Sunday, August 24, 2008

The first salt water experience

Once a year kayakclub Wyrda offers the so called “Grootwaterkennismakingstocht“. This activity is aimed at kayakers new to seakayaking. It's a kind of a mini-course, split in two days: on the first day basic paddling and safety skills are practiced on open water – in preparation of the second day (a week later) on which a trip on the North Sea is programmed.

The “Grootwaterkennismakingstocht” is a rewarding activity to organize with enthusiast people enjoying the first time out at sea. Today I was leading the first day of the course, assisted by Patrick from kayakclub Natsec, on the Grevelingen. The Grevelingen is the largest salt-water lake of western Europe. It’s separated from the North Sea by the Brouwersdam – it’s a non tidal water with the salty taste of the sea – a perfect spot to introduce people to paddling on a large stretch of open water.

The challenge in organizing an activity like this is to keep it “low-level”. It’s often said that “a beginner in seakayaking isn’t a beginner in kayaking” (this quote used to be on the NKB-website, I understand why, but also think there are some arguments against it..) – but this activity should also be manageable for beginners in kayaking. A calm sea state is a condition. The weather forecast for the day (wind SW 4-5, increasing to 5-6 Bft.) wasn’t to promising in this respect. Some participants were a bit a worried about this foresight, yet I assured they would have an nice day… The covered distance wasn’t important, nor was speed or timing: just paddling in a comfortable pace, doing exercises every once in a while, relieved by rest stops on the water and an extensive lunch break made it a good day for all. But I can’t help: paddling against the wind is fatiguing! Which is good experience to get familiar with seakayaking of course ;-)

For Jelle it was the first time paddling on salt water. I had a great time watching my 14 year old son enjoying the waves: Jelle had never done this before, but he loved pounding against the wind and he tried to catch every surf with a following wind. Maybe a bit frustrating for the other (20-40 years older) participants to watch how easily a teenager learns. I was impressed by his suppleness – and by his power: it won’t take long before he paddles me out. I can hardly catch up now…
Wyrda grootwatertocht

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