In my last post, I promised I would also share some paddling highlights of the past two years, which didn't make it onto the blog. Here you go! Lots of photos, not much explanation...
Lately I've been reflecting on why I haven't felt the excitement or urge to share and track my kayaking updates here on the blog. While I haven't posted here in a while, it's not for lack of a paddling life. It's the opposite really! Most of my paddling energy and enthusiasm has been channeled into my role as secretary of Never Dry (my kayaking club)... and Henk and I bought an apartment in early 2019, which we spent the following year renovating, next to our full time jobs. It's been busy to say the least! But this morning I felt a strange sense of calm and a rekindled urge to share how things have been going lately.
I started writing this morning intending to give a brief update about fun paddling activities. Instead, it turned into the post below about my experience as secretary of a Dutch paddling club over the past 3 years. Apparently I felt that I needed to put this on paper before I could move forward. It wouldn't feel right to only post about some individual paddling experiences, because nearly all of them occurred in the context of the story below.
It's been an incredible learning experience. I regularly find parallels between our small Rotterdam paddling community and other parts of my life where different types of people need to work together: at work, in our home owner association, and even when reading about politics. As someone who doesn't easily approach someone I don't know, this role has given me a means to get to know so many club members, both new and old. And lately, it's been particularly rewarding, and that's what I'm excited to share here.
It feels weird to have to say this, but everything below is my own perspective/experience (not necessarily that of others involved in our club). I'm sure I'm forgetting some important details/contributions - if you're reading this and you think I should add something, please let me know :)
It's late november, but the sun still seems to come out every weekend. 2018 has been a gorgeous year, and it doesn't seem ready to give way to winter yet. Yes, the nights are getting colder, but as long as it's not raining, you'll still find me on the water, with a few extra layers!
This weekend, a group of intrepid paddlers headed out for a local paddle on the Kralingse Plas (lake in Rotterdam). Fiona inspired Marieke to go for a paddle, and Bonnie inspired Nena. And Iede is always self-inspired!
Bonnie, a friend from California who joined me in the Hague and Utrecht a couple years ago, is back in Delft for a month. Apparently, she was not scared away by the torrential rain we endured in Utrecht, and was ready for another adventure. After brunch at Man Met Bril Cafe, we stopped by my apartment to grab piles of non-cotton fuzzy or waterproof layers before heading to the club. It was a crisp fall/winter day, and our bare fingers did not enjoy the bike ride.
Marieke, Fiona, and Iede were already at the club when we arrived. Fiona is a friend of Marieke's who is visiting from Melbourne for work and is training for a kayaking race back home. We layered and layered, with Fiona setting the record at 4 layers on her legs. Armored with our wool hats, mittens, and spray/dry-tops, we launched into the breezier-than-expected lake. Getting my sprayskirt on with cold fingers was more of a struggle than usual. It's really time for me to get a different sprayskirt which better fits my boat...
Have I mentioned that I'm really missing my old boat lately? I've really been craving a chance to paddle the same model (Valley Avocet RM) again, to see how it compares to my new boat. I haven't had the opportunity to make a direct comparison, since there was a 2-year break between the two boats. There's a lady at my club who has the same boat and doesn't seem to use it, but I've never met her. Maybe I should email her...
We paddled around the lake twice - the first time with all 5 of us, and the second time with Bonnie, Iede, and myself. The slanted winter sun lit up the north side of the lake, highlighting a few remaining yellow trees. Iede surprised us by practicing 3 rolls before getting out of the boats. His onside roll was looking great! Nice and smooth. Someone's been practicing :)
Back in the warm clubhouse, we ran into Anaïs (Never Dry member) and Wiebke (mutual friend), who came for a run around the lake. We sipped on tea and had a good chat before parting ways. It was a satisfying glimpse of the role I hope the club will play more and more in my life: a warm space for spontaneous meetings of friends with a common appreciation for spending time outside.
Today we have a guest post by friend and fellow Never Dry member, Nathalie! She writes about a beginner day trip on the Rotte River that I (Nena) organized for new members of the club. Edited and commented by Nena, with comment in brackets .
Today I went on my first official kayak tour with Never Dry!! Destination: Café Oud Verlaat along the Rotte River. [Nathalie and I were joined by Marieke, Francisco, Berend, Kim, Anais, Anton, and Iede, a very energetic, happy, and enthusiastic group!]
The day began with a lot of rain and even some thunder, which made me unsure of whether we would make it to our destination (easily). I rode my bike to the club, arriving damp but excited to paddle and ready to prepare for the trip.
Last May, Anais and Anton invited us to join them an a couple Canadian friends on a canoeing day trip and BBQ in the Biesbosch. Fully aware of the culinary abilities of A&A, we enthusiastically said Yes!
This weekend was abnormally warm for October. Actually, record-breakingly warm. A few of us decided to spend it on the water! Tom, Berend, and I spent Sunday exploring a new (to me) part of Haringvliet, a former estuary-turned-lake just south of Rotterdam.
It was an unusually hot sunny morning as I cycled down the Rotte River towards Crooswijksebocht (literally: Duckweed District Bend, where "bend" refers to the bend in the River). As I approached the bend, I saw a colorful crowd milling on the riverbank. Overheating, I removed my sweatshirt to reveal a bright blue t-shirt: our club uniform. I locked my bike on one of the many temporary bike racks and wandered into the crowd, keeping an eye out for other blue-shirted people.
In this whirlwind of a weekend, we camped and kayaked in Friesland, crossed the Wadden Sea to Ameland, camped and biked, paddled back again, and made it back to Rotterdam in time for dinner. We encountered a bit of wind and waves, some friendly currents, big ferries, and a (real!) message in a bottle.
Linschoten is a small village (~3500 inhabitants) in the Netherlands, between Gouda and Utrecht. Juliette, a fellow kayaking club member, recently moved there, and planned a trip for all of us to explore the area by kayak. This day trip took us from the town of Linschoten through some canals to Montfoort. From there, we rode the Hollandse Ijssel River to the old town of Oudewater, turning right onto the Lange Linschoten River. This lead us back to the starting point, but not before stopping at a "tea garden" along the way!
Today I'm just sharing a handful of photos from this evening's paddle on the Maas River in Rotterdam! The city shines at this hour. Led by Erik and Iede, a big group of paddlers (I didn't even count) went for a paddle through Rotterdam. We caught a nice river current on the way back.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
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