Pictures by Stef
Talking about "win-win situations": popular management speak, a buzzword - often used improperly. Seldom it's reality. About a year ago in Zeeland in the kitchen of Monique and Stef however a real win-win situation occurred. Monique told me she was about to realize her dream to build her own custom tailored Greenland kayak - and to create room for the new kayak, Stef and Monique were looking for a new owner for their Anas Acuta - which made a dream come through for me: resulting in the marvellous white Anas Acuta with blue stripes figuring on a lot of pictures in this weblog ;-)
A year later: Monique has finished her Greenland kayak - the Black Pearl, a Björn Thomasson design. Monique and Stef have done a great job. Read this personal impression of a happy owner of a fantastic playful greenland style kayak.
It is easy, so easy to describe the whole thing in superlatives and only very positive superlatives.
It is in the starry-eyed beholder, it is in the moon gaze and that is why it is impossible to give an objective view. How do I begin to find words to explain? Bear with me, show some patience, and forgive this moon starry gaze.
Despite our choice of colour the kayak-design is called Black Pearl (BP). Colour or names (“boat”?) do not really matter, for starry eyed beholders. So here we go, a few experiences of a newly born BP with a newly introduced Greenland style paddler………….
This BP has first carried me on rather flattish secluded water. It feels comfortable, stable enough and believe it or not, very reassuring. This reassurance and trustworthiness surprised me in a silently knowing way. Could I feel the same in a similar factory made type? I doubt it, the whole process of piecing together your own kayak, made to your own body size, is such that for some inexplicable reason this kayak has soul, it is imbued with strong intimate bonds and personal knowledge of every strip and corner, every overall weakness and strength. Can this only be felt by the builder/paddler? I believe so….. I warned you: this would be a starry-eyed perspective…..
Then time came to leave the secluded water and enter a bigger tub (Oosterschelde). First strokes felt intimidating and exciting at the same time, which one was it going to be? After 10 minutes I needed to scull and roll (cowboy way, no elegant water-ballet from this paddler). Getting my head down, literally, feeling cold fresh sea directly on face and on hands liberated me of a daunting freeze inside. This astonishing effect of winter sea is probably one of the best kept secrets in Western Europe.
Stef and I were in the company of our kayaks, several swarms of silver-bellied birds dancing away in a blue frosty sky and clear sun. What more do you want? “Here we are big tub! BP is coming to explore”! BP turns easy and gracefully; it slides through the sea like a hot knife in a bar of butter, even in shallow water (watch the oysters). BP is light, nimble and agile. It reacts directly to a 3/4L hot water bottle rolling in the back hatch and to any hip or small toe movement. Perhaps if I smoked and ran out of tobacco, would I (would I? I wish!) be able to paddle 27-28 km in 1 hour or less? (See page 102 of “Eastern Arctic Kayaks”). Not nearly now or in a long time anyway… but someone somehow somewhere did it, so I can try… Would I be able to play and roll in rough waves? Not nearly now but someone somehow somewhere………
But for now shoreline got further away and the boundaries of reassurance dawned. I am still very much in the trial and error stage (and will be for a long while) because I found my brain gently pointing out, “get your mental crutches girl: shallower sea and comforting shoreline!” The moment I turned BP towards shore brain (being subjected to steep learning curves) eased up on me…………taking baby steps will give me personal giant progression. The connection is there, the freedom is there, the bond can only grow stronger.
(For some specific statistics on this BP you can look at www.qajaq.nl and for general info www.thomassondesign.com )
Thanks to Monique for the English report!