Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Derek Hutchinson †

I Just learned that Derek Hutchinson passed away yesterday.

I have never met Derek. However my first reading about sea kayaking (in 1994) was his book. Before even having sat in a sea kayak.

Dunno how many editions and prints are out there, but it must be the most sold, borrowed-out and read book on sea kayaking. It even had a Dutch translation.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Today I enjoyed a wonderful morning surfing at a beach near Rhosneigr. Phil, James and Garreth were there on surfboards, Justine and I in kayaks.
Barry kindly lent me his kayak; he had work to do. My own spray-deck was not the best fit so when the surf got chunkier later on, every once in a while I got submarined after the spray-deck popped.
The waves were so clean (11-second wave period) that I had long rides to experiment with and thus improve my surfing skills. Maneuvering on the wave where I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. This day ends my stay in Anglesey, on my way home tomorrow.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Training Session

This evening I joined a training session on the Menai Straits with John Willacy (Taran), Justine (Rapier), Aled (Pace18) and Pascalle (Taran-S). They regularly do these training racing sessions. I could borrow John's Taran and quickly found out that this is a very fast kayak; surprise?. But also that the others are faster than me; surprise? The Taran glides through the water where all the paddle power (blade pressue) transfers to speed. With my normal paddling cadence it is already fast 'effortless'.

For developing my forward paddling skills up to racing I definitively would benefit from more training, and/or a heart-rate monitor like the others are using, to better build-up a training session. Justine has one of those and the results of our Skerries trip can be found here.

Now I am in a big dilemma. How would a very traditional sea kayaker like me justify buying a Taran? A heart-rate monitor? Let me think about it... This training session felt very good indeed.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Refueling on the Skerries

Barry had a group out to the Skerries. Justine wanted first to play at Penrhyn Mawr and maybe continue to the Skerries for lunch. At Port Dafarch we were joined by Marcus, who finally had a day off and expected at least some paddlers showing up here today. Marcus is inviting everyone to see his new house, but make sure you at least pick-up a bag of sand from the roadside pile to carry to his house...
Around noon we decided to continue to the Skerries. I had burned a lot of energy already. With no lunch break and only a snack it felt a bit of a slog for me although we made good speed and time. It has been a long time that I have seen Langdon Ridge buoy up close. 15 minutes out of the Skerries I was running on empty. On the Skerries we joined Barry's group for lunch.
The return trip to Porth Dafarch went much more easy for me. Refueled I had found my good rhythm again. Off North Stack we had to wait for the Jonathan Swift fast ferry, which passed much closer to the coast than we expected.

Friday, October 05, 2012


I bought Justine's Tiger Romany. Why buy a second hand kayak where I am in the business of selling (new) sea kayaks? I could have easily ordered a similar design brand new, but it would never be the same as the original. It just felt the right thing to do as I also know the builder of this special Romany. Also it left the factory the exact same day as my current yellow over white "Tweety" Explorer. Just before they both went into the Falls of Lora.

Today Tiger returned from a check-up at the 'vet's' and a 'scrub and polish' session. Apart from the scratch marks that Justine left behind, and some 'trailer-rash', she is in tip-top shape.

I always wanted a custom design sea kayak for personal use, but the design I have in mind is just way to elaborate to manufacture. This Tiger is the closest 'fit' at the moment.

John Willacy took these great shots in the Swellies.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Looking Glass

Somewhere in the Pacific drifts Gulliver, Sarah Outen's rowing boat across the Pacific. The rowing boat had to be abandoned, and Sarah picked-up, after a tropical storm made it unsafe to continue. In Gulliver, one of my map cases. The boat's tracking device was inadvertently taken off the boat by the Coast Guard. Where will it end up?

Sarah gave me "A dip in the Ocean", her book of her previous solo crossing of the Indian Ocean by rowing boat. Maybe hinting towards another map case for her to be continued London2London via the World (under human power)? With a new rowing boat for the Pacific.

Justine gave me a wonderful present that she collected from a Sachalin beach when she kayaked with Sarah across to Japan. A Japanese Glass Fishing Float.

So what's in the looking glass?

For one, Justine is currently editing the upcoming This is the Sea 5 DVD, expected to be released in March 2013. In it her sea kayaking with Sarah and an impressive account of a troubled circumnavigation of Tierra del Fuego and lots more.

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Swellies Wave

After my working day I met up with Justine and Barry at the Menai Bridge slipway to paddle under Britannia Bridge to play in the Swellies. Apparently the best time for the Swellies wave is at springs, which invariable means that low water is in the evening and at this time of year paddling at dusk into full darkness.

When I could still see the 'wave train' it was easy to keep on the front wave. With less and less visibility I found myself more frequently drifting in the mess behind it, with 'holes', boils and swift eddy lines. I am not familiar paddling rough (white) water in the dark; an interesting experience.
Not much light for pictures, so this is what it was. My night vision and that of my camera is not that one of a Tiger.
UPDATE: John Willacy has posted some very nice pictures of us Surf Bunnies on his website.