Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Holy Island

Yesterday, this years' Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium week drew to a close. With a georgeous weather forecast I joined Eila, Ashley, Lianne and Thom for a circumnavigation of Holy Island. I only paddled this trip two times before but never clockwise.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium 2018

This years' Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium all again could share experiences and knowledge with other paddlers and coaches from all over Europe, Britain and North America. Anglesey is a great (the best?) training and testing 'ground' for paddling, judgement and leadership skills in moderate and advanced tidal waters. One does not need too much wind or sea state to find great challenges and fun learning opportunities here.

For Nigel Dennis and Eila Wilkinson this years' symposium got overshadowed by the Holyhead Marina Disaster in March. I could witness the last remnants of the clean-up and salvaging with my own eyes and it was much, much worse than I even imagined I would see it.

I finally had time to get around sorting-out my symposium pictures and writing some blog entries. I am very much looking forward to next year and be again part of this great knowledge and experience sharing sea kayaking community.

05-05 | GPS Track | Photos |

05-06 | GPS Track | Photos |

05-07 | GPS Track | Photos |

05-08 | GPS Track | Photos |

05-10 | GPS Track | Photos |

Sunday, May 06, 2018

A Song of Life

I first met Sien on an epic sea kayaking trip with Peddelpraat around Texel in 1995. Sort of, because the sea state did not enable me to chat while paddling and we returned a few hours into the trip in two seperate pods; against the tide.

The name on her boat was SIENSWIJS. I thought that was an intriguing name, because it can be read in different ways. My first thoughts were of "Siens’ View". But also as "Siens' Song" and "Sien is Wise". Over the years I came to learn that all three intepretations did justice to her.

In 1997 Sien asked me if I would like to join her on an expedition in southeast Alaska. Little did she know that Alaska was the reason why I started paddling in the first place. So in June 1999 our team of four set out on a five week paddling trip around the outer coast between Sitka and Hoonah. She was also adventurous on foods. Salmon and Kelp allright, but Hermit crabs were a bit too adventurous for me.

In 2003 Sien, Jan and I paddled in the outer Hebrides. Cooked limpets are quite edible I learned then. A bit chewy, but I memorized that next time I would take them only when there is no sandy beach around.

Sien was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012 with a very short life expectancy. She did not capitulate to this. With amazing energy she built 3 skin-on-frame kayaks since, went on numerous hikes with her brother and continued paddling/camping with friends and did solo sea kayaking trips in-between chemo treatments. We even planned another Alaska trip in 2015, but the uncertainty of her fitness prevented planning a paddling season ahead.

It was nice to see her at the Peddelpraat Winter meeting this January. A month later I got an invitation to celebrate her 65th birthday with paddling friends on May 6th. I would not be able to physically attend as I would still be in Anglesey at that time.

Last week I got the sad news that she was taken into hospital quite unexpectedly and that her physical condition was rapidly deteriorating. We spoke on the phone and her voice was energetic as ever, both knowing that we would not speak or meet each other again. Sien passed away on May 2nd with all family present.

Siens’ Song; A Song of Life.