Sunday, July 13, 2008

The surfspot on the "Bollen van de Ooster" aka "de Aardappelenbult"

No action pictures today because my beloved old Sony DSC-U60 underwatercamera refused to do its job. I am afraid it's getting time for a new water proof digital camera. Alas Sony doesn't produce a worthy successor, and I am not very impressed by the waterproof cameras of the other brands. Perhaps the new Pentax W60 - has anyone already tried this camera?

Wind was no more than force 3-4 Bft today, but after a week of westerly winds up to 5-6 Bft surf was good above the "Bollen van de Ooster" (also known as "de Aardappelenbult") a huge sandbank in the North sea, some miles west of Goeree. Nice about this spot is that you can approach it sheltered in the lee site and decide how far you want to go into the rough stuff.

Today I was here with 2 experienced (level 5 star) seakayakers. We arrived at the Aardappelenbult at high tide, the water level was about 1 meter above the sand. The waves coming from the North sea turned into surf over the sand, creating a hundreds of meters wide surf zone over a length of kilometres in the middle of the sea - a perfect play spot to train surfing and bracing skills. It's a long time ago I have had the conditions so good here. We had wonderful long rides over breaking waves, the GPS recorded speeds up to 2o kmh. It was the first time I paddled the
Anas Acuta in surfing conditions (I mostly paddle the Pintail at seatrips) and its performance was outstanding - it tracks good - no skeg needed, it's very responsive to edging and it's very manoeuvrable.

Some breaking waves were a bit awkward and one of the kayakers had wet exits in the surf zone. No problem - it's a quit safe spot. (It might take some time, but the water flows over the sand and brings the swimmer in calmer waters. The weather was fine: sunny, 20 degrees Celsius, water-temperature 18 degrees Celsius) - anyhow, a good occasion to train rescue skills in lively water. Towing a kayak with swimmer out of the surf zone is hard work, emptying a kayak in moving water in a x-rescue also. A note regarding kayak lay-out: a large cockpit design makes climbing in easier, but a high foredeck takes a lot of water when the kayak is turned over. Kayaks with large cockpits and a dayhatch often lack good decklines to grab direct in front and behind the cockpit (which makes handling the kayak and stabilizing the raft more difficult). The kayak in question was a Point65 XP, but the missing decklines over a big distance near the cockpit zone is something typical for more recent kayak-designs.

At the end of this summer recreation around the Bollen van de Ooster will become
more regulated. The complete sand will be a closed zone, even when it's flooded at high tide, and also for kayakers. There is one exception - exclusively for kayakers and windsurfers is a zone reserved at the most North-easterly tip of the "Bollen van de Ooster" (the area with the diagonal lines on the map -see below). We explored this zone today. It's a spot with good surfing conditions around high tide. I just wonder how the boundary to the closed zone will be marked: on the water you don't see any difference - it's just surf for kilometres...


Anonymous said...

Sony are notoriously bad for getting sands stuck in the lens and it's all over. I've already replaced two Sony camera because of a few grains of sand. Never again, I think the Pentax W60 is a better option even though I have not bought one yet. It doesn't have a moving lens so it's less likely to breakdown during outdoor activities

Rebecca said...

Hans Hi,
I tried o find your contact to suggest exchanging links between our blogs on the blogroll.
Couldn't find any so if you can please contact me

Hans Heupink said...

Hi Rebecca - Couldn't find your e-mail address either ;-) I have sent my address to "My Kayaking Buddies",
greetings, Hans

René said...

Hi Hans

Nice surfing conditions. Pity I could not be there. Allthough: I was enjoying the Norwegian mountains at the time; also very nice.

Glad you liked the AnasAcuta in surfconditions. Allthough your AnasAcuta is slightlty different from mine (the oldest model), it´s good to hear she has the same superb performance in rough water.

About the towlines and cockpits indeed it´s strange that kayakbuilders are growing away from the safest approach: meaning decklines cq. perimeterlines all along tha kayak and small cockpits giving more lines and more grip.

In my testreports I often ask for smaller cockpits and more perimeterlines (behind) the cockpit; but I am afraid the builders/designers listen first to "signals" from the paddlers asking for easy entrance in the cockpit.

Probably this has something to do with the way the modern, average seapaddler (worldwide) is paddling, avoiding the rough stuff. Probably the modern paddlers have problems with small cockpits because they are also less flexible, less trained and heavier. ;-)

Reading the Norwegian magazine "paddling" this weekend it struck me that they had a good article on surfing and tailorfitting the cockpit of a seakayak for surf conditions. The tailorfitting itself was perfect, just identically to what I am advising about this subject.
The only thing is: why only tailorfitting a kayak for surf?? The better handling with such an improved kayak gives so much more confidence and safety, that the "inconvenience(?)" of a smaller cockpit looks only like a very small price to me.

René said...

Hi Hans,

About the camera:
I have heard of good experiences with the Olympus 1030 SW and would choose for this one: offering 10 megapixel, watertight up to 10 meter, can withstand a drop of 2 meter. You can also make movies with it.
Because of the 10 megapixel you can afford loose-handed shooting at wide angle and zooming in afterwards on your PC.

Because of the buttons on the camera being not very big, you could have problems with cold cramped fingers in wintertime.
A good solution than is buying an extra underwaterhousing (for diving), available dedicated to this camera, and offering your fingers bigger underwater buttons.

Greetings, René

Hans Heupink said...

Hi René!
Welcome back! You had a good time in Norway?

About the kayak-cockpits: I love the small ocean-cockpits on my Pintail and Anas Acuta. Of course that's because I am "very flexible, well trained and not heavy" ;-) Nevertheless there are also some kayaks on the market with excellent modern style roomy cockpits that offer perfect control - which have their advantages (in my opinion) also on safety - not only for the "less flexible, less trained and heavier paddlers" ;-).

Regarding the waterproof-camera's: I am so glad my Sony is working again - the batteries were the problem. The Olympus isn't bad, but I still prefer the ergonomics and image-processing quality of the Sony (despite the Sony being only 2 MP!). Perhaps the new Pentax W60 is better? The specifications are promising.


René said...

Hi Hans,

Yeah, Norway is a great country for outdoor-activities. We encountered almost every yearly season in our 3 weeks; but I like that.

About the cockpits: you are right of course that there are big cockpits with excellent knee-grip. Still I regard the smaller, ocean cockpits as more reliable and practical because:
- Minimal risk for imploding sprayskirts. Of course there are very tight fitting skirts for big cockpits but these require quite a lot of force to close them which is unhandy when you are tired or want to close quickly
- Better view on maps on your cart-table.
- Less risk of dislocating your knees form there position under deck in heavy dumping waves or with laybacks.
- A small cockpit is easier for tailorfitting than a bigger cockpit: important when the fit is not perfect for yourself.
- More perimeter lines along the kayak. For a rescuer it’s easier to grip a rope instead of a slippery cockpit-rim during a x-rescue.

Of course the big cockpits offer much comfort (for instance entering under difficult conditions), but this still does not appeal to me comparing with the safe feeling an ocean cockpit gives to me. I guess that I have seen and experienced too much of the heavy stuff in my kayaking career, for just to trust a big cockpit.

I am serious saying that whenever I need to buy a kayak that has a big cockpit because it’s not available with an ocean cockpit, I am going to close the forward part, rebuilding the big cockpit to an ocean cockpit.
Of course this is a very personal point-of-view.


joel said...

hi... i curious to find out if you have brought your sony u60 underwater beyong the stated depth of 1.5m?? does it still works if its in water deeper the 1.5m??

Hans Heupink said...

Hi Joel!
I have used the Sony U60 several times in a swimming pool - also on depths of 2-2,5 meter. No problems with that. But that was only for very short moments (I can't manage to stay longer than a few seconds so deep under water myself ;-). The Sony isn't a camera for serious diving/underwater work - but for an occasional swim it works perfect.
Greetings, Hans