Winter paddling in the Biesbosch National Park. Temperature at 11.00 AM: minus 10 degrees Celsius... The first issue was how to get on the water - the takeoff points mostly used to paddle in the Biesbosch were blocked by ice. Finally we found a good spot to start next to the river in Geertruidenberg. The next challenge was to find a way through open water in the Biesbosch. We expected the small creeks to be impassable, but (despite the tidal hub in the Biesbosch) also some wide stretches of water were already covered by a layer of ice. Anyway, we managed to make a nice trip around the Biesbosch - after exploring some creeks leading to the centre of the nature reservate, we paddled the "outer ring". A total distance of 30 km through one the few remaining fresh water tidal-areas in Europe. We enjoyed the abolute quietness, no other humans around, just two paddlers enjoying in silence the amazing landscape and wildlife. Enormous numbers of birds are resting and foraging in this wetland - caution (keep distance!) is needed to prevent disturbance.
Some notes about "paddling minus ten":
- clothing: a drysuit with a good fleece isolation layer under it is great - not to say a must!
- warm hands: a combination of simple nylon paddle mitts/poggies (without lining!) and a pair of neoprene gloves keeps the hands warm;
- frozen wet neoprene gets stiff - normally the neoprene sprayskirt is my favourite, but for winter paddling a sturdy PVC-sprayskirt is better - once frozen refitting a neoprene sprayskirt gets very awkward;
- deck mounted towing lines, split paddles (and any other spare gear) on the deck: forget it - it's useless when covered with a centimetre of ice...