Kayakvideo – my thing – winter kayaking in Skellefteå

Last summer I was asked by filmmaker Johan Granstrand if I would be interested in making a small film about my winter paddling. I felt honoured to be asked and gladly accepted.

Despite to this year we got a lot of snow already in the beginning of November last year. Since weather was nice (and cold) we decided to make the film on November 12, exactly one year ago.

I already blogged about this day in my post “Kayak – is it a boat or a sledge?”. Some weeks ago I got the permission to share the link to the video and that’s what I do today.

“Min Grej – Kayaking i Skellefteå på vintern” on Vimeo.

(I really like this film but I don’t like listening to me talking. My Swedish sounds awfully!)

Late autumn paddling

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.

I wonder, why I hardly do that! This summer I paddled exactly twice – once in May, once in June. Now it’s November!

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.



Freezing over again

This morning was colder than the last ones: -6 °C. As a result the protected water area between the island Storgrundet and the mainland had partly frozen over in the night. The ice however is hardly some millimetres thick and probably won’t last long.

Retrospect: a rainy autumn

The day before yesterday a blog post on the weather page of Balderskolan caught my eye. The school Balderskolan in Skellefteå has its own weather station and has been collecting statistical data since 2002.

Here some statistics from August to October the last three years. The data is taken from the blog entry. And as you see – the last months have been very wet indeed compared to the two years before.

Number of days with rainfall

2015 2016 2017
August 7 st * 11 st 18 st
September 6 st 5 st 21 st
October 6 st 8 st 19 st
Total 19 st * 24 st 58 st

Precipitation in mm

2015 2016 2017
August 39 mm * 38 mm 59 mm
September 28 mm 18 mm 81 mm
October 4 mm 5 mm 79 mm
Total 71 mm * 61 mm 219 mm

(* data for the first seven days in August 2016 is missing)

Wintry day trip to Vindeln

C. and O., my best friends from Munich have been visiting me for some days. Today we made a car trip to Vindeln via Burträsk.

Contrary to the weather forecast the sun was shining, when we started. Right after Örviken, hardly 7 km from home I had to stop the car to look at the bay Ytterviksfjärden. Larger parts had frozen over under the last two days and were covered with a thin layer of fresh snow. The first sunny “winter photo” of the season!

The road between Falmark and Hjoggböle – hometown of Per Olov Enquist – was snow covered and hardly any other car appeared. Mist lay on the snowy ground, illuminated by the sun in warm yellow and orange. The whole scenery looked extremely beautiful and a bit fantastical. I was really glad to share this special mood with my friends instead of a cold November rain.

When we approached Burträsk clouds had started to cover the sky and the sun was hidden. It was so foggy, that the lake Burträsket hardly could be seen. We continued without stopping and arrived in Vindeln round 11 o’clock. While O. vas visiting a business acquaintance, C. and I made a long promenade along the river Vindelälven. It was grey in Vindeln and sometimes it snowed a bit. So the scenery was wintry as well but completely different from the colourful hazy atmosphere some hours ago.

Freezing over

One cold night and the big lake Snesviken starts to freeze over. Even the sheltered bay between mainland and the near island Storgrundet is partly covered with a very thin layer of new ice.

This ice however won’t last long. Either it will melt when days get warmer again or the next wind will break it apart.

The autumn leaves …

Most bushes and trees have realised, that summer is history and even autumn has come to an end. They all shed their leaves in the last weeks. Only the lilacs are quite stubborn and try to keep their leafage with all their might.

The cold wind gusts of the last night however did not only bring a bit of snow but also started to tear of the still green lilacs leaves. One of these leaves landed on my car hood where it slowly snowed over.

So lilacs beware, winter is on its way!

Wet snow and slush

It snowed the last days and it’s snowing right now in Skelleftehamn.

In Skelleftehamn it already snowed this morning but it was too warm and the snow didn’t settle.

In town it was slightly colder, but with temperatures still above zero the snow was very wet and soon became damp, slowly transforming into puddles of snow slush.

Anyway it’s still the end of October so it may take a while till the first real winter snow.

A first glimpse of winter

I’m sitting in the bus travelling to Skellefteå to go to work. This time I don’t travel from Skelleftehamn as usual but from Umeå where Annika and I landed yesterday evening after our one-week journey through Scotland.

While it was warm in Scotland (hardly below 10 °C, up to 17 °C) it is quite cold in Northern Sweden. Not really wintry cold, but cold enough that the lakes start to freeze over and precipitation is more snow than rain.

Time to change to dubbdäck – to studded tyres!

∞ Infinite rain ∞

Ok, guys, let’s face it: It always has been raining, it’s raining right now and it will never stop raining again until the end of the world!

Never ever I have expected such a rainy autumn! Since I’ve been back from the hiking tour on the Kungsleden it rained most of the days and in the spare moments without precipitation it was cloudy anyway.

Sometimes it was windstill, sometimes it was stormy, but it rained. Either as a steady rain or more like a curtain of a dense fog or sometimes as a series of cloudbursts. So my daily outfit has been almost the same for weeks: A sturdy rain parka and rubber boots.

Of course the sun came out little here and there but mostly just for a short time. I can count the days with much sun with the fingers of one hand. And I don’t need all fingers!

Today I looked at one of the many puddles of water. It was some centimetres deep. Some yellow leaves – probably victims of last night’s squalls – floated have under the water surface, which was rippled by the ongoing rain. And then I saw it:

The Sign Of Infinity!

I looked at the sign and all at once I got the dreadful message: It always has been raining, it’s raining right now and it will never stop raining again until the end of the world!

Addendum (11 October)

If I understand the weather statistics of the school Balderskolan in Skellefteå correctly, we got 63mm of rain yesterday. That’s more rain than the average precipitation  in Skellefteå all October! No wonder, that some of the puddles in Bonnstan were more than 15 cm deep. Since these puddles were covered with yellow birch leaves it looked really beautiful. What a pity, that I only had my iPhone to shoot this image: