Day 77. 17th of May. Norway’s Constitution Day.
No paddling, but a lot of walking around St Petersburg in perfect summer weather. (Warm enough so that the shadow is a comfortable place to be)
St Petersburg is a very European city/metropolis and a good place to walk along streets and canals just to see what is and what happens around the next corner. Since the support committee is more interested in discovering the city than the fine details of kayak packing and maintenance, walk is what we did for most of the day. Probably good for Stein and Erling since we have been mostly sitting for 77 days.
Stein and Erling kept looking at the river Neva and how it flowed. It is going to be hard work. Neva is the third largest river in Europe measured by discharge. We have increased our estimate for paddling the 75 km from two and a half days to three and a half. We’ll know how hard it will be son enough.
In the evening we went to the Norwegian Constitution Day reception at Consul General Dag Malmer Halvorsen’s residence. The reception was well attended and several of the guests and staff took an interest in our paddling project.
In particular we discussed the locks in the canals in the interior waterways. In particular we discussed with Vladimir, a Norwegian born in St Petersburg and frequently working as a travel guide in Russia. He had travelled the canals from St Petersburg to Moscow several times, and he confirmed that the water often was let into the locks in a “brutal” way, creating lots of turbulence. This is a problem for us, since it is difficult to keep the kayaks stable in very turbulent waters. And if the turbulence is strong enough to mix air into the water we will loose some buoyancy as well.
One possible solution that came up was to hitch hike with a larger boat. Perhaps a cruise boat. Vladimir recommended s to contact Katja at the consulate and she will help us get a list of relevant companies we could ask. We’ll see how it works out.
Mean time we got some good advice about exploring St Peterburg from Katrine Netland at the consulate, she has taken an interest in our project since before we left. Finally we met her in person.
Tomorrow Margaret and Erling will go to the “Kunstkammer” Museum to measure some Aleutian paddling oars for our good friend Anders Thygesen at Kajakkspesialisten.no. He will use our drawings to make functioning replicas of the oars. These oars are relatives of the wooden oar Erling is paddling with, also made by Anders. So we will try to make a contribution to the preservation of the tradition of the Aleutians, the best open sea paddlers of all time.
UPDATE: The Norwegian consulate has published both text and pictures of our trip on Facebook (May 23rd) and VK: