Kayaking trip to Vinga

January 17, 2012

Johan, Patric and I paddled to Vinga last weekend. It was pretty calm weather and I haven’t been to Vinga in January before. The island Vinga is located furthest west in the Gothenburg archipelago. It’s is exposed it is a fairly long day trip, nearly 32 km back and forth. Vinga has one of oldest and also is one the most famous light houses in Sweden. Anders paddled with us the first part of the kayak trip but turned back at Böttö. I was really tired back home.

Johan in his Clapotis Sea Kayak and Patric in his Surfski from Zedtech. Just before we got the headwind at Böttö.

Lunch break by the light house. The light house stairs protect us from the wind.

16 km each way from the harbour to Vinga. I was so tired and fell asleep in the cinema later in the evening.

Arctic Sea Kayak Race

November 19, 2011

The Arctic Sea Kayak Race is a paddling event held in the archipelago of Vesterålen, Norway, in the end of July every year. ASKR as it’s commonly called has been arranged since 1991. It started as a project among friends who paddled together and lived in Vesterålen. They really liked kayaking together but they needed a reason to meet in the winter months when the darkness and more colder weather gave less opportunities for kayaking.

Kayaking in Norway is great! Kayaking in Vesterålen is no exception.Vesterålen is located just north of the Lofoten Archipelago, in Nordland, Norway. It is not okay to equate Vesterålen with Lofoten. It’s like saying to a Dutchman that they are from Belgium. :)

I have been kayaking in Norway several times before. This year my friends Maria, Patric and I decided to visit the ASKR.
We traveled by car from Göteborg in Sweden to Vesterålen. The journey to and from Vesterålen is a long trip, 24 hours non stop driving. The trip through Sweden is a perfect opportunity to observe how our beautiful nature changes. I can highly recommend it.

We arrived at Vesterålen the day before registration started and we stayed the night at the Sortland Camping. Sortland is the capital of Vesterålen with about 9500 inhabitants. Registration is held in Skjellfjords small harbour just 10 km west of Sortland. Upon registration we definitely decided for the activity we had preliminary booked in advance. There are three different activities to choose from. ASKR Ramble is a three-day guided tour of Vesterålen with day trips at about 10 – 20 km. ASKR Long Ramble is a three-day guided tour with longer day trips, about 30-40 km around a major part of the Vesterålen archipelago . The third option available is a sea kayaking course, the ASKR Camp, which starts from the picturesque fishing village Skipnes. Skipnes is also the finish for both the short and long ramble. After observing weather forecasts and getting some advice from the organisers, we decided to participate in the long ramble.

Once we had unloaded the kayaks and parked the car in Skjellfjords harbour, we could paddle to the first night camp on Sunday evening.

On the website of ASKR you can find information about the climate in Vesterålen. It may vary. The temperature differ from 8 to 25 degrees Celsius during this time of year. The registration day was really nice with clear blue sky, sunshine and a temperature above 20 degrees. But the first paddling day became gray and cold. We paddled in probably one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, but because we had a thick fog, we could only guess how beautiful it was. This stage was also the longest on the ramble. It was approx 38 km paddle. The opportunities to go ashore was limited, at least for a group of 35 kayakers. The time in our kayaks became quite long. When the weather is a little less nice, it is important that everyone in the group keep time for the launch and during stops so that no one should have to wait and risk of freezing. That was the only major concern I had for paddling with such a large group but it worked surprisingly well. The guides had good control even though we were 35 kayakers. When we came ashore on Gaukvaeröya the first evening, clouds began to ease and eventually crack up completely. Then we got our reward for the entire day’s hard work.

The scenery from Gaukvaeröya was stunningly beautiful. After supper we gathered by a campfire, where the guides informed us about the environment and tomorrow’s stage.

We woke up to sunshine and clear blue sky. The paddling from Gaukvaeröya was varied and fun.  The first day’s dreary weather was completely forgotten. The remaining two days we paddled in fine weather with light winds. The pace during the ride was relatively high for being such a large group but we also had time to explore and play some in the whitewater close to islets. If you are interested in paddling the long rambe, make sure to do some paddling before attending. We were very lucky with the wind and the current. If we would had headwind and countercurrent it would have felt much harder. If you are not that frequent with your paddling I recommend the shorter Ramble.

The paddling continued and we came to more amazing places. Åsand was our guide’s favourite spot, which was not hard to understand. A long white sandy beach with great views from the tent sites. The guides were very good at bringing together all participants every evening in front of a campfire. There, they gave information about the area and the next day’s trip. They also created a pleasant atmosphere where we as participants got to know each other a little better. The participants came from different parts of Norway, a large group from Denmark, a brave Italian and we were four from Sweden.

The long tour passes quite exposed coastlines. North Atlantic waves can grow significantly here. The tide is also significant here. It can be as much as three meter between high and low tide. It requires a security approach that we are not so accustomed to in Sweden. Therefore, there was a following boat close to the group and when we paddled one part that was exposed we also had some coastguard vessels not very far away.

The wildlife is fascinating in Norway. We saw eagles and porpoises every day. Lots of seabirds. We passed an island with thousands of puffins flying back and forth searching for food. There was a herd of killer whales in the area that we unfortunately never saw but we saw white sided dolphins that was playful. The last day of the tour, we paddled into the old fishing village of Skipnes. The last kilometre into Skipnes we paddled traditionally in a V-formation. Here we met up with the participants from the short ramble and those who had done the sea kayaking course. Skipnes is a small fishing village that is very isolated. The only way to get here is by sea or air. Here is also the heart of the ASKR located. It is an idyllic place with only a few houses and sheds. When participating in the ASKR it is possible to rent huts in Skipnes. We stayed at a campsite above the village with magnificent view of the surrounding areas. After arriving on wednesday a dinner was held in the local restaurant for all who participated in the ASKR.

Thursday was a day off from paddling to prepare for the Friday’s two kayaking competitions. Some chose a soft day and spend time on in Skipnes to care for their blisters. Others made an top tour to the nearby mountain top, Tinden. A fun kayak building competition was held in the harbour. We were divided into different groups. Each group had to nominate three participants who received a large piece of cardboard, a wooden board, tape, a couple of knives and pens. The task was to build a kayak in 15 minutes which later should be used in a kayak race. An entertaining and fun competition. Only one of four kayaks managed to finish but all participants tried to make is as long as possible.

Friday is the last day of the ASKR and is the official day of competition. For several years the competition has been a marathon for sea kayakers. Now, is also a Surfski race held. For the second consecutive year, ASKR organised a race in the International Canoe Federation Surfski World Cup. This year the competition attracted three great surfski paddlers. Dawid Mocke from South Africa, Sean Rice also from South Africa and Joep van Bakel from Holland. The Surfski Race this year became a struggle between these three in which Sean Rice followed up last year’s victory and finishing in front of Dawid Mocke and Joep van Bakel.

The entire ASKR ends with a very nice banquet. Great local food and a very fun host. Participants in the races was awarded with generous prizes. A brand new sea kayak is the first prize in a lottery among all participants in the ASKR. The draw for the kayak was determined in a very exiting and entertaining way. To sum it up. The whole experience was very good. A good arrangement, fun paddling in wonderful surroundings and new friends from all over Europe. If I’m going back? Absolutely! Maybe not every year, because of the distance from Göteborg. This is a thing you should have on your to do list, especially if you are a paddler from Scandinavia.

Paddling Magazine

November 8, 2011

Today is a new issue of the magazine paddling out in the stores in Sweden. I have written an article about kayaking in Arctic Norway. We participated in a kayaking event called Arctic Sea Kayak Race. It is held in Vesterålen, Norway in the end of July every year. Buy Paddling magazine and read about it! :) I will write about it here as well in the next coming week. This issue also covers the Tjäröfestivalen where Gordon Brown, Dubside and Nigel Foster participated as intructors.

Read about the Arctic Sea Kayak Race and Tjäröfestivalen

More pictures and info about the ASKR will be published the next coming week.

Kayakrtoon

October 30, 2011

A soft weekend at Valö in Göteborg Archipelago. Good friends, wine, food, some paddling, relaxing and just having a good time! And obviously too much time…

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Testing a drysuit

October 29, 2011

Trent, Patric and I paddled to Valö today. It was quite hard because we had both the wind and the current against us! I have started to test a drysuit from Ursuit. It feels really good to have a drysuit when it is getting colder in the water.

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Trent is heading home and it is getting dark.

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Ursuit makes drysuits for paddling and sailing

Cool kayak video trailer

October 24, 2011

The swedish company Active Outdoor Media are producing a film about kayaking that seems promising. They have just released a teasing trailer.

Turbulens – It’s just a teaser from ActiveOutdoor on Vimeo.

ASKR – bun paddling?

July 21, 2011

Arctic Sea Kayak Race (ASKR) is held every year at Vesteralen, Norway. It is far up north, above the arctic circle. It is an event for five days ending in a kayak race.  ASKR are approved for the second time as ICF Surfski World Series Event. It takes lot of preparation to join a race like this and I have hardly done anything so I’m planning to missionary our philosophy to the rush paddlers – bun paddling! Dawid Mocke, Sean Rice and Joep van Bakel are among the participants in the race. I hope they will enjoy the buns! We are leaving tomorrow and will stay in Norway for 2 weeks. :)

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Buns from Pågen (Gifflar) are perfect for picnic paddling.


View Vesterålen in a larger map

The area of ASKR is held north of the Arctic circle at the islands of Vesterålen. It is just a 24 hour drive from Göteborg.

Long distance paddlers

July 12, 2011

It is all about kayaking and rowing adventures at the moment. Two days ago I wrote about Fylkir Sævarsson’s record attempt in circumnavigation Denmark. Now I have been told about more ongoing or planned long kayaking adventures or rowing adventures undertaken by experienced paddlers.

Chris Duff, the first person to circumnavigate Great Britain alone in 1986 has just started a rowing trip from Scotland to Iceland via Orkney, Shetland and Faeroe Islands. He has a custom-built row boat called the “Northern Reach”.

Three experienced paddlers, Patrick Winterton, Mick Berwick and Olly Hicks will start a kayak trip from the Shetland Islands to Norway in a couple of days. It will take at least 4 days and three nights to do the crossing. The major concern  is ensuring to stay together during the nights as well as the cold, injury, sea sickness and shipping.

The British kayaking instructor and adventurer Simon Osborne will take part in a rowing  together with Marin Medak and Nikkie Brown, across the Atlantic, Atlantic Row 2012. Simon Osborne is running Sea kayaking Cornwall together with Jeff Allen.  Simon is an experienced kayaker and has circumnavigated both Ireland and England. This will be different and requires a different approach and preperations. Sleep deprivation, salt sores and fatigue must be some concerns for the team.

New record in circumnavigation Denmark?

July 10, 2011

The 44 year old icelandic paddler Fylkir Þorgeir Sævarsson, who lives in Denmark, have started a kayak trip a couple of days ago. Fylkir is attempting to beat the old record in circumnavigation Denmark, in a kayak, which is 1200 km (746 mi) in 23 days. What I think is most remarkable is that Fylkir have not paddled much until last year. He attended a beginner’s course in paddlin 2006 but he didn’t began to paddle more seriously until 2009. In 2009 he paddled 300 km (186 mi) and in 2010 he paddled 2000 km (1242 mi). But he seems to be a good athlete. He has a history as a member of the Icelandic National team in Open Water Swimming and has also done some impressive mountainbike races.

  • Read more about his progress around Denmark here. Unfortunately it is in Danish but translate with Google.
  • Here is a link to google maps were you can follow him on the map. At the moment he has just left Klitmoller.

It will be fun to see if he will beat the record. :)

 

 

Kayaking trip to Älvsborg fortress

June 6, 2011

We have had a long weekend in Sweden with excellent paddling weather. My friend Maria and I went our for three days of paddling in Göteborg Archipelago. The scenery in Göteborg archipelago is really nice and the access is also really good. I’d like to see the Älvsborg fortress again, and Maria had never been there before. It is located in the entrance of Göteborg harbour. So the distance is short but we have to cross the inlet to the harbour to reach the fortress. The traffic to and from Göteborg is sometimes very heavy but today it was just some ferries to and from Denmark that we had to keep attention to.

Maria outside the fortress

The guns at the fortress used to guard the city of Göteborg. But did it quite poorly…

Denmark has been succesful in capturing the fortress and the Swedish taxes raised to pay the ransom for the fortress i 1570. Since then we have kept the taxes at a high rate. :)

From Älvsborgs fästning we continued paddling to Galterö where we spent the first night. I have been to Galterö before before. The weather was nice but it got cold during the night.

Tent spot at Galterö. The second day offered really nice weather.

Kayaking among the skerries outside the island of Vargö.

From Galterö we paddled south toward Rävholmen. We had a nice soft tailwind and it did not take long until we reached Rävholmen.

We spend the second night at Rävhomen.

My Allak from Hilleberg at the tent spot at the island of Rävholmen

My new Qanik is really nice.

I was very pleased with my Qanik from the beginning and I start to appreciate it even more. I have re-mounted the back support. It gives me great support but it takes some time to adjust it before paddling because I sit on the back support each time I sit in the kayak. But it is worth it. I tried without the support but I was not strong enough to keep myself in a good paddling position. The acceleration of the Qanik is impressive. I catch waves that I have not managed to catch before. This was also the first time I have been out for more than one night with the Qanik. It works really well.

A swan appeared quite close to us
A good friend, Fredrik, appeared quite close to us. :)
After spending an hour at a café  together with some sea kayaking friends at the island of Styrsö we headed for Hinsholmen after a really nice seakayaking trip.
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