Sunday, July 16, 2006

Dreams come through!

In January we were told at the Watersportcongres about the plans for the wild water kayaking track of Dutch Water Dreams in Zoetermeer. In February I visited the building site and posted some pictures on this blog. The builders have been working very fast: I just got an invitation for the festivities on the first inlet of water in the track next Tuesday! OK, no kayaking yet, the officials will bring out a toast and the Dutch Slalom Kayak Selection gives a presentation. But it won’t be long before we can kayak on this unique track. Where is my wildwater-kayak?

Paddler's Paradise

Original cover of the Single: Another Day in Paradise, Phil Collins
from the Album ...But Seriously, Virgin Records 1989

I do admit that “Maintenance” isn’t my strongest competence. My attention is -above all- attracted by new topics and I -to often- tend to neglect the older ones. In Blogger it’s the same: I prefer to write a new post and forget to update the template. So it took a long time before I did some highly necessary updates on the bloglist: Some URL’s didn’t work anymore and there are so many new interesting seakayak-blogs I want to share with you.

All the blogs in the new bloglist are written in English, with one exception: the blog of Eric and Pia. I don’t understand a word Swedish, but I like this perfect styled blog. Eric is a great photographer. It’s always a pleasure to look at his great kayak-pictures of the overwhelming Swedish coast. Note the camp sites! No problems with the authorities and camping-prohibitions in Sweden, but the Scandinavian allemansratten instead. Sweden must be paddler’s paradise!
Speaking about paradise: there must also be something special with Wisconsin-US: it’s striking how many enthusiastic kayakersbloggers are found in that region!

In the Dutch seakayak scene l know only one other weblogger blogging in English: Rene. Rene has built the website "de Zeekajaksite" with dozens of extensive reviews of seakayaks. Mostly in Dutch, but recently he published the test of the new Svestvika completely in English. Take a look at the test and enjoy the fantastic pictures of Rene paddling the Svestvika in surf ;-).

More changing URL’s: the website of the Dutch Kayak Association is restyled lately and with this operation many old URL’s disappeared. The site of the Seakayak Committee (with the program of tours and courses) now can be found at . It’s a temporary arrangement in the transition to a future integration in the new NKB-style.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Camping on Simonszand forbidden

Simonszand is a sandbank between Schiermonnikoog and Rottummerplaat, one of the most beautiful spots in the Waddenzee. It’s a popular destination for seakayakers in this region. The western part of Simonszand is a bird and seal reservate and therefore a closed area. When there are no seals or birds resting, the eastern part of the sandbank is accessible.

Recently the Commissie Zeekajakvaren of the NKB reported some news about camping on Simonszand. This message is communicated in the Dutch seakayaking-scene. Because it’s also relevant for foreign visitors of the region (and this blog is regularly frequented by e.g. German kayakers) I translate the Dutch message in English.

In early June some kayakclubs and kayakschools were surprised by a phone-call of the “Waterpolitie”. The Police told them that camping on Simonszand isn’t allowed. This was reason for the Commissie Zeekajakvaren to contact the Police. The reason why the police actively seeked contact with the Kayak-scene was the increasing number of reports of camping groups of kayakers on Simonszand. Some years ago only some individual kayakers were reported, but now the groups are getting more numerous and larger. The Waterpolice announced that they will give a ticket in the future.
In the Netherlands it is not allowed to camp freely in the countryside. The Code of honour for aquatic sporters in the Dutch Wadden region allows skippers to beach anywhere, with the exception of permanently closed areas, as long as they and their crew do not show any disturbing behaviour. Camping on Simonszand with a group of seakayakers however doesn’t fit in the set of rules of the code of honour.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

European Water Framework Directive

Water does not stick to national boundaries. EU member states have agreed therefore to the European Water Framework Directive (EWFD). The goal of this directive is to ensure that the quality of the surface water and groundwater in Europe reaches a high standard (‘good ecological status’) by the year 2015.
The EWFD is based on a river basin district approach to make sure that neighbouring member states assume joint responsibility for managing the rivers and other bodies of water they share. To meet the 2015 deadline, water authorities in each river basin district in Europe must have agreed on a coherent programme of measures by 2009. Where a river basin district includes more than one member state, a trans-boundary management plan must be drawn up. The Netherlands is involved in management plans for four trans-boundary river basin districts: Rhine, Meuse, Scheldt and Ems.

Warning: This blog isn't the right place to edit my 9 to 5-work frustrations. Please forgive me this exception.

This morning, with the kids at school, I went for an hour kayakrolling in the "Singel", the town canal of Woerden. We suffer a heat wave in Holland since more than a week. Lots of people are enjoying a refreshing bath in the Singel. Since the water bottom is cleaned a few years ago, the Singel is said to have “swimming water-quality”. But alas: this morning I was rolling in a green soup with a nasty smell.

A few warm days are enough to turn the nutritious water of the Singel in a potential toxic cocktail. Ok, people with some resistance won’t get sick immediately but more vulnerable people may experience headache, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, a sore throat, earache, eye irritations, a runny nose or swollen lips. People with sensitive skin may also develop a rash in the form of itchy red pimples. Enjoy your bath. And please don’t’ think it’s going to be better after a refreshing rain: Heavy and extended rainfall can occasionally overload the sewage treatment system. When that happens, untreated sewage has to be discharged into the Singel through the outfalls in the Inner-city of Woerden. In such cases, for the next two days you are advised not to swim in Singel. Oh sorry, did I say “you are advised”? Now to my first (minor) frustration: because the Singel isn’t official “Swimming water” in the plans of the local authorities there is no authority that advises the ignorant swimmers. They simply don’t know about the hazards…

My second (and bigger) frustration is that the specialists and officials (I am one of them) are concerned with the water-quality since years, making one plan or sanitation program after the other, but we don’t succeed in tackling this problem. Working since 2002 on the European Frame Water Directive, Dutch government doesn’t come any further than concluding that we won’t reach the goals of the directive by the year of 2015. To the European Commission the Dutch Minister of Water management is pleading for an exception for the Netherlands, because of our “end of pipe situation”. Of course it’s very difficult in a highly industrialized, agricultural overloaded and one of the most crowded countries of the world, to reach a “good ecological status” for ground- and surface water. However as one of the richest and most developed countries in the world we should be able to tackle this question. But we don’t manage it, because no-one, including our Minister of Watermanagement is in charge! Responsibilities and powers are divided between local communities, provincial authorities, water boards and the different departments of the national government. Every authority owns a part of the key but they all refuse to work together. That’s my main frustration. And that’s what keeps me busy from 9 to 5…

But not on wednesday: that’s my day off. And while the water was green, dark and smelling I enjoyed rolling. I had some problems with the coordination of the forward ending sweep roll, but handrolling in the seakayak becomes more and more bomb-proof. Thanks to a handy hint of Freya: sliding a few inches forward in the seat makes it easier to lay back on the deck. It’s so simple: why didn’t I come earlier to that idea?