During the night at Sondasören it rained, but the rain stopped in good time before the morning.
We ate breakfast and checked the weather forecast, which seemed to change all the time now. The latest one forecasted only weak winds, giving us the possibility to aim for Valsörarna after all, something that the previously forecasted weather pretty much would have prevented.
The timing of the rain was perfect. We packed our kayaks in dry weather and the rain started immediately when we got into them.
We got through passage south of Stora Segelsören since the water was now high enough,
The weather was still gloomy when we continued towards Valsörarna.
Malskäret and Malskärsören would provide harsh and nice tent spots, but only between August and March, because of the bird protection restrictions.
Closing in on Valsörarna.
We landed at a less than perfect place and walked the 500 m trail to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse was designed and built by the company that made most of the Eiffel tower.
It really was time for lunch, but we decided to get the crossing back done before that, since the weather forecast felt rather unreliable by now.
The crossing was a little bumpy, but we arrived at Björkögrunden without problems. The weather suddenly changed for the better and we had a refreshing hike-a-kayak section at Långbådan.
We took a late lunch at Västersbådan, which has an open hut.
The kayak parking place was not particularly great, but still doable.
Time for the final 8 km section of the day.
Rotörskatan was a fairly nice place for the night and the evening was very nice. We spent several hours on the cliffs looking at the sunset with red wine.
The next morning was foggy with a little rain.
We managed to wait out the rain with the breakfast.
On the move again. Photo by Tarja.
More stone labyrinths.
Tapani had mentioned that he hadn't followed our location on the map the day before, so naturally he got navigation duties this day. The hard wind made us choose the sheltered inner archipelago between Björkö and Replot.
I generally prefer a nautical chart to a topographic map for sea kayak navigation, but this particular area didn't have one, so we used the kayaking map instead, even though it is mainly meant for planning, not navigation.
Coming through a hard to find canal to Västerfjärden, which is more like a lake with brown water.
The other canal connecting Västerfjärden to the sea.
A few kilometer with headwind.
Lunch at a nameless stone and gravel ridge.
The rest of the day went in fairly hard wind, with some smaller crossings. The wind would definitely have been too hard for unsheltered waters.
The final night was at Vithällgrund, where we arrived after 26 km of paddling.
Tarja still hopes for perch fillets.
Because of the weather we decided to cut the trip one day short. The weather window for Ritgrund took us from Mickelsörarna one day too early and there was now no way to get a reasonable route for one day more, because of the hard wind making the unshelter sections too risky. Hence I had plenty of food to eat.
A walk around the island. It seemed the wind was getting a little weaker during the evening.
We got up a little earlier in the morning, since the weather forecast mentioned steadily increasing wind up to 9 m/s in the afternoon.
Drive slowly, children playing.
A narrow section that would have been hard to find without the sea lane markings.
The final stretch ahead.
After a while the wind started hitting us from north-northeast. It wasn't that strong yet, but in that particular direction land is quite far away, something like Haparanda/Tornio 300 km away. The waves were about 0.5 - 1.0 m high, except when there were shallower parts beneath and the waves grew to steeper 1.5 m waves. A worthy final stretch of the trip.
We arrived back at the Replot fishing harbour at 10:30, packed our stuff into the cars, spent some time in the showers and the sauna before having an excellent lunch at Café Arken.
The total distance of the trip was 142 km in six days and I think we made a fairly thorough route in the area, covering all interesting things. Two lighthouses was a nice bonus, one which was pretty unlikely given the exposed location of Ritgrund.
Despite being out in the middle of July, we saw very few people out there, which was somewhat surprising and a big difference compared to the Archipelago Sea. Not all participants were impressed with the archipelago, though, since it does have one significant disadvantage compared to the Archipelago Sea: There really is a shortage of landing spots in Kvarken. I also agree with that conclusion. The paddling is really interesting in Kvarken, since there is always something coming up, but the lack of tent and landing spots is a little problematic. Still, I do have several trips planned on the map in the area, so I will certainly return there.
Another result of the trip was a number of new scratches on the bottom of the kayak. I'll have some repairs to do after the summer...
The full route of 142 km can be seen here: