It’s so nice to kayak on a sunny summer day, wearing just shorts and t-shirt, feeling the warm breeze, taking a bath and having dinner on a warm sunlit rock by the sea.
When I saw the thin layer of ice at Storgrundet this morning I was kind of alarmed – the days of paddling this year are numbered.
I fought a while with my weaker self but finally it was me who won. I put on my drysuit, neoprene boots, hood and gloves, took my little waterproof camera and fetched my kayak from the garage. The weather was still a bit sunny and temperature round -4 °C. (According to the weather forecast it should have been cloudy for hours, temperatures above zero and rain on its way. But well, the Swedish weather forecasts are hardly reliable.)
It took less than ten minutes till I reached the small bay Killingörviken where I launched my kayak. Within this short time period clouds have been approached from the sea covering half the sky.
The first 70 meters were hard work. Even when the ice is only 7 mm thick it’s not easy to paddle through because you have to break the ice not only with the kayak itself but with the paddle as well to be able to push forward. But soon I reached open water, crossed the street and reached the larger bay Kallholmsfjärden, home of the port Skellefteå Hamn. At the rear the sky was still blue but in front of me dark clouds approached and soon it started to snow …
No! Wrong! It didn’t snow. Snow stayed home and sent his asshole cousin: Freezing rain. (Rain indeed, sometimes the weather forecast is right.)
I thought back to the time, where I had lived in Essen. In that time I used to say “winter is coming, the rain is getting colder”. And so it felt today. It was chilly, wet, grey, twilit and dull. A typical autumn day in Essen. Or winter day. Or … . But I get off the point …
Anyway when I crossed all the bridges that traverse the channel Kejsar Ludvigs kanal, my mind wandered back again. Here it even looked like Essen.
But there are differences. First of all I never paddled in Essen and then Skelleftehamn is a coastal town which means that you reach the sea in less than no time:
Near the coast there was another layer of ice and again I had to cut through. My plan was to paddle round the peninsula Kallholmen, meaning that I would have to cross the sheltered bay Kurjoviken. Would I manage it or would the ice shield be too thick to be easily crossed? Well, I’ll see …
I paddled along the southern side of Kallholmen. There was hardly any wind and hardly any waves. Time to stop photoing and just enjoying the motion. Kurjoviken however came nearer and when I went round the west tip my misgivings became true. The whole bay was iced.
I gave it a try and started paddling through ice a third time this day. Already after ten meters the ice was 10 mm thick and I knew that I had 500 meters more to go. I decided to give up my original plan and returned. Backwards since it’s hardly possible to turn in ice.
It was still grey and quite dark, but it stopped raining and there was a a silver lining on the horizon.
It started to rain again. The raindrops were so tiny that I hardly could see the drops impacting the water surface. The surrounding looked hazy and mysterious and it was hard to guess distance and size of other objects.
“Is there a man standing on a rock amidst the sea? Or is it just a rock? Did it move or not? It moved! Is it a bird? I’m not sure. Yes, it’s a seabird, perhaps a cormorant. And the four dark spots ahead? Is it small rocks? Or big rocks? Or seals? Or trees far away in the haze?” Probably it was trees, that spot was further away than excepted.
Finally I reached “Ice Shield II” were I used the ice-free channel that I created an hour before. A second time I paddled along Kejsar Ludvigs kanal and reached the harbour.
A second time I crossed the bay, reached “Ice Shield I” and soon went ashore.
Well, let’s say I tried to go ashore. It was easy to leave the kayak but hard to go up the shallow slope, since the cold rain had instantly become ice on the still frozen ground and it was extremely slippery. Did you ever tried to drag a trolley with a kayak behind on freshly frozen streets? With neopren shoes made for water, not for ice? One patch on the street was so slippery that I really felt stuck. I could not move in any direction but finally I made it and some time later I arrived home.
My plan for 2018: Much more kayaking. In sun or rain, night or day – doesn’t matter as long as it’s save.