Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Life goes on

I just returned from coaching at our annual Peddelpraat sea kayaking week. It was a delight to work with aspirant coaches Fred and Arjan.

We had wind, waves, surf and even a proper tidal race. It seems tidal races are popping up everywhere now in the Netherlands. That is that our eyes are trained more and more to spot these infrequent opportunities of standing waves over sand bars; wind against spring-tide ebb.

During the week I learned from Martin that Nigel Laybourne had passed away in June. When Peddelpraat organized their first sea insruction week (in the late seventees) they brought over Nigel to show the way. Martin gave a slide-show (yes, 'analog' slides!) of "Sea Kayaking 1.0".

My first "Peddelpraat Sea Camp", as a very novice and shy paddler, was in 1994, with Nigel Laybourne. I remember him as an extremely patient coach. In 2000 I had the pleasure to paddle with him (again) at the Anglesey Symposium.

Last week someone used the phrase "Life goes on" in an unrelated context. That had me thinking... Ending-up as the title of this post.

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!