Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Jersey Surf

Today I went surfing together with Martin at St. Ouen's Bay, the big bay on the west coast of Jersey. Before the surf was up we paddled to Corbière Lighthouse at the south end of the bay. Back at the beach, lots of competition by board surfers. We found a quiet spot, with possibly the worst surf of the bay. But even here I had good long rides and the occasional thrashing. By four 'o-clock the beach was all but gone and ending against the promenade. A beautiful sunny day to end my stay in Jersey.
In 2010 there will be the 10th Jersey sea kayaking symposium. Thank you Kevin, Len and all of the Jersey Canoe Club for this great event. What's end of May 2009 then? The Jersey symposium alternates with the Scottish sea kayak symposium on Skye in Scotland.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jersey Cliff Jumping

Monday was an interesting symposium day. I joined the half-day trip with Len and JR from L'Etacq. There was an unplanned rescue and some towing involved. Thus again for me a rescue day. The unexpected 'escape-route' ended at the beautiful Plemont cove, in the sun with a delicious ice-cream.
The afternoon was spent with Kevin paddling into caves and that special Jersey treat: cliff jumping. Two years ago I only dared to do a low jump into the Octopus pool. This year I dared to jump off the Rhino, the big one, at today's tide, a 10 meter high jump. The 'air-time' took longer than I thought it would; lots of adrenaline... I did not jump as elegantly as JR and Kevin can. The picture is of JR jumping off Rhino. Tuesday we went to the Écréhous, a groups of islands and rocks, six miles to the north-east of Jersey in good weather and smooth seas.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Rolling on...

I am in Jersey for the ninth Jersey sea kayaking symposium. Saturday and Sunday I have been doing rescue and rolling sessions. The water is still quite cold and with my dry-suit I was happy to volunteer as a swimmer. I had an interesting experience when doing a solo scramble re-entry. The lanyard that retains my camera to my buoyancy-aid got entangled around my hand pump that was fastened on my back-deck. I could not move anywhere than lie face down on the back-deck. It took me a few minutes to untangle. So that was the last thing that ever 'lived' on my back-deck. And I need to review all those lanyards that attach equipment to my PFD. I now moved the hand-pump to the front-deck. The only issue I have now is that I cannot store the hand-pump myself after use. The weather is a bit unsettled. Temperatures are really nice, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is quite unique. I have never before heard of the combination "Cyclonic Variable 5-7"

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Sea of Flames revisited

I received an e-mail from Tue Olesen from Denmark announcing their circumnavigation of the Faroe Islands. Something familiar in their naming of their expedition blog... Last year a Dutch group paddled there and within 15 minutes of starting their trip and right out of Torshavn they found themselves already in-deep in a raging 'wild fire', that set the standard for their experience of the Faroe Islands. Paddling one of the most challenging and committing tidal coastlines in Europe, have a great trip you guys!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Maiden Voyage

Saturday Karien held her Birthday party. Her real birthday date and her age remain secret but this was one of those special birthdays. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day. We went for a paddle to Noorderhaaks sand spit for coffee. Karien tried out her own design of wind shelter made from an old tent. Getting the shelter up in the strong wind was a guarantee to make us yell at each other, about do's and don'ts. Huddled behind the shelter we caught the warming sunshine. When the rising tide cornered us in it was time to leave. A playful ride through an area with refracted waves, I heard a few Jihaa's! from Karien. The tide carried us back to Oudeschild. Life can be so simple, life can be so complicated. Life's just life! Cherishing the beautiful days together with friends. Taking nothing but memories, leaving nothing but friendships.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Angle at Sea again

Never before I have been so busy in Anglesey than this year. I am back home after a bit more than two weeks in Anglesey.
The week that Nico and I ran for the NKB (Dutch Canoe Union) was full of challenges for us as well as for the participants. This year, the weather was not too cooperative, but we managed to paddle every day. A rough day at the Stacks that had everything in it on assessing paddling conditions, tidal planning, group control and incident management. All that I had learned over the years and especially in the committing Anglesey tidal environment came together on that day. Thank you Garreth for keeping an extra eye out on that day. A day later we enjoyed a beautiful crossing to the Skerries. For all who don't know it already: the sun ALLWAYS shines on the Skerries; at least when I am on it. A great day to finish the week with.
The 25th edition of the Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium had the biggest attendance ever, that is, the attendance was capped at 120 participants. In the weekend Fiona, James and I ran moving water skills sessions. The Monday started with thick fog and considerable swell. Heading from Porth Dafarch towards Trearddur Bay was quite interesting at times. Just making out headlands until at one time I saw the headland move... Navigating more on swell height than on compass and after a zigzag course, we made it to the leeward side off Porth Diana. Not knowing to turn either left or right along the cliffs to find the small bay, I was considering just long enough to see the fog lift a bit and see the whole string of mooring buoys in Porth Diana. Lucky shot! On the way back from lunch, the sun burned the fog away and the swell dropped considerably and we enjoyed great rock-hopping back to Porth Dafarch.
In the week after the symposium there where lots of BCU courses to choose from. The biggest draw was the new BCU 4*. Effectively it is designed to bridge the gap between the old 4* and the unchanged 5*. The new 4* involves leadership in moderate conditions. Where the old 4* was 'just' a skills award, the new 4* is a leadership award. The new 3* is now what the old 4* was. Thus BCU 'messed about' with the numbering system and many people will for some time be confused about the star awards. But I think it is a change for the better, albeit a bit disappointing for all those aspiring to 5* for which it must feel that they have an extra hurdle to take.
It is interesting to observe that the changes that the Dutch Sea Kayaking committee made on their sea proficiency (leadership) awards in the last five years tie-in quite well with the changes the BCU have been making. There is no coordination between BCU and NKB on any level, but it must be that 'common sense' on sea kayaking is largely 'universal'.
Anglesey, the playground where (it) all come(s) together.