Thursday, April 30, 2009

Travelling light...

Pack light? Well at least I did my best....

Last week I customized the cockpit of the Pintail kayak. And though the Pintail offers more volume to carry camping gear, I decided to take the (smaller) Anas Acuta for the Salzwasserunion Ausbilder-training this weekend. Sorry for the Pintail, but I am so crazy about the AA...

Minimizing camping gear means: taking a 1-person shelter, no luxury on cooking and food (which actually means "more luxury" - because now I will probably be ending up dining in a restaurant!), less gadgets. This time no "life reports" from the training at the blog - the laptop stays at home. But I do admit that I am not very consequent in this "minimizing gear": I can't leave the bulky Nikon DSLR at home, and a kilo apples a day must be...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rescue spotted!

Van Kajaksport op groot water

Image quality isn't brilliant, but when you click on the picture you can see a capsized seakayaker being rescued. This was last week during the TKBN Opleidingstocht. Dutch coastguard made the picture - with a large telescope from the coast-guard station in top of the lighthouse "het Westhoofd". The surf on the sand bar is about a nautical mile out at sea - distance to the lighthouse about 2 kms. "Big brother is watching you" - don't mind, in the contrary: I think it's a safe idea that the coastguard keeps in eye on our kayak activities. But it's also a good argument to inform the coastguard about your activities (which is good use in the Netherlands!) - so the coastguard knows about your plans and isn't surprised by swimming seakayakers when you are training rescues. Please do prevent false alarms!

Thanks to the lighthouse crew for mailing this picture!

Safer Water Sports - Nationale Reddingbootdag 2009

Lifeboat crews from national maritime rescue agencies like the Dutch KNRM, the British RNLI and the Spanish SM respond every years to thousands of incidents, many of which could have been prevented with simple safety precautions. The majority of these launches are to leisure crafts. No wonder that most rescue agencies run campaigns on "pleasure boating safety". In Llanca I stumbled across this nice booklet of Salvamento Maritimo.

The size, layout and styling of the Spanish booklet has a striking similarity to the publications of the Dutch KNRM. Interesting is that 4 pages of the Spanish booklet are dedicated to "Navegación en kayaks" with advises on kayak safety, Personal safety, preparation, navigation at sea and emergencies.

In the Netherlands the number of (incidents with) seakayakers is too small to appear in the statistics of the KNRM. I am happy with that! Please leave me in the delusion that this is because Dutch seakayakers are always well trained, equipped and prepared ;-) Anyway, the Dutch seakayakers and the Dutch seakayak associations have a good relationship with the KNRM. Sometimes we even cooperate in rescue-trainings. The KNRM has (as far as I know) no special information on safety for seakayakers. But a lot of information of Zeevast (the campaign of the KNRM on safer water sports) also applies to seakayaking.

Next Saturday at all rescue stations of the KNRM is the yearly "Reddingbootdag" held: a perfect occasion to get an impression of the work and people (mainly volunteers) of the KNRM.

Another booklet ( I got this booklet last year in Scotland - I don't know if it's still available): the included interactive CD of the RNLI is a top tip - it covers most aspects of the curriculum of NKB-Zeevaardigheid/BCU 3* and 4*/SAU A-B-Schein on navigation, weather and tide, first aid, emergencies and more!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Customizing the kayak cockpit - "creative with foam"

* Ellen: "En wat is het basismateriaal van vandaag?"
* Peter: "Het basismateraal van vandaag is kurk."
* Ellen: "Waar moet je op letten?"
* Peter: "Altijd van je af snijden!"
Arjan Ederveen, Tosca Nitterink, "Creatief met Kurk" - 1993.

(Sorry for this typical example of Dutch humor ;-). For playing in rough water and for rolling, a seakayak should fit like a glove. My Valley Anas Acuta-kayak does this since the first time I slid into it. The previous owner glued a few foam blocks on exactly the right strategic points in the cockpit. In my second seakayak (the Valley-Pintail) I have been experimenting with foam some years ago, but I was never really satisfied with the result. My approach was different: instead of creating kneegrips and thigh-support, I lowered the inside of the front deck (inspired by the low masik of greenland-kayaks), raised the seating position 2 cm's (to facilitate easy laying on the backdeck) and narrowed the seat on both sides 2 cm's). The result is a very close fit, which works fine for all kind of rolling tricks (despite raising the center of gravity, the better contact and lay-back-possibilities compensate), but which is not very comfortable on long distances (and as a matter of fact even hinders an effective correct forward paddling style). And that's stupid, as the Pintail is the kayak I prefer to use for longer multiple day trips/expeditions (because the Pintail offers more storage space than the Anas Acuta and is also more solid built).
This weekend I copied the lay-out of the foam blocks in the Anas Acuta to the Pintail. The picture shows the result of an afternoon working on cutting and glueing foam. The pintail still doesn't offer the same glove-like fit of the Anas Acuta, but for forward paddling it's a huge improvement. And I love the new kneegrips! It's much easier now to set the kayak on one edge and to maintain this edge over a long distance.

The new foam blocks were a welcome excuse for a test-paddle around Woerden. It's spring in the polder: an outburst of bird-life: de grutto (Godwit), de kievit (Lapwing), de reiger (Heron) and all kinds of ducks, geese and swans breeding...
Back at the pier of Kv Wyrda - I met a group of paddlers from the kayakclub Utrecht, who also made a paddle around Woerden. The Reed Tuiliq is always good for comments, but this was the first time some-one called me "pastoral worker". I suppose I should shave my legs next time I wear the Tuiliq over shorts...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A perfect day - the TKBN Opleidingstocht Voordelta

Van TKBN Voordelta
Click on the picture for the webalbum with some more pictures

Wind 4 Bft. NNO, blue sky, sunny 17 degrees Celsius, sea state from calm to moderate, good surf: perfect conditions for the training paddle today!

Update April, 20th. - A report of one of the participants (in Dutch) with the GPS-tracklog in Hendra's Logbook. Distance paddled: 17,5 km. Thanks Hendra!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"The Alphen Open" - Kayak Rolling Championship in the press

AD Groene Hart- Alphen Dichtbij, 2009 March, 30th.
On March, 28 th. the kayakclub de Kromme Aar (AKV) organized an open day with kayaks in the swimming pool. Part of the program was a "rolling championship": who makes most rolls in one minute? The happening and the rolling contest got good coverage in the regional press. Thanks to Herman for sending some press-cuttings.

The NKB-seakayak-committee made a good presence: the secretary of the committee appeared full colour in the papers, the president and his predecessor shared the first place in the competition (in the 40-plus class) ;-)
(Note: the overall winners were delivered by the youngsters. Congratulations to Dennis and Tijmen!).

More pictures of the competition on the websites of the press photographers:
Walter Planije
Martin Sharott
High quality prints are available via de websites of Walter and Martin.

Pictures of the open day on the AKV-website.

Witte Weekblad, 2009 - March, 30th.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"In high winds and high tides, it's amazing the forces that are out there..."

Just found this video of the rescue of a kayaker in Puget Sound on Björn Thomasson's blog: click here for the video of the rescue, here for the story of the rescued kayaker.
Note: the kayaker had a paddlefloat attached to his paddle, but didn't manage to climb in the kayak. Actually the paddler didn't practice any self-rescues before... read the full story on West Seattle blog.

Qajaasaarneq-training site in Woerden ;-)

Last Friday in Llanca Marc showed me some basic Greenland rope gymnastic moves. As Marc demonstrated the moves, they looked fairly simple. But when I did a try, well... Let's say I need a lot of practice...

This sunny afternoon I attached ropes and lines to the trees behind our home and we (= my family and the kids of the neighborhood) started training...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

LLanca, the day after: home again!

Yesterday (Saturday) we said at 13:30 goodbye to our friends on the campsite in Llanca. At 02:30 in the night we (Bernhard, Stephan and I) arrived in Cologne. This morning (Sunday) at 5:15 I parked the car in our driveway in Woerden. After a short nap, I joined Easter-breakfast with the family. I do admit I was the rest of this first Easter-day a bit listless, bored and drowsy. Sorry to the family! Sorting, washing and drying the kayak- and camping gear made it a useful day though. Fortunately it was warm and dry in Holland (warmer than in Spain): which makes drying wet tents and kayak-stuff a lot easier!
The other job of the day was sorting out the pictures. I put a selection in a Picasaweb Album. Click on the slideshow-miniature for a full-screen version.

The Llanca symposium and paddling week were great. I enjoyed it very much. Compliments to the people of Pagaia that made all this possible. You did a great job! I am looking forward for the 4th Spanish Seakayaksymposium!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Llanca - rolling Maligiaq's kayak

The last paddling day in Llanca we made a relaxed happening near the campsite. Marc Martin and I had made an appointment to play a bit around. We started together with Bernhard paddling with our Greenlandic paddles and exploring the rocky coasts.

Later Marc and I did a rolling session. I was rolling in the original skin on frame qayaq that was custom made for Magiliaq Padilla, two years ago when he attended the second edition of the LLanca seakayak-symposium. I am a bit (?!) taller than Magiliaq, but managed to squeeze in. Getting out without help would not have been possible... Most rolls worked, but in my Anas Acuta it's easier for me (because of the awkward of position of my legs in Magiliaq's kayak and some parts of the frame of the qayaq that hindered with the lay-back-rolls). I enjoyed the opportunity to try this unique qayaq!
And now I stop writing to go doing rope-gymnastics with Marc. Oops...
Enjoy the last hours: tomorrow it's going home.

Port de la Vall - Cala Joncols - Port de la Vall

After a rough Wednesday, Thursday was completely different: sun, blue sky, no clouds, wind 2-Bft, temperature 20-plus... We got up early in the morning to paddle with a small group of paddlers to Cala Joncols (25 km one way). Most participants preferred to make it a one way trip and came by car (with the kayaks on the trailer) to Cala Joncols.
The whole party was offered a catalan lunch in the in the garden of the Hotel Restaurant Cala Joncols.
And there is no Catalan lunch or dinner without the traditional " Porron" (and sausages...)
After the lunch we paddled with 3 groups back and arrived in the evening on the campsite.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Llanca update wednesday-picures

It's weird to have internet connection while I am laying in my sleeping bag in my little shelter. OK, just before I go to sleep: an update with some pictures of this day.
On the last stage of today's paddle, paddling with a following wind at the calmer moments I made a few pictures of Manuel.
Waiting for me to put the camera in place, Manuel demonstrated forward skulling, the Greenland style kayak technique called: Palluusineq.

In the afternoon Bernhard, Stephan and I went shopping in Port de Selva for our evening-meal. But when we returned at the campsite the organization invited all the paddlers to come to the restaurant on Cap Cruez. Surprise! No problem, we leave the pasta for tomorrow.

On the scenic location on the cape (near the lighthouse) a typical Catalan dish was served. Good, the Catalan kitchen is rich and tasty: more than just sausages!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

9 little ducks...

In the Netherlands there is a story for children about 9 little ducks, in the end there is only 1. Regarding seakayaking in Llanca the story is similar today. Due to yesterday's weather-forecast for this Wednesday, the organizers of the Paddle-week wisely decided to divert with the paddling activities to a sheltered inland river-estuarium. A few "ponents" (seakayak-coaches) that weren't needed on the river, however made an appointment for a challenging paddle on the sea. Some elected, experienced participants were invited to join. A group of 9 paddlers would go out. This morning the weather turned out to be even a bit rougher and because of a lot of different reasons, one after the other member of this elected party did withdraw. At the end only Bernhard, Manuel and I remained.

The forecast for the Northern Girona region was exact: Northern winds up to 7 Bft. We experienced what a "Mar gruesa" means. Alas I can't show any "on the water-photos" of this sea, because I didn't want to pick a hand from the paddle to take pictures. Neither did Bernhard. People who paddle more with us, will know what that means. We fought two hours against the wind and then surfed back in just half an hour. It was a joy, but heavy. Manuel soon changed his greenland-paddle for the storm-paddle. I enjoyed looking at the grace of Manuel's paddling style. He really is a master in traditional style kayaking! I was paddling as the last of the pack, not only because I wanted to keep an eye on my paddling partners ;-) I admit that some people are stronger than I!

"Areas de mar gruesa..."



Let's see what's up today...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The paddling week: trip to Port Bou

Now the symposium is finished, the Pagaia club has scheduled some seakayak-trips to explore the region for the rest of the week . Today we paddled from the campsite to Port Bou, vice versa. Stephan and I were a bit surprised by the early start and left the beach an hour later, to pick up with the group. Somehow we managed to pass the group, because when we arrived at Port Bou there were no kayaks to be seen. The group must have hidden in one of the caves along the way. That must have been a huge cave with 30 paddlers?! I suppose we just didn't look right. Half an hour after us the group arrived.
Pictures of kayaks with cut of bow and stern are like pictures of people with cut of limbs... sorry, this is a rare picture showing the author himself, arriving in Port Bou.

Back to the campsite we looked after a lost paddler, who had difficulties with keeping course and capsized in the waves. At the end of the day we have perhaps paddled 20 minutes in the group. Anyhow: it was a good paddling day (a lively sea at the end: great surf-rides!).

Llanca seakayaksymposium - day 3

Hakola took apart his beautiful folding Greenland-kayak. Just a short fix - Hakola also stays some more days at the seakayak-happening in Spain.

The 3rd and last day of the Llanca seakayak-symposium was a warm and sunny one again. The weather is changing though: barometer dropped rapidly and wind increased strongly in the afternoon.
Today I was scheduled with Bernhard to give classes on "Paddle and Manoeuvring skills" - level I-II-III. The level of the classes often turns out to be a bit awkward: the levels are not really defined, and some participants make challenging estimations of their own skills. Good thing is that this forces the coaches to a student-driven approach. Every coach should have flexibility and some improvisation talent ;-).

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Llanca seakayksymposium - pictures of day 2

On the second day of the Spanish seakayak-symposium I was also scheduled for giving a clinic on "assisted and self rescues" in the morning, and on "modern style rolling" in the afternoon. With new students and partly different co-instructors it was a refreshing experience again. In the morning I coached the group together with Stan Szlapka a seakayak-coach from France. The rolling clinic was with Phill Clegg (Britain), Bernhard Hillejan (Germany) and Marc Martin (from Spain). It's big fun being together with kayak-people from so many different nationalities. Languages change from moment to moment. English, French and German are the languages I can deal with, more or less - the rest works with "kayak-language" ;-). The only language I don't practice these days is Dutch. And I am writing this online-diary in English...

The "advanced rolling class" of the afternoon.
Self rescue with paddlefloat (a compulsory piece of kit in France) - not a real success.
The day on the water finished with a demonstration Greenland Style rolling.
The Greenland-style demo-team: Andreas, Hans, Hakola, Bernhard and Manolo.
But it's not only kayaking on this symposium:
Tasting local specialties - Bernhard is for the fire-water...
And the man with the morning-eggs!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Under the Spanish sky...

The first official day of the Llanca seakayaking symposium was like kayaking in Spain is supposed to be: blue sky, crystal clear water and an air temperature of 20-plus degrees Celsius. I coached 2 workshops today. In the morning a clinic on rescues and self rescues together with Nigel Dennis I started with the basic part, Nigel completed the workshop with tips and demonstrations on towing and rescueing in rocky situations. Humble me: what an honor to work together with a top coach like Nigel!
In the afternoon Marc Martin, Phill Clegg and I gave rolling classes. Conditions were perfect. Participants too.
Pagaia served a real Spanish lunch. Dominique, Jos'e and the other people of Pagaia are taking good care of us!
No Dolphins today, jellyfish instead. A totally different kind of species, but also a fascinating animal.

A picture for Lieke: hij is heel lief!

Surprise of the day was a nice meeting with Wenly - the Spanish kayakblogger of the stylish "Journal on open sea and coastal kayak paddling"-blog. We never met in real life before, but we both recognized eachother at first glance...

Friday, April 03, 2009

A warm welcome at the seakayak symposium in LLanca - Spain

Well, there is an internet connection on the campsite in LLanca. I'll try to post daily updates. We (Bernhard, Stephan and I) had a great welcome in Llanca today - meeting kayak friends from Britain, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain...

The organization does a great job. I have no idea how they arranged it, but on our first paddle out this afternoon the 3 of us were accompanied by a group of 15 dolphins. A very special moment!
Our kayak friends are jealous: Anna and Marc from Spain, who paddle here since years, told us they never had seen dolphins before...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Heading south, to the Mediterranean sun?

I have just packed up the kayak and camping gear for the 3rd International Seakayak Symposium, in Llanca - Spain. Tomorrow morning I first go to work in Den Hague and in the afternoon I'll catch up with Bernard and Stephan. The 3 of us will travel in one car from Köln to Llanca.
The weatherforecast is a bit disappointing. Our Spanish friends were teasing us this winter with appealing stories about Mediterranean sun and mild temperatures, but this is the picture Weeronline gives for the next 3 days:

And this is the weather in Woerden. That's Mediterranean, isn't it?

Anyhow: I am sure we will have a great time. I doubt if I have internet connection in Spain - so things might get a bit quiet here until Easter..