Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Vigu Sea Kayaking II

In the last week of August it was finally time for the Vigu Sea Kayaking II course. I had looked forward to it for quite a while and looking at the list of participants it seemed that we would get a good group with most people having kayaked quite a bit earlier. Eva-Lotta Backman, one of the foremost paddling instructors and coaches in Finland, would be our instructor. Check out her blog (in Swedish) here.

We met up in Kimito and loaded the kayaks onto the trailer at ten o'clock in the morning and ate lunch, before we drove to the starting point at Kasnäs, where we spent a good time packing our kayaks.

It took a while, but we got going some time after two o'clock in the afternoon. The route took us towards northwest.

We were still in good shelter from the wind, which came from east with a speed of around 9 m/s.

A short break and some theory at Kyrkskär, which had some great cliffs.

 Eva-Lotta paddling out from Kyrkskär.

The following section had a nice tailwind, again some 9-10 m/s. Even with an overloaded kayak, I had some of the greatest surfs in my paddling career. The Aquarius Sea Lion is a very good surfer. No pictures, though, since I didn't feel confident enough to take any photos at that point.

The final section gave some shelter from the wind and waves.

The end of August is the time you notice that the summer is ending. Not necessary from the temperature, though the nights are getting colder, but mainly from the sunset coming earlier and earlier, in this case around 9 pm.

Approaching Husskär, where we decided to stay after having taken a look at it.

Simo prepares the appetizer. With a kayak there is no reason not to have good food, so I made a Thai curry with chicken and rice. The dessert was blueberry pie.

The next morning was rainy and we had breakfast under Simo's hammock tarp.

It was clearly drysuit weather in the morning, but the rain stopped when the kayaks were packed.

It turned out that the drysuit still was a good idea, since we now had a head wind of 10 m/s.

A short break.

The speed in the strong head wind was now very slow and we had to resort to some towing. It turned out that some participants were insufficiently prepared after all and could not keep a reasonable speed.

Eva-Lotta has an exemplary posture.

We arrived at Skallotörarna Lillandet too late to have time for any more exercises that evening after 15 km of headwind. My tent and food group, excluding me, the "Real men team". This night it was Alf's turn to make a three-course dinner.

Ina prepares food. I'm convinced our food was better.

After dinner we had a theory session about navigation in the darkness.

The night was very nice and the place also just what I like.

The day started with a nice morning.

No porridge here. My turn to make breakfast.

Some technique training in the morning.

We started paddling again. The wind didn't come entirely from the front now.

Our merry gang in front of Långören.

Continuing through the Långskär-Gräsören labyrinth.

Vindulskär featuring Simo.
We had lunch at Fårö, after which half of the group took the shorter route to Björkö, while I went with the other half to get more drinking water at Nötö.

Approaching Björkö, where the other half of the group waited.

It looked like fall on Björkö.

Simo fries the beef fillets.

When it was dark enough we had some night paddling exercises on the little lake on Björkö. Everyone had a weak position light in order to be able to see each other, but the actual paddling took place in darkness, letting the eyes adapt to the very weak light and using all the other senses as well. There was surprisingly big waves and even some cross waves at the other side of the lake, since the wind was now about 15 m/s and higher in the gusts.

The morning was again rainy, so we had breakfast in the tent.

The lake on Björkö.


By now the difficult decision had been made that two participants would leave us. I joined the group escorting them to Nötö, where they could take the ferry back the next day.

Nötö again. We were lucky and the shop was open, so I bought a beer and more chocolate.

Continuing towards Fårö to meet with the others and have lunch.

We were now already on the way back and had the wind slightly from behind.

Common jellyfish.

Anna checked it and came to the conclusion that a jellyfish doesn't work as a magnifying glass.

A capsize during a towing exercise.

Camp at Yxskär.

Some theory about medical and field repair gear.

Continuing nice weather in the morning.

Some technique exercises after breakfast.

Rescue training in waves.

We had breakfast at Yxskär before continuing towards Örö. The wind was again almost from behind and made some nice surfs possible.

Yours truly.

Very nice places south of Vänö.

A short break before the crossing to Örö.

Checking out a nice wave formation.

Closing in at the Örö guest harbour, in the vicinity of which the kayak landing place was to be.

It turned out the there was a 400 m walk to the camping area, which raised some protests.

The new kayak landing place was at the beach just 100 m from the camping place. Good info for the next visit...

The next morning the only thing remaining was the 15 km return to Kasnäs.

The return went in nice weather without any drama.

We arrived at Kasnäs in the early afternoon, packed our gear, took a shower and went to the restaurant to enjoy the excellent, but somewhat expensive, Sunday buffet. An excellent course was over. The most important thing I learned was to relax completely despite paddling in 8-10 m/s wind every day.

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