Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Is it "itching"?


1. A contagious skin infection caused by the itch mite; characterised by persistent itching and skin irritation; "he has a bad case of the itch".
2. A strong restless desire; "why this urge to travel?".
3. An irritating cutaneous sensation that produces a desire to scratch.

1. Scrape or rub as if to relieve itching; "Don't scratch your insect bites!".
2. Have or perceive an itch; "I'm itching--the air is so dry!".
3. Have a strong desire or urge to do something; "She is itching to start the project".

Source: WordNet 1.7.1 Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

Sometimes I wonder "why the trouble?". English isn't my native language. That's Dutch. And German in second place. But not English - Often I find it rather hard to find matching English expressions - Writing English takes me a lot of extra time and I sure make mistakes in spelling and grammar... Mostly I don't mind the extra effort - English is a perfect tool to communicate worldwide, and I like the contacts with foreign seakayakers - since the start of this blog over 60% of the visitors is none-Dutch. But sometimes...
I admire the impressive way kayak-bloggers like Derrick and Wenley (that's word-art!) play around with English language and feel a bit guilty with my messing.
I keep on practising - it can only get better ;-). It comes with little things. Today I discovered you can use "itching" in English in the same context as "kriebelen" in Dutch. Technically the translation will be correct, yet I am not sure if it comes along with same subtle nuances and feelings as in the Dutch language...

This weekend Nelleke and Philip sent a mail with a collage of pictures with short notes of the NKB/SAU-course on Spiekeroog last year. In the accompanying text they asked: "kriebelt het al?" -to announce that they are anxiously looking forward for their next seakayak-course and that they will join at Vlieland this year. I was amused by the way they put this, and smiled because of the pictures - some of them showing me in a bit compromising position.

Wat zoek je daar nu?

Lukt het?

Ja ik heb het!


Text and pictures by N. Boot.

To answer the question: it's always itching! Fortunately the kayak season isn't limited to the summer months but goes the year round. (The breathable drysuit has seriously contributed to my winter pleasure in kayaking. Multiple day trips, wet exercises in winter are much more fun with this piece of kit). So it's itching, I continuously want to go out kayaking, but I don't only have the urge to go out, I actually do (next week to Wangerooge... ;-). Amongst the great seakayak activities the NKB-courses have a special place in my heart. I am looking forward to the next one! Alas the Spiekeroog course is postponed to 2009 (due to calender-issues in 2008), but I can't wait for Vlieland! Thanks for the pictures Nelleke and Philip: they supply "voorpret".

The complete 2008 NKB-seakayak calender: click here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My first salt water of the year

Ad heading out!

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Though I thought I have been paddling quit a lot lately, the last real salt water experience was the interrupted one in December last year on the German wad. So today's NKB trip to the Voordelta was in more aspects a premiere: it was also my first time with the Anas Acuta in tidal waters, and a test of a new Dutch carbon-composite paddle. I emphasize this wasn't the first NKB-trip on the sea - the honour of organising the first NKB-salt water event of the season belongs to Nico Middelkoop also this year! Last year I claimed this title dishonestly ;-) - Nico learnt me the better, blame on me, sorry!

Ten people subscribed for the trip to the Voordelta. Amongst the subscribers two other sea-kayak-coaches: the participants were in good hands! I had announced the trip as a harsh one (a serious distance, exposed to winterly conditions) and up to this morning I actually believed it would be: Friday and Saturday were quit windy with winds up to 6 Bft, and for this Sunday the forecasts predicted 4-5 Bft. I have done trips in this region without wind and yet serious surf due tot the swell coming in. But it turned out to be a relaxed paddle: the wind came today and the days before mainly from SW - so it hadn't enough striking length to built up a good swell. While in other parts of Holland it was almost spring (temperatures up to 17 degrees Celsius!), we enjoyed the sun but paddled with gloves and warm caps and I appreciated the comfort of the Drysuit. Some of us finished the day with rolling excersises - a refreshing experience, water temperature is 6 degrees Celsius (sounds warmer than it feels).

According tot the GPS the paddled distance is 25,8 km. Start at 10.40 hr, finish 15.45 in Stellendam -outer harbour, we paused on the beach of the Maasvlakte (Slufterdam from 11,45-13.15) - I want to try to extract the tracklog from the GPS, but before I manage so: we paddled roughly the same route as in this trip (a bit more direct to the Slufterdam and a bit less far west - therefore 9 km shorter). The route was partly along the contour of the future "Rustgebied/closed area" of the Hinderplaat. There is some confusion about the perspective for seakayaking in this region: a trip like this will also be possible when the new regulations (expected in April 2008) occur. More details about the new rules for recreational activities in the Voordelta-area: here.

Snapshots of the trip in the Picasa Album:

NKB Hinderplaat feb 08

Update 28-02-2008: Tracklog of the paddled route on Google Earth (thanks to Nico P.!)Click on the picture for a detailed view.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy Smurfday!

The Smurfs celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2008, and UNICEF is involved. Hundreds of white plastic Smurfs, just 20cm high, will be scattered in selected European cities for children to decorate. The plastic Smurfs will be laid down overnight - waiting at the bus stop, playing around the fountain, at the schoolyard – and kids will be able to pick them up in the morning. For those who miss the secret Smurf drop, others will be for sale from UNICEF, where the proceeds will help the children's fund.
The 2008 Smurf invasion will be accompanied by a travelling ‘Smurf Anniversary Exhibition’, telling the story of the Smurfs, with more than 50 “Smurfy games” for the younger fans, a Smurf Zeppelin and bigger, 1.20m Smurf statues that will be decorated by celebrity artists. Last week the Smurfs invaded

The Kayak-smurf is a pretty indispensable piece of kit for kayak coaches. A collection of Smurfs is a welcome help when instructing on land about items like group-positioning, traffic rules and so on. But why does the little friend always look so scared?
Some people shout "Smurf" at me when I am heading through the streets of Woerden on the way to the kayak-club, dressed in my sky blue Drysuit and with a soft conical winter-cap on the head. I suppose that's an expression of great respect?
More serious news about the 50th anniversary of Peyo's creature in the Volkskrant (with video).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Camping with the canoe-boys

"Creatief met kurk": Kayak boy shows canoe boys what can be done with firewood.
Finally the westerly circulation that dominated the weather situation (to) long is over. A high pressure zone delivered - for the first time since many weeks - a calm, quit and sunny weekend. Perfect weather for the outdoors. I had an appointment with Guus and Alex in the Biesbosch for winter-camping. They were touring in the Biesbosch with open canoes since Friday and I joined them Saturday, paddling the Anas Acuta kayak. Guus and Alex had taken along a giant amount of firewood, which was very welcome because - despite the moderate temperatures by day - night and morning were quit frosty.

Record attempt in pitching a tent

Guus' new toy is the pop up tent. Pitching it is incredible fast! Guus gives a non stop demonstration that makes me envious. It's a pity the Pop-Up-tents don't fit through the Valley-hatches of a seakayak!

Friday, February 08, 2008


Picture in NRC-Next, 4 February 2008 by Walter Herfst.

It's old news, but as I was clearing away last weeks newspapers, I was once more struck by the fascinating image of the grounded Chines freighter "Zhen Hua 10". It's hard to believe that a vessel loaded like this can stay upright at all. It made all the way from China to it's destination in Rotterdam, and stranded in sight of the harbour last Saturday (location = near the beach where the Hinderplaat-paddle-trip in November started).

Several attempts to bring the vessel afloat failed. A third tug-boat came over from Hamburg to help. After three days the tug-boats finally succeeded to free the vessel at high tide. The story ended up with an old-style "proud Dutch seaman"-news-item on Television. In the interview the employee of the Dutch towing company declared this job to be a "business as usual, nothing special". The Chinese captain however, a humble person - visible impressed by what happened, declared that sailing a vessel loaded like this was no pleasure at all - it could hardly make speed against the wind, his story sounded more like "once, but never again".

I don't like big deck-loads on my kayak either...

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Muiden-Marken vice-versa

Muiden-Marken is a open crossing of the Markermeer of about 15 km's. Along the route you find some great Dutch Cultural Heritage sites (nrs. 1-4).

Early this morning I had a date with René to paddle Muiden-Marken v.v. on the Markermeer. The weather forecast for "Netherlands coastal waters and adjacent lakes and estuaries" issued yesterday evening, valid from 0.00 to 12.00 UTC, said: W-SW 7-8, decreasing 5-6. A good opportunity to experience my new Anas Acuta kayak in windy conditions - how does it keep track? does it weathercock? how does it react to the skeg? - 30 km's paddling on open water should show. We decided to see what's manageable. Great to have kayak friends you can ask for a such a paddle in winter! René was enthusiast and said he would bring his Anas Acuta too - so we had a similar base to compare and discuss our experiences. Click this link for René's report of the trip.
Site nr 1: Pampus is a shallow area in the former inland sea the Zuiderzee. At low tide it used to block the access of seagoing ships to the Amsterdam port. It was quite a handicap for the VOC, the Dutch East Indian Trading Company. Late in the 19th century an island fort was built at the site as one of the ring of 42 fortifications surrounding Amsterdam. The fort was abandoned in 1933 when the Zuiderzee was closed off from the North Sea by a dam and became the lake IJsselmeer. On Dutch television there is a program running called: Slag om Pampus a reality TV production - a clone of the Expedition Robinson-format in which 12 couples do a test to become finally warden of the isle - must everything become a multimedia-event? I won't be to negative: the program gives great shots of Pampus and some interesting background-information.

In bed last night I heard the wind howling around the house: windows rambling, doors rattling. On the road to Muiden snow showers passed by. On the car-radio was a news item of a rescue operation for a Chinese Freighter that grounded on the Maasvlakte. As daylight slowly came, I was impressed by dramatic dark skies at the horizon. It was a magnificent view through the windscreen of the car. I turned the heater up and prepared myself mentally for a fierce paddle.
To my surprise the flag on Muiden Fortress was hanging down and there was hardly any wind, as I met René at the agreed starting-point at the Markermeer. Above the Markermeer sky was open and blue. Rain showers were hanging above land at the horizon. But at the point where we were: it was friendly. According to René in kayak-English this situation is called a "Weather Window": some Scottish paddlers are said to have patent on this meteorological phenomena.
So our paddle started calm: a moderate wind of perhaps 3 Bft SW. Near Pampus short confusing waves made paddling a bit lively, but we were still relaxed paddling at about 7 km/h when we crossed the shipping lane near buoy P2. As we got closer to Marken wind was a bit increasing, our speed effortless got up to 9 km/h. But in our opinion the wind was still far from the 5-6 Bft. at the same moment measured by the Weather station at Lelystad, according to the Coastguard on the VHF-radio. Lelystad is about 30 km's from where we paddled.

Site nr. 2: Scotland has the Stevensons' Lighthouses, Holland "het Paard van Marken" designed by Martime Engineer J. Valk (1839)

The little green shed near the lighthouse offered a sheltered place for a break. Fleece, rain suit and ponchos made it a bit more comfortable, and prevented us from cooling down. As we got back to the kayaks white caps were all over the place, wind had severely increased. Finally we got what we came for. It was just a bit a pity that it was only on our way back: SW winds meant 15 km's to go against 5-6 Bft... Short steep waves made it a wet ride. Speed slowed down to about 5 km/h. But we had no hurry and enjoyed the ride!

Site nr. 3: het Muiderslot is the ultimate Dutch medieval castle, rich of history. The castle was built in 1280 by count Floris V. His objective was to take control of the trade route to Utrecht. From then on all traders using this trade route were forced to pay tolls at the Muiderslot castle. In 1296 he was imprisoned in his own castle by Gearart van Velsen, because Floris V had ordered the execution of Van Velsen's brother on false charges. Floris V managed to escape from the castle but was killed while fleeing.

Between Pampus and Muiden wind had turned to west and gave nice long waves from the side. We couldn't resist and turned our bows eastwards to get a few good surf-rides. It was short but exhilarating: riding down the waves, the bow of the Anas Acuta dived up to the cockpit-rim under water.

This was the first real "Groot water"-session for me with the Anas Acuta kayak. It performed well (as expected): the AA is no fast kayak, but it tracks well, is lively and manoeuvrable, and very reassuring! A delight to paddle! Site nr. 4: The Westbatterij Muiden is the eldest fortress of the Stelling van Amsterdam - the Defense Line of Amsterdam. This defencee line was built between 1883 and 1920 to guard the capital Amsterdam. It is the example of a fortification based on the control of water. The protection of the centre of the country was ensured by the network of 42 forts and their artillery acting in concert with temporary flooding from polders and an intricate system of canals and locks.
Please note: there is good access to the water near the Fortress, individual paddlers can comfortably load and unload their car here, space for parking is limited and restricted -> Advise: park the car elsewhere and don't use this place as a a starting point for groups of paddlers!

Total distance 31 km, wind 4-6 Bft SW-W, water temp 5 degr. Celsius, air temp 3-4 degr. Celsius.