Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

2010 - a paddling year in pictures

For the last post of the year I picked 12 pictures as a little paddling-year-in-review exercise. Not a selection of the "best/most beautiful" photos, nor a complete report, but just a random selection of typical moments for "my 2010". I often feel that I paddle not enough - and this year that feeling was at times particularly strong, because I had to cancel several kayaking-activities (due to work, weather or lack of participants). For the first time since may years I didn't participate in the NKB-Vlieland-week ;-(. Nevertheless, looking back on 2010: it was a good paddling year, I enjoyed the trips I was able to make with my paddling friends. Thank you all for the great time! Up to 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A reflection on advances, innovation in the outdoor and kayak -industry...

Blowing the dust off the (more than 20 year) old set of Cross-country skis some days ago, I remembered a blogpost about "innovation" I started to write 2 years ago. For some reason, I never finished and published that post. The intention was to write a few words about the internal struggle in dealing with the fascination for "new" ideas - especially when it is "gear/equipment-related". On the one hand I am a gadget freak, early adaptor: interested in new technology - always one of the first to play around with new stuff (the SNS binding on XC-skis, the self-inflating Therm-a-rest, suspension and click-pedals on the MTB, the first series Garmin GPS, the first series PDA/pocket-computers (remember the Psion in the early 90's?), the Waterproof Digicam - this list is endless...). On the other hand I can also be pretty conservative. I appreciate good quality stuff that functions for a long period. Once happy with some good piece of equipment I usually stick to it. I don't easily swap to something new. This can grow pretty extreme: like the old ice skates - which I bought at the age of 16 and I have used 30 years...

In the perfect winter 2 years ago, I rented a pair of modern Nordic skates and discovered that, for an occasional ice skater like me, the Nordics are a far more better choice. The comfort and handling of the Nordic Skates were a revelation. OK: on a closed track, on perfect ice and a short distance I am able to squeeze out a few kmh extra top-speed on the classic racing skates. But on everything longer than 400 meter, on natural ice I am faster with the Nordic Skates. And finally I skate with painfree feet and ankles! Totally convinced by this experience and with sweet memories of all the tours I made with my old skates, I swapped to the Nordic skates. I regretted afterwards I didn't make this decision years earlier...

In the blogpost of 2 years ago I made a parallel with kayaking and compared the skate-story with a similar experience in kayaking: I discovered that I paddled faster and more confident and comfortable in a modern touring-surfski than in my old competition-racing K1.

A quote from the draft of the blogpost 2 years ago:
The run with the K1-racer reminded me of my skating experiences earlier this year. Just like my old speed-skates the kayak is a twenty years old design made for competition racing. Made for speed, not for (any) comfort. Trained athletes don't bother and just go for maximum performance on the racetrack. Recreational/incidental sporters in suboptimal conditions put a lot of energy in stability and hardly manage in the beginning to perform a proper technique in this kind of specialized gear.

Comparing designs with different goals is not fair. The point to make is: look around, be open for new developments and don't mind crossing borders.

And now to the sea kayakers: that's a quit conservative community in the Netherlands. To some extend I appreciate that: it's good to see that some classic design still perform great, that you don't have to paddle with the latest stuff to have fun, happy not to follow every hype.
But what I regret to see to often:
  • beginners struggling in old second-hand Baidarka's and Nordkapps - great kayaks, but it's so much more fun to get into the sports with an easier handling and more forgiving kayak;
  • the (older) paddler squeezing himself in a small cockpit - the modern keyhole cockpit makes life much easier;
  • smaller persons with dated paddles: too long, too big (blades), too heavy - even in Dutch shops also paddles shorter than 215 cm are available and a solid paddle doesn't need to weight a kilo nowadays...
  • experienced paddlers with old bleached-out PFD's - it's not only that modern PFD's are far more ergonomic and offer more freedom in movement, but it's also a safety issue: ever wondered what 10 years exposure to UV and salt-water does to foam and nylon?
Btw: I still enjoy experimenting in the old K1 and I have good fun these days with the vintage XC-skis (though I do regret that the shoes of my Nordic skates don't match with the bindings on my skis... ;-)

Kayakclub homeless?

Hard times for the local kayakclub Wyrda: the town of Woerden has ordered the club to leave the boathouse before the end of the year (this year - 2010!). A quit dramatic development...

More details on the Dutch version of this blog or on the website of KV Wyrda.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

XC skiing along the kayak route

"Rondje Kamerik" is one of my favourite kayak routes around Woerden: 10 km with 2 portages, just right for a nice evening paddle or a quick workout in the K1 . Today Linda and I did this route on XC-skis. It was good fun. Btw: paddling is faster!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Polar Night of Groningen on Solstice

The shortest day of the year would looked like the perfect moment to visit the Polar Night-event in Groningen. Alex and I bought 2 daytickets of the NS (Dutch Rail) and headed to the most Northern capital of the Netherlands. Travelling long distances by train in winter can be some challenge with Dutch Railways. We did meet several delays and a blocked route, but we managed to arrive in Groningen (and did come back to Woerden!). The Photo-expositions of the Polar Night event were not really worth the effort - which isn't due to the pictures, but more to the presentation. So I would not rank them "*** vaut le voyage/worth a special journey" - but when you happen to be around in Groningen - nice to see. Besides this Groningen is of course always worth a visit! And in our case: "reizen is het doel, niet de bestemming" - it was a great journey, I enjoyed the day.
The shown Greenland kayak is part of the exhibition "faces of the Scoresby Sund" in the Noordelijk Scheepvaartmusueum. It's a plywood copy of a Greenlandic kayak - in bad condition.

The 5th. birthday of

Dec. 2005 - the first blog post: a report of an early morning winter-paddle with Alex and Guus on the Nieuwkoopse Plassen in a very calm state.

It's social media, and yet I almost missed this anniversary: Five years (and some days ago) I typed up the very first blog-post on To be exact it was the second start of Kajakwoerden: I started my seakayaking related blog in the MSN-Spaces-portal a few months earlier, but changed over to Blogger because I got irritated by the weird limitations of MSN. I wrote the first blog-posts in Dutch, and was surprised to notice that the blog from the very beginning attracted a serious number of foreign visitors. A few weeks later Mark Rainsy published a link to the Kajakwoerden-blog on the UK Sea Kayaking Forum and made a joke about the funny Dutch language. I reacted with a first post in English but didn't give the experiment more than a month. Soon more than 70 % of the visitors was non-Dutch. I never expected I would write more than a hundred English-posts a year! Actually I have to thank you - the reader - for making it to this long and intense experience! I would never have put this effort and time in the blog if it weren't for all the contacts with the people while doing this! It's social media - and a discovery for this clumsy Internet-user.

In five years a lot has changed. In the early years most visitors came to the blog by referring URLS on blogs of other seakayakers (some fellow bloggers of the first days: Axel, Bonnie, Derrick, Wenley, Michael) or International Kayaking Forums. Blogs related to sea kayaking were quite rare, now portals like Playak or list hundreds of them. Most visitors now find their way to the blogs by bookmark or by Google-search. Since early 2010 the number of visits is slowly decreasing. Blogging seems to be over its top. Is Facebook the new medium? The network is the same. I suppose that the 250 friends on Facebook cover a big part of the regular visitors of the blog. I admit that recently (especially since I've got a Smartphone) I am also more active on Facebook than on this blog. But it's no replacement - I like the Blogger journal - the first journal I kept more than a week...

Paddling also changed in five years - a flashback with pictures of the December posts on over the past five years (nice memories!):

Dec. 2006 - an epic winter trip with Bernhard, Freya, Guus, Nils and Tanja - rescues in breaking surf, a Hilleberg tent heavily damaged in the storm...

Dec. 2007 - everything green - is this winter? Paddling on the Grecht with Guus.

Dec. 2008 - Turbulent, grey and cold water: the North Sea in the Voordelta - testing the performance of some new seakayaks with René.

Dec. 2009 - Winter paddling with Govert in the Biesbosch - very cold, most creeks were frozen - it was difficult to get access to the water because the banks of the river were frozen.

Dec. 2010 - Stuck in the snow - skipped several sea kayaking activities because of the chaos on the roads...

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Paddle to Seattle Film - online

Watch the full episode. See more Reel NW.

Paddle to Seattle is an entertaining film about two friends as they build their own kayaks and paddle together for 97 days through the wilderness on a journey from Alaska to Seattle. It's available on DVD (or buy it in Europe from Justine), but now for a limited time also streaming live until January, 25th. 2011 on PBS. Enjoy it, have a good time with Josh Thomas and J.J. Kelley!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Don't let snow and ice stop play!

ANP-news December, 6th: This weekend it was colder in the Netherlands than in Canada and West-Greenland. Quit unusual.

These days ice makes paddling impossible on the channels and lakes around Woerden. And I noticed that the cold weather keeps more (otherwise winter-proof-) paddlers inside. Ice-skating is no alternative, the ice conditions are poor due tot the wind and the snow. Followers of my Facebook-pages will have noticed that I take up biking again. Not on the road (too slippery, too much salt for the road racing bicycle), but off-road with the mountain-bike. Often I bike with another canoe-enthusiast, it's good fun playing in the snow.
On the link-list I've added a category for the bike-blogs I like. The first blogs in the lists are the blog of Rose - a passionate Dutch road cyclist who now also is discovering the fun of cycling off-road and the blog of Jill, a real adventure cyclist - living in the Western part of Montana. Compared to the conditions in Montana our winter is peanuts and winter-biking here is child's play compared the trips Jill makes in the fantastic scenery of the Mountains in Montana! (note: Wanderlust!).

Monday, November 29, 2010

The polar night of Groningen - Faces of Greenland

How to survive the cold? Learn about it in "the Polar Night of Groningen". This winter the city of Groningen is a polar city. During a lively festival you can visit several exhibitions, attend public lectures, meet polar scientists, experience the polar night, win a trip to Spitsbergen and see lots of polar movies!

The festival is organized to bring the Polar Regions, and all it’s aspects, closer to the public. Groningen also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Arctic Centre at the University. Together with colleague polar scientists and organizations such as WWF, Blikveld and KNNV publisher the Arctic Centre organizes the ‘Poolnacht van Groningen’ [Polar Night of Groningen] from November 15th 2010 until January 15th 2011.

One of the many highlights of the festival is the exposition "Faces of Greenland" with b&w-pictures of Ko de Korte.

Biologist Ko de Korte and his colleagues spent the field seasons of 1973-1975 in the Scoresby Sund area, studying breeding birds on the tundra. The researchers were warmly welcomed by the people of Ittoqqortoormiit, who invited them into their homes and shared with them their stories as well as the meat of animals they had hunted in and around the fjord.

Being intrigued by the Inuit people and their impressive way of life, Ko de Korte photographed them. Building upon his relations with these people, he portrayed them during the daily activities in their natural environment, capturing the essence of life in Ittoqqortoormiit.

Faces of the Scoresby Sund shows not only the strength and perseverance of these people, but also the joys and hardships of living in one of the most extreme outposts of the Arctic.

Not able to visit Groningen? It's a shame, but there is also a book: Faces from the Scoresby Sund

This season's first marathon speed skating race on natural ice in Groningen

This evening the small village of Noordlaren (located in the northern part of the Netherlands, in Groningen) had this year's première of a speed skating race on natural ice. A few nights of frost is all the Dutch need to get completely mad about speed skating. To be fair I am no exception, although I am also a bit disappointed that my Tuesday-evening kayak routine stops this early this winter.
The water around the boathouse of the local kayakclub in Woerden iss covered with ice since this morning. It's not enough ice to skate, but enough ice to make paddling impossible. I hope this "ice-break" won't last as long as it did last year (in the winter of 2009-2010 it was 7 weeks impossible to paddle around Woerden).

Paddling (and biking) buddy Alex helps me to get over my deception: tomorrow-evening we are not going to paddle, but are going to skate (on the indoor ice track of Utrecht)!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The first rolls of Lieke: Greenland style

My daughter Lieke made the first rolls this evening in the swimming pool of the Alphense Kanovereniging the Kromme Aar. At the first session a few weeks ago I worked with Lieke on the balace brace, and we finished with a "lightly assisted" butterfly roll. Today, at the second session, Lieke progressed from the buttterfly roll to the standard Greenland roll. The technique needs some finetuning, but the roll is already quit solid. Lieke is a totally different learner compared to her brother Jelle. Jelle is an explosive, agressive hip-flic roller, while Lieke's focus is more on gentle body movements. Jelle first learned the hand-roll and is still convinced a paddle only makes rolling harder...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wifi - Er gaat niets boven Groningen...

Groningen was to become one of the first cities in the world with free wireless internet throughout the city. But the implementation of the wireless network was (too) complex, got delayed and now the project is finally cancelled. And just today (to be even more specific: this afternoon at half past two) 22 years ago, the Netherlands were connected to the Internet as the second country in the world (after the USA). Thanks to Piet Beertema, system administrator of CWI (with this name undoubtedly with roots from Groningen), whose good international contacts played an important role. Two years earlier he registered the first country code: .nl
So you see: " gaat niets boven Groningen" - Groningen tops it all.

Thanks Bob and Josine for the daily news-updates!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dutch innovation improves safety of low head dams for paddlers (and for swimmers)

Every paddler with a little bit of experience knows that low head dams (weirs) are dangerous, potentially lethal. Though you won't find serious white water in the flat Netherlands (the one exception is DWD), the canals in the country are full with hydraulic engineering installations, such as artificial weirs, pumping stations, inlets et cetera, creating potentially dangerous situations. And accidents happen; an example with huge impact was 2 years ago on the river de Berkel, where two people drowned in the water flow behind a low head dam.

Dutch engineers of the consultancy firm Oranjewoud developed a simple but effective solution that claims to take away the risk of drowning at low head dams: the Safety-slide. Two weeks ago the first Safety-slide was put into use at the low head dam in the canal de Nieuwe Wetering near Laag Zuthem. At the occasion of the official opening a team of NKB-WW-coaches did a safety test in the flow behind the dam and demonstrated the effectiveness of the Safety-slide.

Note: Dutch engineers are businessmen: the Safety-Slide is patent-protected, patent number: 1036143.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Surf kayaking video - Bakkum last week

Video by Wieger, kayakers in the clip: Wieger, Anoushka, Chris (no Hans... ;-()

Anoushka is regularly sending invitations to join the surf sessions in Bakkum. Alas it's a relative long drive from Woerden to Bakkum and in the weekend there are too often too many obligations/excuses not to go paddling - so it's a long time ago I surfed in Bakkum. The last time I did was quit memorable..

This week Anoushka attached a link to this nice video in the mail. I love to share it. It's so tempting! I want surf! Next time, no more excuses: I join the enthusiast friends in Makkum!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Rolling in Heerhugowaard

Kayakclub Ossa: 2 weeks ago Freek, Andre and I were invited to do a rolling clinic - Greenland-style - in Heerhugowaard. We enjoyed working with enthusiast and talented participants. Thanks to Ria for the organisation! More pictures and videos in the Picasaweb Album of KV Ossa.

Monday, October 25, 2010


David Fincher's film, about the founder(s) of the social-networking website Facebook, makes its début in the Dutch theatres this week, on October, 28th. I expect to welcome my 200st friend on Facebook before the end of the week...

It took some time for me to discover and understand the idea, the benefits and the fun of Facebook, but during the last months I started to appreciate the possibilities of this social medium. In the beginning I was puzzling what was the surplus value of the Facebook account above the weblog. I am still not quit sure, I associate it with keywords like easy, fast, responsive, interactive, common interest, personal, network, sharing. But also issues as privacy, big brother, flood of irrelevant notifications, commercialization, desultory, ego-trip do come in my mind. I have a tendency to look for rational arguments for what I am doing: I am the kind of guy that studies the manual first before he starts playing with a new toys. I want to read a quality city-guide before I start my journey... Regarding the world of computers and the Web2.0 however, I am beginning to realize the need for a different approach: the system of just trying, let it go, see what it brings... This is no plea for naivety nor simplicity: a sound suspicion is at its place regarding the (intentions of the) Zuckerbergs, Pages and Brins, Gates and Jobs of this world! Said this, I enjoy my Facebook community. It's a great way to stay in contact with relations all over the world. In recent times I am more frequently posting and commenting and am getting more responses on the Facebook account than on this weblog. Consequently the character of this weblog changes: more accent on timeless items and less on spontaneous mind-bubbles.

I digress. Sorry. After this (too long) introduction: I started writing todays' post to bring attention to an initiative of a good kayak-friend and colleague in the Dutch seakayaking commitee Ad Moerman. Ad is pushing a new platform for Dutch seakayakers: De digitale hangplek voor zeekajakkers. Despite the archaic title and the connotations which Ad uses for this platform (hangplek = meeting place to chat and hang around, dorpspomp = parish/village pump) it is really Web2.0: an application that facilitates interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web. Or to put it simple: Ad has created a Facebook-group for active seakayakers in the Netherlands: Voorwaartse Slag!!! All that's needed to join is a Facebook account - don't be too afraid for mr. Zuckerberg!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A dedicated weather-widget for seakayaking in the Netherlands

One of the "lessons learnt" in the Dutch seakayaking-incident last June regards trip-preparation: the importance of a proper orientation on to be expected conditions of weather, wind and waves. It may sound all very obvious, but it proves to be neglected easily... Standing on the beach, sheltered by the dunes conditions may look harmless, but what can you expect some miles out, a few hours later?

Axel has designed a helpful tool for Dutch seakayakers: "Vaarweer" - a weather widget that gives direct access to actual weather reports, wave statistics and tidal predictions for the most popular paddling destinations along the Dutch coast. I've put a link to Vaarweer in the lists of boormarks on the left side of the Kajakwoerden-weblog. Axel says (invites you to...) that (provided you are a bit more handy with internet-applications than I am..) it's also possible to integrate a Vaarweer-widget on any website.

Compared to 10-15 years ago there is much easier access to more, better and more specific information about the weather. Now it's about the skill how to interpret this amount of information!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Drysuit neck seal repair

As I put on my drysuit last Tuesday-evening, the neck gasket tore. First I was a bit disappointed because I was so excited to do a rolling session with a new kayak that I am reviewing at the moment. The vulnerability of the latex-seals of a drysuit is an issue, but don't dramatize it: unless your planning a long swim- or diving party, even with a broken neck gasket a drysuit offers quit a lot of protection: I put the hood of the Kokatat-GTX-Expedition-drysuit on, pulled the cords tight and could do 10-15 rolls before I noticed the first water intrusion.
Nevertheless: I want my drysuit to be dry - so it's time for a repair.

At a closer look I noticed another little tear in the top-end of the neck gasket and that the gasket is dried out at the end. So actually it's time for a replacement (the second one in 2-3 years). I am going to order a new neck seal, but first I used this occasion to check if I manage to repair the neck seal with simple means. I want to check if it's possible to do a quick provisional repair when I have a misfortune like this on a trip.

My bike repair kit stores the essentials for the repair: glue (TipTop blue- solutie/rubber glue: I use the blue professional one - but the standard bike-tyre repair glue must also do), a piece of an old inner tube to cut off some patches, and a piece of sand paper to scrape the gasket and the patches for better adhesion. The pair of scissors isn't in the picture. Repairing the gasket turned out to be as simple as fixing a flat tyre...

I applied a patch on both the inner and the outer side of the gasket...

... and cut off about 1 centimeter of the top end of the gasket (=the most dried out part) .

The complete repair was done within half an hour - I am curious how long this provisional repair lasts!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kanumesse report

The Youtube Channel of the Kanumesse lists a number of video-reports of this years show. I've uploaded a picture-report with comments of my encounters on the Playak website.

Trends I noticed on seakayaking:
  1. the increasing availability of seakayaks in multiple sizes (to fit a wide range of paddlers). After the introduction of low-, medium- and large volume versions in the (more expensive elite) series of composite kayaks in recent years, this multiple-size-idea is now also getting kind of standard with the (mass produced and more affordable) rotomolded PE-seakayaks;
  2. after a slow start the number of thermoformed seakayaks is now rapidly growing: providing a product similar to the quality of fiberglass in appearance and performance, but at a lower cost and even more robust;
  3. the sudden upswing of composite Greenland-style kayaks – 5 or 6 manufacturers presented a new kayak on the show with Greenland-inspired lines, hard-chined, narrow, low profile, small volume, long;
  4. while a lot of brands are out-placing a big deal of the production of composite seakayaks to China, European builders are focusing on the high end of the market and are discriminating themselves by using exclusive lay-ups and individually customizing their products.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Kanumesse 2010

Hans is in Germany - Nürnberg - meeting friends and checking what's new at the Kanumesse.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A short dip in the sea, next to the "Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier"

September is party-time in Woerden. Today is Janine's birthday. Our birthday parties are some kind of special: last week in Cologne, today in Zeeland. Janine planned a training with with 5 of her running-friends in Zeeland. They are preparing for the Zeeland-marathon - perhaps the heaviest marathon held in the Netherlands. I volunteered as driver for the running-team and took this opportunity for a quick dip with the kayak in the North-sea. While Janine and her friends were running on the beach, I played on the water with Stef and Monique. It was fun rolling and surfing with the Oosterscheldekering at the background.

Wind SW 4-5 Bft. Temp. 15 C.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On a sunny September day near Harlingen.. it quit busy with traffic along the Pollendam. This picture is made by Klaas as we returned to Harlingen after the rescue-training with the KNRM last week.

Party weekend!

Bernhard invited friends and family for a party in Cologne at Blackfoot Beach. It was a sunny and relaxed weekend: chatting, eating, drinking and dancing, playing at the water (and celebrating my own birthday ;-). We had a great time! Thanks Bernhard!

Blackfoot offered demo-kayaks and Stand-Up-Paddle-boards. Hakola, Bernhard and Hans opened the party with a Greenland-style rolling demonstration.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Getting a seakayak(er) on board of the lifeboat...

.. is some kind of special. KNRM lifeboat-station Terschelling invited NKB zeevaren for a training with kayaks and the Arie Visser (=the largest and most powerfull lifeboat of the KNRM). This afternoon Joris, Govert, Axel and I joined the lifeboat crew in their training at the Waddensee. Conditions were calm, perfect to try out several different methods to bring an injured kayaker and his kayak on board. The video shows how an "unconscious" paddler, laying on a raft of 3 kayaks is taken on board.

The training was very useful for both kayakers and lifeboat-crew. The best way to take on board a paddler who is conscious, proved to be by separating the paddler from his kayak. This is one of the situations where a (long) waist-mounted towline is welcome. When the paddler clips this towline on the bow of the kayak, before leaving his kayak, the lifeboat crew can easily bring the kayak on board after getting the paddler on board.

More pictures in the Picasa-webalbum.
Thanks Joris for the video's!

Btw: swam a lot: the Kokatat Goretex Expedition drysuit was very comfortable this afternoon!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sail Amsterdam 2010

Bringing a salute to the tall ships of Sail on the Saturday morning has become a tradition, organised by the 3 kayakclubs of Amsterdam on every edition of Sail Amsterdam. This morning a group of 380 kayaks and canoes paddled along the imperessive Sail-fleet in the IJ harbour in Amsterdam, under escort of the water-police.
I got up early to meet Natasha, Hanny, Nynke, Paul and Jan at 6 AM at the boathouse of KV Wyrda - the local kayakclub. We loaded 2 canoes and my Tahe Greenland-kayak on the clubtrailer and drove to Amsterdam: the kayak-salute was scheduled from 8.30 till 9.30 AM. After the coffee at the Amsterdam Marine Emplacement I said bye to my kayak-friends from Woerden and slipped back into the Greenland to paddle home to Woerden. Starting in the canals of Amsterdam, I paddled a long list of Dutch rivers and canals: Amstel, Bullewijk, Waver, Winkel, Vinkeveense Plassen, Ringvaart Polder Mijdrecht, Wilnisse Zuwe, Heinoomsvaart, Kromme Mijdrecht, Kamerikse Wetering, Grecht and Oude Rijn. A nice trip through the Green Heart of Holland: it's amazing how close the countryside is to the Dutch capital...

According to the GPS I paddled 47,1 km from the Marine Emplacement to Woerden. With the visit to the Tallships added, I paddled a total distance of about 60 kms today. It was the first time I paddled such a long distance in the Tahe Greenland and I never paddled such a long distance with a Greenland-stick. It felt good. More on that later!

More pictures of the Kayak-salute to Sail 2010:
sail 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back on the water - in Woerden

Woerdy: the mascot of the local youth summer-activities

Back home from hiking, biking and climbing in the Alps. After 4 weeks of abstinence I felt the urgent need to go for a paddle and to check if it still works: the paddling thing. Well, I am not disappointed: I could keep up with Guus ;-), a little training for the longer distances would be fine though (next Saturday 65 paddling-kms on schedule..), the rolls still worked.

On the local water some changes: temperature of the water has risen (fine for rolling), the water has also got a bit smelly and green (not so fine for rolling, keep the mouth shut and nose and ear-plugs in...), and Woerdy has come.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Paddling on the Oosterschelde - circumnavigating Galgenplaat

Slideshow of the trip 9 days ago, on a very hot saturday. Thanks to Stef and Monique for the hospitality!

Dutch seakayakers in deep trouble...

- The incident report is now also available in an English version: click here;
- Axel posted 2 posts about the incident on his weblog: The incident, The incident revisited.

5 weeks ago an incident with a group of seakayakers was "breaking news" in Dutch media (radio, TV, web and newspapers). I can't remember this happened ever before in the past 15 years (= the period I am involved in Dutch seakayaking). For some extent the buzz will have been because there was no other news in summertime (we call this: "komkommertijd" the Dutch expression for the "silly season"). But it was a really serious incident: a group of 9 paddlers got into trouble in big and steep breaking waves of 2-3 meter above the sandbank "de Razende Bol". The group got split up, 3 paddlers lost contact with the group, 2 of them capsized, 1 lost his kayak, the coastguard and 2 lifeboats from the KNRM were involved in the search- and rescue operation. Fortunately,no one got really (physically) harmed: the lifeboat rescued the capsized paddlers and the 3 lost paddler finally had radio contact and managed to get back to the group. One of the swimmers was brought into hospital with signs of hypothermia - but in the evening all were safe and healthy home. A broken seakayak and 9 broken ego's were the final harm.

The incident has raised many questions in the Dutch seakayaking community: Who was involved? Were the paddlers experienced seakayakers or not? What happened? What went wrong? What were the conditions? Could this incident have been avoided? What can we learn from this? Answers to these (and many more) questions can be found in the extensive and thoroughly report the group has published last week. You can find this report (in Dutch) and read it yourself via the website of Peddelpraat, or by clicking HERE. (The report reads like a new chapter in Seakayaker in Deep Trouble - the book of true stories and there lessons from Sea Kayaker magazine by Matt Broze and George Gronseth).

For the non-Dutch readers: I am sure there is an English summery on it's way. The group consisted of 9 experienced kayak-guides and coaches. The conclusion of the group is that the incident occurred just because it was an informal meeting of tour-leaders, paddling "as friends together", forgetting and neglecting some real essentials of leadership and safety. The group realizes they made basic mistakes. On the other hand: their experience and trained nature contributed to the "good" ending and prevented to some extent things getting worse - All realized it could easily have ended much more dramatical.

I have great appreciation and admiration for the open and honest way in which the group has reported about the incident! It makes all of us aware of our vulnerability. Don't say this can't happen to you...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The end of the radio silence?!

Never before it has been quiet on for such a long time. Just like earlier periods of silence it's (partly) because I was busy with other things. Actually these were "nice things" mostly: I enjoyed working for the Dutch provinces (which is quit busy lately, but also fun in a period of an uncertain constellation in national politics), supplemented with a lot of diversion in the private context: biking (Alpe d Huez with racers), biking (with bikers), biking (with family) and more outdoor-activities for the balance between body and mind ;-). A more basic reason for the silence is, that with the weather being very hot during the last weeks, it wasn't too inviting to spent leisure time behind the PC.

But there was also a different issue that kept me from blogging this time: let's call it a serious kind of blog-fatigue. This became very obvious to me after the Dutch seakayak-incident (I'll write more about it in a following post) some weeks ago. On June, the 13th. a group of Dutch seakayakers got into serious problems. In a big rescue operation 2 lifeboats were involved, one paddler was taken to hospital. Fortunately nobody got injured, but the incident received a lot of attention in Dutch press. The temptation to write in my blog about this incident was great for me. But I hesitated to do so. The reason was that, though I wasn't personally involved in this incident, I felt very connected: personally - because I know most paddlers of the group and call them good friends, functionally - because most of the paddlers are NKB-coaches (and I happen to be in charge for the NKB-seakayaking committee...). The activity on the 13th. wasn't part of the NKB-seakayaking-program but was a non-formal meeting of tour-leaders and coaches who are active for Peddelpraat. The people involved wanted and deserved time for reflection and to get the chance to publish their own story. I respect this and decided not to make things more complex by commenting from the sideline. A short, neutral and factual message was issued along the "official channels"of the Dutch seakayaking-organisations and a more thoroughly report was announced.

The incident gave rise to a discussion within the committee about the blogging activities of some of their members. Although my weblog-activities are strictly on personal title: it's the same person writing who is in charge for NKB-seakayaking... I do realize this and try to keep things apart - when needed. It's good we have this discussion once in a while. It's good to be aware of one's responsibilities. But I admit that thinking about what I can write and what I can't write sometimes takes a bit of the spontaneity. In combination with the other factors this made me rethinking my intentions with this blog. It started 6 years ago with the idea of an easy method for sharing pictures and reports with the people I paddle with. In the beginning it was a blog in Dutch only visited by a small number of fellow paddlers. Soon it grew into this exercise in writing a kayak-dairy in English, visited over 100.000 times by people worldwide...

The idea of sharing experiences and pictures is still leading. But I think it's time for a refreshment. Back to the roots - more room for pictures, shorter and more spontaneous messages and back to the interaction with fellow paddlers. Nothing wrong with a bit of ambition ;-)
Lasty week I started gently with a slight restyling of the blog (more space for pictures) and I am exploring how to make it more direct, responsive and interactive - I am thinking about integrating the blog into facebook or another social network. It will take some time before changes take place, and there will also be a period of silence
again (holiday in the Alpes . My short term intention is not to bore the reader with text as long as this one ;-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

Men in their 40's, 50's and 60's....

A quick glance through Mont Purgatoire. from Habbekrats on Vimeo.

...cycling up the steepest mountains. Photographer Adriaan van der Ploeg zooms in on the faces of the nameless peloton of aged men. At first glance his work looks like classical sports-photography, but on a closer look it reveils this aren't cycling idols, but anti-heroes looking for their individual experience. The exposition of Adriaan's photo-project Montpurgatoire opens tomorrow in the Kunsthal Rotterdam.
What a timing: this middle aged men is on the road tomorrow for his own sporting challenge: the Alpe d'Huez: just for fun ;-)

Completely different, but no less interesting photo-expositions:

Wild Wonders of Europe, until August, 30th in the city of the Hague: top-nature photography in an unique 24 hrs a day open outdoor exposition. I jumped by at the opening last week - one of the little priviliges of working in the Dutch residence...

De Ontdekking van Japan - exposition of the Japan-project of the iconic Dutch Photographer Ed van der Elsken in the new Gallery "Fotogalerie in de Gewelven" in the castle of Woerden. Fabulous!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Voordelta: 80 new information panels for 16 million people

Last week I was invited for the official inauguration of the new information panels in the Voordelta. On 80 different locations in the Voordelta brand new information panels now offer the visitor information about the characteristics of this unique natural habitat and about the regulations. The maps look good and the text is clear. They are no substitute for a nautical map (to navigate), but the information panels offer a (far more) detailed overview of the restricted area's and do also explain in detail about the rules in force for every part of this area.

The now finished project with the information panels was one of the final steps in the implementation of the "beheerplan Voordelta". I've written about the impact the new rules have for seakayaking in this area 2 years ago - click here. The Dutch seakayak-associations were consulted and the interests of the seakayakers are really taken in account: compared to the situation some years ago there are restrictions, but the Voordelta still is a very attractive area for seakayaking!

8o new signs: it's a lot. The necessity to illustrates how crowded the Netherlands are: 16 million people living here. In 1995 Guus Meeuwis sang his song about a relaxed and tolerant Dutch society: "15 million people living on a tiny strip of earth". Much has changed since then: we've lost our innocence...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ready for the Alps?

I neglected blogging a bit lately. This is partly because my current focus is a more on biking than on kayaking. In just over a week I'll go the French Alps for a road-bike-holiday with a group of sportive colleagues. I am looking forward to the little break in the busy days. It's a relaxed idea to have some days of. On the other hand, I do feel some tension: although this biking-event is purely recreational, I must admit being a little bit eager to perform ;-) I don't want to lag behind the group climbing the mountain roads. I also want to perform a decent time on the time trail on the Dutch Mountain: the Alpe d'Huez. That's one of the reasons I have spent more time on the bike than in the kayak during the past weeks. (The dominant reason for biking is I enjoy every moment with my good biking friends Linda (on the road-bike) and Alex (on the MTB)!).

I can't tell if all this biking is a truly effective preparation. We biked on the bigger humps nearby to do some climbing: at first glance the tracklog-profile looks impressive. But on the second look it's ridiculous: the highest point is just about 60 meters high (de Amerongse Berg). That's what we call a mountain here: You're biking down before you've even noticed you were climbing...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jazzin Woerden: Caro Emerald

"Woerden bruist" - the next party in Kajakwoerden's hometown is Jazzin Woerden - the Music Festival. Top-act of the festival is Caro Emerald, successful in the Dutch music charts and outside our borders perhaps known from the latest Martini Moments-campaign:

Caro Emerald is the new kid on the block, but boy does she sound like she's been around! A voice so seductive and sultry it's hard to believe she just recorded her debut album, a mix of 1950's inspired ballroom jazz, cinematic tangoes, groovin' jazz tracks, infectious mambo's and banging beats.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woerden Triathlon

The Triathlon is every year one big party in Woerden. Volunteers from KV Wyrda escort the athletes in the water-segment.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Meeting of the Salwasserunion coaches and guides on Spiekeroog

SAU BC treffen spiekeroog 2010
Click on the icon above for a slideshow of the pictures of this weekend. It was amazing cold and chilly in Northern Germany (need to wear gloves, scarf and and a warm cap at this time of the year?!) - but a great weekend nevertheless! The theme of the training this year was seakayak-communication with VHF radios. Some interesting results. More on that later.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Low pressure is steadily coming in...

I've seldom seen such a beautiful linear pressure graphic on my watch: alas it's going down ;-)
Better pack the rain-wear for this weekend!

Packing for the next trip

It's a short break in Woerden: Yesterday I returned from the Anglesey Seakayak Symposium, tomorrow I'll leave again to join the meeting of the kayak-guides and instructors of the Salzwasserunion at the German Wadden-Isle Spiekeroog.
On Anglesey it was camping the luxe. At Spiekeroog it will be "back to the basics": everything must fit in the kayak, because we'll paddle to Spiekeroog. And packing volume in a Tahe Greenland kayak is limited...
"Als de kat van huis is, dansen de muizen": because the family wasn't home today I took the opportunity and packed the kayak in the living...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Goodbye Anglesey

Anglesey Symposium - Day 3 - Soldiers Point - the Skerries

The third day of the symposium offers no open workshops: the first BCU-courses start on Monday. Guests that don't take part in one of the BCU-courses are invited for half- and whole-day paddles. The paddle to the Skerries was announced for hard core paddlers looking for a struggle: an increasing Northerly wind force 4 Bft. would guarantee 12 km paddling against the wind on the way to the skerries. Well, the wind was not as strong as expected: the trip to the Skerries was a very relaxed paddle - a fitting final of a nice week paddling in Wales!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Anglesey Symposium - the bird

Anglesey Symposium Day 2 - moving water workshop

Fiona and Axel did a workshop on foundation skills on movinbg water: reading the water, ferry gliding, breaking in and out of the eddy-line, feel for the boat: edging and sweep strokes. The Menai-street was an excellent playspot for this workshop.

Anglesey Symposium Day 1 - the Crash and Dash workshop

The Crash and Dash-workshop is about kayak repair on and off the water - but first a kayak has to be crashed. Which turned out to be a hard job. Graham did the first attempt and then Carin threw herself dauntlessly on the rocks - cool lady this Carin ;-)