Verlaat-Woerden: 36 km's

Half an hour before the thunder came: the Meije is a favorite route for kayakers, cyclists, motorbikers, hikers: always busy on Sunday-morning.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The next generation!

This year Jelle finishes primary school. On the occasion of the last schoolday his class organized a fund raising activity. Parents, friends, family and the whole neighborhood were asked to sponsor the kids. For every round they paddled a few euro's -> the income is dedicated to Sister Mary's orphanage in Zambia.

Jelle felt obliged to his family honor to paddle the most rounds and to overtake all his class-mates. There's nothing wrong with some ambition ;-) The kids had a lot of fun and brought together a substantial amount of money.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Ocean Paddler Magazine - Issue 1!

Posted by Picasa

Today Graham Berty sent a mail that Issue No.1 of Ocean Paddler magazine is currently being printed, and it will be ready this coming Friday.
Once it's back, the magazine will be sent straight out to the subscribers first, so hopefully we'll get it into the post either late Friday, Saturday morning, or first thing Monday morning.

For our appetite, Graham attached a sneak preview of what's in the first issue:

Expedition: Rounding Tassie
Jeff Allen
Expedition Planning
Photographic Inspiration
Incident Management
In Search of the Queen of Inch's Glass Covered Coffin
P&H Cetus Sea Kayak
Sea kayaking photography
Stern words: Brian Wilson - Paddle Loudly!

and, much, much more..

  • All the latest news from manufacturers and expeditions;
  • Reviews of Aquabound Paddles, Palm & Yak touring spraydecks, waterproof iPod case and speakers;
  • Rich gets up close and personal with a self heating (or was that self-exploding) curry; and
  • Competition to win Northwater goodies!

What more could you ask for..

You have done a great job Bertie, I am looking forward for my copy!

More info about the new magazine on the Masik website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Anglesey 2007 - The best of...

Anglesey 2007
... our pictures".

Finally I have uploaded a selection of the shots Govert and I made during our Anglesey-journey. When you click on the tumbnail above this post, the Picasa-webalbum with the "top 100" from our (more than 450) photos opens. To limit the download-time all pictures are cropped down, the slide-show (press the button - "diavoorstelling") option of Picasa works fast and offers a comfortable way to view the pictures.

The slideshow gives a good impression of the great time at Anglesey. Govert shares the same fascination of taking pictures, it was a delight to have time to concentrate on photographing with a patient "model". I am still very happy with the waterproof Sony DSC-U60 and the Fuji S 5600 long-zoom digicam. The image quality of the Fuji is very good and it offers all an enthusiast user needs in terms of expanded photographic controls, including full Manual exposure mode for ultimate creativity. Some functions are a bit hidden in the menu-structure, but in Anglesey I made a study of the manual and I am getting more and more familiar with the advanced options of the camera. A big advantage of the Fuji above a SLR-camera is it's light weight and compact size: it's is definitely easy to bring along on any outdoor trip (no extra lenses to carry).

Said this, playing around with the SLR's of Govert in Anglesey (Canon 350D) and Andreas (Nikon D200) in Spiekeroog was so much fun that I decided to pick up an old hobby of mine and to buy also a Digital SLR, in favor of the responsiveness, the control with a bright optical viewfinder and the creative possibilities of interchangeable optics. So now I am looking for a SLR with a pair of superb lenses and a Pelibox for transport. Difficult choices to make: should I go for the mainstream Canon or Nikon, an entry-level or a semi-pro version of one of those brands, or for the Pentax (a bit nostalgic, in the early 80's I was fond of the Pentax ME-series) or perhaps the Sony (a bargain with 10 MP, Anti-shake system and sensor-cleaning system)?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Well, I have wetted my pants...

Trailer -"This is the sea 3" by Justine Curgenven -

... and I hope it isn't brown!" This unveiling quote comes from Axel after a wild experience at the Falls of Lora and is immortalized by Justine in the TITS3-video - see the trailer.
This morning I had a similar experience like Axel, admittedly not on an epic place like the Falls of Lora, Corryvreckan or the Bitches, but simply on the canalized "Oude Rijn" in Woerden. Normally the "Oude Rijn" is a quit and non-sensational place to paddle. But during this Sunday-morning training round with the K1 racer I had a different experience: exactly at the narrowest spot of the Rhine, a little motorboat crossed my way. The shipper didn't slow down and a awkward stern-wave came over the big open cockpit of the K1 racer. All at once I was sitting in 5 centimeters of water. That was not very pleasant, but the worst part yet had to come: the reflecting waves in the 8 meters wide channel caused very confusing water over a long distance. In the tipsy race kayak with hardly any boat-contact that is nasty to deal with. Suddenly I found my self low bracing left and right with the Brasca Wing Paddle, really didn't want to swim with this vulnerable kayak without any buoyancy between steep riverside walls making it impossible to get out of the water (and 2 minutes after the police barrier see below)... I love to play in rough water, but this wasn't fun. Bloody motorboats!

And again I didn't manage to do my 10 km-training round within one hour (timed 1.05 hours). This time no drag of waterplants but two incidents as an excuse: the bloody motorboat and a police barrier. Along the route the police was recovering a dead body that was floating in the Singel-water of Woerden. Police was everywhere. I paddled by in a wide bow, didn't like to be close to this site. It is the second time someone is found dead in the water in Woerden this year. Paddling around in the Green Heart of Holland you get used to dead fish, ducks and an occasional dead sheep in the water. But humans?? This was a bizarre Sunday-morning!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's in the papers...

An increasing number of people in my surroundings knows about my kayak-blogging-addiction and provides a steady stream of new information and inspiration. Very close is Janine of course, and while I was paddling with Govert in Anglesey, she has collected some kayak-related press items in the Dutch papers for me. Thanks Janine!

The first item is a tendentious article in "De Telegraaf" in which the DWD-white water track in Zoetermeer is presented as a very dangerous site where a lot of accidents happen. Some NKB-officials and members and are quoted. As an enthusiast user of the DWD-track and chairman of a NKB-committee: I am not happy with this article! Though most facts and quotes are undoubtedly correct, I disagree with the negative overall suggestion of this article in "de Telegraaf". I don't want kayaksport to be presented as an activity for irresponsible thrill-seekers. Grrrr....
A lot of enthousiast people in and around the NKB is working on making kayaking an attractive and accessible leisure activity. Said that, the white water track in Zoetermeer is serious stuff. It's not a recreational track, but a competition track on the highest (Olympic) level. An addition of high value for our sports, designed for top-sporters, certainly not suited for beginners but very interesting for the more experienced. With the NKB we organized some months ago a series of try-outs for experienced recreational WW-kayakers. Purpose of the try-outs was to find out how to train in a safe setting on the track. DWD and NKB have learned a lot of the try-outs and during the series several adjustments on the track and safety management are made. That's positive isn't it?

The second press item is about the dramatic floodings in England and Wales last week. The temptation is big to write about watermanagement and preparing for climate change, but that's part of my working job, leave it here to kayaking. In the "DAG" (one of the new free tabloids) was a picture of two kayakers paddling along flooded houses. We don't know the story behind this picture: are the kayakers inhabitants of the flooded houses paddling home? are it volunteers helping the victims of the flood? are it catastrophe-tourists? (It reminds me on the discussion about Spencer Platts' award winning picture of residents cruising around in a convertible Mini through bombed Beirut). I don't know, but it's a striking picture.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sea Stallion from Glendalough 2007

Photo: Werner Karrasch, Vikingeskibsmuseet i Roskilde

Yesterday the Sea Stellion, a replica of one of the longest Viking Longships ever found, departed from Roskilde with 65 people and all their equipment on board for the great expedition for Dublin.

For one month and half, the ship will be the crews only home on the 1000 nautical miles long journey across the North Sea, into the Atlantic Ocean and south through the Irish Sea. The crew must fight through the toughest waters of Europe and some of the most challenging waters of the world north and west of Scotland. 900 Years ago the Vikings made this trip in the opposite direction. The epic story of the Vikings is ever fascinating: a bizarre mixture of fear and admiration.

Follow the Sea Stallion on:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Woerden, Sundaymorning

It was a busy week locked in with work, blackbirds, flatt land and small canals and with melancholic memories on tidal races, gannets, dolphins, cliffs and mountains - there was no time for kayaking left ;-).
To get back to life: I woke up early this morning and headed for the boathouse of KV Wyrda. While Woerden was still asleep I took the K1 racer for a "Rondje Kamerik". It lacks the sensation of the sea, but I really do like solo fitness-paddling around Woerden, especially on Sunday-morning when the place is quit and motionless. Mostly life in Woerden at Sunday-morning doesn't start before the Church's-bells are sounding and people go to church (it's still a quit confessional area around here). But this morning when I returned from my paddle I was surprised by life at the boathouse. Paul, Guus, Annelieke and Jaap started for a paddle in the Green Heart of Holland. Would have liked to join, but (family-)duty called...

About my fitness-paddle: I was a bit disappointed I didn't manage to paddle "Rondje Kamerik" within the hour goal (it took 1.03 hours). I suppose the portages took to much time ;-). Besides that I had a lot of drag of water-plants sticking to the bow of the racer and (even worse) to the rudder. Plants sticking to the bow mostly fall off when I shortly decrease speed, but to get rid of plants hanging on the rudder the only solution is paddling some strokes backwards. I find this rather stupid, so sometimes I paddle on with the drag of the water-plants - perhaps good for training power (some guys use little balls for this purpose), but bad for speed.
Is there a trick? How do real racers deal with waterplants?