Day 57. 27th of April. 41.2 km, 6.7 km/hr average speed. From about Skeppsdalen to Solö.
We had looked at the weather forecast and concluded that we could easily lose four days or more waiting on weather before we reached Hanko. That would mean missing out on the 17th of May weekend in St. Petersburg, unfortunate since some family and friends are considering to join us there.
We had been looking forward to paddle in Åland, but a week or more waiting and paddling in, if not marginal, certainly exhausting conditions, wasn’t very appealing.
We had considered the ferry to Mariehamn on Åland to avoid the crossing, if conditions became marginal. That wouldn’t help us much however, since it was the weather after the crossing that looked the worst.
We found an alternative: Take the ferry to Nådendal in Finland. From there we could get round Hanko before the gale force winds came in.
We are not here to prove anything, still backing off the crossing did not feel quite right. But it definitely was right when we thought it through.
Good. Decision made, now it was just about booking. The booking was closed in the evening so we called as they opened in the morning and explained the situation.
-Did we have a car??
-No, a bit difficult to bring a car the way we were traveling….
-Then it was very difficult to take the ferry, because security demanded that everyone drove on board.
-Absolutely no exception?
-Absolutely no exception!!!
This was a bit of a downer. We had not seen that one coming. So we were back to plan A (paddle across), something we had just decided we did not want to do.
Whatever, we needed to get going. We decided to head for Kapellskär and show up and try to find a solution on the ground, not on the phone. We also mobilized Karianne at the back office. She has a way to persuade people to find a way to fit round pegs into square holes. We were on our way about 0930 and made steady and good progress.
At about three o’clock Stein shouted: Two kayaks at 10 o’clock. Erling had a look, and yes, two kayaks were approaching. What was more, they looked at lot like Erling’s friends Helge and Torbjørn’s kayaks. And as Erling looked closer, he thought the paddlers looked at lot like Helge and Torbjørn too.
Obviously, the trip was taking more of a toll on Erling than he had thought. Good thing Stein had seen the kayaks too, so it wasn’t a hallucination, just run-away imagination in a tired brain in a tired body. Erling knew full well that Helge, Torbjørn and their kayaks were in Oslo.
Then Helge and Torbjørn shouted. It really was them! They had started from Oslo at 0430 and driven over to join us as a surprise for half a day’s paddle. Fantastic. Just the kind of pleasant surprise we needed to boost morale.
We paddled together for about an hour and updated each other on various events since last we met. Then it was time for the second lunch. We found a place half way under a roof as it was raining. A cup of warm tea, then a phone call to Karianne. Unfortunately, she had to report that in Finnlines she had found her match. No loopholes identified. No car, no entry to the ferry. She had found various other options to avoid the crossing, but alas that was not our main problem.
By now the rain was pouring and the tea was getting cold. Morale was taking a dip again. BUT: Even if we did not have a car, we realized that Torbjørn had one nearby. What Torbjørn didn’t have however, was any business in Nådendal. On the contrary, he was eager to get home because he had plans in Oslo, and so had Helge.
But then again they were almost like a godsend. When we needed a car the most, and had no chance to get one, they had appeared out of the blue. So we asked if they would be willing to join us on the Ferry, knowing full well that no would be a very difficult answer….
We agreed that we would try all other options, but if all else failed they would join us. So we turned 90 degrees away from Kapellskär and paddled to Solö, where Torbjørn and Helge had left the car.
Our conscience was a little strained, but all in all morale was on the up.We got to Solö, left Torbjørn and Helge’s kayaks and loaded up ours instead, and stuffed all of our gear and stuff into Torbjørn’s Saab. We just managed.
On the way in, Erling tried to book the journey. No way. Booking was closed. Not good, but how difficult can it be, we’ll sort it when we get there.
Not so fast. We got there and got the following information: The ferry was full. As always on Thursdays. There were 22 trucks in queue ahead of us. OK. We were not happy, but not about to give up either. We knocked on the doors of the trucks ahead of us in the queue. Maybe they had room for a couple of kayaks. Nice people but no luck.
We then realized that the trucks with firm tickets drove past and behind a gate. We asked at the ticket office if we could be allowed behind the gate and ask for a lift. We were informed that NO! And besides there was no point, because all passengers travelling in a truck, would have to be paid for by the trucking company. Hopeless!? Not quite, if we could get a lift with a private car, we would be allowed to pay. That was a different queue, and a different office, or rather a boot. Empty boot with curtains closed it appeared. We knocked anyway and Viktoria opened! She was just about to check in the private cars. Yes the ferry was full, but she believed she could squeeze in one more car if we came back in half an hour.
We were jubilant. Torbjørn and Helge a little more reserved, but they took their fate and imminent trip to Finland in a manly and stoic way.
So it ended. Viktoria fixed a place for us. We got on the ferry. Had dinner, some sleep, and breakfast. Then Torbjørn and Helge drove us to a nearby marina, and returned on the same ferry.
What a roller-coaster day! We have had some surprises on this trip, but Torbjørn and Helge’s appearance out of the blue with impeccable timing just as we needed it the most, tops all other unexpected events.
We owe them. Thanks guys! You shall henceforth be known as the “Nådendal saviors”!