Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Dutch premiere This is the Sea 3

Yesterday evening Zeekajak.NL hosted the Dutch premiere of Justine Curgenven's new DVD "This is the Sea 3".

Forty-five people saw the first hour of the two-hour DVD. More people showed-up than signed-up, so the available room was packed. According to the enthusiastic applause, they liked it very much Justine!

Seeing Falls of Lora on a big screen is even more intimidating and referring to Justine's words... It indeed is "as bad as it looks".

Before the Premiere the adjacent swimming pool was available for free for all who wanted to try-out (rolling) with Nigel Dennis Kayaks and be informed about NDK, Kokatat, Lendal and Kari-Tek products and Zeekajak.NL activities. Or just socialize.

It was a very successful day and Nico Middelkoop and I hope to find another excuse next year to organize an event like this.


A special thanks to Hans Heupink, Jan Akkerman and André Sanders for their help with instruction and/or logistics.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The other side

Last weekend I spent on the Island of Texel in the north of the Netherlands. The Texel sea kayak club organized two swimming pool sessions. The island paddlers that attended Freya’s Greenland rolling clinic last January were eager to practice more. But not all kayaks are created equal. Although
Dubside (in his excellent "Greenland rolling with Dubside" DVD) says "do not blame your kayak", some kayaks are easier to learn the balance brace with than others. Custom outfitting of the cockpit is another thing to consider. The low pool lighting was excellent for producing some mind boggling shots...
The first pool session being Friday evening, left the Saturday for exploring the Island. Karien took me to the Slufter. This is a part where the dunes are broken-through by a past storm and where high tide enters a vast valley through a maze of channels; a prime bird sanctuary. Jumping channels provided some adrenaline rush. When was the last time that we sprinted and timed a jump across a water channel? Now older (and wiser?) don’t we all tend to consider potential risks more carefully? Sometimes preventing those rewarding jumps into the great unknown? All sea kayaking trips around the Island of Texel pass this spot, but only once before I had a break here (on a memorable trip in 2002), but I had not taken the tide into the valley. 200703100455LKarien knows about nature and she has a good eye for spotting interesting items on the beach between the millions of shells and other debris, like Mermaid Purses (egg cases) of a Thornback Ray (Raja Clavata) (see photo) and the Lesser Spotted Dogfish (Scyliorhinus Caniculus). Thank you Karien for giving me the Latin names that enabled me to find the proper English species names. It is a gorgeous sunny day with a low angle bright March sunlight brilliantly lighting up the surf and deepening the blue of the dune ponds. Saturday evening another pool session; lots of play time. Sunday another beautiful dune and beach walk with Jannie and Karien. Time on Texel appears to run more slowly than on ‘the other side’, a term that the islanders use for the Mainland. Now I am typing this on the train journey home on Monday morning. It appears that 'the other side' skipped a day. Good time on Texel with friends. Thank you Karien, Bart and Jannie for a warm welcome and hospitality on the beautiful island on the (for me) 'other side'.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Solar Power

In the December 2003 issue of Sea Kayaker Magazine a D-I-Y article was published by Robert Walker about an "Expedition-Capacity Waterproof Solar Battery Charger". I quickly assembled one for my 2004 Faeroe trip.
The idea being that during the day, from the back deck of my kayak, I could charge a 10-pack of 1.2V 1800 mAh AA NiMh batteries (making 12V). During the evening and night I would take the battery pack into my tent to re-charge (for instance) my hand-held VHF radio. And I always would have charged AA batteries to power my then new digital camera, head torch, GPS, etc. Unfortunately the system did not work as planned and I did not have the technical knowledge to figure a way out of this at the time. After the first night of recharging my VHF from the battery pack, it appeared that the batteries would not charge again. At home I found out that when the battery pack is drained below 10.7V, the charge controller would not charge the batteries. Worse, the whole system would not give any voltage, despite the solar panel delivering 20V; Bummer! There are charge controllers that have a 'Voltage Load Disconnect' (VLD) circuit, but these charge controllers tend to be much bulkier. To date I have not found a small size charge controller with VLD. Anyway, I could not figure out to make this system bullet-proof on trips where I do not have access to a normal AA battery charger to 'reset' the system to a 12V battery pack. At about the same time Fiona Whitehead enthusiastically talked about charging her mobile phone directly off a solar panel. To my astonishment she used the same solar panel as I did. Thus directly feeding a car battery adapter from the solar panel. But being focussed on charging AA batteries, I did not continue to use the solar battery charger. Today I took my solar charger out of storage and with a small adaptation put it back into service. Instead of only allowing to recharge from the battery pack, I made an extra connection directly from the solar panel leads. The solar panel can give up to 20V and the charge controller converts this to about 12V. Reading the small print on my mobile phone car charger revealed '12-24V'. The only draw-back is that the waterproof box I use now is too small to hold any equipment other than the battery pack. And other boxes might be too big to carry on the back deck. We'll see how this works for a start.
Mentioning 'Solar Power', the term 'Girl Power' comes to mind... Or is my associative memory playing tricks on me? ;-) Lots of ENERGY there !

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Gearing Up

I have gathered a lot of outdoor and sea kayaking equipment over the years. On numerous occasions last year I told myself 'must repair this and this and this...' Never made the time for it last year, though. There always comes a time when pieces of gear wears beyond repair. Last three days I spent checking all my gear and making necessary repairs. And some inevitable difficult decision of throwing favourite pieces away, and making a 'to buy new list'. My heavily patched-up classic FosterROWE PFD went out. It was spending it's days unused in storage. It would not be 'good practice' showing up as a kayak instructor with a UV degraded, ripped-up PFD spilling some of it's foam core... The ground sheet of my old tent (fly sheet lost to UV deterioration and bad zippers) made it into a nice gear bag; to be used while shuffling gear from/to my kayak to/from camp. While busy at the sowing machine, more bags got produced, to the point of making a small stuff sack to hold the gear bag that will hold more gear bags... Do I like recursion?
I am ready for new seasons of paddling...