Day 49 – A true rest day at Arkösund – 19 April

Day 49. 19th of April. No paddling today. A true rest day at Arkösund, or more precisely Världens Ände 107 (End of the world 107).

If this is what the end of the world is like there is nothing to fear. Quiet and sunny and idyllic. We used the day to dry and wash clothes. Restuff the boats. Eat three big meals and lots of snack in between. And some other chores like visiting the bank (in the cloud), update plans and times, organize some resupply in Stockholm etc. All at a very leisurely pace.

Tomorrow’s weather looks OK for crossing to Oxelösund, which we hope is the last critical part of the route to Stockholm.

Weather Permitting.

Day 48 – We waved our thumbs, and the car stopped! – 18 April

Day 48. 18th of April. Gryt to Arkösund, 41.3 km, 6.6 km/hr average speed.

We have learned to respect the wind. So to minimize the time spent in 8 m/s wind, we set the alarm for the first time. Up at 0615, eating breakfast and packing the boats in a light drizzle, before we were on the water at 0820.

The plan was good and we had good conditions for the first leg. We paddled through a mostly forested area, but with small huts in between. Mostly very well kept and idyllic. However, the name of one place was “Myggdansen” (mosquito dance). We fear it was an appropriate name during the summer months.

The wind picked up on the second leg, but we managed to stay mostly shielded behind land until about 1400, when we started the crossing toward Arkösund, just as the wind maxed out. Fortunately, westerly winds don’t have much space to build waves here, but still the paddling through short wavelength breaking waves demanded concentration. We found the hostel. Very nicely located for visiting by kayak. The hosts were busy readying the hostel for the season; we are the first guests.

Arkösund is a lively place with a grocery store, restaurants and even a state liquor store and what not….. during summer. But this is not summer season, and Arkösund is basically void of life.

We came here with all of 8 squares of milk chocolate left of supplies, and needed to go to the shop. Nearest shop was at a slightly more pulsating crossroads called Östra Husby. Which we could reach by first walking 2 km to the bus stop, and then catch one of the infrequent busses for a 30 min ride…

No alternative. Fortunately, the host drove us to the bus stop. We got to Östra Husby, and had one hour to shop before we had to catch the bus back. Easy.

On the bus back loaded with about 20 plus kg worth of groceries, we were hoping that we would not be the only passengers to Arkösund, and that the other passengers would be kind persons with a car parked at the bus stop.

No such luck. We were the last passengers on the bus. So it was just to start walking. Not the high point of the day…

Again we were in luck, however. We hadn’t walked more than a hundred meters when a blue Volvo appeared behind us. We waved our thumbs, and the car stopped! It was Kerstin and Börje on their way home, which was couple of hundred meters beyond the Hostel. Definitely the high point of the day!

Stein made dinner and Erling looked after the clothes wash, which we divided in two piles. Potentially toxic, and just plain dirty.

We are happy for the progress over the last seven days and looking forward to rest day tomorrow.

Day 47 – We have almost emptied the boats for food and snacks – 17 April

Day 47. 17th of April. Store Björkskär til Gryt. About 45 km, 6.2 km/hr average speed.

We are now in an area that Hélène and Christian know like their back pocket. We looked at one of their favorite camp sites yesterday, but we decided we needed a bit softer ground than “svaberg” (rock). It’s a combination of too old bodies and too thin mattresses that stops us.

Today Hélène had tipped us that there is a paddleable passage between Hasslö and Slädö. There is. Just. The sea level in the Baltic sea is about 30 cm below reference level these days and that matters for kayaks with about 30 cm draft.

Anyway, we found the passage, and there was maybe 3 cm water to spare. It saved us a couple of km of paddling. Very welcome and much appreciated.

Then it was due north for the day. The day started out with fantastic conditions, sun and light winds. Eventually the wind picked up, and paddling got a bit harder. We pushed on nevertheless, because tomorrow we will have to paddle in 8 m/s winds. We plan to make them tail winds, and since they will be westerly, no significant waves will build. But still, we figured it was better to paddle 1 km today in NW 5m/s winds, than to postpone that to tomorrow when a slight change in direction may give us hard work.P4170568.jpgToday convinced us that spring is here with double digit temperatures becoming common. But still ice clings on to north facing cliffs, remnants of frozen sea spray that must have been meters thick.

We are also getting a little blasé when it comes to eagles. Today we saw six or seven. Mostly they circle overhead, but today we saw two that was playing as they descended at landed on a small rock in the sea. They were not welcomed. Two gulls tried to chase them, but the eagles did not pay them any attention.

Eagles are supposed to be the king of the birds. Like many other regents, they seem to be not particularly popular amongst their subjects. But who cares, they are eagles and the gulls are not.

We have almost emptied the boats for food and snacks and have just enough water to get to Arkösund, where we have booked us in for two nights at the hostel.

Thursday will be a day of eating, shopping and washing clothes. Maybe wash the clothes twice…

One day’s hard work and we are there, and the forecast promises a good weather window for crossing to Oxelösund on Friday. So we think we are in good shape. Touch wood and weather permitting!

Day 46 – Not the high point of the day – 16 April

Day 46. 16th of April. 45.2 km, 6.4 km/hr average speed. From Kråkelund to Stora Björkskär north of Vestervik.

Another good day for covering distance. Almost no wind, misty and partly overcast and about 5 degrees, makes for good paddling conditions.

Nights are still chilly and humid, so our woolen clothes doesn’t really dry up. However, moisture moves overnight and concentrates in the lowest hanging part of the garments. This makes it possible to cringe some of yesterday’s sweat out before putting the clothes on again… Not the high point of the day. But once we get paddling everything warms up.

Since about Oscarshamn we have left the washed out moraine landscape and moved into “skjærgård” made of proper, mostly granitic, rock. The water has become clearer and lost its brownish tint.

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The islands are still tree covered, but less oak and dominantly pine. Some smallish trees are almost ready to open their leaves, so spring is underway. However, as we passed Kråkelund there was still ice remaining on the seaward facing cliffs.

The sound track of spring round here is provided 24/7 by the gray geese. Noisy birds indeed and very numerous here.

We have decided to try to paddle seven days instead of six, before we take a break. For two reasons, first we will then get to Arkösund which has reasonable facilities (i.e. Grocery store), second we will be in a good position to make the about two and a half hours crossing to Oxelösund. We are a bit worried about getting stuck waiting for weather. This means a couple of days around 40 plus km. If our bodies hold up and weather permits.

Day 45 – Good progress and easy paddling – 15 April

Day 45. 15 th April. Em to Kårelund. 44.9 km, 6.8 km/hr average speed.

A misty day with light tail winds and light following waves made for good progress and easy paddling.

We had an excellent night’s sleep in Angelica and Alexander’s “shed”. Erling was particularly happy, since his strained muscle has reduced his sleep quality since Kåseberga. Finally that seems to have passed.

Angelica and Alexander saw us off with some good advice about difficult places to avoid as we left Em.

What more to say about an ordinary day? Visibility was medium so things and places appeared out of the mist. Most spectacularly Simpevarp nuclear power plant. We could also see the damp rising from the spill water, and as we got closer, the waves got a little confused because of the interaction of wind waves and spill water current.

We found a nice place to camp just before 1800. Which gave us two hours leisure and cooking time before sunset. Still chilly, and this update is written from a stove warmed tent.

We hope for a similarly efficient and uneventful day tomorrow.

Day 44 – Hospitality and generosity is not correlated with the size of the house or the wallet – 14 April

Day 44. 14th April. From Fågeludden to Em. 39.2 km, 6.2 km/hr average speed.

Even less wind today, we left Fågeludden in fair weather and set course for Timmernabben, where Google told us we would find a grocery store. We needed to stock up for the next four days, until the next rest day.

Using Google maps we could land at the spot with the shortest walking distance. This tool and even more the super accurate weather forecasts, makes life much easier for us than for long distance paddlers from the age before the smart phone. Thanks to Mr. Jobs.

After shopping and a first break of the day, we set out to navigate our way north. We took some chances on crossings, which looked plausible on Google Earth, but were not clearly mapped on our GPS maps. This time we were in luck (as opposed to Kristanopel). Although we had to do some paddling in very shallow waters, through walls of willows. At times we had to get out and pull the boats. This does not increase average speed, but it makes for a more interesting day’s paddle.

For the last two days we have paddled through a scenic landscape of willows, juniper, oak and pine trees, with grasslands in between. Apparently, EU has granted about 10 million euros to clear the shrubbery and restore the islands to grazing lands. The work is well underway, and we guess the grazing animals will soon be shipped out to the islands. So far we have seen none.

Most of the wildlife we see are birds. Tens of thousands of ducks is seems, and literally thousands of swans, gathered in huge flocks in shallow coves. And today yet another eagle. About 1730, we passed Mönsterås paper mill, clouds hid the sun, it got chilly and we started looking for a campsite for the night.

Eventually we came to Em, where a small river enters the sea. We found a nice place to land and went ashore to look for someone we could ask for permission. We first met Alexander and Angelica, and they explained that we must ask in the “big white house”. In our paddling gear we set out on the 500 m walk. We almost waded through flocks of half tame deer.

When we saw the house “big” was an apt description. We noticed numerous fishers along the river, with fly fishing rods twice the length of a kayak. We found the main entrance, but only echo when we stuck our head in and called. It was sort of a hotel, but apparently, everyone had gone fishing. Finally, we met two fishermen coming back to the lodgings. They advised us to speak to Mr. K about permission to tent, and pointed us to his house. We have to say one thing about Mr. K. He was short and to the point: “No. This is private land. Go find yourself a camping.”

On the way back we met Angelica and Alexander again, and explained the outcome. We got back into the kayaks, but just as we paddled out Angelica came running and said they had a room in the shed. It would be cold. We just asked; does the room have a floor? It had. With two beds to boot. Perfect. We were very happy to avoid another hours cold paddle.

And it is hereby reconfirmed, hospitality and generosity is not correlated with the size of the house or the wallet. It’s about an attitude of generosity. Which we have experienced many times the last 44 days, and again from Angelica and Alexander today.

Day 43 – Stein quashed a mosquito – 13 April

Day 43. 13th of April (Friday). Stensö to Fågeludden. 33.2 km, 5.5 km/hr average speed.

Another day with headwind. And we made it a short one to go easy on the muscles and sinews.

Nevertheless, some interesting paddling. Shortly after we left the campsite we spotted category three of Stein’s simplified bird categorization scheme: An Eagle being chased  by some sea-gulls. (In case any of you wonder about the two other categories, they are: “Pip-pip” and “gack-gack”.)

After two kilometers, we passed through the channel at the northern end of Stensö and then past Kalmar castle and through Kalmar centre. Looks like a nice and active city.

The rest of the day, we spent criss-crossing in order to hide from the wind behind small islands in the “skjærgård” north of Kalmar. So even though we paddled 33.2 km, it was not a straight line toward Stockholm.

About halfway we came to Drag, where all our maps showed a channel. It was there, and just deep enough for us to pull (dra) our kayaks through, but too little to paddle in. Anyway, 100 m of wading saved us several km paddling in 5 to 6 m/s headwind. (For a brief moment “back-office” questioned our navigation….)

A good day for us. Nice sunny weather, nice “seascape”, warm, at least when we were paddling.

As for signs of spring, Stein quashed a mosquito this morning… And we have seen flowers, bumblebees, and even a butterfly some days ago. But still cold water and chilly nights.

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Day 42 – Paddling against 10 m/s is about twice as hard as paddling against 7 m/s – 12 April

Day 42. 12th of April. Six weeks and about 20% of the trip behind us measuring in time.

Today we paddled from Bergkvara to just south of Kalmar center. 33.2 km, 5.2 km/hr average speed.

We had 7 m/s headwind throughout the day, and about 0,7 m waves in open waters.
7 m/s may not sound like a lot less than 10, but it sure is. The pressure force from the wind increases with the square of the wind speed. So paddling against 10 m/s is about twice as hard as paddling against 7 m/s.

We were on the water shortly after 0900. Before we started we worried about a place called Örarevet, which reminded us about Hanö bukten, if only a tenth the size. We need not have worried. Öland shields these waters in NE winds and there was no heavy ocean swell that could have turned into the 1.5 meters breaking waves we experienced in Hanö bukten.

So no real paddling issues today, except the wind slowing us. We decided to make it a short day, and paddle slowly.

The day brought one spectacular surprise : as we were about to paddle between two small islets, there was competition for the passage : A band of seven grown wild boars and two small pigs came rushing along the shore to our left and threw themselves into the water and swam across exactly where we were about to paddle through. They were all Big beastly animals indeed. We gave them right of way. We may have stressed them, because they left the small pigs to look after themselves at the rear. We could have picked one up. That would likely have been an exceptionally bad move. Kayaks are not built to transport wild boar, however small.

The rest of the day was mostly about slogging along against  the wind. Erling discovered that his boat still takes in water. Current theory is that the spraydeck is too small, and doesn’t connect properly to the cockpit ring.

The day had one last and pleasant surprise, just as we were looking for a place to pitch the tent Stein discovered a shelter (vindskydd /gapahuk) apparently built by the municipality of Kalmar just onshore in an oak forest. So no tent tonight, which should facilitate a quick start tomorrow.

 

 

Day 40 and 41 – Waiting on weather in Bergkvara – 10/11 April

Day 40 and 41. Waiting on weather in Bergkvara.

Two days of waiting on weather. 10 m/s head wind can be handled for a day or two, but in the long run it will cost more than we gain.

“In the long run” are the key words here. It took us at least 24 hours to get properly rehydrated after we came to Bergkvara.

For the first forty wintry days, we have been focusing on getting going, settling in and avoiding strain injuries. The last challenge was exacerbated by the cold weather.

Now it is clear that we must focus more on the sustainability of our efforts. Erling’s friend and colleague Harald congratulated us on reaching Copenhagen, with the words “good luck with rationing your efforts”. He got the risk just right.

Erling is already a slimmer version, back at about the weight he had when leaving high school. All well and good, but not sustainable for another six months. He must either eat more or paddle less. So we are looking at ways (fat) to increase the calorific content of what we eat. And we will monitor how much we drink. Paddling in a dry suit in 10+ degrees can be a bit like a sauna.DSC_0030.jpg

DSC_0031.jpgOther than waiting, eating, drinking and resting, yesterday we visited Kalmar to do some shopping and visit the place where Norway’s 400 year period as a colony started.

It struck us again that Sweden is a “grander” country than Norway. And more dominated by industry. We had never been to these parts before, and the land and the cities appear rich, busy and well kept.

Well kept we can also say about Dalskärs camping, where we stay. Ove Karlsson runs this place after he and his wife left Gøteborg to come here 7 years ago, “to do something different when the kids had left”. Lots of hard work Ove says, but an interesting way of life.DSC_0032.jpgWe have certainly enjoyed the stop here, but now we are eager to move on. The weather forecast is somewhat better tomorrow. If we can get past “Örarevet”, we should be able to make a few kilometers toward Kalmar. But not too many either. Long days in 7 m/s head wind is not sustainable. We plan to spend two rather than one day to get to Kalmar. Weather Permitting.

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