Engelandvaarders Museum

I had heard about Engelandvaarders, a number of years ago.  Mainly men but some women who escaped from the German occupied Netherlands to Britain.  Many took the dangerous overland routes but a smaller number risked their lives crossing the North Sea in a variety of small craft.  Earlier this year I heard that an Engelandvaarders Museum had been opened in 2015, so whilst on a visit to my daughter in Amsterdam it was planned that we should go to Noordwijk, to visit the museum.
The section that most interested me, the most, was the story of those men who attempted to paddle across the North Sea in canoes. As far as is known 38 men attempted the journey to the English coast in folding canoes (kayaks).  Unfortunately only 8 people made it to the English coast, and of these only 3 survived the Second World War.
The stories of some of the escapees are remarkable, Rudi van Daalen Wetters and Jaap vanHamel, were at sea for 5 days and nights before they were picked up by an Australian ship.  When rescued they were unable to stand.  On the 20th June 1941, Robbie Cohen and Koen de Longh left the beach in Katwijk and 50 hours later landed on the beach in England.  Both amazing feats of survival.  Sadly many of the others were not successful.
In 2011 Dutch marines Chiel van Bakel and Ben Stoel and English paddlers Alec Greenwell, Ed Cooper, Harry Franks and Olly Hicks recreated the crossing completed by the brothers, Han and Willem Peteri on the 19th September 1941, although I would assume that their navigation equipment was slightly more sophisticated than a school atlas and a watch.  The Peteri brothers took two days to cross from Katwijk to Sizewell in Suffolk.
As paddlers we are possibly in a reasonable position to understand the fears and concerns of those young men as they slipped quietly away from the Dutch coast, under the cover of darkness. Their future far from certain but prepared to chance their lives on the hostile waters of the North Sea, rather than remain in their occupied homeland.
If you are in the area then I would recommend a visit to this small but fascinating museum.

Engelandvaarders
The entrance to the museum, an old German bunker just behind the beach in Noordwijk.
Engelandvaarders
Inside the bunker a couple of the walls have been converted into a screen.
Engelandsvaarder
There are a number of highly informative display boards telling the stories of many of the people who attempted to escape by canoe.
Engelandvaarders
The photographs of the individuals concerned are a poignant reminder of those dark days in Europe. Brothers Han and Wim Peteri landed in Sizewell, Suffolk, after two days navigating with a school atlas and a watch.
Engelandvaarders
One of the canoes which was used by some Engelandvaarders who escaped to England.
Engelandvaarders
In this frail craft, such as this one, people headed out to sea without many of the things which we take for granted, such as a weather forecast!

Polishing your kayak

This is an updated version of an article I wrote in 2005 regarding the use of shoe polish to improve the look of my 1980’s vintage Nordkapp HM.

Polishing your Kayak
 Always one for the soft touch as I walked around the London Boat Show I was convinced, along with a couple of companions, that I really needed some leather balsam for protecting my shoes.  I parted with my £10.00 and walked on my way.  Some time later I stumbled across some fibre glass polish, now this was interesting as my 20 year old Nordkapp was starting to show its age.  Whereas £10 seemed a huge amount for shoe polish I was far more willing to part with £40 to protect my beloved sea kayak.
I returned home with two types of polish with the aim of writing a review of the one for fibre glass.  I followed the instructions and sat back to review my handy work.  With my hand on my heart I felt unable to write a review as I didn’t want you, dear reader, to make the same mistake as me and part with their hard earned cash.  The fibre glass polish was really disappointing.
Each week I used the leather balsam on my shoes never realizing that I held in my hand the key to restoring my kayak to some of its former glory.  That is until Chris said, “Have you tried the shoe polish on your kayak?”  Somewhat sceptically I applied the polish, it was quick and easy to do and the impact was amazing.  Almost instantly scratches appeared to disappear and the colours were restored.

Polish

A photograph taken in 2005, which clearly illustrates the difference an application of         Renapur polish can make to the appearance of a kayak.

Once the kayak was on the water the droplets glistened in the sunlight, it was just like paddling a new kayak.  The great thing is that it only takes a matter of minutes to re-apply the polish, therefore it can be repeated on a regular basis ensuring that your precious kayak maintains its perfect looks.

Kayak polish

Paddling around Nordkapp in August 1986. At this point the kayak was just over 12 months old. There has been a lot of water under the hull since then.

Kayak Polish

The Nordkapp on a beach in Greenland in 1993, still looking pretty good.

Polish

The freshly polished front deck. Unfortunately it wasn’t sunny, if it had been the water droplets would be sparkling.  This was taken today returning to Jersey from the Ecrehous.

The product is “Renapur Leather Balsam”.  Forget your shoes apply it to your kayak!

Contact www.renapur.com for further details.