Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Anas Returning Home

When I started to take interest in sea kayaking in 1994, Fred, a collegue at work, happened to be a trip leader for Peddelpraat. Whenever I met Rick Carrick-Smith at the Anglesey Symposium, Rick asked me about Fred's Anas Acuta. Whenever Fred would sell it to sure get into contact with Rick first.

This year driving to Anglesey with a very original Anas Acuta on my roof-rack and a wooden-bladed Lendal paddle in the boot. I made sure to stop-by Porth Dafarch to make some pictures. The number on the back deck of the kayak is Rick's BCU membership number. This Anas Acuta is now re-united with one of the original Nordkapps and the Lindisfarne.

Below is the history of this original Anas Acuta, written by Rick.

The Anas Acuta Sea Kayak

This kayak was based and measured on a historic Greenland boat by Geoff Blackford with accurate drawings rescaled for present day body shape by Duncan Winning. Translated to glass fibre by Valley Canoe products as their first seagoing kayak, it is described as 'A real joy to paddle.'

This example was built for Rick in 1976. Totally influenced by the line drawing of an Angmassalik kayak in Alan Byde's definitive book of that time, Rick asked Frank Goodman of V.C.P. to build it.

Frank had recently introduced the 'Nordkapp' and was reluctant to seemingly regress. However, as it left the mould, he remarked, 'It glows like a jewel', in his typically owlish way. (Translucent Amber was the 'in' colour of that time).

This IS the 'one-off' that returned the Anas Acuta to production.

Very progressive for its time, hatches, a pump, deck fittings and lines were innovations.

The hatches of the three boats here are prime prototypes of this idea.

Notably used by Rick for an Outer Hebrides expedition in 1979, wet or dry suits were yet to come. Cord jeans with woolly sweaters were topped by a harsh nylon cagoule. A large flare pack on the back deck contained sleeping and bivvy bags. Food (mostly tinned) clattered in the back and also stuffed alongside the front buoyancy pillar. Thus fully laden and tilting, with only the pin tail appearing from the water, the rear deck emerged as we ate our way forward.

An interesting comment on the characteristics of these early boats arising from this expedition was the exhausting weather cocking of the Nordkapp, the skittery dance of the Anas Acute - so readily corrected - and the rock-solid forward stability of the accompanying pair of 'Baidarkas'. Skegs were yet to come.

Suspiciously allied in design with the accompanying Lindisfarne, here, it was in these two boats that Rick and Di Fenn were 'subjected' to their Senior Instructor (Sea) training by Derek Hutchinson in 1978 on the north-east coast. Observed by the rest of the group, Derek 'set up' an impossible towing scenario over off-shore shoals, gleefully announcing, ‘Gentlemen, we are about to witness a little drama of the sea', whilst completely unaware of Di’s husband alongside. Our own next awareness was of rocketing skywards in an intimate embrace. Witnesses told of a vertically parallel pair of boats clearing the water by some two feet and Hutchinson facing a tightly clenched fist.

Rick worked with others over many years in development of the Dutch coaching scheme and in 1986, this cherished kayak passed into private ownership in Holland until its return in 2018.

L.Carrick-Smith (aka Rick)
May 2018