“Mededelingen” is the titel of the paper-magazine the NKB Sea Kayak-committee publishes. Concept and design are a bit 1980’s. Yet, even in this age of digital media, a paper club-magazine seems to be appreciated. Beside this, I enjoy writing twice a year a short foreword as “president” of the Committee. I regard the foreword as a kind of “column”: an invitation to share personal experiences and opinions, to look at seakayaking from different perspectives, and to put things sharp with a little sense of humour – not hindered by nuances.
The latest issue of the Mededelingen is completely dedicated to safety issues. In the foreword I relativize the usual focus on safety-equipment – in my opinion it sometimes tends to predominate a bit too much above the simple fun of paddling. Without the intention to detract anything on the importance of good preparation and proper safety-equipment: there are moments that I believe it’s a bit too much – e.g. when I feel tired organizing all my seakayak-gear and when I just want to pick up a kayak and a paddle to go out kayaking, without carrying tons of gear around! That’s (part of) what attracts me in paddling the K1 kayak on flat water and what appeals to me in the Surfski-sport: bringing back kayaking to the essence: body-boat-blade…
First supplement: Last week some sad incidents around Surfski-paddling were in the news. In Australia surfski-paddler David Scheen got lost. In New York the Mayor’s Cup (a seakayak and surfski-race) was stopped about an hour in the race by the NY-authorities. Unfortunately just at that time my foreword in Mededelingen 2008-2 arrived at the reader’s homes. Different speeds in printed and digital media became painfully clear: impossible to adapt the foreword to the topicalities, sorry!
The abandonment of the NY Mayors Cup race led to violent web-debates on safety behavior of seakayakers and especially surfski-racers – read the threats and comments on Surfski.info. Bonnie (Frogma) has written a good post about the "pfd-to wear or not to wear"-discussion and double standards on her weblog. A brilliant quote by Bonnie: “..I think that a certain level of "double standards" is a fine & lovely thing - basically, 'cause there are so many different boating situations in this country that something that makes complete sense for one group or place would be totally ridiculous in another place.” I agree completely!
Second supplement: Gerard (the author of the article in Mededelingen 2008-2 about the use of VHF-radio’s in seakayaking) pointed me at a test of handheld VHF-radio’s in the Waterkampioen. Almost all handhelds available in the Netherlands are tested. Best tested is the ICOM IC M-71, Best Buy (related to price-quality) is the Standard Horizon HX 270E. I am personally very happy with the ICOM M-71: it fits perfect in the front-pocket of my Kokatat-PFD, I like the ergonomics, battery life is excellent and sound is crisp and clear. At the Seakayak-weeks the NKB-seakayakcommittee uses the Standard Horizon – which also has proved to be a good working and reliable piece of kit (for half the price of the ICOM).
Using a VHF-radio is recently getting more common amongst Dutch seakayakers. Regulations have become more friendly for kayak use: “stand alone” use of a handheld is legal since a few years, and a once-only (free) registration replaces the old concession with a yearly (quit expensive) fee. Since 2008 you only have to do a theoretical examination (to get a license) and a simple online registration for the ATIS-code of the VHF-radio.
Update - November, 3rd: New on the Download-page of the NKB Commissie Zeekajakvaren: a manual for Seakayakers on the use of marine VHF-handhelds in the Netherlands (in Dutch).