Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paddle (re-) Sizing

Cleaning-out my 'unused paddling gear' section I (again) ran into my first two Lendal Paddles. For many years now these 226cm PowerMaster and 224cm Nordkapp paddles (90 degrees feather!) stand unused in a corner.

I changed to the Nordkapp from the PowerMaster in my first year on the sea after having had to tow for real against a 5 Beaufort wind and going nowhere. I then thought only the smaller Nordkapp blades would be enough... Paddle sizing in those days was just how far you could reach your arm to have your fingers cup over the blade end. The bigger the blade, the better... Times have changed... Now I use a 210cm KineticTouring.

I thought of selling them second-hand on-line, but my coach mindset prevents me of putting someone else up with these (for the general sea kayaker) unsuitable long paddles. Generally, for performance sea kayaking, anything longer than 215cm needs justification (nowadays), taking into account blade size also.

Lendal once explained to me how to remove blades from a broken shaft. The circular cutting (with a hack-saw) makes it easy to 'peel-off' the glued-on shaft (see picture).

In my case there is enough length of shaft left to make it into a 215cm paddle. Removing the left blade allowed me to retain the right-hand 'index' on the shaft. I chose to make the Nordkapp into a 210cm paddle. The PowerMaster 'magically' got transformed into a 205cm KineticTouring. The only bit I need new is the shrink foil for the hand-grip and epoxy to glue-on the blade.

How many donated paddles must there be at kayak clubs with which new club members get introduced to paddling? Are they of suitable length and feather? It is rather straightforward to shorten a Lendal paddle and change the feather to a more ergonomic 60 degrees.

Lendal for many years has been very widely-used in the Netherlands. It is good to know that Lendal is now fully operational again from this side of the Atlantic (UK), after the misfired Johnson Outdoors take-over. Also the founders of Lendal are on-board for guidance and product development. Some very interesting developments are on their way!! It looks like Lendal (again) is the driving force in paddle innovations!

Now my Lendals are 'updated', would I sell them now? No, they are a welcome addition to my extensive set of Lendal PaddLok/VariLok paddles for coaching. Irrespectable of brand name, a suitable paddle length is fundamental for individual (forward) paddling skills development.

Note: Modern Lendal blades (PaddLok), even when they are one-piece / glued-on, have a 8.5cm spigot. The picture in this post is of older Lendal blades that have a 6cm spigot.

Note: If you want to make a split paddle out of a Lendal paddle, consider buying a 2-piece PaddLok shaft (specify the length of the paddle-to-be). While a bit more expensive, it turns the paddle into a very durable split that is suitable for everyday use. A spring-button-only joint (non-PaddLok) wears the shaft out.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Ray Goodwin Canoeing

On the way to North Wales and Anglesey, Karien and I dropped by Ray Goodwin for a cuppa. It was great to learn that he was at home so I finally had a chance to meet Lina and their daughter Maya. Ray made us a great omelet for lunch and we had lots to talk about.

Ray was thrilled to show me the first production copy of his ground-breaking canoeing book. It will be delivered to distributors and shops nearby you as we speak. What a timing! Long in process (quality takes time) it is out now! Make sure you secure your copy fast as pre-orders on Amazon have already sold out. You can also order your (signed) copies directly from Ray Goodwin.

I am in Wales to pick-up sea kayaks and take care of some BCU stuff that needs attending. Fortunately, good friend Karien is accompanying me and we make a bit of a holiday out of it, as compensation of not having been at the Anglesey symposium this May.

While Ray is now most widely known for his canoeing, he has been guiding sea kayaking trips in Scotland and Pembrokeshire for the Dutch Peddelpraat club for about 14 years now. Next week he takes them on a trip to the Outer Hebrides. He also has been an inspirational guest coach at our annual Peddelpraat sea kayaking week in August.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Doesn't sound right

In the weekend of 5 to 7 Augustus 2011 international championship powerboat races are held off Den Helder.

As a sea kayaker I feel strongly involved with the Nature values of the Waddensea. Besides enjoying nature and the sport of sea kayaking, there rests also a clear responsibility on the sea kayaker on how to sensibly deal with the natural environment. Even when choice of destinations and routes become more regulated, as has been the case in recent years, with the expansion of prohibited areas in the Waddensea.

It is unbelievable that the Province of North-Holland has issued a 5-year license for this Grand Prix of the Sea event. An event that can act as precedent for further polluting activities (power boating) in this environmentally sensitive area. Note that only in 2009, with great national publicity and pride, the whole Waddensea was granted Unesco World Heritage Site status. This event is not something the Province can be proud of.

I can only guess to what extend noise levels regulations will be exceeded during this event. Observing the rather short and very winding 'race-track' close to shore, public and housing estates, I wonder if all environmental and safety risks have been fully addressed.

Furthermore what will be the impact on the seals and birds on the Noorderhaaks sand spit prohibited area? When, in de days before and after the event, everything that has 'power' will congregate at Den Helder and sure want to 'race' around Noorderhaaks. Whether or not staying (just) outside of any prohibited area's, the noise will be horrendous and continuous. Currently this IS already sometimes an issue with jet-ski's. Experience of the past years shows that the seals (and high-water-refuge resting birds) do not care about the restricted areas and can be found in numbers at any place on and off the Noorderhaaks sand spit.

Within the Dutch sea kayaking community there is a continuous awareness building effort to have all sea kayakers understand their possible negative impact on nature and advice them of the do's and don'ts. Personally I am now much more aware than just five years ago. And then this happens... We're set back twenty years.

It remains to be seen how badly our annual Peddelpraat sea kayaking week is affected by this event that runs in the same week. Peddelpraat can start to plan leaving North Holland and look for another venue for it's sea instruction week. Where to go?