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.
- the scary ladder to reach your life jacket, [we really need to fix this system…]
- some hesitation about what to pack or what to wear, [layers, extra clothes, fuzzy hat!]
- finding a good boat, paddle and a fitting sprayskirt [always a challenge at Never Dry],
- adjusting your footpegs,
- putting all the gear in drybags and
- squeezing everything (including yourself hahaha) into your kayak.
Our first challenge was to pass the lock between the Kralingseplas and the canal that leads to the Rotte River. [I like that she calls this a “challenge,” as the real challenge is to portage the boats over the lock, if it’s not in operation… we got lucky, because the lock stops operating after November 1st!] We needed to rise two meters upwards! Nena told us we should not be too close to the lock doors (very valuable advice to prevent a dangerous situation). However, she also gave me some slightly less valuable advice to hold onto the wall… I can tell you: these walls are totally covered with algae and mud, so there is no chance to hold hold, but a lot of chance to become really dirty. [fair enough…} Luckily there is plenty of water available to rinse your hands.
We arrived at the café much quicker than I expected. For about ten seconds, we were afraid it was closed, but luckily we were wrong! I was impressed by the big photographs (like A1 size) on the walls of all the employees. Can you image you have this huge picture of yourself at work? Not sure whether I should suggest this to my boss…. [Nathalie somehow forgot to mention the sleeping cat, whose portrait was also on the wall! It was adorable. Maybe she doesn’t like cats as much as I do.]
[It’s fun to hear about a trip from another person’s perspective! I have a few things to add. First of all, everyone kicked ass today. We stayed together as a group and kept a pretty consistent pace over the course of the day, even though it was the longest distance that many had paddled before. Well, except that one time that I turned around and realized four paddlers were rafted up and eating chocolate. But I love a good raft-up (and chocolate), so my drive to keep paddling quickly waned. There was plenty of laughing and shouting (cough-Anais-cough) and smiling.]
Duration: 5 hours (with a 1-hr cafe break)
Distance: 18 km (11 miles)
Weather: Initially cloudy/just after the rain and 7C, followed by shining sun and pretty clouds and a bit warmer. No wind.