Monday, April 30, 2007

Koninginnedag, "Rondje Kamerik" in the K1 racer

The second portage on the "Rondje Kamerik".

I made this morning my own private "Koninginnedag-party". Janine and Jelle are on holiday (in Jordan), Lieke stays with granddad and grandmamma for a few days. So I got the house for myself (and unlike all the other fathers accompanying their kids on the traditional flea-markets and Quens-day fairs: no obligations!). No obligations? Finally there is time to do all the little jobs in and around the house I promised to do and that are waiting far to long to be done ;-(
Koninginnedag in Woerden: familyday with flea-market

Of course it would be a pity to spent a public holiday only doing useful things. So I decided to get up early and to start the day with a paddle. Because I wanted to do a lot of other things I limited my kayak time. I went to the boat-house and took the K 1 racer with the Brasca wing-paddle for the shortest circular paddle trip you can do around Woerden: the "rondje Kamerik": 9,5 km's, with two portages. It was the first time I took the racer out for a solo paddle this year. With the cold water I paddled this unstable racer last weeks in company with Gus (a rescuer on a safe distance). But on this beautiful day I went out alone in T-shirt and shorts (with a drybag with towel and spare clothes on board...). And the trip passed of without any incident: a real confidence booster! The portages were a delight with this lightweight kayak. I really start to love the combination of the racer and the wing paddle. I forgot to stop the exact time, but I have got the impression I broke a personal record. A very promising experience. The goal is to paddle the marathon-distance of this years' "Rondje Groene Hart" in the racer. I don't intend to paddle the 42 km in a very fast pace, I am already confident when I manage to survive the distance in the spartan racer. After the experience of this morning it looks like a realizable ambition (thoufh I still need some practice). And If I only can find a seat for this kayak! My buttock hurts after an hour sitting on that stupid foam block.

Google-Earth view of the "Rondje Kamerik" - click on the picture to view the track of the kayak-route ( Sorry, I don't know how to edit the thickness of the lines in Google Earth).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Waterkader Haaglanden, Climate change, IPY

No kayak- but a work related post today. We had nice little symposium in Rijswijk with Waterkader Haaglanden this afternoon. Guest speaker was Peter Timofeeff (Meteorologist, well known from Dutch Television - Weatherforecast RTL4). Peter did a Dutch version of Al Gores story on Climate Change. A clear message: we don't have to wait, it's happening right know! Since 2003 all records are broken: temperature, rain, drought, wind. This April will be the warmest April-month measured ever in the Netherlands. Basking turtles. Extremes are getting normal. Living in a low Delta we should prepare and take measures.
This message was brought to a group of believers, professionals working on this matter. This group is aware of the urgency. But we know how difficult it is to get things done in the world of politicians and investors. And that's why an initiative like Waterkader Haaglanden is good: working on innovation in 6 strategically chosen projects research institutes, private and public parties are really trying to get things done. Very promising!

Addition 27. April:
Climate change, Greenhouse gases, Melting polar ice... A small step tot the International Polar Year (IPY) that a few weeks ago started. IPY, organized through the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is actually the fourth polar year, following those in 1882-3, 1932-3, and 1957-8. In order to have full and equal coverage of both the Arctic and the Antarctic, IPY 2007-8 covers two full annual cycles from March 2007 to March 2009 and will involve over 200 projects, with thousands of scientists from over 60 nations examining a wide range of physical, biological and social research topics. It is also an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate, follow, and get involved with, cutting edge science in real-time. The IPY website is worth a visit, with fascinating pictures, blogs, articles and all kind of information about the mysteries the Arctic still hides.

Interested in Arctic life? Michael is an lover of Arctic things, actually an expert and regularly publishes in his blog about Arctic life and cultural heritage. So I started this post with work -> a little sidestep -> now we are back at the kayak scene ;-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Introduced species: the lonely turtle in the Reeuwijkse plassen

On Wednesday I often go out on the bike for an short break of an hour or so. Pedalling along the Reeuwijkse Plassen I met this turtle. A beautiful full grown Red Eared Slider (NL- Roodwangschildpad). Native of the southern United States and southern Canada. Mrs turtle had a good time today basking in the sunshine (28 degrees Celsius today) on a floating piece of peat-soil.
While I was taking photos with my GSM-Cameraphone (Phonecamera?) some hiking ladies came by, highly surprised and wondering if a turtle can survive in our climate. It can for some years. But it won’t get old. Red Eared Sliders can live several decades. But not in our cold and humid climate. It may take some years, but infections and mildew will slowly kill the turtle, in 4 or 5 years and it will be gone. It looks so cute, but leads a poor and lonely life. Probably dumped by an owner who was no longer interested in this pet for the kids.
Since a few years importing and selling Red Eared Sliders is forbidden in the Netherlands.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Rolling with Dubside

Dubside DVD - for sale on

Some days ago Axel passed by in Woerden to deliver the Greenland Rolling DVD of Dubside. It's very instructive. Causing some annoyance to my housemates, I like to watch the slow motion videos and analysis of Dubsides' rolls on TV over and over again - repeating the techniques sitting on the floor in the living room.
This evening was the weekly Wyrda-kayak-evening and I was highly motivated for an evening- rolling session. Alas: after a few weeks of extreme warm weather, the waterquality in the canals of Woerden is getting worse. The water is green and it stinks. I did my rolling session with the nose-clip on and mouth and eyes shut... Not the perfect conditions to relax and to concentrate on your techniques, but we haven't got it better here.

Woerden by the sea, it would be so nice. Perhaps with the global warming...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"Gruppenbild mit Dame" - Voordelta Reprise

Swier, Judith, Ruud, Jan, Hans S, Rein, Arie Wim, Harm, Gerrit, Chris- names are a test for me..

I like the Voordelta, and paddle often in this area - yet it didn't happen before I programmed exactly the same kayaktrip in two succeeding weekends: last week the "Aardappelenbult" was on the NKB-menu, this week on the TKBNs' - with the same coach - me...
Both weekends we had summer-like temperatures in the inland of the Netherlands (25 degrees Celsius in Woerden, 14 is normal for the time of the year). But in the Voordelta everything was different - never a dull moment!
- last week clouded with a refreshing NW-wind, this weekend blue sky, hot and only a little breeze from the SW;
- last week all yellow kayaks, this week mixed colours;
- last week 2 out of 10 participants were new for me, this week 8 out of 10;
- last week we started 2 hours for high tide, this week for low tide;
- last week no capsizes, this week one swimmer and a swift rescue action;
- last week all male participants, this week a lady in the group, thanks Judith!
A lot of little things made it a different experience. Again I enjoyed a nice day with an enthusiast group of kayakers. Thanks guys!

Big surprise was that, while we were unloading the kayaks from the cars, my friend Govert arrived. Govert is NKB-hoofdinstructeur and planned to paddle alone but when he met us, he joined the group. Just like me, Govert was slightly overdressed: Govert wanted to try out his new Kokatat expedition-drysuit in warm conditions, and I wanted to test my Palm Drysuit in combination with new underware: Icebreaker. But with the Palm I have another story - I am a bit pissed at the moment. I will write about it later, when the rage is over...

The making of - picture by Govert Plugge

This is (also) the sea... calm (with Gerrit).

A full report of last weeks Voordelta trip on - look at the Dia-show with in and out zooming pictures. Nice gadget!

Trip details:
Wind 2-3 Bft, High tide 6.15, starting at 10.45 arriving 16.00, distance 25 km, water temp. 10 degr. Celsius, air temp 21 degr. Celsius.

Friday, April 20, 2007

New NKB Syllabus "Zeevaardigheid"

Top Gear - Icelandic kayaking

Friday evening is "Veronica's auto-avond" on Dutch television: a evening full of car-programs on Commercial TV. Presented in combination with Veronica's babes. How deep a man can sink... One highlight however: BBC's Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond en James May. They are so British even a car-magazine gets fun...

Watch what happens when Richard Hammonds meets a kayak. Found this clip on Björn Thomassons Blog - thanks Björn.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Concert in G deel 1 - Cimarosa

A cultural break: music of some of the most talented scholars of Woerdens Music school het Klooster. Good test for the low-light performance of the Fuji Digicam!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Seakayaking in the Voordelta - Maasvlakte II

The Voordelta is a favourite playground for the Dutch seakayaker. It's nearby the Randstad and offers a diverse landscape of sandbanks between the isles of Zuid-Holland and Zeeland. The area also has sensitive marine life. And it's located in one of the most populated and industrialised regions of the world. Rotterdam, the port of Europe, is only a few miles away. Lot's of interests come together. Our recreational sport is one of them. We have to deal with the consequences.

An actual development is the planning for the expansion of the harbour of Rotterdam. The Maasvlakte II is an extension of the existing harbour and industrial area with 2500 hectares new land in the Northsea. The effects of this expansion on sealife must be compensated. Dutch government has decided to do this in the Voordelta. In the Voordelta an area of 25.000 hectares will be pointed out to be "bodembeschermingsgebied" (= seabed-protection zone). Activities that potentially effect marine life will be restricted in this zone. This concerns mainly commercial fishing activities. Within the "bodembeschermingsgebied" there will be "rustgebieden" (=resting zones) for the seals and seabirds. The "rustgebieden" will be closed areas for all human activities. The location of the "rustgebieden"are the sandbanks and the shallow zones around the sandbanks.

Last year I was involved in the negotiations with the authorities about the consequences of the compensation of Maasvlakte II for seakayaking. I must say we (=the kayak organisations NKB, TKBN )had a constructive consultation with the Projectorganisation Mainport Rotterdam. Starting point was that existing recreational use of the Voordelta should also be in future possible. So we had to find out a way in which the compensation target for the marine life in the Voordelta could be realised without making seakayaking impossible. The result is published a month ago and can now be found on the web: the "ontwerp-beheerpslan Voordelta" is a draft for the new regulation on the human use of the Voordelta. Free movement for seakayakers is limited in future: most sandbanks will be closed area for us, and some shallow waters will be closed part of the year. But as a result of our consultations the boundaries of the "rustgebieden" are adapted and there are corridors between the sandbanks and the isles introduced so that the most popular seakayak-routes stay possible in future.
The new legislation will probably start (already!) in 2008.

The picture above this post, taken last Sunday, will be historic: a group of seakayakers taking a break on the Aardappelbult. This sandbank is chosen to be one of the "rustgebieden". The circumnavigation we did Sunday stays possible in future. Pausing on the sandbank not.
Of course this means a serious restriction. On the other hand: respect for wildlife limits access the sandbanks already: a respectful seakayaker stays away from resting seals and seabirds!

Note: I found it rather hard to write a correct and complete post on this complex issue in English. I still don't think I completely succeeded. However I hope I offer some useful information for the Dutch kayakers and advise them to have a look themselves at the website of the Ontwerp-beheersplan. You can find some maps on the website with the (intended) borders of the in future restricted areas).

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You're getting older daddy!

Je wordt ouder, papa, geef het maar toe
Je wil er alles aan doen maar je weet niet hoe
Je wordt ouder papa!
Je wordt ouder papa!

Je wordt ouder, papa, geef het maar toe
Want je bent nog snel maar ook eerder moe
Je wordt ouder papa, haha
Je wordt ouder papa, oe!

O, je wordt ouder, papa, geef het maar toe
Je wil er alles aan doen maar je weet niet hoe
Oh nee!
Oh nee, yeah!

Song and Lyrics - Peter Koelewijn, 1977

In one week I had 3 confronting kayak-related moments that made me realise learning doesn't go as fast as it used to...

1. The international radiotelephony spelling alphabet (also known as the NATO-alphabet: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie ...)
About a year ago I had to sit for the examination for a VHF-license. It's not very complicated, you only have to learn quit a lot of procedures and stupid enumerations by heart. E.g. the international spelling alphabet. I rehearsed the NATO-alphabet with my (then) 9 year old daughter Lieke, in the evening before sleeping time. We made a little game out of it, and learned it (both) surprisingly fast. Since the examination I didn't use the alphabet, until last week when I had to program my ATIS-code in a new VHF-radio. I looked after the examination-documents and tested my alphabet knowledge: it stopped at G (Golf). I asked Lieke: she recited the alphabet from A to Z faultless...

2. Balancing a racing kayak
Twenty-five years ago I trained (for one year) with a kayak-club orientated on flat water racing. Before that year I was used to stable touring- and ww-kayaks but in my memory I made the transition from these kayaks into the tipsy racing kayaks within an hour session. Long time ago. Now I am working three weeks on getting back used to balancing the K1. I am going to make it, but it takes somewhat longer!

3. White Water kayaking
Today was the last of 3 clinics on the white water track of Dutch Water Dreams. I will write more on that later this week and also give the organisers direct feedback. At this moment I just want to thank them for the great time! We want more! The clinics were part of a try out for the NKB: "how do you arrange a safe training-session on a competition track?" "What is the appropriate intake-level for the attendants?" and so on. It was also a kind of a try out for me personally: "How do I manage severe white water?" "What's my level?" and "Is it fun?". I discovered skills, techniques and physical fitness are basically sufficient. But adapting personal dynamics to the movement of the river costs a lot of effort. Speaking with my coach: "relax Hans, relax!" I am aware that making this transition takes me more than 3 sessions. The beginning is made!
In the 80's we didn't prepare. When we heard in winter about high water levels: we just rented a car, hired WW-kayaks and went out to kayak WW in Belgium and Germany. No problem with a transition? Did I really learn that much faster in younger years? Or is it all imagination?

Daddy is getting older indeed, but... ;-)

Start of the season: NKB Voordelta trip

Ad and Hans cooling down after the first NKB saltwater-trip of the year. Picture - Eric Rumpff

This was a weird weekend. No complains, it was a great weekend. But 30 degrees Celsius in April? An absolute heat-record. Climate change? It's bizarre: sitting in a T-shirt in the garden at 10.00 pm with the bats flying around, chasing gnats. It's April, not supposed to be summer! Rotterdam Marathon was cancelled today (I am finishing this post at Sunday-evening) 3,5 hours after the start, because of the heat. Sad for Janine's training mates: they trained months for this marathon.

Yesterday I organised the first NKB-saltwater-trip of the season. It was also a premiere with Dick and Tom and their greenlandic qajaqs in the group. I am going to update this post later. Now let's just publish some photo's of a nice day paddling.

Rectification: Oeps, mistake, painful! Bram corrected me: the first NKB trip on salt water was the circumnavigation of Schouwen Duiveland - a week before at Easter. I should have known, organiser was Govert. Sorry guys!

Note the hybrid character of these traditional qajaqs: with sewn-in bulkheads, hatches and deck-lines adapted to modern seakayak-standards.

More pictures by Dick on Webshots
Dutch report on

Facts and figures:
Wind 3-4 Bft N-NW, High tide 12.35, water temp. 10 degr. Celsius, trip distance 30 km.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The old forgotten K1 Racer

The Wyrda paddle season with the weekly club-paddle-evening started yesterday. A perfect motive to dust down the old K1 clubracer. It's an old inheritance of a former club-member. Over 15 years it lies in a dusty corner of the boathouse, and it has never been used really.

Yesterday evening I put on the Drysuit and went out for a paddle in the K1 escorted by Guus on a safe distance: I must admit it was a rather tipsy experience, but I managed to stay upright. And on the way back - in the dark - I could even begin to concentrate on my paddle technique, body rotation, pushing legs out...

This morning I cleaned the K1. I believe I am going to like it: isn't it a beauty - long and sleek? It's a old Gans Kajaks K1 Racer - type: Sprinter Olympus. Alas the seat is missing, must look for a replacement (the foam block I used yesterday is rather uncomfortable).

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Circumnavigating Marken

From the World 66- Travelguide:

Marken is a small island community in the IJsselmeer. It is easy to get there from Amsterdam (via Volendam) and is a nice daytrip if you want to see a traditional Dutch fishing village. If you visit Marken as a daytrip from Amsterdam you will feel you are in a different world and century.
Marken is most interesting for its green painted houses on the Dyke, its traditional religious isolationism, its strong football team and its expensive tourist shops.
When on a sailing trip at the IJsselmeer, Marken is definitely worth a stop.

The "Rondje Marken" is one of my favourite "grootwater"-kayak classics. It's a nice kayak trip in picturesque scenery and a perfect introduction for beginners in seakayaking. You can make the trip as long as you want, from 20 till 35 km's, depending how far you like to paddle out on the Markermeer. I have done this trip dozens of times but never made a stop in the village Marken itself. I am not attracted by expensive tourist shops, old ladies in traditional costume nor by busloads of Japanese tourists... The only stop I usually make at Marken is at the old lighthouse ("het Paard van Marken").

This morning I paddled around Marken with Joris. There was a stiff breeze blowing good 5 Bft, NE. Perfect conditions for our plan. Joris wanted to try-out the behaviour of his new Point65 XP-kayak under windy conditions. Joris paddled almost 20 years a P&H Orion, quit another cup of tea! I wanted to paddle the Svalbard once again. We did the circumnavigation in a fast pace: I didn't clock it exactly, but I believe we paddled it in about 2,5 hours. From the lighthouse back to the starting point we had the wind full in the back. I hoped for some good surfs on the windwaves. Though I did pick up some good surfs, I had expected more surfable waves under these conditions... The VKN Svalbard I paddled is known as a kayak that surfs good. But that's nothing compared to the Point65 XP: Joris was launched ahead of me like a Rocket! He was delirious about his new kayak. I paddled it shortly and immediately understood that bloody smile ;-) -> it really is a fast boat! With some powerful strokes it accerates incredible fast up to a high top speed: a result of the long narrow waterline. A delight to paddle! (And to roll: despite the loose fit in the cockpit I could handroll it easily... ).