Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Islands in the sun

I am back in Bahia de Tortugas from a week of Magic Pacific Baja paddling with Ginni Callahan to Isla Cedros and Isla Natividad.

The information we had of this area was one, not so detailed, nautical chart and one general information page in a pilot. Depending on local knowledge, all we got was that there was ´curriente´. I could write pages and pages on this wonderful explorative trip. But I am typing this in the local Internet café so I keep it short. Meeting great people along the way, Ginni´s Spanish made all the difference. Sunny days, beautiful beaches, ocean wildlife, great aroyo hikes and good food.

I still have no good feeling for the Pacific swell. 11+ second swell sets from both the south and the north give some (for me) hair raising adrenaline-rich landings and launchings on dump-surf beaches. Lost my good old Lendal cap in one of those. Standing safe on the beach I am thinking ´is this all that I have been anxious about?´, noting special, until that big set arrives... Not that familiar and predictable North Sea wind-generated surf. After a few days we had worked-out the tides and our circumnavigation around Isla Natividad was completely done with a favourable current, or was it us just lucky by coincidence?

I cannot upload pictures yet, to be followed.

Read more about this trip on Ginni´s Blog.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Above picture of a lone Puffin was taken at Carmel Head in Anglesey at the end of September. Rather late for a Puffin to still be here. It's colorful outer part of it's beak almost shed. It's mates long migrated north to spend the winter at sea in the North Atlantic. Is it ill? Is it missing the genetically imprinted instinct to head north? Or does it just want to be there? Do birds have a choice or only act on instinct? Why is it not taking to it's wings?

I am typing this flying across the North Atlantic, heading west, then south. Taking jet-powered man-made wings of an airplane. Flying over the Winter habitat of the Atlantic Puffin. I am 'migrating' too. For the first time ever I will be spending some Winter months in a sunny and warm environment. Not to flee the cold Dutch Winter. Leaving friends and family behind for more than just a few weeks, emotional good bye's. No forwarding address, maybe some sporadic mobile phone coverage, and for sure, the internet access life line.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Iceberg Territory

We returned from two days of supervised coach practice on the West Coast of Scotland. The second day we where at the Falls of Lora tidal feature. This time I did not swim. Well, this time around I was coaching and although I did not 'capsize', there were some 'wobbly' moments, from the coaching perspective. A dynamic environment of flows, counter flows, whirlpools, boils and waves, rushing sounds, rapid moving scenery. Different learning styles, past experiences and comfort levels. Tense and smiling faces. Sunny, with some liquid spells.

Dreaming of one time being a certified BCU level 5 sea kayak coach? I enjoy and value the journey more so. Yesterday we, the trainees, wrote down our 'action plan'. Not a detailed road-map, maybe some hints towards signposts we want to be watching for. For sometimes we worry if we are heading in the 'right' direction. What is the 'right' direction anyway? Maybe it is 'just' the way forward.

One of the ways to describe the 'goal of coaching' that got me thinking was:
"To join someone on their map and, by providing experiences that challenge their perception of the territory, our students might redraw their map."

What if I would invert this description to: "Gaining experiences that challenges my perception of the territory, possibly redrawing my own map."