Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Ouddorp Surf

Last year I vowed never again to try to find nice surf at Ouddorp. On three consequetive occasions we paddled out of Springersdiep for more than an hour to find absolutely nothing rewarding. Part of the problem is the Aardappelenbult drying sandbar that is in the way and only allows surf to reach the shore around high water. The real surf was allways too far in the distance, further along the coast.

The Aardappelenbult itself is a very challenging, and sometimes risky, surf environment. But it is now off-limits because of 'Nature compensation'. That means when the Rotterdam Maasvlakte Chemical Industrial area was expanded into land-reclaimed sea, the law said it needed to compensate the negative environmental impact with Nature somewhere else. The result was drawing lines on the charts, outlawing the whole Aardappelenbult area for watersports. Reason: trying to entice the harbor seals to use it for nursing their young. So far this 'political statement'...

Today I took over Nico's (Zeekajak.NL) 3* group, for Nico was called upon to co-run a coach assessment. One of the candidates I am tutor of and as such I could not assess that person. I was definitively not going to paddle to Ouddorp lighthouse to again find nothing. But because today all of us had kayak trollies we parked at the Lighthouse to start from there, trollying to the beach. At the Lighthouse beach; no surf. Arggggg... But further along the coast it looked at least there was a little bit of surf. Paddling for half an hour towards something that looked like surf I decided to go for lunch and hope for a bit more after it. Around the Aardappelenbult the surf and clapotis waves looked spectacular, even unsafe. I think 10 second foam piles are a bit too much for 'recreational bongo slides'. Between 'nothing' and 'too much' (and prohibited), what can we do?

Just after lunch two lines of surf started to appear and the onshore breeze picking-up to force 3-4. For the next two hours the group could challenge themselves in wonderful 3-foot surf. With sunshine and blue skies it meant great photo opportunities. And all-smiling paddlers.

On the way back to the Lighthouse (just after high water) the beach was fully exposed to the surf, now unsheltered from the Aardappelenbult sand bar. We stayed as close inshore as possible. For most of the group these were the highest seas they have paddled in. Safety was allways the beach so as long as all goes well, all goes well. At one point I even had to 'work' myself, finding the easiest route for the group between inshore sand bars to a more easy patch of sea. Right in the crux location (Murphy's Law at work) a capsize and the quickest rescue of the day. Safety was allways the beach (and trolly), but again we could continue paddling... The lucky ones got a big dumping wave on top of them landing at the Lighhouse to finish a wonderful day.

On my phone a text message... Both Max and Marian passed their sea kayak coach assessment. Yeaaahhh! Congratulations! Fresh winds of change!

No comments: