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.