Thursday, December 27, 2007

Daytrips in December

November was all about rain and wind, while December did give us some nice sunny days and later on some temperatures, which made Holland shiver; would it be possible to skate on the lakes and canals?
Well it did last only a few days. Temperatures did not drop enough to skate on the lake, but some other parts of the country were luckier…

Over here we just continue with kayaking. Most were daytrips in and around Groningen: Foxholstermeer, Zuidlaardermeer, Paterswoldsemeer or just a little paddle on the canals in Groningen city itself.
Sometimes with Kor and/or Lianna, sometimes all by myself.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dutch weather in Denmark

In June I went with Lianna, my sister -and paddling partner to Denmark.
We had three weeks of full time paddling ahead of us. We decide to start at the Flensborger Fjord, just after de border with Germany and Denmark.

Camping in Denmark is nice; they have a lot of remote "official" camping spots. And we were always the only one, maybe because of the "Dutch weather", or it was still off-season.
In Mommark we cross the small Belt and head for the most northern point of Aero. We have a break at the lighthouse for some tea and continue to Avernako, we round it SE and go further N. Next stop is Lyö. It's over here the weather gets worse and we have to stay a day. We camp in the Marina, and Lianna is acting as a tug with her kayak; a sailing boat was aground in the little harbor. Above us a helicopter is searching for a kite surfer.… they find a kite board but not the one on it.
We head N and are planning to go around the Funen. Passing by little Islands, while in Assens the thunder and lighting forces us to find shelter in a public toilet. It’s still early afternoon, so we decide to go on but stay close ashore.

We paddle under the bridges that connect Funen and mainland Denmark. In the morning we cross the Bay of Vig, there is no wind and we make a lot of progress.
Near Lindö and Ejllinge we are very surprised to see a dog far away from shore. The water is very shallow. I use me whistle to attract him, but he is only going further offshore.
a real Seal! (in Holland we say "zeehond", lit. sea dog)

We are now on the most N point of the Funen. Tomorrow we cross to Hindsholm. The wind blows hard and we have to work hard for several hours. The rain is pouring over us and will not stop. We have to set up our tents and life is wet.
Another Dirty Nelly's in Denmark
In Lundeberg we stop for two days. They will burn down the Witch tonight: the midsummerfest. A lot of people gather on the beach. We eat out and the fish on the quay is superb.

On the other side is Langeland, we will follow the E side of the Island
In Spotsjberg I can no longer paddle, my back is giving me problems and a physiotherapist in Odense is not giving me relief.

The paddling days are over. When we want to go home the ferries are not operated due to heavy storms. We cross the big bridges in walking pace and the kayaks stay on the roof of the car. Lucky us!

Denmark is okay, but the weather was just like at home; Rain, rain and more rain.

Monday, December 17, 2007

E.R. met "dokter Bob".

(note: this article is in the Dutch language)
Onder de gewelven van het AZG, het huidige UMCG heb je een mortuarium. Dit heb ik in een ver verleden nog betegeld met collega's. Na een paar donkere gangen kwamen we bij een wat beter verlichte ruimte…..

….Hier moest ik aan denken toen ik op een grauwe dag de Loods inliep. Eerst donker totdat ik licht zag bij de werkplaats.
De E.R. van onze club. Waar "dokter Bob" zijn domein heeft.
Bij de receptie lag het patientenboek: De een heeft een voetsteun nodig. De volgende een beschadiging aan zijn neus. een peddelbreuk, een haarscheurtje..geschaafde plekken.
sommige hebben al baat bij een steuntje in de rug.

docter Bob
Het licht gaat aan, de operatielamp wordt in stelling gebracht.
Volgende patient is een K1, die niet op koers te houden is. Na een paar draden doorgetrokken te hebben, is hij weer bij de les.
Een poloboot heeft onenigheid met een andere boot gehad. En de jeugdige overmoed moesten ze bekopen met wat blauwe plekken,
een dikke pleister erop en ze zijn weer de dikste vrienden.
Een zeekano is de draad kwijt, maar na een bypass en dotteren is hij weer helemaal opgelapt. hij begint aan een tweede jeugd en kan weer normaal functioneren.
Een Canadees denkt dat hij een Amerikaan is en word door "dokter Bob" doorverwezen naar de Afdeling Mentaal.
Moeilijke gevallen waar collega Speedboot zijn hard mee kan ophalen.

Sommige zijn er nog erger aan toe "dokter Bob"past narcotica toe. Epoxy wordt opengemaakt en vermengt met andere verdovende en misschien wel verboden middelen. Snel vult de ruimte zich met walmen van beneveling en enigszins o.i.(onder invloed) begint hij toegewijd aan zijn taak. Wat maakt het allemaal uit, ze zijn verdoofd en "dokter Bob"die in het verleden zelfs nog medicijnen heeft gestudeerd kan zijn hart ophalen.

Niemand weet van zijn verleden en hier kan hij zijn hart ophalen.
Een klein lampje, scherpe instrumenten en ver weg van het daglicht onderin de Loods. Kon hij een nieuw leven beginnen. Niemand weet immers van zijn verleden en zijn echte naam;dokter Death.
Nee, hij is nu een echte dokter, "Docter Bob". Gerespecteerd door de hele GKV, onmisbaar till death do us part…..

….Ik loop met mijn gereedschap het mortuarium uit en groet Professor Smalhout in het voorbijgaan. Fijne man heeft vele levens gered.
dit artikel heb ik gemaakt voor Boegbeeld, ons clubblad (oktober 2007)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Shipboys from Skipper Bontekoe

De Scheepsjongens van Bontekoe.
In 1924 Johan Fabricius did write the book about -the shipboys from Skipper Bontekoe- on the Nieuw-Hoorn. a sailing vessel from the VOC.Based on true journals from the VOC (Dutch East India Company) three boys (Hajo, Padde and Rolf) are sailing to the East and learning to stand up for themselves on board. As youngsters the crew is trying them out, but they learn quick. After an explosion on board they had to survive on a raft and have to find their own way from Sumatra to Batavia. Meeting tribes, unknown dangerous animals and a lovely native Oriental girl.

coconuts and a nipa hut
This week the film was first showed in theaters nationwide. When I was young I have been reading this book dozens of times. And again and again I was part of the crew and experienced scurvy, storms and had to survive the humidity of the tropics.

Oriental Flower, ByebyeButterfly
The VOC was the first multinational in the world. More than 10000 journeys were made to the East to load profitable spices and pepper.
The Batavia replica in Lelystad was used to make the recordings for the movie.. Also recordings were made in Australia and Litouwen.
The real Batavia did shipwreck in Western Australia. And years ago when I was in Fremantle I saw the remains of it in the Maritime Museum.

My father was also a Skipper/ Captain most of his life. Starting as the early age of twelve, he first went to sea. Later on he became a master and did sail all around the Globe for over forty years.
Just like Bontkoe he did took many nice and sometimes strange things home: Parrots, a monkey, Molders of an elephant, spears and a club from Africa, boomerangs, turbans, snakeskin, ivory statues, opals, gold, tiger-eyes, paintings, clock's etc.

souvenir Gerrit, over 40 years part of the family
Those little things I love the most. It reminds me of him and of the nice time when I was still small and we went almost every holiday to the ship and discover new worlds.
Later on I did travel myself with my backpack all over the world: Ireland, Indonesia, a year Down Under, a few years in the Philippines, etc.

Cooking the cook
I don't know what did influence me the most: the situation at home or the skipper from the Bontekoe. COBBER is my Batavia and I am the main character in my own book named "Once upon a time in a Kayak".

Monday, November 26, 2007

Add salt to the Sea.

This morning there was a news report on the local radio about storing gas under the ground.
This will happen in Germany near Jengum, this is upstream the river Ems and close to the border with Holland. We, the kayakers from Groningen are regular visitors overhere.
The plan is to remove big salt pans under the surface and replace it by gas. They are not talking about cubic meters, but cubic kilometers.
They will pump in plain water and the salt will be turned into liquid, then they pump it up and let it all flow into the Ems.
An increase of 20 % more salt in the sea. The stretch of period would be 30 years. These projects cost billions of Euros and have no effect on the German habitat.
Well they are right; the pipe will be very close to the border of Holland. And as everybody can notice, we will be the one having environmental damage.
The area Dollard/Ems is already suffering from growth from industrial development and adding projects like this will increase the number of casualties under "dwellers of the Dollard/Ems region". Borkum line
In Holland we have the expression "carrying water to the sea", in Germany they "carry salt to the sea". Who is cleverer???
Well, will this region turn into the Death Sea? With so much salt. The advantage is that we do not have to wear PFD's anymore….we will float anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Philippines: As long as it will float


Island of Siquijor

The Philippines is a archipelago with over 7000 Islands in Southeast Asia. Famous are the Badjao people, the tribes who live on the sea and from the sea.
Nowadays there habitat is badly effected because of (over) fishing.
And the beautiful corals are destroyed by using explosives to make catching fish easier.

With so many Islands there is always water around. Beautiful beaches and not yet discovered bays for the Kayak. Little villages where fishing man are going out with their Banca to provide the family with a decent meal.
I have been living for a few years over here. The first few months I traveled around Mindanao and the Visayas, before I did stay for a long time in Negros. The Sugarcane Island of the Philippines.
In between the Islands are many forms of transport; the big passengers' ship, fast ferry (catamaran) , outrigger boats or a Banca.

Outrigger boats or Pumpboats are the cheapest means of transport in between Islands. Made of plywood, bamboo and a old car engine. This all hold together with nails, rope and nylon wire.
Bancas are most of the time used by fishermen who go out and you can see along the coast. Sometimes near the beach but more often far out of sight. Often they use a paddle or a little triangle sail.
Last September I went back for 5 months to Negros. We did take a fast ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete. A heavy wind and storm did appear. People around me were vomiting and crying. A passenger beside me was sometimes one meter above her chair. And her thighs were all black and blue from bumping up and down.
Oh, I wish I was in my kayak. For me the most seaworthy boat there is. A lot of accidents take place in these waters. Heavy seas can occur in narrow passages and overloading of ships is a common problem.
We were the last boat that departed from the port of Cebu.
Airplanes did not fly and a Typhoon (Bagyo) did strike.
After the Storm
Sitting in my kayak I feel always comfortable. My PFD and everything I need is close at hand. For me it's the most trustworthy boat there is.
The fisherman in the Philippines do not all have access to internet and see the weather forecast, neither do they use PFD's or carry flares with them. They are just happy to catch some fish again for dinner.
They say; Bahala na…'s up to God!
Silliman beach, Negros

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Fortnight in Friesland

Starting that Wednesday early in the morning made me feel comfortable, the air was clear and the only thing that was missing was the cord for my glasses. But lucky me, I had a spare one in my buoyancy kit.

After leaving Groningen the lock of Dorkwerd comes in sight. The lockmaster is friendly and opens the lock. The Reitdiep is now in front of me and will bring me to Zoutkamp. Near Winsum there is the first yacht, for the rest it's quiet. A cow is eating his lunch and some seagulls are flying above me.
Zoutkamp will be the first stop. The fish-and-chips van on the dike has no customers and the landscape in fading away in a grey coat.

Next morning there was some sun and upon reaching the Lauwersmeer it's all cloudy. At DokkumerNieuweZijlen the boat has to be carried steep up hill, the lock is not operated.
It goes okay; it's not slippery and there is some grass in between the pebbles. Perfect.
After Dokkum my headache is getting worse and the bowls are not cooperating as well. Time to stop and pitch my tent. Eat a little and go to sleep.

Next day I camp at the "Hydronauten", the kayak club from Leeuwarden. The area is deserted and it's raining. So I go into town for some groceries. Later in the afternoon Andre is giving permission to sleep in their clubhouse. I am happy with it….warm and cosy.
Franeker is not that far away and in a few hours I am sitting again in a comfortable clubhouse, this time "Onder de Wadden". Klaas the caretaker is welcoming me, and later that afternoon I met Willem Wiebel (Wobbly Willem). We were in the same group in the Vlielandkamp in September.
The town is small and has a lot of little stores where tourist are the main consumers.
Sunday morning Harlingen is still in a deep sleep when I paddle in the little canals.. Exiting the town I find myself in a nice surrounding. A few houseboats on the left and open fields on the right
In the afternoon it's hard to find a nice camping spot. A few sidelines/death ends of the Wormenertrekvaart do not give comfort.
A girl is just leaving from a farm and she gives permission to sleep beside the farm. Well, problem solved. Haha.
In the morning it's raining. Have to do some shopping in Workum and the rest of the day its paddling. On the Luts the canal is full with leaves all covering the water. It's shallow and makes paddling tiresome.


In Sloten I set up camp in the Marina. It’s raining whole day and the poles from the tent are just swimming in the mud.

Gush of wind are my part just before Lemmer. I am able to take a picture of a rainbow and sudden there is the wind and heavy rain. Yachts are smashed against the jetty and my paddle wants to be a kite.
In Lemmer three locks, to make it more easily I walk for a while with COBBER to put the boat in the Lemstervaart, the Noordoostpolder and continue my trip to Urk.
It's in the afternoon that I decide to put some "Paddle on the Metal" and make it to Urk.
Arriving in front of the lock, have to lift my boat 3 meters above the water. And it's a miracle my back is not complaining.
I walk to the marina and fishermen are busy with preparing their nets. No way there is a possibility to camp here. Just go to the camping outside Urk…….well after an hour walk I arrive at dark on the "Hazenvreugd". In the middle of the Urkerbos (forest)
The owner refers to me as "Dik Trom", He offers me a little caravan and do not allow me to sleep in my tent; to cold.
Well it's the fist time they saw somebody who is walking the kayak instead of the dog in the woods.
Next morning we have a nice chat, he was a fisherman for thirty years and tries out his luck with this new project. Urk

old and the new
The weather forecast is giving no hope for the coming week.. Wind force 8, so no way I can pass by the IJsselmeer and around Flevoland. Thinking about other options, but this trip is too nice to adjust, no compromise.
I go back into Friesland and enjoy the vast open areas.
First go back to Emmeloord and pass by Marknesse where the Voorster Bos will be my place for the night. It's called Kraggenburg, a little yacht club in the middle of the green.

It's getting colder and wind is always around. The lockmaster from the Voorst does not answer the phone number he put outside his office. A struggle to get the boat out of the water and uphill, it’s all slippery and swearing is the only option at the moment. It helps!
National Park "the Weerribben" is deserted. Brrr.. wind is chilling. Another lock and no luck. Need the wheels again. I am getting colder.
At a windmill on the Hemolavaart are big signs: Private, keep out, no trespassing.So no campsite for me. A little further I find a better spot, a pumping station to keep the polder dry. It's getting colder and more wind. The hatches are difficult to open. I make some food and go into my sleeping back, but not much comfort.

When I leave there is a strong headwind, not much progress.
Heerenveen is far enough today. The marina 'de Welle' is welcoming me with open arms. The men are sipping coffee in the office. All boats have to go out of the water; it's the end of the season. And a kayak passing by in this weather is odd.

In two days it can be possible to be home. So today's goal is Bergumermeer. Again it's paddle to the Metal. But no problem, it keeps you warm. Even a break for a few minutes to drink some tea makes me cold.
When I arrive it's dry and a little jetty make me feel comfortable here. chicken with rice are a welcoming meal.
Next morning is the last lap; whole day there are ships around, maybe they take this route in order to avoid the bad weather along the coast. in Gaarkeuken the lockmaster does not give permission to join with a big ship. so again the cart has to be used. Dorkwerd is the last obstacle.
One and a half hour later the club is in sight. Some paddlers did a few hours work out and they were wearing woollen headgear. So I was not the only one who was cold.
the last day
Well it was a nice little trip. The wind and the cold weather did make it special. The nice thing is that in this time of year you are all by yourself, nobody around. I paddled 412 Km in 12 days. With an easy pace.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Black November rain

End of October I left for a few weeks of paddling and camping. The weather was not that bad yet, only the days were getting shorter; meaning paddling time would be limited to 6 or 7 hours a day.
The original plan was going into the province of Friesland, then over the IJsselmeer circumnavigate Flevoland, go upstream the river Vecht and downstream the Ems, a river in NW Germany and end up near Emden where I had to cross the Dollard and come back to Groningen.
prinses Margrietkanaal
But due to weather conditions I decided to cut off the trip in an "early" stage. Friesland was windy and in Lemmer I did give it a last try and went to Urk passing inland by the canals. Hoping a day would give me some relief concerning the forecast; Windforce 8 to 9.
It was a week of storm and the famous "Dutch water works"; StormFlood Barriers were closed (for the first time in twenty years) to prevent the Lowlands Of Holland to have wet feet.
A cold and wet week and the trip I planned have to be postponed. I will make a little trip report about my two weeks paddling in Friesland. It was a harsh and cold trip but being all alone in these waters is rewarding.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Message in a bottle...

Three weeks ago I was planning to go away for a trip around the province of Friesland and maybe some further away as well.
The boat was prepared with a new keel strip and a new compass. And my broken paddle was replaced by a new one.
So ready to go off and enjoy the falling leaves in autumn. During summer Friesland is a water sport haven with lots of boats but these days the water is all for myself.
Bad luck did strike while taking my last shower and was not able to walk properly anymore: back problems.
So tomorrow I'll give it another try. If there will be news I will send you a letter…..

Monday, October 29, 2007

D-day; Dollard day


surfsmurf doing the planning
It was on a evening in May when I received a call to go to the Dollard.
A nice daytrip where Germany and Holland meet, South of the river Ems.
We left from Termunterzijl, a nice little village with a very old pumping-engine. We go Eastwards where the Ems and the Dollard will split. We go into the Mouth of the Dollard, while on the Ems you can see the big vessels going to Emden, or maybe further upstream to Papenburg to be rebuild at the famous Mayerwerff.

On the way to NieuwStatenzijl we decide to pass by the pole that is standing in the water and marks the border of Holland and Germany. We are the only one on the water, it's not very deep and little boats can only come here with HW.

We are now heading for Noordpolderzijl, but we had to "Wadlopen", Meaning that we had to walk in the mud for a while, we don't have enough water under the boat. So we are knee-deep in the silt and slime.
We will have a break in the lookout of the bird's sanctuary. People from the land can only come here by a very long jetty in this swamp area and they will be rewarded with lots of flying obstacles…..and some down to earth kayakers.

beside the lookout

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wind whistles around Vlieland

This year we decided to start from Lauwersoog and paddle in a few days to Vlieland, where the annual Seakayak camp from the NKB took place. 15-22 September.
Lianna, Teun and I met at Lauwersoog and after packing we did go to the NE side of Ameland. The weather was good and a moderate wind was around.
We had to struggle in the sand and walk quite far to pitch our tents…but were rewarded with a nice spot surrounded by Dunes.

Next day we continue west along the North side of Ameland towards Terschelling. But due to weather conditions we had to stop and take the Ferry to the mainland. Prediction was NW 7 and passing the straits in between the Islands was not safe. Later that day we heard a Sailing boat did collapse and had to be rescued.
So it was all a hassle to organize some transport to pick us up, but calling the home front did get us away from Holwerd.

Next day we all met in Harlingen and took the Ferry to Vlieland.
The whole week wind was blowing hard, this mend surfing conditions were perfect to upgrade our skills: Rescue, rolling, towing etc.
I broke my paddle while my compass did vanish in the waves.
Lianna did break her tent poles. Bad luck for both of us.

On the land we had lectures about first aid, navigation, paddles etc. This week Axel and Patrick were our mentors, the main theme was leadership. During the week we experienced that communication is the key to success.

The whole week the wind was whistling in our ears and the last day there was no wind at all. So we could all paddle back to Harlingen in the presence of sailing ships. And on a rare occasion a seal is appearing on the surface to say hello.