Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More pictures and stories of Vlieland 2007

Lighthouse Vlieland, picture by Tom Steinseifer

Several mails are coming in with pictures of the "Vlielandgangers". Thank you! I am so lucky with a broadband-Internet connection ;-) Merel is working on a webalbum where all the participants can conveniently up- and download their pictures. Wait a minute: we will inform you as soon as this Vlieland-webalbum is operational. In the meanwhile here are some links to Vlielandkamp pictures and stories in the web:
Tom Steinseifer's pictures - Tom is multitalented - look at the Soca 2007 album...
Ruud Burger's pictures - Ruud was by accident passing by with a camera at our arrival in Harlingen...
Axel Schoever's blog - about a Vliehors-expres adventure...
My own first pic's

Freek Knol has written a day by day report of Vlieland 2007 in the Zeekajakforum (in Dutch).

A towed rescue by the KNRM - the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution

picture by Axel Schoevers

A rescue training in cooperation with the Lifeboat-crew of the KNRM was part of the program on previous editions of the NKB-Vlielandkamp. This year (the first time I did the overall-organization of the Vlielandkamp) we left the training with the KNRM out of the program: the KNRM was minimal staffed due to the september-holiday on Vlieland. But: instead of the training we had a rescue operation with the KNRM for real!

My feelings with the pictures and the story in this post are a bit double: I am happy and grateful about the safe rescue of Peter's seakayak, but I do also have a strong feeling that lifeboat-actions should be reserved for the real serious life threatening situations and feel a bit "guilty" the KNRM had to come in action to save an empty seakayak. Said that, I realize it's a thin line between an incident and an disaster.

What happened? Along the beach on the NW of Vlieland, from west to east three separate groups of each 10 seakayakers were active around the surf zone. Wind was SW 7 Bft. blowing along the beach, slightly offshore. With westerly winds there is powerful surf on the NW of Vlieland, increasing when the tide comes in. The most westerly group was landing through the surf zone, the group in the middle was doing exercises in the first part of the surf zone and I was launching the group most easterly through the surf zone. I was still standing on the beach, helping the last members of my group leaving the beach, when suddenly a lonely kayak drifted by, blown at high speed towards sea. I didn't notice a swimming kayaker nor anyone taking action. A few seconds (?) later Peter stood next to me, with panic in his eyes: he was part of the most westerly group, had lost his (new!) kayak during the landing in the surf and could only watch it disappear. With the biggest part of my group behind the surf zone, the last one just capsizing and swimming in the surf zone, I couldn't take action myself and decided to inform the Brandaris (the Dutch coastguard station on Terschelling) by VHF-radio. The coastguard immediately called the KNRM for assistance. At this very moment a pilot-boat came along in the fairway along the beach and noticed the empty kayak drifting away. The pilot got involved in the conversation between me and the coastguard, but didn't know if there was a swimmer. The pilot decided to ask the group of kayakers on the water what was going on. Note: this was my group at a safe distance behind the surf zone (still waiting for me to come and not knowing what exactly was going on). All this resulted in some confusion, and in the KNRM heading out full power looking for a kayaker in distress... As I heard this on the VHF-radio I repeated that the kayaker was safe on the beach. Some moments later the KNRM reported they recovered the kayak and that they would take it to the lifeboat station. As the rescue operation was finished, I headed out to my group (still waiting behind the surf zone) and paddled with the group to the harbour to pick up Peter's kayak at the lifeboat station.

It wasn't a experience you'd like to ask for, but from moments like this you learn a lot. Communication is so essential in a situation like this. There is communication on different levels: (1) the coordination of the rescue between (in this case) coastguard, lifeboat, pilot and kayakers, (2) the communication between the separate groups of kayakers and (3) the communication in the group itself between the leader and the members - quit difficult in the surf zone. The VHF-radio did a good job on level (1) - big advantage above a cell-phone is that the conversation on the radio can be heard by all involved. Some of my lessons:
(1) keep on repeating the complete message about the situation - in my first contact with the Brandaris I told the kayaker is safe at the beach. Later we talked about an empty kayak - leading to the confusion;
(2) do not monitor Channel 16, but the working channel of the Brandaris - Channel 2. It's idiot you have to make a choice like this: because of the regulations on legal Dutch VHF-radio's functions like "Dual and Triple Watch or scanning multiple Channels" are blocked...
(3) we can improve the intern communication on a big event like the Vlielandkamp.
After this operation we had a good talk with the members of the lifeboat-crew. Peter has visited the crew for a personal thanks.

!!!Once more for the crew from the Christien: thank you!!!

The KNRM is an organization mainly working with volunteers, not subsidized by authorities, but financed with gifts and donations. Do a good job and become a "Redder aan de wal"!

More advises about Managing the Surf Zone in the excellent article on Incident Management of Jeff Alan in the 3. issue of Ocean Paddler.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jeugddag KV Wyrda

Back from Vlieland I enjoyed one more kayak-day: Kayakclub Wyrda organized an introduction for kids. Our family couldn't stay home of course. Jelle and Lieke enjoyed a playful day with friends at the Reewijkse Plassen.

First pics of Zeekamp Vlieland

Yesterday late I came home from the zeekamp Vlieland. It was a rather "stormy happening" this year: almost every day we had a gale warning for winds up to 6 or 7 Bft. For the advanced paddlers the circumstances were ideal to work on their skills, for beginners and intermediate paddlers the conditions were challenging. Part of my job was -in cooperation with our coaches- to find the balance in maximum adventure at minimal risk (a striking quote from Axel Schoevers). Looking at the smiles on the faces of the participants I am sure we succeeded! Zeekamp Vlieland 2007 was great!

I want to post more items in this weblog about Zeekamp Vlieland soon. Looking at the personal calendar for next week, it may take some time however before I manage to do so ;-( The slideshow shows a selection of my pics for a first impression. More to come.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

NKB Vlielandkamp 2007

A message for the participants of the Vlieland Seakayak Symposium that starts tomorrow:

Mededeling voor de deelnemers aan zeekamp Vlieland die morgen de oversteek Harlingen-Vlieland per kajak willen maken:

Beste deelnemers,
waarschijnlijk hebben jullie, net zoals ik, met spanning de weersberichten gisteren en vandaag gevolgd. Laat ik er geen doekjes om winden: de weerssituatie maakt de oversteek per kajak morgen erg onzeker. Ik heb vanmiddag met de vuurtorenwachter op de Brandaris (Terschelling) gesproken. Het waait bij Vlieland vandaag vol 6 Bft. met vlagen 7 Bft. uit NW richting. De verwachting is dat deze wind morgen afneemt, in de ochtend eerst nog windkracht 5-6, in de middag afzwakkend naar 3-4 (uit westelijke richting). Zondag wordt weer 5-6 Bft. verwacht. Er zijn kleine verschillen tussen de verschillende weerberichten op internet maar de trend is overal gelijk: morgen een dipje en verder volop wind de komende dagen.
Omdat er serieus verwacht wordt dat de wind afneemt, wil ik de overtocht echter niet bij voorbaat afgelasten. Morgenochtend ter plaatse kunnen we pas echt beoordelen wat de situatie is. Houd er svp rekening mee dat er een goede kans is dat morgenochtend op de kade alsnog wordt besloten met de veerboot over te steken, of dat alleen deelnemers in het bezit van het certificaat ZVE en met een uitstekende conditie per kajak de oversteek maken. De organisatoren beslissen hierover.

Mocht je eerder hebben aangegeven per kajak over te willen steken en na lezing van dit bericht besluiten liever de veerboot te nemen: mail dit svp even naar mij. Je kunt morgen dan een uurtje later komen!

Tot morgen!
Met vriendelijke groet,

PS: heel mooi: we hebben waarschijnlijk prima branding voor de opleidingen!

When there is an occasion for it (internet-access?), I'll try to update this blog during the Seakayakweek, and maybe Axel does, see his kayakblog - Otherwise: see you next week!
An impression of last years' edition of Zeekamp Vlieland: facts and figures here and more posts in the weblogarchive - september last year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Countdown for NKB Zeekamp Vlieland, preparing the kayak

It's only two more days before the NKB seakayak event on the isle of Vlieland begins. I made a phone call with Sien and Paul and it looks as if the organization committee has most of the preparations done. It's getting urgent to prepare myself. First the hardware. Since a very long time I wanted to do some maintenance and little modifications on the deck lines of the Pintail. Vlieland is a good argument to do it now - the kayak of the coach is supposed to be immaculate...

The first thing I had to work on were the toggles (click here for the link to the item on the toggles): one of the white shockcords I added last year was broken, the other one wasn't elastic anymore: I replaced them finally by black shockcords (looks better too) with some extra length to have less stress on the elastics - they should last longer now).

Next thing to do was adding a bead to the deck lines on the bow of the kayak. Purpose of this little wooden piece is to make it easier to slide (while sitting in the kayak) the paddle blade beneath the deck line: a convenient way to store the paddle in order to keep your hands free while your out on the water.

Than came a so called "Duck Tape job": The picture below is a delicate insight in the cockpit of my Pintail. Mostly this sight is hidden under the sprayskirt. Now you know what's beneath it. I must admit it's a bit untidy under there! Last year I padded the inside of the deck before the cockpit rim (= the so called "masik") with closed cell foam in order to have better contact with the kayak. I tried all sorts of kit and glue, but the cell foam gets loose every time again. Duck tape works quit good to fix it- once or twice a year a bit of new tape, it just looks awkward ;-(
An ocean cockpit may look very sexy on a traditional seakayak, but a well designed modern keyhole cockpit with decent thigh-grips gives far better boat-contact!

Finally the finishing touch: the OP sticker: Derrick will be jealous!

For the Vlieland-participants: on Friday-evening I publish a message on this blog concerning the crossing Harlingen-Vlieland (it depends on the weather-conditions whether the advanced group does the crossing by kayak or by ferry).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mudflat hiking: Holwerd-Ameland for minimalists

Pictures by Janine

Mudflat hiking (wadlopen) is a popular activity in the Netherlands. On the shallow Wadden Sea you can walk from the mainland to the isles of Terschelling (is seldom done - very long way), Ameland, Schiermonnikoog. It requires good planning to use the period of low tide to walk along the watershed of the mudflats. It's a great sensation to see how the sea "opens before your eyes" and makes a path to the islands. Compared to seakayaking it's very basic - forget your kayak gear and just walk to Ameland...
While Jelle, Lieke and I were rushing around the Netherlands and Germany, Janine enjoyed a Wadloopdag with AV Clytoneus. Due to the fresh Northerly wind (and just a day after neap tide) Holwerd-Ameland was a wet crossing: most of the time walking in half a meter water, sometimes water up to the waist...

Dragonboat Racing

Saturday was a well filled day: grandma's birthday-visit in the morning, the wedding-anniversary of Harmen and Annet in the afternoon and evening. Grandma lives in Germany, Harmen and Annet in Groningen -> so this meant a ride by car of about 600 km's... Nevertheless it was a nice day, topped by a canoe-intermezzo on the Paterswoldsemeer. Harmen and Annet invited the unprepared wedding guests for a little Dragonboat-race. This was a big surprise for the guests, most of them were dressed for a stylish party in the atmosphere of the Societeit Clubhuis. My motto is: don't leave the house with a set of sportswear (and a towel) in the car! You never know...
Jelle and Lieke knew the Dragonboats from the Jubilee of KV Wyrda a year ago. It were the same boats of the EHDC.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Historic moments on Tiengemeten

Today I had the privilege to be part of a unique happening on the isle of Tiengemeten. We dugged a hole in a dyke to give the water of the Haringvliet free access to the isle... Breaking the Dutch tradition of building dykes and to make land out of water is quit a sensation for someone working on the department of Water-safety!
The announcement of Dutch breaking down dykes attracted a lot of attention: National and regional press, photographers and film crews from France and Germany were present to see how the mayor of Korendijk opened the dyke.

This was all what happened: for this official moment breaking down the dyke was reduced to opening a pipe in the dyke. Result: no dramatic action, no big waves rushing around, but only some water flowing through the pipe from the Haringvliet into a dugged out creek on Tiengemeten.
Perhaps the official act was a bit of a disappointment for some of us: anyhow it was a perfect excuse to spent a beautiful day with the colleagues of the Department of Water, Environment and Agriculture on Tiengemeten ;-)
To legitimize our presence we did our best to make our selfs useful: cleaning up the island.
On every corner of the island was press interviewing dignitaries in the middle of new man-made nature. Unreal!
But tomorrow all will be gone and the isle is left alone to itself. However: the silence of the past years is gone: Tiengemeten has changed in an accessible nature reserve. There is invested a lot in facilities for visitors.
Tiengemeten always was a good kayak destination, here is a link to previous reports. Rounding Tiengemeten is a kayaktrip of about 20 km's. Take on the next trip some extra time to visit to isle: it's worth it!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Still alive!

I received mails and phone-calls from people asking if everything is OK, as there have been no new posts on the Kayakwoerden blog since a week or two. Thank you, I am fine! Though I must admit, the combination of 9-5 work, family life and the organization of the Vlieland Seakayak-meeting is a bit much lately. Vlieland with over 60 kayakers from 3 nationalities, with classes from beginner- to advanced-level is quit another cup of tea as the Spiekeroog-course earlier this year. Just the number of 60 makes communication and logistics far more complex. I don't do this alone: Sien and Paul are great helpers. Tidiness however is not my strongest competence (I am more the chaotic type) and I have never been at ease with a big amount of mail on my desk. I am constantly fearing I make a mess out of it and forget to answer the most important ones... That curious kind of "Guust Flater"(Gaston Lagaffe)-frustration is annoying me all my working life, and now the same frustration has come into my beloved kayaking-hobby ;-) It's always a big relief for me when I have got the mail done. Today there was an awful lot of mail to be done for the Vlieland meeting. Luckily my daughter Lieke helped. She is so accurate! I am quit confident we have got a good job done and all the participants receive exact the letter meant for them tomorrow!After this hard indoor work it was about time for a bit of sport so I took the Koga Miyata bike for a ride. Biking is a great way to relax the mind. After some kilometers biking I reach a steady-state of mind - the best condition for reflection and for creative new ideas. I love to bike. After 5 minutes it started to rain and after half an hour I had a flat tire. This was my day! Really: I am doing fine!

1. It's really touching some people I have never met in real life are sympathizing with my virtual kayak personality. Long time virtual reality was beyond my imagination. Now I am living a "second life" myself... And it's only very thin line between the first and the second life!
2.It feels really cosmopolitan when on the other side of the Pacific jokes are made about your little injuries...
3. I have added the blog of the Sebago Canoe Club to my favorite weblinks: this club futures a real informative and entertaining blog with more and less serious topics around kayaking, environmental and social themes.
4. Gaston Lagaffe is the comic strip originally created in 1957 by the Belgian cartoonist André Franquin in the comic strip magazine, Spirou, and named after its main character. Earlier this year there was a exposition on the work of Franquin in Bruxelles. The website of the exposition is still open. The official website of Franquin:
The cartoons shown in this webitem are published in the Dutch edition of the Album "Le bureau des gaffes en gros"