Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
From the fantasies experienced when smoking an opium pipe.
pipe dream (plural pipe dreams)
(idiomatic) A plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near impossibility.
I think that his plan to have map cases available for this Christmas is a pipe dream.
Pipe nightmare !
A "near impossibility" nevertheless leaves room for possibility...
Sunday, November 09, 2014
I have a 'love-hate' relationship with that tree. It is the last standing old tree in the streets around. Not a popular place to park any car under because of it's popularity with birds; and a real 'nightmare' with pigeons. Maybe that started off the more bird-friendly 'clay-pigeon' shooting sport.
Woodpecker had me look up and smile. Go peck away any time.
Friday, November 07, 2014
After 15 years and 266088 km my Opel Astra went into retirement today.
It is not the only thing I own(ed) that is still fully functional, albeit aching, well beyond generally accepted retirement age, for instance:
- My Kokatat GoreTEX Whirlpool Bib of 2004 shows some signs of 'incontinence' at the zipper; now into it's golden age.
- My TecTour anorak of 2008 (old model) is a bit more 'breathable'; a gray shadow of it's former mango self.
- My MsFit PFD is reasonably OK, except for a thread-bare hydration pack.
Earlier this year, my laptop got stolen only days before XP retired; that was unfortunate, both for me ánd the thief. My old Explorer is spending it's retirement on Anglesey. My new Explorer is only intermediately retired until I have fitted the Kari-Tek roof-rack on my new car, awaiting a fitting kit.
I am not sure if my new car will again last 15 years with me. Nowadays in the Netherlands car sales (and usage) is extremely tax-driven, not so driven by common sense.
I won't drag too long about it, but when Maserati joyfully announces a hybrid version that can drive a whopping 20 miles on battery-power (and thus saving more than 50% on the car price and annual taxes) something must have gone awry with the promotion of so-called eco-friendly cars.
When those 'plug-in' gas guzzlers are edging to be nett less expensive for corporate use than true fuel efficient petrol cars that you have to look for at car dealers with a microscope. Blinded by the Emperor's new clothes.
eCall, park-assist and sen-sored tire pressure. I have none of this. Just in time though. Hopefully for the next 15 years, but I doubt it. Hand operated rear-windows: just barely. Airconditiong: yes, unfortunately: too late ordering, or more specific: 'hurried ordering' because of... yes: 2015 tax reasons...
What car did I buy? A car that is probably considered by car afficianados to be even more boring than an Opel Astra...
Car sales is not the only part of the economy that has logic reversed like in Pirates of the Caribbean "At World's End". Down is up. Left is Right. Red is Green. Wrong is 'Right'.
1+1 is 0; at least something is still (partially) logical.
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet
[Taxman, the Beatles]
If you retire too late, I'll tax by date
If you get too old, I'll tax the mold
Monday, October 20, 2014
On my return trip a week later (today) I opted for the connection that needed no other transfers and a reserved table seat. So at 09:26 I am waiting at the (non-staffed) Penmere Platform for a train... that is canceled... Fortunately I could sit at (unreserved) table seats on both connecting trains and I am now 30 minutes away from Bristol Temple Meads. Then only a bus ride away from the airport.
The British and the Dutch rail system appear to have more than one thing in common. Privatized and delays. And maybe they also use the same statistics for measuring service, in that a canceled train does not count as delayed. Also it seems there are a lot of jobs with British Rail. All those gated stations and platforms with service personnel at those stations, gates and platforms to help people with valid tickets and non-opening gates. And many conductors on the trains, at least on the ones that run, calling out for tickets of newly boarded passengers only.
The British rail users remain kind and polite under all of this and show patience in queus. The train conductor on the Penmere branch line gracefully accepting my written-down reservation number, despite regulations, for I only could collect my on-line booked ticket at a Truro ticket machine.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
With a perfect weather forecast of variable 1-3 Beaufort winds, smooth seas, 15 degrees temperature and springtide I thought (on Saturday morning): why not!
On my first visit to Anglesey in 2000, I paddled around the island with a paddling friend in 4 days. Nigel Dennis' comment was: "Some people paddle it in one day you know?" So it was allways in the back of my head to give it a go someday. Yesterday was that day.
The only issue this time of year is daylight hours. I paddled in the pitch black until halfway across Trearddur Bay. Despite GPS I had a difficult time around Rhoscolyn for all the black rocks popping up late in front of me preventing a proper cruising speed. And being stalked by a breathing seal or dolphin? Using the eddies all the way up to South Stack for the tide was still ebbing; LW Holyhead at 07:15; HW at 13:30.
Beyond South Stack the tide turned. I lost 15 minutes at the Skerries for a pee & leg stretch break. Although the break was planned, I lost precious current, that was even audible... At Middle Mouse I saw a Dolphin twice, wow! I did not use my planned stop at Point Lynas to take full use of the conveyer belt tide towards Puffin Island.
Halfway across Red Wharf Bay I did not seem to make good progress anymore. To take good care of myself for the remainder I needed to land at Penmon, where I was greeted by Phil and his clients, cookies and tea. From the start I did not have to wear a cag. By now my shirt was soaked and I was getting cold. Time for a dry shirt and cag. For me it felt I already nailed it. The rest was just making the miles. After the break I was a half hour behind my original schedule. That proved vital in the time to get around for it was now ebbing north, out of this end of the Menai Strait.
At Beaumaris boats where lying at different angles from their mooring buoys and soon therafter bows lined against the current, my direction, yes! Now catching the full ebb towards Abermenai Point; home run. At Menai Bridge I rearranged my maps to be sure not to forget it once it would get dark. I was now looking at at least one-hour-and-a-half later arrival than planned, aiming for 20:30. Instant soup at Abermenai Point and headlamp check and off for the last stretch. I made it back by 19:55, in the dark, for my first one-day circumnavigation of Anglesey.
This was pure for personal achievement. It is also the last trip with my 'Tweety' Explorer sea kayak. I am getting a new Explorer in my familiar colors Yellow-over-White; "Tweety II". It's first trip was Falls of Lora, it's last trip with me around it's home island Anglesey for a fitting 'farewell'.
If I would paddle it again I sure would better my personal 'record', for there is enough room to tweak it and make even better use of the current, not to have to work so hard towards and after Puffin Island. With a standard (none-racing) sea kayak (Explorer) and a bigger tide, I could better my time by 60 to 90 minutes, without 'racing'. For this was a gentle and rewarding (long) day paddle.
Worst things on the trip? The boat carry to and (worse) from the beach to my car, sore feet, and a not-working (cold) shower at the B&B. All gear now rinsed and ready for paddling tomorrow, Tuesday.
|06:45||Penrhyn Mawr (arrive)||06:45|
|06:45||Penrhyn Mawr (leave)||06:50|
|10:30||Point Lynas (arrive)||10:45|
|11:00||Point Lynas (leave)||10:45|
|13:00||Puffin Island (arrive)||13:00|
|13:00||Puffin Island (leave)||13:25|
|16:00||Abermenai Pt. (arrive)||17:10|
|16:00||Abermenai Pt. (leave)||17:30|
|Tides LW 07:15 1,1 - HW 13:30 5,4||4,3||m|
Nutrition: 2 slices of toast with thick bacon for breakfast; 6 slices of bread with peanut butter & jelly; 2 bananas; 6 mini blueberry muffins; 5 bounties; 2 chocolate biscuits from Phil, half a liter of yogurt; 1 big cup of soup; 2 liters of water.
For humbling record times for the circumnavigation see John Willacy's Anglesey Circumnavigation page.
P.S. Last week I had some wonderful paddling days with Rowland Woollven, Bonnie and Andrea. The pictures and postings of that follow later.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Saturday, September 20, 2014
It is a weak neap tide and it is hard to catch waves. Also I feel a bit rusty in these kind of conditions, been months that is, especially because the sea is so unfamiliar confused. Never seen Furlough's this way. At one time, more by chance than effort, I do get into a gentle surf that brings me quite a bit to the front of the race. On autopilot I start back-paddling when a steepening breaking wave just lunges me forward and down at an angle. My low brace boat angle is too gentle and I am swepped over the other side, upside down. Almost immediately I am almost upright again, just by water pressure alone, but I cannot find the blade pressure to low brace up again completely. Over I go for the second time. I had enough time to think strategy.
On previous occasions I found that if I capsize in rough water I tend to lock myself into the cockpit with firm knees to not flush out of the cockpit. At the same time that would make my roll more difficult. So once upside down ease-up and focus on 'right-side' knee pressure only. In this case my left knee. Back up again in an instant. OK, my rough water roll really works. But a bit shaken I am.
Did I chew off a bit too much for my first Anglesey day since May and a very rough one too? At least I did not 'wet my pants' this time, dry-suit helps ;-) Only lost my threading BBB cap and the left part of my very well 'surf-proof' secured spare paddle flopping in it's final bungee. Secured we continue to the Skerries. Victoria Bank and Coal Rock races are lumpy but easy.
Just before noon we arrive at the Skerries for lunch. I am hungry and a bit tired and 'tense' in the arms...
Sunday, August 03, 2014
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
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.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
Grey whales feed (in Alaska). They scoop-up ocean floor sediment to filter out amphipods, shrimp-like animals that live in the sediment. Amazing!
Friday, February 28, 2014
As a reader, I learned lots about sea kayak safety and awareness. I got my copy of 'Sea Kayaker Deep Trouble' from my role-model sea kayak instructor. He passed his copy on to me with the remark: 'stupid people doing stupid things'. I learned lots from it, did a few embarrassingly stupid things myself, learned from it and shared it so others could learn from it.
My 1999 Southeast Alaska adventure was inspired by reading articles about paddling the inside passage of this state that I became to love while backpacking the Pacific Northwest & Alaska. Never touching my back-pack again ever since I started using my 'float-pack'.
As a writer, I felt very privileged to have two (technical) articles published in SK. A third article, my journey in the Faeroes, went through various edits with Christopher Cunningham but never made it in print. It just did not make the mark. I learned lots about writing in that process, thank you Chris! It is not easy to be published in a quality magazine. With the ending of Sea Kayaker Magazine I think that quality is lost.
Christopher writes in the final issue that reader surveys showed less interest in longer outings and more interest in day trips. Maybe 'sea kayaking' has become so popular that the relative interest has shifted towards 'recreational day trips'. Sea kayak touring is a mere niche compared to SOT, kayak fishing, SUP, kayak fitness, etc.
I found myself reading Sea Kayaker Magazine only when I am away from my computer, which is less and less. The luxury of relaxed reading without interference of 'nagging' e-mails on the ferry to and from Britain on my way to Anglesey... It won't be too long before we can access free internet from the remotenest of places and never be without. I just returned from a wonderful trip in Baja with Ginni Callahan and found out that phone and internet access are creeping down the coast from Loreto...
Three boxes of paper copies remain. Thank you Sea Kayaker for the journey!
Sunday, February 02, 2014
I am here (again) with a Dutch group of paddlers for a trip with Ginni Callahan of Sea Kayak Baja Mexico. Thursday we start our sea kayaking trip to La Paz.
Baja & Loreto are magic places.
Friday, January 03, 2014
A little gray and windy day. The area is a nature reserve and it's environment meticulously 'preserved' by the annual cutting of the reed fields. Apart from expensive thatched roofs for the rich (high labour cost), reeds are less and less used. Without cutting the reeds, the environment would change, probably to forests.
A great area to paddle through this time of year. Not only because of the reed cutting and open views, but also because it is not crowded with other recreational water users and tour boats that congest the channels in Summer. Nearby Giethoorn is particularly popular for visitors.