Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Almost every season the crossing of the IJsselmeer lake from Oude Zeug to Stavoren is on the Peddelpraat club paddling calendar. It is a 17 km crossing to Stavoren and the same distance back.

Only just before Stavoren the wind picked-up to the forecasted northeasterly 4-5 Beaufort. This is a holiday weekend and the IJsselmeer is crowded with sailing boats.

We arrived around noon in Stavoren. We had lunch and I dozed in the sunshine on the grass sheltered from the wind. The coast guard by now reported a solid force 5 from the northeast. Unfortunately that meant the waves were side-on on our return journey, so no surfing a following sea. The best was saved for last. We had aimed a little bit high and could surf for the last half hour back to the put-in, 'flying'.

At 16:30 we were back at the Oude Zeug harbour. Some very tired. Indeed it is an 'advanced' trip, that more than once participants underestimate, including me, but that was many years ago.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Verdamp lang her

A few months ago I slowly started to transfer my music CD's to MP3 format for use on my mobile 'everything/everywhere' gadget. Along came one of my all-time favorite bands, BAP, that I have not listened to for ten years or so. And they are hardly ever played on the radio, at least not anywhere other than in their home country. It now plays at max volume over my car stereo. It is probably strongly encoded in my genes that I did not find it too hard then to learn to understand the local Cologne/German dialect they sing their lyrics in.

It is interesting what time does to dreams. Would I have ever imagined then where I am today? It has been a long time ago... The best things I did find have not been the things I was looking for. Stop dreaming, stop searching?

Words, as powerful as ever, in any language or even personal dialect.

Verdamp lang her, dat ich fast alles ähnz nohm.
Verdamp lang her, dat ich ahn jet jejläuv
Ich weiβ noch, wie ich nur dovun gedräump hann,
wovunn ich nit woss, wie ich et sööke sollt,
vüür lauter Söökerei et Finge jlatt versäump hann
un övverhaup, wat ich wo finge wollt.
Ne Kopp voll nix, nur die paar instinktive Tricks.
Et duhrt lang, besste dich durchblicks.

(BAP - Verdamp lang her)

Saturday, May 02, 2009


This year marks my tenth year attending the Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium. It was in May 2000 that I visited for the first time to check out a feature that I had only heard talking about: tide-races and overfalls.

Anglesey, as I know now, is blessed with a great many of them. And they run 'around the clock'. How 'good' they run is very difficult to predict. A highly variable blend of current (springs/neaps), wind (strength/direction), waves and swell (height/direction) account for very varied conditions.

Today was one of those days when all variables combined to create a magical Penrhyn Mawr tide-race. For your information, it was a neap tide... Somehow races look less intimidating when the sun shines. For the first time I looped in a tide-race. PM was still running and highly playable when we returned to the beach. Ten years ago I would plan my route to avoid tide-races, now I am playing in them at heart's content.
Planning to play in tide-races, the necessary personal skills and leadership issues involved should not be underestimated. The Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium (or specialist courses) are a great (and safe) way to get introduced/advance into these tidal phenomena. I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to them by the local experts.
Ten years might have gone-by but I am as thrilled as my first paddling strokes catching and surfing the tidal waves.

Many happy returns!

For a slide-show click on one of the above pictures.