It was finally time to go to the Swedish west coast with the sea kayak guide course, to learn more about sea kayaking and managing incidents in higher sea. This course module has traditionally been held outside Orust a bit north of Gothenburg, so that is were we headed.
After taking the night boat from Turku to Stockholm we had some six hours of driving, excluding breaks, ahead of us.
The weather was dull and even slightly rainy, when we arrived at our starting point at Orust Kajak in Stocken. We quickly packed our stuff and checked the route...
... and started paddling sometime around half past seven. We had a headwind of around 8-9 m/s for most of the time.
Our guide and instructor, Benjamin Donner from Aavameri.
Johan tries his new Greenland storm paddle. He made one for me as well, which I tried and ended up buying.
We arrived at Vallerö sometime after half past eight, too late to have time to check out the waves that evening, so we just made camp and cooked a nice dinner.
The next morning looked promising.
... followed by some instructions about actually handling the waves and what to do when things don't go well.
We also took a walk to the top of the island to check out the playground.
Finally in the kayaks, starting with some warming up...
... before going out.
After a while it turned out that only three of us wanted to play in the biggest waves and after watching us for a while Benjamin let us out while staying with the others himself.
A short break.
We did another short session in the waves before returning to camp for dinner.
The bigger Hilleberg tarp makes a good emergency shelter for a group of eleven. Everyone just takes a part of the side and sits down on it.
After lunch we had a short rolling and self rescue session.
I generally don't practice 360 degree rolls, since it forces too much water into the ears. I usually just go down and up on the same side. During this trip, I capsized involuntarily four times, mainly due to surf failures, and had no problem rolling up. I now consider my roll to be pretty reliable.
Then it was time to go into the waves again. The following pictures were taken from land by Dansko. (I'm the only one with a yellow helmet.)
A rescue coming in.
Benjamin performs a rescue.
Going out again, to try to surf back. The waves were not surf friendly, since they were too irregular.
A potentially dangerous situation. I was going in for a rescue, but was positioned too close. I got a forced surf shown in the picture and immediately after the picture threw myself into the water, per Benjamin's instructions, to hopefully avoid a collision or at least reduce the speed. I'm still somewhat surprised that I instantly reacted correctly, only based on Benjamin's spoken instructions earlier in the day.
The collision was avoided and I rolled up to find myself in a perfect position to perform a rescue.
Benjamin comes to check up on us.
A short break.
I did manage one really nice surf in the bigger waves. It was quite long and rather fast. The one I caught on video was however further in, where the waves were smaller and much more regular.
The local inhabitants
The dinner was a tofu and noodle wok.
A nice evening.
This bird had us confused, but I checked it at home and it was a juvenile common shelduck. The adult one is easy to identify, but there was the possibility that this one would have been a bird not found at home.
Jocke still had time to replace the gaskets of a drysuit.
The next morning was a nice one, and there was still some waves.
Breakfast in the sun.
This time we went a bit south, following the shoreline and practicing manouvering techniques. Just a few kilometers from Vallerön was a peculiar and densely built island named Käringön.
Vallerön was separated from the next island through a narrow channel.
We again had some discussions before going out for more exercises.
Landing by swimming to the shore with the kayak. Probably incredibly useful in Britain, but not really that necessary in Sweden or Finland.
A short land break.
And consequently, to get out in the water you have to swim out and do a reentry.
Or, if you have a PE kayak, just do a seal launch.
Back at camp for lunch, wraps with hummus and vegetables. The salad was a bit coarse, though.
After lunch we took a paddle to Härmanö north of Vallerö.
A raft turned out to be a good way to induce sea sickness for some paddlers.
A few of us stayed out to play in the waves for a while, but eventually we returned to camp for dinner.
The evenings were nice with a little wine and fun discussions.