Time

September since the last update! Pffff… Sometimes it’s just like that. Too busy with all kinds of stuff. Fine, we’ll handle it. Fortunately I’ve been able to keep on paddling. May be not every week, but still..

In fact I’ve been able to get my certificate for ‘Kajakvaardigheid A’ (Kayaking Skills A). The first of a couple of certificates in the kayaking community in The Netherlands.  We’ve trained a lot for these skills and as you can imagine training was also a lot of fun! So now that KVA is ‘ in the pocket’, we’ll go for the rolling lessons which start in December. Looking forward to that.

Last Friday two fellow club members and I went for our regular kayaking trip. A 10-12 km round trip. Weather is getting colder. It’s around 6 °C.  I didn’t have a set of proper gloves yet, and fortunately I actually didn’t have cold hands at all, until I got out of the kayak, that is. That’s when my hand got cold. But during the trip: no issues at all. But for when it will be colder, I made sure to order some proper gloves at kajak.nl
I’ll write a review on them, soon, if I got some time to spare😉

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Kayak outfitting: Closed cell foam and add some water

In a previous post I wrote about feeling ‘tippy’. The Aquarius Sea Lion sometimes feels ‘nervous’ when the water is not calm. I’ve done some searching online, but not a lot of reviews of this kayak show up. I’ve read the profound review of Peter Nylund on his blog, Yeti rides, which got me thinking about ‘weight’.

I’m 186 cm and my weight is around 73 kg. Peter is 6 cm taller, but weighs around 100 kg (at the time of writing his review). That’s nearly a difference of 30 kg! I figured: that may have some impact on the stability. So last Sunday I brought 10 kg of water and put 5 kg in the front hatch and 5 kg in the rear hatch. That had quite some impact!

Even with the first strokes, I could feel that the kayak was way more stable. The kayak felt less nervous and ‘tracked’ better. Sure, it was also less ‘agile’, but it was more predictable. It felt a bit sluggish. So, this Tuesday I tried to feel the difference by adding only 5 kg: 3 in the front, 2 in the back. As could be expected: a bit more agile then when 10 kg was added and a bit more stable than without any dead weight. I’m not sure what I prefer. Next time I’ll bring 7.5 kg.

Anyways, bringing along some extra weight really does help to stabilise the boat. Not that it’s needed all the time. Definitely not! When the water is calm or predictable, no additional weight is needed. But when the water is more ‘splashy’, more nervous, this definitely  helps. I might actually add some empty water bottles permanently, so I can fill them when needed.

The other thing that I’m experimenting with is my fit. I’m rather small at the hips (my whole body for that matter). So when I’m in the kayak, there is quite some room between my hips and the kayak. On both sides something like 4-5 cm of free space. Also, when positioning my foot pegs the way I prefer them, there is still quite some ‘travel’ between my knees/thighs and the bottom of the deck. At the club they hinted to use closed cell foam, to fill the gap. And so I bought some of the foam and got creative.

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The first test ride gave me quite some confidence: this is going to work. A tight fit and I really feel what the boat is doing. Also, edging the boat was easier, because of the feedback the kayak gave me. Edging and turning was more easy, just by moving my hips.

However, after 2 km my legs went numb… Too much foam. So when I came back, I sliced a bit of the pads I made. That got rid of the numb legs, but I actually feel I should add a bit more foam in the top part of the pads and leave the lower part of the pads as I shaped them now. I made that modification this evening, but I have to wait till next Tuesday to try this version. If that’s a good fit, then I’ll make sure to mount it more secure/nicely.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Self analysis – Tippy

It’s been a while since my last blog post. The busy schedule of the last couple of months lingered. Fine. Health issues are more important than blog posts. At the time of writing I’m in France. Enjoying a much needed holiday with the family. Two weeks in the ‘Drome’ area. Actually a place where you can kayak as well, but I didn’t bring mine. We could have rented one, but we didn’t. Lot’s of other activities to do.

Since I joined the club I never missed a Tuesday’s kayak training. Really glad I did join the club. The training sessions are really helpful. Learning a proper technique really helps to be efficient on the water.

During the last training session before the holidays there was quite some wind which generated some waves. Not really steep, but still, quite some. The wind came from my 4 o’clock and only a couple of meters to my left was the bank/side of the lake. This resulted in the waves coming from the right, but also bouncing of the bank on the left. It made me quite unstable and thus not relaxed. Thinking of tipping over at that point didn’t feel nice and so my body went a bit rigid. I managed to keep the right side up and obviously it is silly to think that you can handle all situations the first time you encounter them, but still I felt I should be able to handle it easily a d thus I was a bit disappointed. Obviously one should be patient and learn and experience these conditions to be able to get used to them, but I’m generally not that patient. However, I’m glad I did experience this and learned form it. The thing I learned is that I felt tippy, not so stable and that I was not relaxed. So that’s what I need to work on.

I think ‘edging’ is my most important improvement point. I think the Aquarius Sea Lion is really a great Sea Kayak. It is easy to steer and has a great initial stability, for such a small boat (52cm wide). However, I find it difficult to find its tipping point. Practising to edge it without any forward movement, is OK, but edging it during other activities is more tricky. And obviously the kayak is rather small, so during the conditions I described above it is more tippy then a wider kayak. Finding the tipping point and learn to control the boat in these conditions is important.

Of course, the only thing that will happen if you cross the tipping point is that you get wet… so what…. but still.

I actually think that I’m a bit too loose in the kayak. I think there’s too much room between the kayak and my hips. Also, there’s too much room between the kayak and my thighs. I could adjust the foot pegs to close that gap, but then the angle of my knees gets to big which is uncomfortable at longer trips.

To (try to) solve this I bought some closed cell foam just before my holidays. I did not fit that yet, but when I return I will try to mount that as soon as possible. I really feel that it will improve my handling; getting a tighter fit, so the kayak better follows my body movement and I get more feedback of the kayak. Really looking forward to give that a try. Hopefully it indeed will improve my handling.

Another thing I bought just before the holidays is a keel strip. I thought about a keel strip before and decided to postpone it since there were no significant scratches on the hull. Then a couple of days later I decided to apply it anyways, because it is actually better to apply the keel strip before the scratches get on the hull. So that’s also on the to do list!

Small evening trip with great lesson and my Fuji mirrorless

Yesterday evening I was sitting in my backyard, enjoying the weather. The kids were already in bed. It was 20:00 when I thought: I could go for a small kayaking trip…

150 meter from my house there is this small canal, connecting Moordrecht to Gouda and, in the other direction, to Nieuwerkerk aan den IJssel. In fact, it is quite a small canal and there is not much to see, but I figured I could take a easy trip to practice my forward stroke.

Efficiency / a good paddling technique is very important, especially for me, since I’m prone for neck pain ever since I got hit by that car in November, 1996.
Standing still in front of a traffic light on my motorcycle, a car hit me in the back with 50 km/h. I hit the asphalt 10 meters down the road, in front of the car which I stood behind just a second before….

The guy told the police he never saw the traffic lights and didn’t even try to break…

Imagine wearing a helmet of 1kg and your head gets such a slap. I remember I was looking at the traffic light and the only thing I saw next was ‘blue’.
That was the sky, I figured later.

I had nothing. “Only” pain in the neck when I get tired, or when I’m not paying attention to my posture, even now, 20 years later.

So that’s  why it is very important to me to learn (and use) a good paddling technique. The other day I did not pay enough attention to my technique and the next day I had a bit of a sore neck. That got me triggered to stay alert.

So at 20:15 I was in my kayak and promised myself to go for a short and easy trip to prove to myself that I can pay attention to my technique and that I can do that without having a sore neck, the next day. To force myself to take it easy, I brought my camera; another big hobby of mine.

On the water I immediately knew what I did wrong. I actually noticed it at work as well: My shoulders were tensed and hunched. And I also was pulling a bit too hard at the end of the stroke. For the next 30 minutes I payed really good attention to my stroke and noticed how easy it is to ‘fall back’ in the hunched shoulders / bad technique. I need to work on that.

At the turning point there was this coot with its nest. Having brought my camera with a long lens I spent some time taking pictures of the coot. After a while I turned around and saw this horse playing in the meadow. Took some great pictures of it (click to enlarge)

Valuable lesson!
And by the way: No sore neck today!