Monday, August 20, 2007

Czech souvenirs

The kids are showing our souvenirs from the Czech republic. Lieke has chosen the little bell herself (all young girls love Delfts Blue pottery - all over the world? ;-), the helmet Jelle shows is chosen by his dad. Poor Jelle...

Hiko is a Czech brand of kayak-gear. The Hiko helmet however is produced in Italy (the little bell probably in China).
Hiko says about the "Right Choice and Usage of Helmets":

No paddler should practice on white water (even if it is less difficult) without a helmet. Sudden blow to your head with the risk of fainting under the water gives you a one-way ticket to the hospital or directly to the cemetery.

Choose the helmet according to your requirements and conception. For more difficult conditions we recommend Full Cap, a closed helmet that covers ears and scruff. For less difficult conditions and racing tracks with professional first aid at hand Short Cap is suitable.

Choose the proper size carefully, if needed adjust it so that it fits tight to your head. A helmet that is too big will slip off your head in most extreme situations, too tight one will press and make you feel uncomfortable.

I totally agree. And just want to add that a helmet is also good for the seakayaker: e.g. playing in surf, and tidal races, when performing rescues in rougher circumstances. A helmet is compulsory in all the NKB-courses for seakayaking. It doesn't need to be a fancy, high tech, full carbon one: a basic one like this Hiko helmet will do. Most important is a good and comfortable fit: the best helmet is of no use when you leave it on your back-deck because it's not comfortable...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Back home!

A picture of "nothing": nothing left from Kaap Kot, Bezoekerscentrum IJburg, Uitzichttoren etc...

Just before this weekend we returned from our family summer holiday. After 3 weeks travelling around in middle-Europe, the first impression of Dutch landscape is always wide and flat. And crowded and busy. On first sight you might call our man-made landscape boring, but on second look it's fascinating. Always changing, and a great place to paddle too. So I was enthusiast when Joris asked me if I wanted to paddle today. This morning we paddled on the IJmeer. Finally a good stretch of water again. I did enjoy some paddling in Czech and Germany last weeks, but a seakayak was a bit beyond proportions on the lakes and rivers around there...

A big surprise this morning: Kaap Kot is no more! Kaap Kot was a beach club at the Zeeburgereiland near Amsterdam. An accessible beach with a parking place nearby are quit rare along the IJmeer. Kaap Kot offered all this and a restaurant with a nice atmosphere to return in after the paddle. But this paddlers delight is no longer. Because of the expanding building activities of Amsterdam everything is pulled down and a big locked gate is placed around the east-part of the Zeeburgereiland. No way to get in from land...
Luckily there still is an alternative starting point nearby: in the weekend you can find a parking place near the water near beachclub Blijburg on IJburg. Also a good place to start: but how long will this little 'republic of freedom' survive the ongoing expansion of Amsterdam?

Details: IJburg-Vluchthaven Pampus - Zeeburgereiland - IJburg: 22,6 km, avs: 7,5 km/h, wind 3-4 Bft. SE

PS: I missed this news, but begin this year there was obviously some buzz about the plans with the Zeeburgereiland: The political party SP Amsterdam demonstrated against the plans to create a gap in the groyne (strekdam) between the IJ and IJburg.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

It hurts!

Experimenting different kayak rolls stays fun. But don't forget to check first how deep the water is! Especially on a rocky beach. Stupid me!

Holiday-greetings from the Lipno Lake in the Czech Republic

Lipno Lake early in the morning

In a last minute action we booked a holiday in the Lipno Marine Resort. We spent some relaxed sunny days around here. I just discovered a Café with a internet Hot Spot. Now I am updating this weblog with a my laptop on my knees and a fine chocolate dessert next to me in Lipno nad Vltavou. Finally I have finished the drafts of the post I prepared in the last weeks, try to post them now, so after a long time there is some news on this blog. Sorry for the delay!

As the resort is located directly at the Lipno-lake I couldn’t resist the temptation to load two kayaks on the car. My favorite holiday routine is to get op early and to paddle 2 hours on the lake in the morning before I join the family at the breakfast table.

Descending the Vltavou by kayak or raft is very popular around here. We did rent a raft and paddled from Vyssi Brod to Cesky Krumlov amidst hundreds of partying Czechs. Big fun. Cesky Krumlov is very impressive and an absolute must to visit – Unesco World Heritage.
Saturday the Czech Triathlon Championships take place in Lipno and is our last day here.

Lonely car - missing kayaker?

Dutch car with roof-rack parked in a Czech Village - where is the Dutch kayaker?

This morning I was contacted about a search-action concerning a good friend of mine. Locals have noticed a Dutch car parked on in a little village in the middle of nowhere (somewhere in northern Scandinavia) for more than two weeks and alarmed the police. The Norwegian authorities have identified my friend as the owner of the car by the licence plate. My friend and his partner make a multiple week (completely self supporting) hike in the most remote and inhabited parts of Scandinavia every summer. I know they left for Norway in the middle of July, but I am not familiar with their exact plans. The only thing we could do is give the police the cell-phone number of our friends, and hope the alarm is false!

More kayak-related was a nasty experience another friend of mine had last May. We made an appointment for the the NKB-Salzwasserunion-course at the German isle of Spiekeroog. I picked up the German and Dutch participants at Neuharlingersiel while she left a day earlier in Eemshaven (in the Netherlands) to paddle on her own to Spiekeroog. No problem so far. But as she arrived home after the course, she found out that the car (with a kayak-roof-rack) she left behind near the harbour of Eemshaven caused a search action and that she was reported as a missed kayaker. This gave a lot of trouble with the Dutch authorities. Months later the incident isn’t solved yet, and will probably end in a prosecution action…

So when you make a multiple day trip and have to leave your car some days behind: inform the harbour authorities or other locals about your plans! In the Netherlands it’s a good habit to contact the coastguard about your seakayak trip before you start (and to report your arrival afterwards). Long ago I learned in the German and Austrian Alps as a mountaineer also always to leave a message behind. So I was rather surprised that in the German seakayak-scene it’s promoted to carry a VHF-radio along, but it’s unusual to inform the coastguard about your seakayak-plans.