Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Traveling North

At the moment I am in the public library of the small Swedish town of Laröd, just north of Helsingborg. Karien is down with the flu. We stay at the beautiful youth hostel that is on walking distance from the library. The hostel is warm and cosy, the ideal place for us to recover. By mentioning 'us' it implies that I was ill for a day with a sore upper jaw. It felt like a sore tooth, and I had a sleepless night with tooth ache. I would have visited a dentist today, but the pain went and flu-like fever replaced it. Today I feel much better and hope Karien is sweating the flu out today. We took two days to travel from Texel via Denmark to Sweden. The camping in Denmark was unbelievable luxurious. More details at a later post. Someone else wants to use the computer.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anglesey Summer Time

It has been a bit quiet on my blog. Just too active in the outdoors to also find time for the computer blog. What to think about this high brace?
Karien is from the island of Texel, so I would call this a Texel high support stroke (high brace). Phil countered with a head stand. He might not yet be as 'flexible' as Freya, but I bet he is working on that as well. I wonder how tight Reed gear would look on him (LOL).
Karien and I enjoyed a wonderful week in Anglesey. While parts of the UK had to endure major flash floods creating mayhem in many towns, Anglesey had beautiful weather. We played in a sunny North Stack race on Monday.
A film crew seemed to have come just for us. Great waves to surf on; big smiles. But when TideRace Aled arrived, it dawned upon us that the crew (with Olly Saunders) was shooting Aled Williams.
We surfed for a long time at North Stack before spending most of the rest of the afternoon sun bathing at Parliament's House cave.
Wednesday we headed for Penrhyn Mawr. It was full springs, and we got delayed a bit. That resulted us entering PM at max flood. The swell against tide conditions created a much too rough to handle middle and outer race. Instead we headed for the inner shoots (locally known as the 'chicken run'). It felt like running a raging river. Never before I have seen PM run this fast. Karien was a little 'intimidated' at first; the situation not helped by an Army helicopter hovering above, throwing red smoke flares on the cliff and winching a man onto the cliff. The ear deafening sound of the rotors superimposed on the sounds of fast flowing water made clear communication impossible. After ten minutes or so, Karien's apprehensive look was replaced by a joyous smile. I was perfectly happy with the conditions 'safety-wise' in the inner races. The middle and outer races were totally unsafe with continuous thrashing waves; sure bet for loops, pop-outs and inevitable rescue nightmares. Only in the very last hour of the flood we dared to venture out into the middle and outer races enjoying a wild and bumpy ride but not much surfing. As I said on many occasions before, PM is never the same, always something different.
Thursday we joined Phil and Roger on a trip to the Skerries. Naturally the sun always shines on the Skerries! On the way back Phil showed us the most beautiful cave system on Anglesey, paddling in a 50 feet 'through-cave'.

I told in an earlier blog entry about Noel Webb arriving in Anglesey. On Thursday Marcus Demuth arrived back from his Ireland circumnavigation. What a coincidence. This year I counted at least 10 expeditions using Sea Kayaking UK sea kayaks. From the Expedition 'work horse' Explorers to GreenlanderPro's and four (!) Triton double expeditions. I could not get the details of some of those sponsored expeditions from Nigel Dennis before I left, so if you know of more I am quite keen to add them to my NDK Sponsored Expeditions page.

Saturday was 'play time' at Penrhyn Mawr. Getting towards neaps it resembled nothing that we had encountered on Wednesday. Swell gone, racing gently.

The week passed too quickly. On our way back to Hull we took on Roger's invitation to visit him and had an unexpected full 'Sunday Roast' lunch with his wife at their place in the Welsh hills overlooking a vast valley.

Thank you Nigel and Tara for having us stay at your place and thanks for letting Karien use the Romany. Karien and I had a great time! Barry, will paddle with you next time around. Phil, thanks for letting us join you and showing us Anglesey's secret caves. We just missed the Fun Fair; bumper cars for next year?

Lots more Anglesey Summer Time pictures to be added to my Logbook at a later date.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Noel Webb arrives on Anglesey

Yesterday evening, a salt crusted wet black dressed guy comes up the stairways with Nigel Dennis, directly heading for the shower (and after that, 'raiding' the kitchen for food). It is Noel Web, that is circumnavigating mainland UK. Weeks of bad weather prevented any good progress. Last week he was still stormbound in Pembrokeshire. Now taking advantage of favourable weather (Summer finally?), he yesterday paddled from the tip of the LLynn Peninsula (about 65 km south) to Holyhead. Beautiful sunny weather, blue skies with bright white cumulus clouds. Yes, for the last few days it seems that Summer has finally arrived. This morning already Noel continues on his expedition. He is eager, and tip-top fit, to get some mileage in. For information on Noel Webb's challenge, visit his expedition website at:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Iceland Circle

Freya Hoffmeister and Greg Stamer have done it! What to say about their impressive achievement other than repeating Freya's e-mail?
"Just finished paddling around Iceland with Greg! 33 days, 25 paddling days, 8 weather days, 1.620 km, 65 km average, 10.000 pictures, 100 lighthouses, 100 headlands, 10.000.000 birds, huge cliffs, black desert sand, plenty of water and overall a great time! Some educative experiences on the edge, but no serious incidents, thank goodness. Toughest part of the trip? Waiting more than one day for appropriate paddling weather... :-))"

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lilly the Pink

200707091420LYesterday evening family van Halm took me to a charity fund-raising cabaret evening of Jersey's Progressive School of Music. Watching all the performances was a 'mixed blessing'. But for a good cause, my ears can handle lots. And it was good entertainment indeed. Some had chosen very difficult songs to sing while not (yet) having the voice to support the songs; very daring. At our table the phrase 'Dutch Courage' fell. And some already sound as professional singers. In my ears is still the amazing voice of the woman that sang a Dolly Parton song, wow! During the break there was a buffet with a charity raffle. I could not resist buying raffle tickets and told to Len about the first time that I won something during a raffle. I was joking that today I would probably win the 'babysitter voucher'. And Len said that the one 'fitting' prize for me was the donated Jersey Kayak Adventures voucher. Well, what do you think I have won? Of course, I won the 'two hours of cleaning or three hours of babysitting' voucher (with a bottle of wine). And what a beautiful gift wrapper. Oh yeah, the evening opened and closed with the Lilly the Pink song...

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Windy Jersey

What a week it was! Planning a sea kayak touring week in July for the TKBN sea kayak club, expecting warm and sunny weather with calm seas. That's what Summer is about I thought. How different from expected. I am writing this at the house of Len van Halm who kindly invited me to stay over for Sunday. Every day of last week had strong wind warnings for the Channel Islands and frequent gale warnings for the adjacent Portland, Wight and Plymouth sea areas. But we managed to paddle every day nevertheless! I found a convenient way of preserving the VHF weather forecasts recording them on my digital camera as a sound recording. Transcribing the message on paper is less stressful when I know I always can repeat the forecast at will. We had it all: wind, waves, rock hopping, gel-coat chipping, surf and tide races. In the end, the only stretch of the Jersey coast we did not paddle was the west coast and the northwest and southwest tip; not the place to be with 6 Beaufort southwest to west winds. On Saturday, the last day for the group, the weather turned beautiful with weak variable winds and we had a magnificent trip to the Les Ecrehous rock islets, 4 nautical miles off the north-eastern tip of Jersey. We as a group of fourteen, managed to make a massive 1700+ pictures and some movie and sound clips, taking up about 4.2 Gb. Something to weed through there on my ferry to Poole on the UK 'mainland' tomorrow morning.
End of May 2008, the Jersey Canoe Club again organizes their bi-annual sea kayak symposium. Registration has already started. Be sure to sign-up early. In 2006 the symposium was fully booked by February.