Sunday, March 12, 2017

The beginning of the kayaking season

The winter has been rather strange. It has not been a cold and snowy winter, but at the same time it differs from the three previous warm winters in that it has been cold enough to get sea ice, sea ice that has prevented kayaking near Turku and instead enabled excellent Nordic skating. The four month long skating season ended a week ago for me. It would still be possible to skate on sea ice today, but my skates broke, and it was anyway time to start the kayaking season after a three month break.

The ice maps showed the Gullkrona Bay to be free from ice, but the best starting places still had too much ice, which limited the possibilities a little and we had to go for a safe alternative, the Högsåra ferry terminal. Esko joined me for the little overnight trip.

Since Friday is a work day, we couldn't start early. A look at the route and at which time the sun sets determined the time, though, so I left work a little early. We packed the kayaks and drove 100 km before we were on the water at 17:35. With the sunset at 18:20 we would just have enough time to paddle the 11 km to Sandö before it would get too dark. The visibility was limited due to fog.


It started to rain a little.

There is a 900 m crossing to Sandö, which in itself isn't much, but in the relative darkness and fog all proportions get exaggerated. The visibility was quite poor due to the fog and we paddled on compass course towards Sandö, not the easiest task, since Esko didn't have a deck compass and my kayak didn't go straight for a meter, because the skeg was frozen in the retracted position. After a time that really felt much longer than it was we saw an east mark, which is not on the sea chart, and after that the bottom became visible. A short while after that we came upon the long sand ridge protruding from Sandö and we landed 1 h 40 min after we started.

Sandö was chosen as the destination because it is a very interesting sand island and there was also some hope that there would be firewood there, since it has an official fire place. There was no firewood, and in a national park you don't make it yourself, but fortunately we had packed a little firewood in our kayaks. The amount wasn't big, so we made dinner on ordinary stoves first.

I made some Flammkuchen inspired tortilla stuff, which turned out quite nice.

Now it was time to lit the fire. The evenings are still so dark that there is a great added value in having a fire. And life was great, since it had also stopped raining.

No fire without pancakes.

The night was cloudy, but it wasn't dark. The moon was at 97 percent, and a diffused light came down through the cloud cover. The two most reliable weather forecast sources in Finland both predicted a clear sky from four or five in the morning, so we went to sleep in time to get up early.

I got up at 6:30 to enjoy the coming sunrise. The weather was a slight disappointment, though.

No hurry to take photos of the sunrise then. Breakfast commenced.

The weather started to clear up from the north and we took a stroll to that side of the island.

Bird tracks.

Tallören. With Wellington boots we could have walked over.

An early bug. Spring is coming.

A stroll out the eastern sand ridge.

Camp Hilleberg. Esko's tent.

My new Niak 1.5.

On the move again.

We couldn't make it over the sand ridge to Tallören.

Continuing around Sandö.

Going towards Sandskär.

Sandskär is off limits 1.4-31.7 due to bird protection, so we had to take a look at it now that it was allowed.

Going back along the west side of Hamnholmen.


A selfie proving that I also was there.

A great variety of island types. Low sand islands and steeper rock islands.

A sector light which we aimed at the previous evening. We missed it, though, and it must have been dark, since it was not visible from the other side of the island.

The ferry to Högsåra.

Back at the starting point after 3 h and 17 km. A worthy way to open the kayaking season.

PS. I tried out a new camera during this trip and all pictures were taken with it. My better kayaking camera has been the Sony RX100 in an underwater case, but it unfortunately fell victim to water when I went through the ice a few weeks ago ón a skating trip (obviously it wasn't in the case then). My earlier waterproof Panasonic FT4 compact camera is now on the bottom of the sea outside Cornwall, along with a GoPro Hero4 Black. The new camera is the Olympus TG-4, which is supposed to be the best of the bunch of waterproof compact cameras. As can be seen from the pictures, the image quality is decent in good light and less so in poor light, which is not unexpected. I think it will have to do for now, complemented with a better non-waterproof camera for camp use. The pictures have been run through Lightroom with less noise reduction than the jpegs generated by the camera. The straight out of camera jpegs have too much noise reduction, which eats up the finest details.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Winter break

In Finland (as well as several other countries in Northern Europe) schools have a week off in the middle of February. The traditional name of this week is ski break or sports break, which implies that the kids should do some physical activities during this week. In Finland this week generally corresponds quite well with real winter conditions, but the weather looked quite bad before it. However, in the beginning of the week the temperature dropped to below freezing again and on Wednesday we got 10 cm of snow. It snowed more during the rest of the week and everything currently looks quite wintry.

I did my own things with a fairly good amount of fatbiking and skating, but during the weekend it was time to take the kids out for an overnighter on skis. The weather was excellent and we got started around sunset, which now is at 17:45, which also means that the winter darkness is behind us.

We started in the forest...

... and soon arrived at a mire with trees on...

... and finally came upon open mire, on the other side of which I had planned to camp.

While I erected the tent the younger boy started to prepare for the fire. I'm not allowed to light the fire myself anymore, after the boys have learned to use a fire steel.


The Gränsfors Bruk Outdoor Axe is in my opinion a good compromise between weight and functionality.

The fire is good for warming hands...

... and sausages.

We also grilled marshmallows and I had brought ingredients for pancakes, but we couldn't eat more.

The night was silent, but at one point I started to hear snow hitting the tent. The next morning revealed 3-4 cm of new fallen snow.

It still snowed, so we didn't bother with making a fire, instead opting to have breakfast in the tent.

We got going again around nine in the morning. I sent the boys first, while I took down the tent and packed everything.

I much prefer a pulk in the winter, unless the terrain is too difficult. You can bring a lot of stuff, and the weight isn't felt anywhere.

Quite wintry on the mire.

Closing in on the forest.

Quite wintry in the forest as well.

That's it. The actual skiing wasn't the main part of the trip, but it was a nice wintry overnighter.