Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

Axel Schoevers (Photo: A. de Krook) Name:
Axel Schoevers
Rijswijk, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A line in the sand, light on the horizon

Today was a great day on the sea with Peddelpraat. Whatever we paddle we are allways in sight of Huisduinen lighthouse, that's the plan. And generally aiming 'for somewhere' on Noorderhaaks sand-spit and visiting the southeastern tip of the island Texel. Exact route dependent more on the wind than the tide.

The wind is a solid northerly 4 Beaufort. With 18 participants we split up in two pods; one with Onno. Ron is also here today. Ron and Onno have been paddling mates since teenage and both were leaders of my first ever open water paddling trips, and I enjoyed many early-years 'epic' paddling trips with them. This is their home waters and they are still younger than me.

The crossing to Noorderhaaks is a 'northerly-ish' ferry glide. The springtide ebb is very fierce today and the southwestern tip of Noorderhaaks and the surf west of it becomes closer and closer... We land on the most southwesterly part of Noorderhaaks.

Our next leg is paddling close inshore to the southeastern tip, avoiding the strength of the current. However, we have to re-think as a seal floats by next to the beach at about 3 knots... A small over-fall is forming... My kayak for a play... A nice open-ended channel between sand bars offers us a shallow route avoiding this tidal corner.

The rest is pretty much straightforward. Having lunch, stopping on Texel and crossing back to Huisduinen. I set up my sail. With a 4-5 Beaufort wind I am cruising at 4-5 knots without paddling, maintaining exactly the groups downwind paddling speed.

A varied day with wind, tide, current, waves, shipping, sunshine, seals, sand, sand, more sand, a beacon lighthouse, good friends, white clouds, clearing blue skies, a fresh wind and 360° of open horizon.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Baja Pictures

7 people with a total of 11 camera's on an 10-day sea kayaking trip in Baja Mexico from Loreto to La Paz resulted in 4000 pictures. When someones says a picture is worth a 1000 words does this mean I have to describe the experience in 4 million words? Skipping the 'crap' I am still left with 469 pictures. Killing many darlings and I end-up with 155 pictures. Maybe in a few months I could cut back to less than 100? And I could summarize the experience with one word anyway. Amazing!
While February/March has a high chance of seeing whales from the kayak in this area, there is no guarantee. But we were fortunate to see quite a few and a Finn whale VERY CLOSE. Amazing!
What looks like guaranteed this time of year, apart from seeing dolphins, is touching Grey whale mother and calves in Magdalena Bay area at Adolfo Lopez Mateos on the west coast. Reading and hearing about it I was a bit apprehensive about it. Would we be harassing the whales? Anyway when the Grey whale mothers with their calves are literally off the panga (motorboat) dock and they swim towards the pangas for a baby shower and human touch, one can hardly say they are disturbed. And with their size a panga is hardly a match for any corrective slaps. Greys are HUGE! Their skin feels like a very thick wet shammy leather. Amazing!
Only just recently I saw in a documentary how Grey whales feed (in Alaska). They scoop-up ocean floor sediment to filter out amphipods, shrimp-like animals that live in the sediment. Amazing!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Journey's End

This morning, the last day of February, the final issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine arrived on my doorstep. My subscription started in 1998. Vividly remembering missing the August 1997 issue from the newsstand that was also sold-out as back-issue... No more issues to be missed, up until from now on.

As a reader, I learned lots about sea kayak safety and awareness. I got my copy of 'Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble' from my role-model sea kayak instructor. He passed his copy on to me with the remark: 'stupid people doing stupid things'. I learned lots from it, did a few embarrassingly stupid things myself, learned from it and shared it so others could learn from it.

My 1999 Southeast Alaska adventure was inspired by reading articles about paddling the inside passage of this state that I became to love while backpacking the Pacific Northwest & Alaska. Never touching my back-pack again ever since I started using my 'float-pack'.

As a writer, I felt very privileged to have two (technical) articles published in SK. A third article, my journey in the Faeroes, went through various edits with Christopher Cunningham but never made it in print. It just did not make the mark. I learned lots about writing in that process, thank you Chris! It is not easy to be published in a quality magazine. With the ending of Sea Kayaker Magazine I think that quality is lost.

Christopher writes in the final issue that reader surveys showed less interest in longer outings and more interest in day trips. Maybe 'sea kayaking' has become so popular that the relative interest has shifted towards 'recreational day trips'. Sea kayak touring is a mere niche compared to SOT, kayak fishing, SUP, kayak fitness, etc.

With the internet there is too much competing 'content'. Quality is rarely the norm anymore, just the speed to 'blurb' it out. It takes me about one hour to write a post for my blog. Not that I pretend quality, I just cannot find the motivation to post anything 'lasting only a day' on Facebook or tweet my moods. Too much time wasted on computers anyway.

I found myself reading Sea Kayaker Magazine only when I am away from my computer, which is less and less. The luxury of relaxed reading without interference of 'nagging' e-mails on the ferry to and from Britain on my way to Anglesey... It won't be too long before we can access free internet from the remotenest of places and never be without. I just returned from a wonderful trip in Baja with Ginni Callahan and found out that phone and internet access are creeping down the coast from Loreto...

Three boxes of paper copies remain. Thank you Sea Kayaker for the journey!