After the boats were loaded, everyone had one more coffee until I said "let's go?!". For some reason, it sometimes bothers me that kayaking is such a logistically intensive/time consuming sport, and dragging out the preparations can make me antsy. Maybe I just need to accept that going for a paddle inevitably takes all day...
The last half hour was a bit suspenseful, because the group began to spread out. Berend, who felt unstable when he paddled slowly in his narrow boat, took off. The tailwind pushed Amelia's boat in all sorts of directions. After initially trying to catch up to Berend, I accepted that I would not be able to reach him and decided to stay close to the rest of the group. I had my towline with me, so I offered Amelia a tow to help her keep her boat on track. She agreed, and my towline and I got some practice, though Amelia made it easy by paddling along with me :)
- Have a discussion before getting on the water about sticking together within speaking/shouting distance, regardless of the circumstances
- Make a hypothetical plan for what would happen if someone capsized
- Review who has group safety gear (radio, towbelts, rescue equipment, spare paddle, etc.) and make sure multiple people know how to use it. Make sure everyone has individual safety gear (bilge pump, PFD, lights, spare clothing, whistle, knife?).
- Emphasize the importance of dressing for the water temperature. In this case we were lucky that everyone more or less took care of this on their own.
- Bring a bilge pump! I realized halfway into the paddle that I still haven't acquired one here in NL. Until now it hasn't really been important, since we're usually close to shore, and in warmer water.
- If for some reason the group does need to split up, stay in groups of 3+, with at least one experienced rescuer in each group.
None of these precautions are new to me, but it's been a while since I've had to use/rely on them. I'm going to try and be more proactive about them, especially when exposed to cold water or open water!
Safety concerns aside, it was a lovely paddle. I was super sore and tired the next morning, but it was worth every ache and yawn! Let's organize some more fun trips soon!
Water Nerd: Maasvlakte 2 and a migrating sandbar
The Maasvlakte 2 was a 20% extension of the existing Rotterdam harbor, in terms of area. The harbor juts far into the North Sea, giving large ships a place to stop without having to enter the narrower/shallower parts of the harbor. Any time you construct something along the coast that juts out into the water, you disturb the normal flow of sediment along the coast. Along this coast, the dominant direction of sand transport is from southwest to northeast, though on any given day it really depends on the waves and currents. So it would make sense for sand to build up against this side of the Maasvlakte 2. I'm certain it's a lot more complicated than that (it always is). For now I'll let the satellite images do the talking, and I'll let you know if I can find some more details about the morphological changes happening around the harbor. See below for a slideshow of Google Earth images from 1984 to 2016. The Maasvlakte 2 portion of the harbor was built between 2008 and 2013.
Distance: ~20 km (12.4 miles), but 26 km according to Iede's tracker (e paddles back and forth amongst the group a lot). Thanks to Iede for the GPS points! Drawing the track is trickier when you're in the sea :)
Duration: 5 hours
Weather: Cool (high of 7C/45F), with patches of sun and warm-ish moments (but unpleasant with wet feet!)