Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Waves of reflection

A northwesterly storm force 8 is raging. I went on a coastal hike from Holyhead to Porthdafarch. From Soldiers' Point I had great views of massive breaking waves reflected off the Holyhead breakwater. My hike continued towards North Stack. From there I went up Holyhead Mountain and down towards South Stack, continuing towards Portdafarch. Walking back along the road past Anglesey Outdoors Centre. Familiar scenes seen from a different perspective.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Here, there and everywhere

I arrived in Anglesey on Thursday in Spring time weather for NDK business. Justine and Barry are around and they invited me to come over for a Sunday paddle. Unfortunately Barry had work to do, so Justine and I headed down the Llynn Peninsula for Aberdaron to paddle to Bardsey Island. It was way back in September 2002 that I last visited Bardsey. Justine is trying-out her new Sanoodi mobile phone GPS tracking software, so our route is well documented (Bardsey & Bardsey Return).

On Bardsey, after moving our kayaks higher twice (just in case), we headed for the farm house. It is lambing season and the farmer family have a busy time of checking all of the 300 ewes that can give birth anytime. A sure sign of Spring.200903221522288917_JC.JPG Holding a day-old lamb feels as soft and warm as my woolen hat. After three hours on the Island we found our kayaks still safe. It would not be the first time that somebody looses their kayak to the tide while visiting this wonderful Island. Heading back looked easy. The wind had dropped and the sea flattened. Halfway across we enjoyed some surfing, that could now only mean that we paddled against the current coming out of Aberdaron Bay. It is around neaps, but the tidal current increased coming closer to the headland and showing multiple eddy-lines and boils. I separated quite a bit from Justine being just in a different current line. It turned-out to be quite a work-out on the last bit. Using surges to 'wash' around headlands against the current. 200903221524068920_AS.JPGBack at the house, next to a fire pre-lit by Barry, I quickly fell asleep on the sofa, counted three cuddly lambs, feeling woolly warm.

P.S. I have been working late today Monday and only now found the time to upload this post. To reduce some carbon footprint you can look on Justine's blog for more pictures and her account of the day. It is now very windy and chilly in Anglesey, waves crashing over the Holyhead breakwater. My thoughts are with those new born lambs on Bardsey.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Invasion of "Paard van Marken"

Saturday 52! paddlers gathered at the dike to Marken for the trip to the "Paard van Marken" and Volendam; a Peddelpraat club trip tradition of some decades.

Although this enormous group size (an all-time record) is an outright nightmare for group control, it has become a social gathering of some magnitude, that the organizers try to facilitate as best they can. Marianne, today's overall trip leader, assigned tasks for buddy-ed-up front, back, left and right boundary paddlers.

The whole flotilla moved surprisingly compact towards Marken in quartering force 3/4 winds, every now and then surfing. The 'trick' with the boundary paddlers paying off. And being a social gathering nobody seems to see this trip as a work-out.

Arriving at the "Paard of Marken", a historic lighthouse landmark, for a coffee break probably looked like an invasion by the lighthouse keepers. The lighthouse keeper is planting flowers and we are welcomed.

What do sea kayakers do first when they land? They go for a pee. It has already surprised me often what paddlers think of the best place to pee when there is water all around... Today the favorite spot seems to be the reeds. Not that it provides more privacy. It triggers a strong angry response from the lighthouse keeper, ouch! She tells us that she has to deal with many visitors. Specially for them last year the council established a visitor toilet. She complains about the smell from the reeds she has to cope with. Apparently it is the favorite spot to pee. Only a week before another large flotilla of kayaks invaded their property and did their thing...

So everybody who visits "Paard van Marken", please use the available toilet unit! The picture from above is taken by the lighthouse keeper. Visit their website for more information, stories and beautiful pictures of living at "Paard van Marken" historic landmark.

P.S. The toilet-unit is just out of sight of the Lighthouse keepers, behind the green shed, and it's clean and free!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Kayak Pro

The Watersport Council invited me to give a lecture on sea kayaking at the HISWA Amsterdam Boat Show. Lacking any kayak/canoe specific show, the Dutch canoe union (NKB) this year linked-up with the Watersport Council stand at the HISWA. The watersport council had lots of activities going-on. Long lines of youths signing-up for the many water basin activities, including kayaking, waterskiing and wind-turbine dingy-sailing. A smoothly organized operation with lots of volunteers. The slogan "" seems a catching phrase, at least with the youngsters. The cold unheated pool water did not deter any of them.
Prominently at the NKB stand the KayakPro Speedstroke kayak trainer/ergometer. Again lots of attention from youngsters for a simulated race projected in front of them. When I first heard of the KayakPro, I joked that next would be racing with others on the internet in simulated environments. Well so far for my joke as this kind of simulation is already reality, or at least in beta. You never have to leave your home again for kayaking... The same could be said of Justine's This is the Sea DVD's, snippets from #1 playing at the lecture arena in-between lectures. Maybe something for future versions of KayakPro add-on software? Paddling in Penrhyn Mawr, Skooks, Baja, circumnavigating Tasmania, never having to leave home to kayak... And everyone can paddle with Justine. I Wonder if one could roll with a Kayak Pro.