Saturday, December 24, 2011

Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo

In the Netherlands the days in December are short, and mostly grey, cold and wet. Not my favourite time of the year. I escaped to the sun and spent last week on a Canarian Isle. Lanzarote was warm, dry and sunny and the days were also (a bit) longer. It's a special sensation for a Dutchman to bike in shorts and to swim in open water only a few days before Christmas!

Of course, on Lanzarote it was also Advent-time with this typical, somewhat quiet, almost contemplative atmosphere. In the touristical centres were palm trees decorated as Christmas trees. Lanzarote is a fantastic place to discover by mountain bike, with endless dirt tracks between lava fields and vulcanos. As "sea kayaker" I was fascinated by the coastline of the island, and felt almost jealous when two seakayaks landed through the surf on the beach of Arrieta.

This was my 4th visit to Spain in a year, by now I should slowly start to understand some Spanish words. For the reader, a free interpretation of the title of this post:

Happy holidays! A good 2012!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Winter paddling in the Green Heart of Holland: "Rondje Kamerik"

"Rondje Kamerik" is one of the shortest kayak routes near Woerden. It's just over 10 kms long and perfectly suited for an evening paddle tour. I regularly paddle this route with local kayak club Wyrda on Tuesday-evening (= the club-evening), but in the last few weeks I was often busy on Tuesday-evening and missed most of the club-paddles. The more I was happy to be on the water again with Paul and Guus. Paddling the route by daylight is even better as it is in darkness. It's a varied paddle through the canals in the city, through the industrial and rural parts of the river and through narrow ditches in the polder. This morning the weather and skies were changing every 5 minutes, which made the paddle even more varied. We chatted a lot along the route, about "important topics" like the Euro crises, kayak techniques and kayak politics, the latest smartphone gadgets and the most sustainable way to clean the toilet... I enjoyed a relaxed paddle in great company ;-)

Tracklog made by the Smartphone:

2011-12-02 10:01 Rondje Kamerik weergeven op een grotere kaart

A year ago "Rondje Kamerik"was snow-covered and looked completely different.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dag Sinterklaasje, dag dag, luister naar ons afscheidslied...

NKB Seakayak Instructor waving goodbye to Sinterklaas

Today the Dutch seakayak coaches gathered at rowing/kayak club Michiel de Ruyter in Uithoorn for the anual NKB instructors meeting. Over the years it has become a tradition to wave Sinterklaas goodbye before the meeting starts. Sinterklaas visited Michiel the Ruiter early in the morning to embark the vessel "Gousekop" for the last stage of his long journey from Spain to the city of Uithoorn.

Friday, November 11, 2011

This is a tidal race..

In the post about the Sand Motor I wrote that, due to this new peninsula along the Dutch coast, locally the sea currents have increased. The result is more lively water. But you still shouldn't expect too spectacular tide races near the Sand Motor. My colleagues at work asked me what I meant with a tide race. This National Geograohic video (with Paul Kuthe by Brian Smith) makes that very clear. This is a tide race! You don't find races like this in the Netherlands. Alas ;-)

Friday, November 04, 2011

Exploring new land: the Sand Motor by seakayak

The Sand Motor is a large amount of sand (about 21 million m3) which is recently deposited in front of the Dutch coastline, roughly situated between Rotterdam and the Hague, in the shape of a peninsula of about 100 hectares. Wind, waves and sea currents will spread the sand around, creating new land for nature and recreation. This is called "building with nature". Working for the province of Zuid-Holland I've been talking a lot about this innovative project for coastal development. Now the construction of the project is (almost) finished it was due time to explore the new coastline by kayak. René and Roel joined me for the "expedition".

The conditions were perfect: today was the warmest November the 4th ever measured in the Netherlands: 16-18 gr. Celsius, sunny with a blue sky. The wind was blowing rather hard, 5-6 Bft in the morning, 4-5 Bft in the afternoon, but from south-southeastern directions, which is a little of-land. We planned to stay close to the coastline and with this wind direction, you are sheltered by the dunes and there is not much surf to be expected.

The tracklog gives a somewhat surrealistic picture: we paddled around a peninsula which is is so new it isn't visible yet on Google Earth. The track gives a nice indication of the current shape of the Sand Motor. The yellow marker indicates the position of the northern cardinal buoy.

The Sand Motor gives a new experience to paddling along the coastline. An interruption of the straight line. Normally there would be hardly any surf here with a southern wind - but thanks to the new sand banks (partly underwater) we enjoyed some good surfable waves along the southern side of the Sand Motor. The sea currents also changed. The current increases most at the exposed northern tip of the Sand Motor. Still don't expect spectacular tide races over here (therefore the currents along this stretch of Dutch coastline are to moderate), but in combination with the wind (especially when it comes from the West or the North) and the shallow sea, the current can create interesting conditions - see the aerial photo below - taken during a recent storm. With any NW-wind above 4 bft. be careful over here - it's an exposed site!

About the idea behind the sandmotor:

Note: the construction works for the Sand Motor are (almost) finished. The site itself (situation early November 2011) however is still closed. Access to the Sand Motor peninsula from land and from sea is until further notice strongly prohibited. Security guards monitor the site all day and send every "intruder" back. Swimming is forbidden, but kayaking (and kite surfing) is not swimming - is allowed. So at this moment: you can paddle along the Sand Motor but you are not allowed to land on the Sand Motor.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am happy when paddle in 1 hour from Woerden to Oudewater. That's 8 km+. Paul Wycherley paddled in 2 and a half hours from Britain to France. That's incredible!

Video and article on BBC Sports.
The English Channel was exceptionally calm on the record day - almost as flat as the channel from Woerden to Oudewater!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

KV Wyrda - 20 jaar!

Yesterday kayakclub Wyrda celebrated its 20th anniversary. Club members and their partners were invited for a program covering the full day. In the morning it started with a guided sight seeing tour in Oudewater. After the lunch we paddled from Oudewater to Woerden with a "apple pie break" at a farm halfway. We finished with a great BBQ at the boathouse.
Thanks to the party committee - Natasha, Paul, Wolter and their helpers for the perfect organisation of this festive day!

Friday, October 07, 2011

An unequal couple on the Lek

Today I toured on the river Lek with René. René paddled the Epic 18X Sport kayak with a Epic Mid Wing paddle. I paddled the Tahe Greenland kayak with a Superior carbon fibre Greenland stick. Seakayak equipment can hardly be more different. It was an unfair "battle" ;-): no way for me to keep up with Rene when he paddled full swing. While I paddled at a decent pace, René was dipping the wing relaxed in the water… Changing the paddles levelled the difference: Greenland kayak with Wing paddle and Epic kayak with Stick were a close match.

I enjoyed a perfect day on the water in good company. The weather was amazing, it changed every 5 minutes: sunny, clowdy, showers. Constant were amazing skies and a strong NW wind (6 Bft.).

Paddled distance 29 km, av. speed 7,2 kmh.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

"Sla om-training" - Capsize drills

Picture of the BCU Canoe and Kayak Handbook, Pesda Press- Wales, 3rd edition.
-> Excellent learning guide - a must have for every paddler!

Earlier this evening I hosted a kayak training on capsize drills for KV Wyrda. It was on special request of several members of the club after an incident on a club paddle a week before. At that club paddle one of the paddlers capsized (on the calm flat water around Woerden). The incident wouldn't have been so impressive for him (and for the rest of the group) if he wouldn't have got stuck in the cockpit: he capsized and didn't manage to get out of the kayak. Fortunately it ended up all well, as he finally managed to swim, supported by the other paddlers of the group, half sitting in the capsized kayak, to the embankment of the channel. But this could have ended much worse if he would have been alone and or if the embankment wouldn't have been so close nearby.
Well, the group was seriously startled, suddenly confronted with the risks of the sport - even on the calm placid waters around Woerden. Lessons to learn: (1) don't paddle alone, (2) practice the wet-exit, (3) always wear a PFD.

Lesson 2 is what we exercised this evening: how to get out a capsized kayak: key elements to make this more easy are:
- stay calm, don't panic (easier said than done ;-)
- stay in the boat until the kayak is completely capsized;
- feed the boat of your legs (like taking off a pair of trousers).
The training was a confidence booster and good fun for all.

Regarding the first lesson I admit that I am the bad example in our club. Sorry: I do paddle solo regularly. I shouldn't? A calculated risk? Now about self rescues?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

DVD Greenland Rolling with Dubside and Maligiaq - Part 2

Freya Hoffmeister introduced me in the world of Greenland Style kayak-rolling on Spiekeroog in May 2006. After Freya's introduction I learned the several variations of the layback and forward ending Greenland Competition rolls from Dubside's DVD "Greenland Rolling with Dubside - Volume 1". It's a simple and straightforward DVD, but Dubside's instructions and hints are brilliant. With this excellent "virtual"coach it didn't take long before I mastered most of the rolls of the DVD. I was looking forward for the next step - and waiting for Volume 2 of the DVD that promised to cover the more advanced rolls. Alas: Volume 2 of Dubside's DVD never appeared ;-).

But now there is something even better: the University of Sea Kayaking (USK) of Wayne Horodowich recently released 2 new rolling DVD's: Greenland Rolling with Dubside and Maligiaq - Part 1&2. Together these DVD's cover all 35 rolls of the Greenland championships. I received a copy of part 2 last week. The USK DVD offers the same excellent instructions by Dubside's, in a more professional package with higher quality film-work. Highly recommended!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

De Biesbosch - in transition...

The National Park De Biesbosch is one of the largest remaining freshwater tide areas in NW-Europe. It consists of a network of rivers and smaller and larger creeks with islands (with 3 large fresh water basins in the middle). The Biesbosch is an attractive place to paddle on a short distance from home (half an hour by car), but it has been more than a year ago I paddled there for the last time. Today I had an appointment with Govert for a paddle-tour in the Biesbosch.

It was quite a different experience compared to last time. Our last visit was in winter. Most of the creeks were covered with a layer of ice, it was quiet, the Biesbosch was deserted - we did only meet a fox, a few deer and a lot of birds. Today was a warm summer-day, at the end of the holidays and the Biesbosch was over-crowded with loud people in motorboats. A lot of people, few wildlife. We passed by a real traffic jam when one of the large cruise-boats was manoeuvring through the creeks. Surprisingly we did hardly meet any other paddlers. That's quit strange with such fantastic weather. But so we still had the smaller creeks all for ourselves ;-)

In transition: not only the season changed - the National Park itself changes too: as part of the national sustainable flood risk management strategy and in order to restore the natural situation, agricultural areas are transformed into wetlands and added to the estuary. This summer the former "polder" De Zuiderklip was flooded (the satellite picture of Google Maps dates from before the inundation). It was amazing to see today how fast wildlife returns, obviously the waterfowls (white herons!) feel already very comfortable in the Zuiderklip (no acces to the Zuiderklip, but a good overview from a bird-watch station). An upcoming change is that(2012) most creeks in the centre zone of the Biesbosch will be closed for motorboats. A measure that definitely will change the experience of a summer-visit of the Biesbosch!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Marsdiep

View on the skyline of Den Helder over the Marsdiep, seen from the SW-tip of Texel. Den Helder looks close, but the distance is almost 2 nautical miles.

The Marsdiep is the gap between Den Helder (on the mainland of Holland) and Texel (the largest Dutch Wadden Island). The Marsdiep connects the Northsea with the Waddensea. Four times a day the water squeezes itself through the narrow gap.
The exposed location in combination with the strong tidal currents, the busy shipping lanes, the complex setting of buoys and the nearby sandbanks make the Marsdiep the favourite location for the leadership assessment of NKB-Zeevaardigheid Extra (= the Dutch equivalent of the BCU 4 Star Leader Sea Award). Yesterday 2 seakayakers passed the test. Congratulations!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tiderace Xcite Classic - an impression

The Xcite is designed as a fast yet manoeuvrable coastal touring kayak. According to its designers the kayak is "at home playing in rough water, equally comfortable carving turns through rock gardens, the Xcite has ample storage for week long trips. Its high stability and quick turning response make this boat a joy for those paddlers looking to improve their skills and take on advanced conditions".

During the paddling week in Spain with Lieke, I paddled a (black and white) Tiderace Xcite Classic, one of the Test-kayaks of SK Kayaks in Llanca. A week is too short for a full review, but I spent enough hours paddling the kayak for a good impression.

Fitting the kayak on the beach, I was impressed by the volume of the Xcite, and a bit afraid it might be too voluminous for me (1,82 m, 73 kg) - as I was planning to do in Spain mainly day-trips with the kayak. Once on the water the high volume was immediately forgotten: due to the ergonomics of the cockpit, the contact with the boat is excellent and the hull shape with a lot of rocker the Xcite is very responsive on body movements (edging, leaning) and paddle power. It accelerates quickly, it is reactive like a much smaller kayak, but it has the cruising speed of a 17 foot-kayak. The kayak is easy to roll: the low back deck makes lay-back rolling easy, the high knee position facilitates forward-rolling. The large cockpit is a delight on rocky shores: it's very comfortable (and safe) to be able to get your legs out of the cockpit before landing! At the rougher moments (winds up to 5 Bft.)on our trip, the boat tracked well in wind, wave and chop.

From the first moment I found it a pleasure to paddle the Xcite. After a week I started to appreciate it even more: it's not only a playful boat that gives confidence in the rough stuff, but also a comfortable tourer with enough load capacity and a appropriate cruising speed for long camping trips. It does what the designer promises!

About the built quality: the finish is excellent. The test-kayak was a "Classic" - (=Tideraces standard), featuring a high tech lay-up with reinforcements and coremat constructions to increase stiffness on the critical spots. This results in a very stiff (and probably strong, but that's difficult to examine for a simple tester) yet light kayak.

Tiderace wasn't represented in the Netherlands for a long time, just recently the Kanoshop started a dealership. Congrats to Wendy and her team ;-)

SKUK (NDK) Pilgrim - an impression

The Pilgrim is designed by SKUK (Nigel Dennis kayaks) with the smaller or slimmer paddler in mind. Viewed from a distance the kayak looks like a shrunken Romany or Explorer. It shares much of the characteristics of these larger brothers in the SKUK kayak-range. The hull shape, the shape of the deck, the lay-out of the decklines, the key-hole cockpit, the sloping bulkhead, the position of the skeg-control – it’s all familiar, just quite a lot smaller: the Pilgrim 480 cm long, 50 cm wide and has a total volume of 250 l (especially this last figure is very low, compared to a standard seakayak).

Lieke is a slender teenage-girl (ca. 1.70 m long, weight below 50 kg). She is rather sporty, has a good endurance, but she is not very strong and she hasn’t got a lot of seakayak-experience either. She paddles occasionally with her father, but not very often: kids need time for their own hobbies, sports, friends (and school ;-).

To be short: Lieke managed exceptionally well to control the Pilgrim. She could easily turn the kayak around in a few paddle strokes. She also had no problem to hold it on a course, even without deploying the skeg. Mostly we paddled in calm conditions, but occasionally the wind increased and we paddled in winds up to 5 Bft, in waves of 2-3 feet high and even met some clapotis on the headlands of the rocky Costa Brava shoreline. In all conditions Lieke was comfortable in the kayak. The more lively the water got, the more fun she had with it. For one part this will be due to the “unlimited confidence” of a daughter in her father, but I think for the bigger part this is a compliment for the designers of the Pilgrim. Lieke was paddling with the kayak, not the kayak with her. The team of Nigel Dennis has done a successful job in creating an expedition-ready kayak for the smaller paddler!

About the speed of the kayak: Lieke herself was sometimes a bit disappointed that she couldn’t paddle as fast as her father did. But that’s not a fair comparison: I am (older), larger, stronger, more experienced and trained in paddling - and I was paddling a kayak with defintely a longer waterline. Lieke paddled a decent pace and covered (untrained) easily distances up to 20 km a day. I think this says enough about the glide of the kayak.

The yellow Pilgrim test-kayak is a standard SKUK dioleen copy. This stands for a straightforward layout, solid and rugged. It was no problem to carry the Pilgrim on the shoulder – compared to my own kayaks this is a light kayak. Of course that will be more due to its size than because of the layup. All the hatches stayed bone-dry and the skeg functioned flawless.

In the Netherlands SKUK kayaks are distributed by (Axel and Nico).

A brief impression of 2 British-style seakayaks

Lieke and I were “travelling light” on our recent kayak-holiday in Catalonia. We didn’t bring along our own gear, but we rented kayaks and equipment at the local seakayak-centre. Pau and Marc from SK Kayak in Llanca provided us with excellent gear. We paddled 2 kayaks of the demo-fleet: a SKUK Pilgrim for Lieke (the yellow kayak on the picture) and a Tiderace Xcite Classic for me.
Paddling along the Costa Brava was a nice opportunity to get familiar with the characteristics of the both kayaks. The next 2 posts are dedicated to the kayaks we’ve paddled – please don’t call it a test, it’s just a brief personal impression.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Father-daughter holiday: seakayaking around the peninsula of Cap de Creus - LLanca, Catalunya

Originally I planned to go paddling in Scandinavia with Lieke, my 15-year old daughter. But the weather-situation two weeks ago, changed the plan: the Mediterranean Sun looked more appealing for a relaxed holiday than the unsettled weather in Northern Europe. In the last minute we booked a flight to Barcelona, rented a car and went paddling in the North Costa Brava. We camped at the campsite of Port de la Vall. Kayaks and paddling-gear were kindly provided by Pau and Marc from SK Kayaks. We enjoyed the overwhelming hospitality of our friends of Club Pagaia, the warm weather, the crystal clear water and the stunning coast of Alt- and Baix Emporda. The last 3 days of our holiday we visited the amazing Catalonian cities Girona and Barcelona. Father and daughter had a great holiday!

SK Kayaks is recently appointed as an SKUK (NDK) Expedition centre and can offer seakayak hire and guiding, instructional courses, expedition support and transport. Please contact for further details.

The most recent issue of Ocean Paddler Magazine (nr. 26) covers an informative article with great pictures about seakayaking in the Cap de Crues region: "The Kingdom of Tramuntana".

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

OmmenTV - Video of Helen Wilson's rolling clinic in Holland

You can't have it all;-( I missed a unique event this weekend. Freek, Andre and Kanocentrum Arjan Bloem organised the Greenland rolling clinic with Helen Wilson. Here is a video from the local news. Axel Schoevers published an impression with nice pictures on the Travels with Paddles-weblog.

Midsummernight - the Wyrda club paddle.

Jaap and Edwin did a performance this evening: synchro paddling.

(test: first Blogger post with mobile phone)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Triathlon Woerden

On Whit Monday the local triathlon takes place in the city centre of Woerden. Again it was a festive event. Kayakers from kv Wyrda escorted the athletes in the water-segment. Janine took part in the Sprint (1/8)-distance. I missed the party because I was paddling around the Aardappelenbult. You can't have it all ;-).

Monday, June 13, 2011

My return to the sea: rondje Aardappelenbult

Home- and work-situation leave little room for kayaking at sea lately. I still do paddle regularly, but mostly on the placid inland waters around Woerden. So I gladly took the opportunity for a paddle with Govert in the Voordelta on Whit Monday. Circumnavigating the Aardappelenbult (a large sandbank a.k.a. "de Bollen van de Ooster") with 5-6 Bft SW brought the salt-water feeling back.

We rounded the Aardappelenbult clockwise. The time schedule was more driven by comfort (returning in time for dinner) than by taking best benefit of the tides: we paddled 2 thirds of the route against the current and wind - a nice workout :-).

Since 2008 the Aardappelenbult is a closed zone. Navigation around the Aardappelenbult has become simple with dozens of marker buoys around the resting zone. It's only a bit difficult on the water to identify where exactly the part of the resting zone begins where kayakers and windsurfers are (by exception) allowed (= the Northern tip of the resting zone, shadowed on the map). Strangely this zone is not marked by any special signs - find your position by taking a bearing on the lighthouse.

28 km, 5/6 Bft SW, HW Vlissingen 12.30 uur.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Getting seakayakers into the white water play-ground - NKB Kajakfestival 2011

The participants were enthusiast about the Greenland-style rolling clinic yesterday at the Kajakfestival. The organizers also: we had a great afternoon working with motivated people. We expected to get more people taking part. But due to the limited number of participants in the clinic, all got a lot of personal coaching and attention, resulting in successful balance braces, paddle-rolls and hand-rolls. To speak with the famous Dutch fb-coach: "every drawback has its benefits".

It's a challenge to attract non-white water paddlers to the site of DWD in Zoetermeer. It might be because of the reputation of the site and that sea kayakers don't feel in their element at a "hard-core white water track". It's a pity: the sport wins by crossing borders. Just check the inspiring video of the SeasonTV to see what you can get when you combine white water athleticism with the seakayaking ability to cover long distances. Seakayaking is more than just getting from point A to point B ;-)

The Season Episode 8 from Fitz Cahall and Bryan Smith on Vimeo.

Well, the side events of the Kajakfestival were presented in a more moderate way: on the flat water sections of the WW-site. The lay out of the white water track in Zoetermeer is indeed not really suited for seakayaks. Only the final wave in the outflow basin of the track looks like a place where you can have fun with a seakayak. Just take a white water boat to run down this track. Good to work on your edging skills anyhow!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seal hunting - the Dutch approach...

In the Netherlands seals are not hunted but rescued. Seals have names in the Netherlands. This is Tomke. Tomke got lost in the canals of the Province Zuid-Holland. A watchful lock-keeper closed the doors of the lock as Tomke swam by. A team of the local fire department with the people of the EHBZ (= Eerste Hulp bij Zeehonden - First Aid for Seals -SSRC) took the seal out of the water. Tomke is now recovering in Pieterburen at the Seal Rehabilitation and Research Centre Lenie 't Hart.

More pictures and video's of the rescue operation in the lock of Leidschendam on regio.15tv.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Rolling and Rescue Clinics at the NKB Kajakfestival, 21-22 May.

From the 20 to 22 May the third edition of the NKB Kajakfestival takes place on and around the white water track of Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer, Netherlands. International guests are very welcome of course, but I suppose the 2 seakayak-related clinics at the festival will be particularly interesting for Dutch and Belgian public. That's the reason that (by exception) I've simply copy-pasted an original Dutch text with the announcement of the clinics...


Wil je kennis maken met traditionele Inuit-kajaktechnieken? De NKB commissie zeekajakvaren organiseert een demo-wedstrijd en een clinic Greenland-style eskimoteren tijdens het Kajakfestival. De wedstrijd-deelnemers proberen eerst in korte tijd zoveel mogelijk verschillende eskimoteer-technieken te demonstreren. Daarna kun je tijdens de clinic zelf onder 1 op 1 begeleiding van een ervaren instructeur (leren) te eskimoteren in een Groenland-kajak met een Groenland-peddel. De les duurt een half uur. Beginners kunnen aan het eind van de les vaak al de eerste rollen zelfstandig uitvoeren. Gevorderden kunnen hun techniek verbeteren en/of er nieuwe rollen (met of zonder peddel) bij leren. Hans Heupink, André van Eck en Freek Knol zullen dit onderdeel voor hun rekening nemen op zaterdag 21 mei (tussen 12.00 en 15.00 uur).

Wil je alles weten over de actuele kajakreddingsmethoden op zee? Op zondag 22 mei (van 14.00 tot 16.30 uur) biedt Axel Schoevers speciaal voor actieve zeekajakvaarders de clinic zeekajak-reddingstechnieken aan. In deze clinic komen ook varianten op, respectievelijk alternatieven voor, de bekende technieken als de X-redding en de puntjesredding aan bod. Tijdens een les van 1 uur kun je onder begeleiding van een ervaren instructeur - de voor- en nadelen van de verschillende technieken ervaren. Voor kajaks- en peddels wordt gezorgd, je hoeft alleen kajakkleding mee te nemen. Reken op een nat pak!

Meer informatie over uitrusting, kosten (voor beide clinics 10,- euro p.p.) en aanmelding staat op de website van het kajakfestival onder het tabblad “clinics”. Wees er snel bij: vol is vol!

En verder: tijdens het Kajak Festival vinden er vier Nederlands Kampioenschappen plaats. Kajakkers treden aan om deel te nemen aan het NK Afvaart, NK Slalom, NK Freestyle en het NK Boater-X. Vier spectaculaire en mooie disciplines in de wildwater kajak sport. Ook is er een Kanopolo toernooi.

Mensen die nog nooit in een kajak of kano hebben gezeten, kunnen tijdens het Festival kennis komen maken met de sport. Diverse specialisten staan voor u klaar. Er zijn dit weekend veel kanobedrijven, -verenigingen, -liefhebbers, -demonstraties op het terrein van de Wildwaterbaan en de kanovijver bij Dutch Water Dreams.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The Royal Weekend - The Anglesey Weekend

With the "Wedding of the century" on Friday and "Koninginnedag" on Saturday it was hard to avoid the royals this weekend. I missed the live coverage of Kate and Williams' wedding because I was biking. But in the days before even the Dutch papers were loaded with articles about the Wedding. Amazingly there was quit a lot of attention to the Isle of Anglesey as the residence of Kate and William.
Meanwhile the seakayaking community gathered at Anglesey for the Sea Kayak Symposium organized this weekend by Nigel Dennis, Seakayaking UK. Anglesey was probably the best place in Britain to avoid the bustle of the Wedding this weekend.
Anyway: according to the article in the Volkskrant you have the best chance to meet William at Anglesey in a rescue operation: Prince William is based at RAF Valley as a Sea King search and rescue pilot. Well: he won't fly rescue operations this weekend.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Greenland Rolling demo at the Costa Brava

Lars made this nice video of the rolling demo at the Pagaia Symposium in Llanca, 2 weeks ago. The demo was a very international happening: Speaker was Doug van Doren from the States, the rollers were Lars and Bernhard from Germany, Marc from Catalonia, Manolo from Galicia and Hans from the Netherlands.
It was fun to do. I had some slight reserves about doing a demo for public with a borrowed kayak (I had tried the kayak I was rolling in only in the 5 minutes direct before the demo started...). But the kayak worked fine - "don't blame your kayak" - I could only blame myself that in the hurry I had forgotten to put on my PFD. I wasn't dressed in a tuiliq but in a drysuit, and for the more tricky hand-rolls I find the extra flotation of a tuiliq or PFD welcome.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A visit to Bruxelles

There is no paddling planned this weekend. The Easter weekend is reserved for a city visit with partner and kids. But we did discover a kayak in the centre of Bruxelles: in the Army Museum, a double kayak of the Belgian Special Forces unit. The black wetsuits are cute.

Monday, April 18, 2011

First pictures of the IV Pagaia Symposium in Llanca

It's so decadent: today I returned from a weekend in Spain, where I attended the Pagaia Seakayak Symposium. It was great fun to paddle along the Catalonian coast, to meet the Mediterranean paddlers and to give workshops with an international team of Sea Kayak Instructors. I enjoyed the company of my good friend Bernhard. Most of all it's the relaxed and friendly atmosphere that makes this event so unique. The people of Club Pagaia did a marvellous job in organising the symposium. Big compliments to Jose, Dominique, Francesc, Pau, Anna, Marc, Lorea, Stephan and all the people of the organizing committee!
I'll report more detailed later this week: first an impression with some pictures (I only made a few pictures, most with the mobile phone - I had left my camera home to stay within the weight-limit for the flight back..).

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Pagaia Symposium

In 11 days I catch a flight to Spain for the IV edition of the Catalonian Sea kayak Symposium. The program of the workshops and course is now published on the website of the symposium. Kayakclub Pagaia has invited an international team of coaches. I am scheduled to give workshops on Incident management, Assisted- and self-rescues and Greenland style rolling. I am looking forward for a fantastic weekend!

The official invitation of Club Pagia:

Hello kayakers!

Our Club Pagaia is a small non-profit organisation, funded and formed by enthusiastic and dynamic people, always willing to do more for the sea kayak world at a national level. This very same will and illusion has taken us to organise this IV Edition of the Seak Kayak Symposium.

We are contacting you as this spring, the IV Edition of the Seak Kayak Symposium will kick off in Llançà (Costa Brava) from the 16th until the 18th of April 2011- The objective is to extend and improve our knowledge on technique, theory and practice of navigation, reinforce the values that kayaking gives us and to connect with nature while discovering our beautiful surroundings. In this occasion, we can confirm the attendance and participation of the following international paddlers: Nigel Foster, Nigel Dennis, Phil Clegg, Manuel Pastoriza, C&F Claeys, Bernhard Hillejan, Jean Marc Terrade, Eduardo Rodriguez, Pau Calero and many more participants.

As you know, we share this same passion and you actively work in the kayaking world. We would like to request your assistance spreading the word and sharing our project with others. We think that a good way of making this happen is inserting a Symposium logo-link on your home page or wherever you see relevant. In exchange, we would add your logo/link in the Symposium’s website, in the friends’ links section.

You will find further information by click on the below link. This section is updated on a daily basis:

With your help on this, our invitation will travel farther and reach other kayakers. With your participation, you are increasing our success, ensuring the project will continue to grow.

We hope you welcome our initiative with as much passion and enthusiasm as we are preparing this event. We would really appreciate your collaboration on making this event bigger and the love for kayaking stronger.

Please do not hesitate to contact us anytime and direct suggestions or comments to

Kind regards and força a la pagaia!

Symposium Comitee

IV Symposium Internacional Sea Kayak

Pagaia - Club de Caiac Cap de Creus

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speed rolling - old school video

Yesterday I competed (just for fun ;-) in the "Open Alphense Eskimoteer Kampioenschappen". Winner is who does most rolls in 60 seconds. Any rolling technique is allowed. The use of a paddle is compulsory (no hand-rolls allowed). I finished at a (shared) third place with 18 rolls, Govert tricked me out with 1 extra roll, Aschwin was the overall-winner with 21 rolls - congratulations, a very good result!

Tricky in the "Open Alphense Eskimoteer-kampioenschappen" (and different from the contest in the video) is that the kayak is not secured by ropes. Which means that, after some rolls, you inevitably start moving around in the small swimming pool, and you get stuck the edges of the pool. Correcting strokes, repositioning strokes cost time and concentration at the expense of some rolls. When the kayak is held in position you can fully concentrate on the rolling, no correction strokes, and you can squeeze out some extra rolls.

Tips for speed rolling are: put in more brace than sweep, don't bother about a smooth technique: don't finish the rolls by full recovery to the back- (or front-)deck. But in the 60 seconds contest it's not only about technique and power. Condition also comes into play, the lack of oxygen - timing and a good breathing technique helps.
Enough aspects to train on for a better result next year!

The video is 25 years old - Dutch TV nostalgia with Jos Brink, Sonja Barend, Vanessa...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ocean Paddler - Digital or Paper?

Last weekend I received my paper copy of Ocean Paddler (OP) magazine. That was almost 2 weeks after Richard Parkin sent a message that delivery of issue 24 had started; overseas delivery takes a bit longer than UK-delivery.
To make waiting bearable (?) Richard included 2 weblinks in his mail for the digital versions of the magazine. The first is an "online/page turning" version which can be viewed in the web-browser. The second version is in PDF-format (for printing, off-line viewing or to be transferred to an E-reader). I first logged in to have a look at the "online/page turning" version on the PC. Technically it worked fine, but I didn't like the reading experience. I quickly browsed through the magazine and decided to wait for the paper copy to read issue nr. 24. A little later I experimented with the e-reader on my Smartphone and I transferred the PDF-file to the phone. Beforehand I didn't have any serious expectations about reading OP on the tiny 3.2" screen of the phone, so I was amazed: I read most articles of issue 24 on the phone (in the train commuting from work to home), before the paper version arrived!

Today I got a new message from Richard. My subscription to OP came to an end with issue nr. 24. To resubscribe I had the choice between 2 offers: a fully Digital subscription or a paper/hard copy subscription. I decided to go for "fully digital" and to invest the money I saved in an e-reader. No longer "dead trees" for my OP!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A new boathouse for KV Wyrda

After 24 years the local kayakclub Wyrda had to leave the site in the center of the city Woerden. Wyrda was almost homeless, but found (just in the last minute) a temporary solution. The club now rents an old shed along one of the exit roads. It's not 100% perfect (it's pricey, not all the boats fit in, it's quit a walk to the water) but for the time being it's a good solution. The club now has at least some time to search for a permanent location.
Moving over went very fast - thanks to a lot of helping hands!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sea kayak rescue - different methods of getting back into the kayak

Scoop rescue - optimized: swimmer facing the stern of his kayak, embracing the kayak with both arms.

Last week I gave a rescue-workshop with a focus on the different methods to get a swimmer back into his seakayak. The standard method which is usually practised in the teaching-programs of the NKB is the "conventional X-rescue with lie back re-entry between the kayaks". It's important to have a standard, but there are different (proven) methods to help someone back into his kayak. It's good for an advanced sea kayaker to get familiar with a wide range of methods: the more methods you're familiar with, the better you can adapt the rescue-method to the circumstances.

To prepare the participants for the workshop I searched the web for video's and/or illustrated articles of different re-entry methods. This proved not to be an easy search. There is an enormous number of (good) video's and articles on sea kayak rescues on the web, but I couldn't find a single resource that offers a systematic overview. (Tip for the members of the Dutch NKB: the article on Sea kayak rescues in Mededelingen 2008/2, by Axel Schoevers. Axel's article gives a good overview but is not illustrated and only available printed).

The result of my web-research for assisted rescues (excluding the eskimo-rescues - that's for another workshop ;-):

I - Kayaks parallel:
a. Swimmer between the kayaks
Conventional X-rescue with lie back re-entry (= the method practised in NKB courses)

b. Swimmer alongside of the kayaks (side entry)
Traditional side entry (pulling up chest and stomach on the kayak first, legs later)
Variation climbing over rescuer's kayak (entry from the side of the rescuers kayak instead of from the side of the swimmers kayak - offers a more stable platform)
Heel hook rescue (leg in first, to make use of the stronger leg and core muscles) - instructive animation on safety basics - assisted re-entry).

c. Scoop rescues
Conventional (swimmer facing towards bow of the kayak)
Optimized (swimmer facing the stern of the kayak, embracing the back deck)

II. Kayaks perpendicular:

Ladder rescue

III. Panic rescues
Methods for righting a passive paddler in a capsized kayak:
Hand of god rescue
Bow roll rescue

My little summery is not comprehensive. It's what I stumbled across in my Google-search. I couldn't find video's for all the rescues (and I was not convinced by every video I found..). Suggestions for additions are welcome!
It would be an interesting project to make a series of rescue video's dedicated for the Dutch sea kayak community (but time...). Then we could take into account some typical Dutch habits. Like the fact that Dutch seakayakers rarely use a paddle leash. "What to do with the paddles" is often an issue with rescues trainings in the Netherlands. (The solution is simple: store the paddles under your arms, use them across the kayaks to stabilize the raft, etc.. ;-)

Update 9-2-2011:
- replaced the Youtube-video's of the Heel-hook, Ladder and Hand of God-rescue by weblinks to new (better) videos (from

Monday, January 31, 2011

Kajakfestival - the 3rd edition

From Friday the 20th till Sunday the 22th of May the Dutch kayak Association NKB organizes the third edition of the Kajakfestival. Just like the previous editions the festival takes place at the site of the Dutch Water Dreams: the artificial white water track in Zoetermeer (NL). During the festival the Dutch (open) Championships Slalom, Freestyle, Downriver racing and BoaterX are held. Alongside to the competitions the festival offers a lot of activities for recreational paddlers of all disciplines. Not only for the white water fraction: Tourers, kayak-polo-players, open canoeists, racers, sea-paddlers and all other kayak- and canoe-enthusiasts are also very welcome!
Last week I had an inspiring meeting with the organization-team of the Kajakfestival. The sea-kayak committee is working on some clinics for the festival. We can't offer salt water in Zoetermeer - but there are some attractive ideas about rolling clinics and rescue workshops. It's still "work in progress", check out regularly - that's the place where (within some weeks) the information about programs, subscription, costs etc. is to be published.

Impression of the first edition: click here.
Video trailer of 2008, the teaser for 2011.

Do you want to help with organizing the sea-kayak-activities: contact me!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The next ice age

For a while it seemed as if winter was over, but low temperatures are back in Woerden. This morning Jaap and I got stuck in the ice. Paddling opportunities around Woerden are limited again: only the canals in the direction of Oudewater (= Jaap Bijzer Wetering, Lange Linschoten) are still icefree, the passage to the Oude Rijn is already blocked by a solid stretch of ice. One more cold night and it's completely over with paddling around Woerden.

The interglacial period lasted about 2 weeks. I managed to paddle about 70 kms in this time. The "kayak-feeling" just started to return. Fortunately the next ice age is said to be a short one. Anyway: next week I won't be paddling with the friends of kayakclub KV Wyrda - speed skating on the ice rink and mountain-biking in the park isn't too bad either ;-)

Monday, January 24, 2011

The snow on the ice killed the fish...

Back in the kayak on the ditches and canals around Woerden, after a break of 8 weeks due to the ice, I was surprised by the number of dead fish floating on the surface of the water.

Obviously this year's long (and early) ice-period has had big impact on the underwater-life.
Usually a layer of ice is no problem for the fish. In the cold water under the ice there is often even more oxygen dissolved than in warm conditions, and fish need less oxygen at a low body temperature. But it's a different story with snow on the ice. The layer of snow on the ice blocks the light. Without sunlight algae and underwater-plants can't produce oxygen, which slowly reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water. After a long period of frost and snow-covered ice fish kills occur due to oxygen depletion/hypoxia.

The dead fish are mostly large Carp or Bream - it's a sad sight, but in fact, from an ecological point of view, the selective fish kill (mainly the weak and large ones) isn't too bad: it creates more room for the authentic species.

btw: The fish kill in Woerden is not as dramatic as in the video-clip with the dead fish in Leeuwarden. I assume the waters shown in the video are more shallow than the ditches and canals over here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Label your gear!

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I am a sloppy guy. The last 2 pool-sessions in Alphen reminded me of this annoying characteristic again. I missed a sprayskirt at the end of the each session. After a little quest I could retrieve them - they got mixed up between the sprayskirts of the club. My fault: I should keep my gear better together. No drama, sometimes I just get a bit tired of myself. This weekend (just before the next pool session) I finally labelled the sprayskirts with my name - in order to make at least the puzzle afterwards(which one is mine? They are all black...) less complicated. Of course I should have done this much earlier, so simple and it makes live a lot easier, but when you're sloppy like me: you often neglect these kind of simple things!

Besides sloppiness, there are more profound (Safety) reasons to label your kayak gear. It can avoid search and rescue efforts when there isn't actually a person missing. Contact information can also help rescue teams to narrow the search area in the case of an incident. Sherri Mertz published an interesting article about the recent "Label your gear" campaign of the US Coastguard. Click here for Sherri's article.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Floodwater paddling

Video by de Stentor-TV: Encouraged by a large audience a group kayakers attempts to cross a flooded road in the city of Deventer.

For some people the high water in the Dutch delta is annoying, but overall the high water isn’t causing big problems this year. Today's main news about the floodwater along the river de IJssel is that it was the number one touristic attraction of the weekend. Thousands came to Deventer to watch the high water. Local paddlers discovered new (temporarily) playspots.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011


In a kayak with an ocean-cockpit some flexibility is welcome to adjust the footrests...

The 2004 Valley Pintail Seakayak is outfitted with the aluminium Yakima Footrests: solid and durable, but inconvenient to adjust. More recent footrest systems are often more user-friendly.

Today we could finally paddle again on the waterways around Woerden. The "ice-break" lasted 8 weeks this year - a record! We (= Jaap, Alex, Hans) paddled 24 km with a strong Westerly wind on the Grecht (together with Jaap and Alex): a good start to pick up paddling again!

Friday, January 07, 2011

The indispensable eye of the lighthouse keeper...

In the last week of 2010 the Dutch Secretary of Infrastructure mr. Atsma presented a X-mas-surprise for the seagoing community: the decision that the lighthouses of Terschelling, Schiermonnikoog stay "manned" in the new year.
This sounds like a drastic change of policy. In recent years the consequent policy of the Dutch Infrastructure Department has always been a hard line of "economization and modernization" (read the posts on Kajakwoerden about Ouddorp 2007, Terschelling 2008). In that policy lighthouses are unmanned. Camera's, radar-devices, computers and a single (on land) Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre take over the tasks of the lighthouse keeper. The Government had already announced that the last keeper would leave the lighthouse on 1 January, 2011 (= last week).

So in the last minute the Dutch government has changed the plans. Well, not completely: the modernization goes on, the Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre will take over a lot of the tasks of the lighthouse keepers, but these 3 last lighthouses will at least stay manned during daylight. The argument of the Secretary of Infrastructure is that the human eye is indispensable. Quote from the video: "the human eye (NL: "het menselijk oog") sees it when a swimmer has a problem, when a boat strands on a sand, when a surfer threatens to get into trouble. The human eye has a wider perspective than a camera panning form left to right'. Wise words and you can add that there is no replacement for the local knowledge of our Lighthouse keepers!
The new decision of mr. Atsma was probably also (and perhaps more) motivated by the fact that the Central Marine Traffic Coordination Centre in the Wadden-region simply is not ready yet...
But let's not grumble to much: for the time being, for the recreational traffic including the seakayaker, this is good news!

On the other side of the Northsea, the British experience the same threats. The UK-Government recently presented "proposals for a modernised, fully-networked national Coastguard that can more flexibly manage the greatly varying demands of its workload. These proposals will enable Coastguard Officers to better use their skills and training with a salary that reflects this. We also want to change and improve the leadership, management and support we give our volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers, and make better use of their local knowledge and training." Nice words, you can't be against such good intentions? But behind these lines hide similar plans to drastically reduce the number of coastguard stations, leaving only a few central stations left for covering huge areas. In several (Scottish) regions campaigns have been launched to try to persuade the UK Government to scrap these plans. Read more about the Scottish situation on the blog of Simon Willis.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The seakayak edition of the "Tocht der Tochten"

Today it's exactly 14 years ago since the last edition of the "Tocht der Tochten: de Elfstedentocht" took place. Winners in 1997 were Henk Angenent (in the male category) and Klasina Sienstra(women).
The Elfstedentocht is an epic speed skating competition and leisure skating tour, almost 200 km in length on frozen canals, rivers and lakes between 11 historic Frisian cities. It's held irregularly, in the 100 years of its existence 15 times, because not every Dutch winter permits skating on natural ice. Every year, as soon as a few frosty days pass, the media start speculating about the chances for an Elfstedentocht. With a predicted temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (plus) for the next few days the Elfstedenkoorts (eleven-city tour fever) is now over for a while...

A bit less well known, but no less epic, is the seakayak edition of the Elfstedentocht. This is a non-stop tour with seakayaks along the route of the classic Elfstedentocht. The seakayak event is not presented as a competition, there is only a time limit of 36 hours to finish. But last year some participants tried to push the limits and paddled the 200 km within 24 hours. That sounds like racing...
Big advantage of the seakayak-edition is that it's organized every year. In 2011, for the 9th time, it's held on the first weekend of September.

More information on the Elfstedentocht Non-Stop per zeekajak on the website of KV Onder de Wadden (still 2010 info, is yet to be updated).
Elfstedentocht Non-Stop per zeekajak is also on Facebook

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Years Surf with Vloed Kanosport

This was a very promising start of the new year! This afternoon I joined the New Years' party of Vloed Kanosport and enjoyed a refreshing dip in the North sea. Blue sky, sun shining and good surf, the conditions were fantastic. It was my first time in the kayak after a break of several weeks (forced by snow and ice) and it felt so good to be out on the water again!

I paddled the Tahe Greenland kayak in combination with a Greenland stick. Piet and I were the only seakayakers, the other paddlers used short playboats. I found the surf quit challenging for the seakayak, and was careful not to spear a playboater with the sharp bow of my Tahe ;-)
Anyway, I admit that I am more careful with a seakayak in surf since my little surf-accident last year: I don't want to loose another boat! Yet surfing was good fun. And I sure plan to do this more often to get more practice in handling the Greenland stick in surf. Bracing and rolling in surf is no issue with the stick, but I find that in situations were quick reaction, accelerating or turning is demanded, I am not yet as confident with the stick as with the euro-blade-paddle. (No wonder after 20+ years of practice with the Euro-blade and just one year with the stick..)