Monday, April 28, 2008

Department of Public Works - "At your service!"

Lately the Dutch Department of Public Works (Rijkswaterstaat) runs a big advertisement campaign in the papers. Rijkswaterstaat is looking for new staff: stewards who will support the lock-keepers of the most frequented locks during the crowded periods in the spring- and summer- season.
The Steward is the "visting-card" of Rijkswaterstaat in the locks and responsible for, among other things:

* Giving instructions to the skippers at the entrances and exits of locks, taking account of the space that larger ships need;
* Informing skippers (especially recreational boating) where they must take place in the lock and monitor the speed and safety of the lock;
* Transmitting messages from the lock-keeper to skippers;
* Supporting skippers (especially recreational boating) in the mooring of boats;
* Informing waterway-users about activities in the region, security on the water and closed waterways;
* Distribution of information to skippers and answering questions.

Though I am very confident with the customer-friendliness of the lock-keepers of Rijkswaterstaat - this new service is very welcome of course! Rijkswaterstaat exploits the National waterways of the Netherlands and the big locks/sluices. To my experience the bigger the lock, the less problems the lock-keepers makes with opening the doors for a little kayak... While the big sealocks take kayaks for granted, no problem - with small locks in the regional waterways it's often a tiring discussion with the lock-keeper before he's willing to open the door for a kayak...
The other water-authorities should take an exemplar of this good initiative of Rijkswaterstaat!

Btw: the German Department of Public Works too: read Jörgen's recent adventures with German Lock-keepers...

Locks on the small pictures: top-down:
  1. Zeesluis Muiden, Vecht - IJmeer
  2. Oudhuizersluis, Heinoomsvaart
  3. Schutsluis Woerdense Verlaat, Vecht

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Haantje de voorste?

"Every organism is looking for other organisms to survive, the same applies to man and chicken" - Koen Vanmechelen.

Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen makes iconoclastic sculpture, paintings, glasswork and installations. His daring expeditions into contemporary science, philosophy and ethics have resulted into several internationally acclaimed projects. Most known is The Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (TCCP), a vast attempt to create and manipulate scores of chicken breeds from whole over the world into a new species, a universal chicken or Superbastard. Four subprojects constitute the TCCP: Virtual crossing, Experimental crossing, The Walking Egg and The Accident, Chronicles of The Cosmopolitan Chicken.

Every relationship needs maintenance. Living with a sporty, but non-kayaking partner (Janine is a long distance runner) a non sporting retreat once in a while is obliged. This weekend Janine and I booked a culinary arrangement in a hotel in Berg en Dal, near Nijmegen. Saturday we visited the Museum for archaeology and contemporary art "Het Valkhof" - with the exposition of Koen Vanmechelen's chicken project. Sunday we did a leisurely walk, first through the woods near Berg en Dal, than along the river de Waal.
A little secret: the sight of the mighty river - flowing fast with a lot of traffic, did remind me of: kayaking... Sorry Janine!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Early season paddling - very cool!

Water temperature along Dutch coast is around 8 degrees Celsius at this time of the year. Pretty cold for a swim, but no excuse for a good training session. I invited a group of seakayakers for a paddle in the Voordelta and explained that dealing with the cold-water would be the central theme. Wet sessions included.
As I told the participants about the programme - not only a wet session in the last five minutes of the paddle, but direct from the start - as they phoned me a week before the the training session, I noticed some hesitation. Not everybody was enthusiast about the idea of a swim, two kayakers resigned. Most people however found it a challenging idea. Only a few had experimented before with rolling and rescues and swimming in cold water.
The conditions were perfect: wind SW 3-4 Bft, air temp. 10 degrees Celsius, a bit clouded, but mainly dry. After a warming up at the beach, we paddled 2o minutes against the wind before we did a rolling session and eskimo-rescues (bow rescue and paddle rescue) for those who couldn't roll. After this intermezzo we paddled with a following wind 1,5 hour out at sea before we set course to the beach of Goeree. The next part was an incident management-session - the group had to deal (2 km out of the coast) with 3 seasick and potentially hypothermic kayakers that needed support and had to be brought back to land and treated against hypothermia - 2o minutes of towing, landing at the beach and building a shelter followed. After the lunch on the way back to the starting point we looked for some vivid water above the sand, did a competition with x-rescues (stopwatch- which team does the fastest recovery ?) and finished with rolling and bracing the harbour.
Respect for the commitment of this group: everybody participated in all the wet sessions - most of them dressed in neoprene - which offers adequate protection but isn't by near as comfortable as a drysuit. It is all very well for me to talk - dressed in the high tech Kokatat drysuit!

Distance paddled: 18 km.

Webalbum with more (unsorted) pictures of this trip by me, Patrick and Willem:
tkbn Voordeltatocht
Click here for the pictures of Jan R.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Jörgen's departure for Moldova

Jörgen started his sponsor-tour for the Clinic in Moldova this morning. Jörgen and his support- team have had a hectic time during the last weeks. The "Smiles for Moldova"-action got a lot of attention by local and national press, yesterday evening Jörgen was on Dutch Television. It must be a big relief for the team that the tour now finally started. It was a good start: a great farewell party in Restaurant "de 2 Provinciën", a lot of visitors, good press attention, good commitment from the sponsors, the sun shining and a perfect time management: Jörgen left the party as planned at 12.00 PM.
Before we said Jörgen goodbye, his support-crew gave a presentation about the goals of the kayak-trek, Dr. van Oort told about the work of the clinic in Moldova, and the main Sponsors and the mayor said a word. The restaurant was very crowded and outside arrived some dozens of paddlers to accompany Jörgen on the first miles of his long tour.

The mayor gave the official start sign. Jörgen paddled out at the "Paterswolde meer", heading over the lake and the channels in Gronningen to the Wadden Sea. It's only a short salt-waterbreak, the trek mainly follows rivers: from the Dollard, the Ems, the Rhine, the Danube. Finally come some salt-water-miles again: the black sea for the last stretch to Moldava - but that's only a small part on a total distance of 4000 km.
I was in the comfortable position to wave Jörgen goodbye from the tourist-boat in which the support-team with press, sponsors and officials escorted the paddlers on their first miles. It was also a nice occasion to meet a lot of kayak-friends. And it was good fun to see the press at work.

Good-Luck Jörgen!

For a video/interview with Jörgen and Dr. van Oort about the kayak-trek and "Smiles for Moldova" click here.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Countdown for Jörgen!

It's better counting the hours than the days before Jörgen starts his 4000 kilometre-kayak-adventure across the heart of Europe, from the Netherlands to Moldova. Jörgen isn't only putting himself to the test, he also wants to attract attention and to raise funds for the work of Dr. Rob van Oort. Dr. Rob van Oort is an expert in the field of Maxillofacial Prosthetics who is setting up a clinic in Chisinau to help the people of Moldava with congenital or acquired oral and facial defects. Read more about Jörgen's goals in the dedicated Smiles for Moldova website.

The first time I met Jörgen was when he participated in the ZV-group (=BCU-4* level) I coached at the Vlieland-week in 2005. Since then I enjoyed his company on several seakayak-activities in the Netherlands and Germany. I remember Jörgen telling us, already in that first week back in 2005, about his dream to make a world-tour by kayak. In two days this dream comes through! That's Jörgen: not a dreamer, a tough worker! Succes Jörgen!

Jörgen starts his expedition next Saturday with a farewell party near the "Paterswoldse Meer" in Groningen. The sponsortrek gets good press attention and is also covered by