Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Monday, May 28, 2007


The "Eierlandse Gat" between Texel and Vlieland is a notorious and treacherous place. More than a few Dutch sea kayakers can tell chilling stories of near epic trips trying to navigate across the bar from the sea in rough conditions. The shallow bar between the two islands makes for very confused seas on even moderate swells. I have so far only been here 'passing through' as part of trips, carefully avoiding all the rough stuff.
Today, Karien and I paddled out to check this area for play spots. The day before we scouted the area with binoculars and found potential tide-rips at certain times of the tide; tide-races to play in? With the current neaps we found only a tiny race running, but further out a more interesting feature developed. Wind and waves over tide over a flooded sand spit created very confused seas. Waves from different directions running into each other, kicked-up even more by the opposing flood current.
If based 'on-island' this is an excellent 'park-and-play' spot.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Having a ball at the races

By chance I ran into Barry in the morning and he asked me if I wanted to go paddling with him and Justine. I just finished a week of coaching and wanted to see my friends off and did not anticipate paddling. But as addictions go, there I was at Porth Dafarch beach by 10:30.
After three days of gales, crystal blue skies with hardly any wind returned to Anglesey. First stop is Penrhyn Mawr. I shot footage of a raging spring tide Penrhyn Mawr in Friday evenings gale, one hour into the flood. In one word: deadly!
Today, I thought it would still be too rough to handle. But surprisingly the swell had dropped quite a bit. We found PM raging, the inner races 'survivable', but not really playable. I was too scared to go anywhere near the front waves of the outer race. In fact we all were. When the tide died down a bit, we ventured more and more into the front and I had exhilarating rides surfing successive waves. I almost ran down Justine and had to do an emergency capsize and roll to prevent a collision. In one instance I had a fantastic ride down a wave and after that I noticed that my tow belt had gone. It could have been lost a bit earlier and I was surprised that it actually had gone loose just now, drifting only boat length away. Barry was so kind to pick up my cherished tow belt.

Barry fancied going to South Stack. Exhausted from playing we paddled to South Stack and even all the way to Parliaments' House cave. Finally a break, long overdue. We shared our sparse food. Justine shared her sandwiches and some Twix bars. Barry could offer lemonade and a Snickers bar. I could share the last of my hot coffee and my ever present tea biscuits. Snoozing on the warm rocks, in the sun, out of the wind.

North Stack was still running so why not go for a play there, adding to our exhaustion, but satisfying our addiction. To make it more challenging Justine threw in a bit of excitement. Not only did we had to catch the waves, we also had to catch a ball. No, these photo's are not 'Photoshopped'. Running out of energy it was time to take the conveyer belt to South Stack. Surfing South Stack race with the last of our energy. Than the long haul back to PM and Porth Dafarch.

Fortunately PM was not running (again) yet, and by 17:30 we made it back to Porth Dafarch. What a day! For me this was the most strenuous day in Anglesey for a long time. Now it is back to office work for the next two days and than back to the Netherlands, finally. Desperately wanting to make it back to another island; 'Home-sick', severely, for the first time ever...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium

I am writing this on a 'rest day' in-between preparing for tomorrow's BCU coaching course. Last week was a good Anglesey week with gorgeous weather ending with an excellent morning run of Penrhyn Mawr. The Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium over the weekend was fully booked with 150+ attendants from all over the world (Belgium Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Israel, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USA and UK). With five independent groups from the Netherlands, the Dutch are well represented this year.
The BCU course week started out with lots of interesting 'events' dodging the frequent gale force warnings. So much to write about and a lot of sunny pictures to weed through. More Anglesey days to come. Check out Derrick's blog for more symposium impressions.