Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sea, Land & Iceland Air

At least the first part of my trip to Iceland is familiar and predictable; a ferry crossing from Rotterdam to Hull. Normally I would drive from there to Anglesey. But not this time.

My flight to Keflavik (near Reykjavik) has been re-routed to Akureyri (on the North Coast) out of Glasgow and a connecting flight from London Heathrow. I could never have made Heathrow in time, but I could make it to Glasgow for the 17:45 flight. Because of the light Sunday traffic I was at Glasgow airport well in time, only to learn that my flight has a 2 hour delay... In a perfect world I could have made Heathrow in time if that flight had had the same delay.

Akureyri is a 4 hour 'courtesy' bus ride to Reykjavik where I will be met by Magnús. He kept me constantly updated on the developments. This will be a long day and I hope to catch some sleep before tomorrow's Coastal Navigation & Tidal Planning course. At least the same planning rules apply. Be prepared for the unexpected.

When I return from Iceland, my Anglesey symposium will now start with a long car drive out of Glasgow. That is, I first have to make it to Iceland in the first place and back again (preferably to Glasgow). It is all in the air.

Update 26-04:
The Glasgow flight got an "indefinite delay", then was rush-boarded in half an hour, then it did not take off for another hour until 10 PM. Now it is 6 AM and I have finally arrived in Reykjavik after a 5 hour bus drive. Icelandic adventures.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ice & Fire

This afternoon Dutch airspace closed because of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Iceland. A volcanic ash cloud spreads with the northerly wind over most of Northern Europe and grounds all airplanes precautionary. Does this eruption prevent me from traveling to Iceland for running a BCU course in ten days ?

After my sea kayaking trip in the Faroe Islands in 2004 I thought Iceland to be an obvious choice for my next trip; 'working' my way up north, to ever more scenic and exposed shores. But then coaching 'got in the way'; never knowing then that 'working' could also be taken literally.

This volcano has a reputation. The last eruption was in 1783 (and that was a massive one) and lasted for 8 months. Cross my fingers that the volcano settles down a bit, probably best for everyone. It will be my first visit to Iceland and I am looking forward to it.

Iceland = Fire
Greenland = Ice
What part in the world is named 'Fireland' and is probably Green ?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wiped off the Face (book) of the Earth

I sort of 'killed' myself on Facebook today.

I was not using it that often and when I did, like today, I was strongly frustrated by the flood of all irrelevant notifications that are shared with the rest of the world and no way to shut that notifying down. Totally swamping any friend's posts that I am interested in. Not to mention all the privacy settings that Facebook chooses to change frequently and some are still not user-selectable (or not anymore) and all the related privacy issues.

I can inform you that this 'suicide' was completely painless.

Axel on Facebook
14-10-2009 - 11-04-2010

So I am back with my Blog only, for now... And I am not lost to all my real-life friends. So if Facebook told you that I am no longer your friend, please do not feel offended, my friend.
Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
(Suicide is Painless - Johnny Mandel)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Seal Launch

Today was all about launching. We started our trip to Texel and Noorderhaaks from a more-rocky-than-expected corner in the Ferry breakwater in Den Helder. Where has al the sand gone... More than one participant complains about wet feet...

It is a beautiful sunny day, albeit somewhat chilly with the Northerly force 3 wind. We have lunch in the shelter of the beach pavilion at "Paal 9" on the Island of Texel. Just when we are about to launch (again) a truck drives onto the beach and unloads two blue cases. Ecomare chose this day, time and location to launch two nursery seals back into the sea. A chance encounter for us to observe a real seal launch.
At first, the two seals were not too keen to head to the open sea. Maybe they are a bit spoiled with their 5* accommodation and feeding at the Ecomare seal and bird nursery. But with some 'encouragement' from the keepers the two seals head out to sea. The keepers explained that normally the seals are set free out at sea from aboard a vessel. But for a national newspaper journalist and photographer they made an exception. They might have to encourage these two seals off the Texel beaches again for the next days or so.
Many of the ex-nursery seals end-up at the Noorderhaaks sand spit off Texel. And that is our next destination, after we ourselves (seal) launched from the beach.
On the Noorderhaaks sand-spit I have to delicately choose between two contradicting options. Staying clear of the restricted area (set aside for the seals), or land on the spot that is not restricted, but that usually has all the resting seals. Maybe the seals themselves have taken notice of the restricted area and stay out of that... Arggg... How strong is my case when a patrol wants to fine me because I am deliberately in the restricted area to not to disturb resting seals. Maybe if the police man also is a biologist, I should be fine... Bio-Logic.

But today I have the easy choice just at the corner of the restricted area. Today the seals are resting out of the wind (and out of sight) on the south-east side of the sand-spit. While we have a short (chilly) break on Noorderhaaks more and more heads are poking out of the water; Noorderhaaks seals are checking us out. We launch again back to our put-in where the water level has covered all of the rocky beach, making it now a very easy seal landing on the breakwater, with wet feet again. But now I hear no complaints...