Day 60 (Part 2) – A minor (and embarrassing) detail, but with interesting consequences – 30 April

Day 60. 30th of April. Sandskär (Hanko) to Bjurs. 54.3 km, 6.0 km/hr average speed.

We knew it would be a long day. If we wanted a roof over our heads, we needed to go all the way to Bjurs. 54 km. We did really want a roof over our heads and the chance to dry up our things. We have been paddling six days since Stockholm so it is time for a rest day, and the weather forecast says it will be a wait on weather day anyway.

We decided to save the “go out in torrential rains in the middle of the night to secure the tent” exercise for later. It will come soon enough.

We started out in fog and reduced visibility. That makes navigation in an archipelago more difficult and slows us down. The low average speed of today is down to that, plus some current against us and some headwind for the last half of the day.

At one point we had to go through a steel pipe under a small road. Stein chose to send his kayak trough and walk over. Erling thought it was possible to follow the current through. It was, but it was no good idea. A kayak is best handled when one can use oars…. And following current reduces maneuverability further.

It was tight and Erling managed to get his right hand into a squeeze. It was almost limp when he got out. And remained so for the rest of the day.P4300196.jpg

A minor (and embarrassing) detail, but with interesting consequences: To keep paddling at reasonable speed, Erling corrected the weakness of the right arm by adjusting with his left. After 45 km of that, it was the left arm that was really hurting. Particularly the last 15 km.

This confirms two things we have learned:
First; with 7 hours and 40 plus km paddling per day, we are at about the intensity our bodies can support.
Second; it’s the last leg of the day when tired bodies struggle a little with smooth technique, that poses the main risk for injuries. (Plus thoughtless entries into tight steel pipes…)

Enough paddling trivia. It is not what we will remember the day for. Rather Stein’s thoughts this day were preoccupied with the loss of a respected friend and former colleague Bjørn Bjørnø, who lost his life in a parachuting accident on Sunday. He was 83 years old.
Stein has mentioned Bjørn Bjørnø to Erling many times, both as a brilliant soldier, and also as a role model of keeping active and young at heart into an old age. RIP.

Erling on his part had promised his father to paddle by Tostholm to pay respects to his father’s deceased friend Peter Flander. Peter and Erling’s father met relatively late in life. Still the friendship grew strong.
We found Tostholm and rested on our oars in silence for one minute, to pay respect to that good friendship.

We reflected a bit on this aspect of the day: When we are away for seven months, there will be times when we feel we are at the wrong place. Times when we feel the right place would be with our close ones. On the other hand, we also reflected on how lucky and privileged we are in that our closest family are in good health and in no immediate need of our support, so that we can paddle away on an adventure like this.
Long may this last.

 

Day 60 (Part 1) – This is bloody cold, but not unbearably bloody cold like in March – 30 April

Day 60. 30 of April. We paddled 55 km to get a proper roof over our heads. Shelter from tomorrow’s gale and torrential rain.

Again when we paddled across to Hanko, we saw ice on north facing cliffs. Never ending. Then again, we have timed the trip to get to St. Petersburg about when the ice breaks on Lake Ladoga, so what can we expect?

As we put on the cage, Stein commented: This is bloody cold, but not unbearably bloody cold like in March. Good summary.

Now it’s half past ten, and a detailed report must wait till tomorrow. Food has priority!IMG_0640

Day 59 – Tomorrow will be a good day for paddling. Tuesday will be hopeless – 29 April

Day 59. 29th of April. Dalsbruk to just beyond Hanko. 43.2 km, 6.6 km/hr average speed.

For the first time it rained when we broke camp. It had to happen sooner or later, even though the first month there could be no rain because of the temperature…. No real problem. We were prepared. Stein is a master with the tarp, and we stayed dry for breakfast and did the last packing in the dry suits.

We paddled off at 0920 in a light drizzle that followed us through the day. But no wind, so we made good progress.

For first lunch/second breakfast, we went onshore on a small island with some huts on, and sat on a terrace under a roof. Just as we were eating, a boat came by and maneuvered into the svaberg. We assumed it was the owners. Now what?

We were almost right. The owner’s mother, Carina, came up to see what was going on. She was quite happy when we explained what we were up to, and took some pictures to document the event. She wondered if we needed anything and would only accept a tiny bit of the chocolate we offered, as she assumed we needed it more. But then she had to rush off back to the boat where husband and grandchild was waiting. They needed to cross the fjord in time for their grandchild’s sleeping time. Of course a grandchild trumps two scruffy paddlers from Norway any day.

Next we went more or less straight to Hanko, it took us more than three hours of paddling. The wind picked up a little and it got chilly.

At Hanko we opted for a meal at the cafe at the Marina. A more “brown” than “blue” place. Big portions though.

After the meal, we surrendered and put the storm cags back on. Good decision. We paddled on in reasonable comfort for another hour.

Before we put on the cags, we were almost back to the four o’clock chill from March, when we knew we would not get warm again until we were in the sleeping bags. Not so bad now. It’s quite comfortable here under the tarp at 2100.

Erling’s got a problem with his neck gasket again. Or perhaps with his big and bulky head, depending on which perspective one takes. Anyway, the gasket needs preventive maintenance. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow in full daylight.

Tomorrow will be a good day for paddling. Tuesday will be hopeless. So we are looking for a roof over our heads at a OK distance. Not easy, we may have to wait the weather out in the tent. That also has to happen sooner or later. But first a good day for paddling, our first full day in the Gulf of Finland.

 

Day 58 – Weather Permitting we will be in Helsinki Thursday afternoon – 28 April

Day 58. 28th of April. 39.8 km, 6.3 km/hr average speed. From Lilla Högen (near Nauvon Lautta) to Skabban just beyond Dalsbruk.

It’s cool again, and we notice that we are a little slower in the morning as some focus goes towards keeping warm.

It was already 1020 before we were in the kayaks. Light headwinds (about 3 m/s), again this cooled us a little, but the storm cags remained in the hatches. It’s supposed to be spring!

After about two hours paddling we came to a small ferry crossing. The crossing was small, the ferry was small, but there was a restaurant at the quay side. With a Saturday buffet. Eat all you want for 15 euro. We did, and some more for good measure. It’s not costumers like us they make the most money from.

Next we had a crossing which took about 2 hrs 50 min in the same light headwinds. By then we had done 30 km, and decided to paddle 10 more km and call it day.

The way it looks now we will have OK conditions tomorrow and Monday, and then dubious at least part of Tuesday and Wednesday, then OK Thursday. Weather Permitting we will be in Helsinki Thursday afternoon.

Day 57 – It’s not about what we can do any given day, it’s about what we can keep up the next 150 days – 27 April

Day 57. 27th of April. Nådendal to Lilla Högen. 32.1 km, 6.3 km/hr average speed.

Breakfast on the boat was served at 0600 and we drove off at 0715, and set off to the marina that Google Maps had found for us. We hoped for an early start. But after we had bid Torbjørn and Helge farewell, we had to move the kayaks back up from the ramp where we had put them, as a big crane car came in on a barge and took some time to get onshore.

Repacking the kayaks also was time consuming. And then we needed to find water.

In the end we were on the water at 1040. Just in time to see the back of the boat carrying Torbjørn and Helge as they headed back to Kapellskär.

It was colder than in Sweden, zero degrees in the morning. But the sun is warming. And driving some breeze. So we paddled comfortably south in slight headwinds. Longjohns and gloves back on. We hadn’t planned to paddle here so no expectations. It’s a beautiful archipelago, with more beaches and more Svaberg than we often saw on the Swedish side.

We called it a day after only 32 km, rather than do one last crossing in 4 m/s headwinds. It’s not about what we can do any given day, it’s about what we can keep up the next 150 days.

Tomorrow we keep south, southeast toward Hanko, where we plan to pass on Sunday. Weather Permitting (WP)

Day 56 (Part 2) – They took their fate and imminent trip to Finland in a manly and stoic way – 26 April

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”!IMG_0608

Day 55 – Every fifteen minutes a huge ferry passes by – 25 April

Day 55. 25th of April. Hammarby slusser til Marsättra. 30.9 km, 6.9 km/hr average speed.

Yesterday evening Kees and Ann Charlotte invited us, Lars, Gro and Gro’s daughter Andrea to restaurant Ljunggren, were some of us had our second dinner (according to plan). Very nice evening with good food, good company and meandering conversations.

This morning Gro had already left when we got up, but Enrique was around and treated us to omelet, coffee, Spanish ham and juice as we enjoyed another long and meandering conversation.

Then there was no pardon: Off to the kayaks in Anders’s garden. It took some time to pack. New items had arrived and an equal amount by weight and volume had left. It was 1300 when we entered Hammarbyslussen for probably the last time.

We had tailwind, and following current. We were making good speed as a boat came up alongside us. It was Anders and his colleagues from “Sjöredningstjänesten” that bid us good onward journey.

And so far so good. We made it past 30 km in spite of the late start. About 1830 we found what looked like a nice place to land and camp.

As we got onshore we were met by Susann, Mats and Pårsan (a small schnauzer). They even lit us a small fire as it was getting chilly. Most welcome!

It is a nice campsite, with a view to the main shipping fairway out of Stockholm to the north. Every fifteen minutes a huge ferry passes by, but at the relatively low speed they sail at, the waves are no problem.

Tomorrow we will aim for Kapellskär. We might take a ferry to Nådendal and go south from there, rather than risk a lot of waiting on weather as we try to make our way through Åland.

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