Today Henk and I planned a paddle-day. We were blessed with quiet weather: sunny, SSW-wind 2-3-(4) bft.
The idea was to cross the Marsdiep where the tidal currents often can be up to 3 knots. Starting at Den Helder we paddled just north at 0 degrees to follow the desired course of approx. 30 degrees. This should bring us to shore at Texel just south of Oudeschild where we planned a gastronomic break of a few hours.
At first the sea was rather flat, so the main issue was to keep our course and to avoid the ships in the area.
Before taking off I slipped in 3 pieces of foam in the seat to adjust the hip width. While paddling I removed 1 piece because it was it too narrow now. But with 2 pieces of foam I felt at home, being able now to perform edging/leaning in a natural way without cramping thighs etc. (Now the only thing left to improve is the knee-contact which is still painful when edging)
Especially leaning adds much affect to sweepstrokes in the Etain. The design of the Etain is a nice combination of good tracking when not edged and maneuverable when edged/leaned. May be this is the logical result of the slight V-form of the bottom.
With the wind coming from behind the kayak weathercocks only slightly, but giving me much opportunities to learn about her response to sweepstrokes and to trimming with the retractable skeg. It is easy to trim the Etain accurately with the skeg.
The more north we came, the more wind we catch due to coming out of the "wind-shadow" of the land. As the waves built up a bit, the Etain became more lively and even easier to keep on course.
After our break we paddled just south, having the current to bring us back to our starting point. During the first leg of our return trip the wind, built up to 4 bft we guessed, was against the current resulting in short waves. The Etain slices very nice through the waves without throwing up much water and without being slowed down much. This in contrary to Henk who was slowed down significantly in his Cetus.
After a while much more current is coming from our left side, not flowing opposite the wind anymore and causing our nice waves to disappear. Finally we reached the channel which brings us to Den Helder, only 1 mile too far east which is not bad. Better than ending up west from Den Helder meaning having to paddle back against the current.
The last mile, paddling with the current, I practiced sweepstrokes in a waveless sea with- and without edging/leaning. This makes a big difference. For paddling a rough sea it is therefor important in the Etain to have good contact for knees and hips to make her respond quicker and to be able to edge far (if necessary) without feeling unstable or uncertain. Of course this is important for our trip today, but it was certainly on my last trip described on 30sept.