Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Engelandvaarders Spotted

At about 17:00, after about 43 hours some of the Engelandvaarders have reached Sizewell Beach in Suffolk.

I post this as the Spot messenger marks a sandy beach. Details will probably surface on their Engelandvaarders website, Facebook and keep an eye out for news coverage.

Update: Pictures by Ernst van Erkelens of the crossing are available at This Dutch website is dedicated to all Engelandvaarders.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Engelandvaarders Ahoy

At 22:15 tonight Alec, Ben, Chiel, Ed, Harry & Olly pushed off the Beach at Katwijk. It is anyone's' guess how long it will take them to cross the North Sea to Sizewell in Suffolk. Their own estimates range between 40 and 50 hours.

The press meeting in the afternoon, opened by the Mayor of Katwijk, was impressive. In an informal setup the history of the Engelandvaarders and the achievement of the Peteri brothers was narrated by Niels Peteri, the son of Henri Peteri. For a comprehensive history on the Engelandvaarders and the Peteri brothers, see the team's website:

For all of us it must have felt like pieces (both big and small) of a puzzle fitting together. I think none of the involved could have foreseen what an widespread impact the monument at Sizewell had.

It must have been tough for the guys to be available for all the questions from press and by-standers while they want to get going. The final preparations and departure was filmed by the regional TV station RTV West.

Leaving the beach in the dark, punching through surf, they head into the darkness, much like it must have been 70 years ago, that is without the retro-reflecting tape on the paddles.

Their progress can be followed on their website:

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Distance training

Today I joined Ad and 7 other club members of the Culemborg kayak club for a 61 km distance trip. Some of us are preparing for the "11-steden" challenge (200 km within 36 hours) in two-weeks time.

I did not come prepared however for a detour to a relaxing sunshine break at a canalside restaurant in the historic centre of Utrecht. This club appreciates their coffee and cake moments. A great day on and off the water!

A recurring remark was that our next training would be the first 100 km of the "11 Steden Tocht".

To view our route in Google Earth, click here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Engelandvaarders update

On Monday 22 August the Engelandvaarders team will be present at a press meeting that the Katwijk city council organizes at 17:00 at the Zeepaviljoen, Strandweg 2, Katwijk, Netherlands.

Niels Peteri will bring the original folding kajak that the Peteri brothers used for their North Sea crossing on September 19th, 1941.

I got a bit more involved when Ben and Chiel, two young Dutch Marines, joined the UK team and inquired with me to borrow kayaks for the crossing as they did not think their training kayak was suitable. When I learned they used a Navy standard Klepper double kayak I knew that I should not even think of changing the kayak...

That is, apart from advising some air/float bags in bow/stern to increase the buoyancy of an upturned/flooded double. They graphically explained to me what happened on one of their training runs in 1.5 meter surf...

Their capsize in surf gave me a flashback memory of the account of Henri Peteri when their kayak capsized on first launching and half of their equipment was lost, but spares of critical equipment made the difference. The historic relevance of two of the team using the same type of craft as the Peteri brothers is striking.

The team is now planning to set off to cross the North Sea from Katwijk very early on Tuesday 23 August to finish 40+ hours later on Sizewell Beach in Suffolk, the location of the Engelandvaarders monument (see picture).

The latest news can be followed on their website news page.

During the crossing you can check Engelandvaarder 2011 on Facebook. You have to be logged-on to Facebook already for this Facebook link to work.

Update Aug 20: The national daily newspaper "De Telegraaf" ran a full page article on the Engelandvaarders in this Saturday edition's first section.