Sunday, March 22, 2015

Another short kayaking overnighter

The weather forecast looked ok for a short kayaking overnighter this weekend as well. The night temperature was about the same one as one week before, but a stronger wind would mean less risk for getting too much ice. Or so I thought. Regarding the wind, the weather forecast was not optimal, but it looked like there would be a suitable window between Saturday afternoon and Sunday noon. I got T from the local paddling club to join me this time.

We got started a little later than we would have wanted, a little over four in the afternoon, but there would still be enough light to get to a tent spot, which incidentally was the same one as the week before. The first leg in Pitkäsalmi had a strong headwind, but no big waves. The temperature dropped to below freezing, but the fingers were still warm and cosy.

The waves in the harbor were surprisingly big and sharp, considering there was a rather short distance the waves could form. (No, you won't see any pictures of any non-small waves, since I need the support from the paddle and cannot use the camera in those circumstances).

The temperature was now clearly below freezing, since the map collected ice rapidly.

On the Ruissalo side we were sheltered from the north wind of around 7-8 m/s (looking at the log from Rajakari), which was a little more that forecasted.

We didn't expect any problems with the 1 km crossing from Kuuva to Saaronniemi, but that turned out to be completely wrong. The wind generated surprisingly big waves and the waves from a freight boat added some excitement. T now started to have acute problems keeping the hands working in the cold and hard wind, and we were forced to land on Saaronniemi to warm the hands. My hands were not particularly warm either. We discussed this later and it is clear that there definitely was some risk in this situation. One thing should have been made differently: We should have followed the shore closer, maybe the entire bay, which should have given more opportunities to land in case of problems. T said that there was a real risk that the cold hands could have prevented her from gripping the paddle. I also could have had a tow line ready to use in case of problems.

After twenty minutes or so we continued. The following crossing should have been the crux of the entire route, but either the wind had become weaker or the deeper water generated less waves, since this was now easy.

The final section was easy in a slight tailwind and enjoying the colors of the evening.

We landed a little over seven and immediately put up our tents and changed into dry clothes.

The rest of the evening went making food and looking at a nice evening and the ferries between Turku and Stockholm arriving and departing again.

The night was colder with a temperature of -5C, but I was cosy in my Tarptent Double Rainbow tent and the 600 g down bag reinforced with a quilt. I got up a little after 6:30, and went out the check out the sunrise. The weather was crisp and clear. I also checked the weather forecast, to see if there would be any changes, but everything still looked like we could get away before the wind would pick up too much.


I knew exactly where my Italian Moka Express was, and it was unfortunately not with me. The morning coffee was still great, though.

T got up at eight and a little over nine we were packed and ready to leave. It now seemed clear that the wind picked up a little faster than forecasted. The first 20 minutes still went easily in sheltered waters, though I had some problems in the beginning getting my sprayskirt attached. It is quite tight in normal conditions and being stiff from ice didn't help. I should probably get a spare sprayskirt that is looser.

The crossing of Airisto was now a little more demanding that we had hoped. The Rajakari log showed a wind speed of about 8 m/s at this time. My skeg control had frozen, so I had to compensate for the weathercocking only by paddling. The waves were also bigger and partly breaking. The crossing from Saaronniemi to Kuuva was also a bit choppy, but this time we mostly followed the shore. Around Kuuva the sea was choppy with reflecting waves and continued for a while until we got the waves almost straight from behind. We decided not to do any surfing, even though the kayak really wanted to. This section was still well within our limits and during the summer with less cold water this would have been real fun, but now with the freezing water it was a bit too exciting. And yes, no pictures.

When we got to more sheltered waters, the worst was behind. At least that what was we thought. Now we started to encounter more and more ice, but still could get round or through it. There also started to be some amount of ice on the kayak.

The final section, Pitkäsalmi, proved to be impossible because of the ice. We went ashore at the SAR pier, only to find us locked behind a military area gate.

On with the now rather cold clothes and really cold gloves for a new try. We paddled a bit back and landed at Pikisaari, where T quickly changed into civilian clothes and took a taxi to the paddling club, where we had our cars.

I waited with the kayaks and after some time T arrived, we loaded the kayaks and gear onto the car and the trip was done.

This was a great trip, that to some extent went over the limit, which means that there is something to be learnt from it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A short kayaking overnighter

The short winter is just a memory now and in many ways it starts to feel like spring. We've had a week of sunny weather with day temperatures up to 10C and night temperatures below freezing. The sun and the light are very welcome, but the real spring is in all likelihood still a month away. I've checked out the forest trails for mtb riding, but I've decided to wait a little longer for everything to dry up. However, the forecasted weekend weather was so great that I had to do something and that something turned out to be kayaking. Due to some timetable constraints I decided to leave after work on Friday and be back before lunch on Saturday.

I left from the local paddling club, where I have my kayak, around 17:30. A bystander took a few pictures of me.

The route went through the harbor.

One hour on the way and the sun was about to set. With another hour to my tent spot I didn't have any time to spare.

Selfie. On the back of the Lupine light I had a white light to be visible for boats behind me, not that there were any boats out now.

A very nice evening.

Navigational aids.

The one kilometer crossing of Airisto had never been safer. No wind, no waves and no boats. Of course, falling into the water would be bad, at least without a dry suit, since the water temperature was barely above freezing.

It got darker.

I turned on the head light for the landing, since there are some underwater rocks in that particular place.

After two hours and 14 km I landed and immediately erected the tent. The night was nice and clear.

I went to sleep early and got up in good time before sunrise. It was now colder, around -5C.

Full moon would have been nice, but it didn't happen this time.

Waiting for the sunrise.

Some coffee during the wait.

And there it is.

After more coffee and breakfast I packed the kayak again. This was the first time I had the Aquarius Sea Lion out for a night and I was interested in seeing how much gear it could take, since it is clearly smaller than the Prijon Kodiak I previously had. There was some room to spare, even with though I had some cold weather gear, and there should be no problem packing it for a prolonged weekend. A week long tour should also be possible, but it would need some packing discipline. This is exactly what I wanted from the kayak, since I will at some point get a second bigger and faster kayak.

I started paddling again around eight in the morning. The air temperature was still clearly below freezing, judging from the water freezing on the paddle.

There still was no wind and the paddling was great.

Getting closer to the city, there was some ice in the narrows. I broke ice for almost a kilometer, which was occasionally quite hard, since the ice was up to one centimeter thick.

I was back at the club after two and a half hours and around 16 km of paddling. The paddle suffered a bit from being hit through the ice with force. Fortunately there is a lot of material and length to sand down.

I also had a new camera this time. The Sony RX100 was purchased in February and now I got an underwater housing for it, which should enable me to finally get a satisfactory technical quality from my paddling pictures.

That's it.