Travels with Paddles

a sea kayaking journal

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rise from the Storm

On the night of the 1st March superstorm Emma hit Anglesey and with winds of 70 knots totally wiping out the entire marina and sinking and destroying over 80 boats along with Playmate and Nigel Dennis' yacht on which he lived with his partner Eila all year around.

Nigel Dennis who is a well-known expedition sea kayaker and sea kayak designer has used the last four years of his spare time working on his dream boat Playmate.

The idea of Playmate was to create super cool expedition support boat which would take sea kayakers to remote places of Scotland and Outer hebrides and show them sea kayaking from completely different perspective. When not on the sea the all carbon kevlar fleet of sea kayaks would be stored on the fly deck of Playmate. If the weather would not be favourable for kayaking all members could enjoy the scenery from the comfort of this expedition super boat with a wee dram of whisky in their hand while cruising along the islands.

After almost four passionate years of spending most of his free time on his dream boat Playmate she was nearly ready for her first season. The moment was was just around the corner with a few bits and bobs to do including finalising her insurance.

Then disaster struck.

What a devastation to lose your home and hobby. All the energy and time spend on Playmate lays at the bottom of the sea.

Through the years Nigel has helped so many kayakers to follow their dreams doing expeditions and motivating people to do their best.

There are stories of paddlers coming to him with very little experience asking for sponsored sea kayaks to go around the UK and he would reply "I will lend you a boat and if you do not make it you will bring it back and if you make it you can keep the kayak." as Eila said "Nigel just wants people to do well."

Now it is up to us the sea kayaking community; to support for once Nigel who has helped and influenced so many people. And see his dream coming through and get Playmate off the bottom of the sea and get Nigels spirit to fly high again. We believe he more than deserves it.

With so many people around the world if we contribute even little we can get the boat afloat for Nigel.

Above was written by Ashley Williams. She has started a Rise from the Storm fundraiser to recover Playmate.

Nigel has been of enormous help throughout all of my sea kayak and coaching development. From the first day I met him at the Anglesey Sea Kayak symposium in 2000 and ever since. I recognize myself in all that Ashley could put into words about the support and opportunities Nigel has given.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Penguins ?

When I asked around for pictures of yesterday I would never ever have thought Ray would be 'tricked' into this one. A select few Dutch sea kayakers know about Ray's Penguin warm-up one time at the annual Dutch Sea Kayak week; for many years organized by Elko (left) and Onno (right). And where do Penguins live?

Peddelpraat Ray Union

Yesterday was the annual Peddelpraat winter meeting.

For the past 20 (!) years Ray Goodwin guided the Scotland sea kayaking trips for Peddelpraat. Sea Kayaking? Isn't Ray that world renowned open canoe coach and guide? Yes he sure is. Ray, Lina and Maya were invited over to celebrate 20 years of Peddelpraat sea kayaking trips in Scotland.

What was his lecture about? Open Canoeing for sure. Anecdotes of his sea kayaking trips would fill the rest of the day with all the paddlers that so much enjoyed his guiding. I was impressed with his film about his Algonquin open canoe trip with two families with children. So Open Canoeing abroad with Ray is next? We have a signed copy of Ray Goodwin Open Canoeing so we better start practicing with one blade. Cunning plans... Another one of Ray's specialties.

Exactly a year ago I headed out to Ushuaia for my month long sea kayaking trip to Antarctica with a group guided by Justine Curgenven. Family health issues and other priorities had literally shelved the 7.000+ pictures and still unknown many hours of film footage of this expedition.

Yesterday was also the premiere of my Antarctica lecture. Condensing a 'life-time' experience into 45 minutes. Where I could probably talk an hour on every one of the 30 days there! Or just share one picture that says it all. Even all the trips with Ray. It is all in there (apart from the camp fires).

A little personal emotional moment at the start of my lecture when I realised that ALL of the paddlers that I learned sea kayaking from, my mentors, my coaches were present. Even the retired ones and paddling buddies that I have not seen for 10 years or more!

While Peddelpraat is 'just' one of the national kayak clubs, they invited every other national sea kayaking organisation. And ALL were there; the busiest winter meeting ever. The clubs' motto, since it's founding in 1975, has been [paddling] with each other not against each other. A national (sea) kayaking gathering it was.

P.S. I do not have pictures of yesterday, so hoping to share some of those later.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Weather Bound

Because of a high wind warning and flash floods in New York my flight to JFK got canceled. The flight already had an hour delayed arrival. After boarding the plane and waiting in it for more than an hour we had to leave the aircraft; deplane.

Lots of flights got canceled and lots of people are stranded. I am now booked on an extra flight early tomorrow morning. At least my connecting flight to Amsterdam is still valid. The only thing is that I now cannot spend a day in New York city, something that I was looking forward to.

I never before had the luxury to be offered a 'bed' right at the airport. Logistically probably the most conveniant solution. That and the rocking chair and the power outlet.

Earlier today...
I am not sure if I understand Starbucks anymore, if ever I understood them. The only coffee joint that was open. Apart from a 'Latte' there is no recognizable other coffees on the menu. I asked for a Cappucino and got the question: "What flavor?". Huhhh? I replied: "Regular". Not really sure if the cashier understood me I added: "Medium size". A minute later I got a 'Frappucino', not what I ordered. But they still do Cappucino, but I probably have to 'SPELL IT OUT: A HOT CAPPUCINO". I got my Cappucino instead and it actually tasted like Cappucino. A regular hot coffee might be even harder to get.