It's always been one of my dreams to ride along on a fishing boat and see fish being caught first hand. I just never expected this dream to manifest itself during one of my sea kayaking trips. This weekend it was accidentally realized when we found ourselves on a big fishing boat (sea kayaks on top), plowing through the waves of the English Channel towards Les Iles Chausey - a beautiful archipelago (52 islands at high tide, 365 at low tide) about an hour boat ride from Granville in Normandy.
Nestled in the southwest corner of Delft lies Abtswoudse Bos. It's part of the Lage Abtwoudsche polder, which is on average 10 feet below sea level (it's surrounded by dikes). Contrary to it's name, which means something like "Foresty forest," Abtswoudse Bos is considered "land art," with grids of trees interspersed by well-manicured lawns. A massive Moeder Aarde (Mother Earth) is sculpted into the landscape - her body and limbs made out of elongated hills. She is easily identified in the air photos (see the Google Map at the bottom of this post). On Saturday, eight U.S. Fulbrighters in the Netherlands convened in Delft for a successful kayaking outing on an incredibly windy day.
Between mid-April and early-May, the rectangular fields of North and South Holland transform into a striped carpet of yellows, reds, purples, and pinks. Narrow canals, seemingly drawn with a ruler, meticulously separate the stripes. Tourists fly in from all over the world to view this annual spectacle between Haarlem in the north and Leiden in the south, where the flowers are most concentrated. Keukenhof is a world-renowned garden where hordes of visitors walk the narrow pathways, visit the windmill, and smell the flowers, especially this time of year.
On Sunday, a group of Windhappers (Alfons - trip organizer, Marianne, Willie, Elly, Twan, and I) set out to view the tulips from a less crowded place: our kayaks. Click Read More to see endless flower photos and hear about a minor mishap that almost resulted in carrying 6 kayaks over a busy railroad track...
The Biesbosch is a national park in the Netherlands, located about 30 minutes (drive) southeast of Rotterdam. On Sunday, Henk Jan and I hopped in the Beast (his 400k mile Volvo) and drove down to the Biesbosch for a day of kayaking. The Biesbosch is best explored by boat, since it consists of endless channels that weave around low-lying islands. The Biesbosch has a long history of inhabitants and water management. I'll tell you about that at the end of this post. We spent about 5 hours paddling through the channels, ending up with a solid 11-mile paddle for Henk Jan's first time in a kayak...
Water nerd alert! No kayaking in this post.
One year after the deadly floods of 1953, which killed over 1,800 people, the Dutch began construction on the Delta Works - the largest flood protection system ever constructed. The "Delta Works" generally refers to 13 storm surge barriers (stormvloedkeringen) and dams (dammen) constructed between 1954 and 1997.
In a previous post, I described the Maeslantkering, which was the final barrier completed. Yesterday, Henk Jan and I went on a roadtrip through the provinces of South Holland and Zeeland to visit 3 more structures: Haringvlietsluizen, Brouwersdam, and the Oosterscheldekering. Read on...
Last week Elizabeth (American roomie in the Netherlands), Sara (outdoorsy traveling buddy from Virginia), and I made an epic road trip across Croatia (known there as Hrvatska - hence the "HR" stickers on all the cars). We started in Zagreb, the capital city, and made our way towards the coast, stopping at Plitvice Lakes National Park (stay tuned) along the way. We managed to kayak twice - once near Dubrovnik and once near Split. Our first trip took us through an ancient city (and a UNESCO world heritage site) called Trogir, ~30 minutes west of Split. Click Read More to see a gallery of photos and write-up of our kayaking adventure through this historic city!
While I consider myself a fairly fluent Dutch (/Flemish) speaker, I was surprised at my limited kayaking vocabulary when I first joined the Windhappers kayaking club last September. It's hard to convince someone that you're a competent paddler when they ask you if you know how to do a boogslag (sweep stroke) and you return a blank stare. In the same vein, many of the otherwise-fluent English speakers did not recognize the English terms that I offered up in an effort to reach a mutual understanding.
So, to shrink this gap in communication for myself and anyone else in the same boot, I put together this list of common kayaking and canoeing terms. A big thanks to Tim, Leon, Sytse, Eric, and Jan of the Windhappers for helping me translate the more challenging words. It's a work in progress. Please contact me if you find an error or have suggested additions. Click Read More to see the list of terms!
... to the new Naked Kayaker! The site has a new look and now includes a Water Nerd section, Destination summary pages, and interactive maps in each post. Happy Paddling!
Stay Tuned For...
- Kayaking in De Kaag
- Eurotrip summer 2015!
Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.