The last Thursday kayaking 2023

No, I haven’t joined many of “torsdagspadlinger” organised by the Tromsø sea kayak association this year. But at least the first one on the 4th of May and the last one this evening.

We were a group of ten heading to the island Grindøya in the west. When I arrived at the boat houses round half past five the sun was already disappearing behind the mountains of Kvaløya. Half an hour later we were on the water. The weather was quite warm and it was very calm –perfect conditions for a relaxed tour.

We headed to a sea mark – resting place for a small flock of cormorants. They flew away, when we gathered there.

While we were continuing to the northern tip of the island it was becoming dusky. We all had lights at our kayaks or our lifejackets. Less to see but to be seen.

After we passed the northern tip of Grindøya we turned left (meaning south) and calmly paddled along the forested island.

When we arrived at the beach at the southern tip it already had become pretty dark. The lights of the mainland illuminated the horizon. The single light at the left top corner of the next photo is the mountain station of the cable car Fjellheisen.

On the way back it was really dark. We paddled in pairs to ensure that no one was left behind and it was too dark to take snapshots. Just before we arrived at the boat houses again I took the iPhone out of its waterproof bag and took a photo. With a bit of help from Lightroom it’s surprisingly sharp.

It’s a pity that this was the last torsdagspadling but understandable, because it gets darker and darker every week. And if the weather forecast is correct it may snow next week.

Takk for turen – thanks for the tour, especially to the tour guides. See you next year.

Thursday paddling around Grindøya

Two weeks ago we were only five paddlers at the traditional Thursday paddling. Today we were almost thirty. While most followed the coast to the bay Telegrafbukta I joined a group of seven that paddled to Grindøya. The conditions were gorgeous. No wind, hardly any waves and beautiful light. We took a break on the island with a special bonus: Two eagles sitting on a dead tree. There were too far away for taking good pictures but beautiful to observe anyhow. On one of the photos you can spot them as tiny specks.

Takk for turen – thanks for a great tour, my fellow kayakers. Now I’ll leave Tromsø for a while until I’ll be back for more tours to come.

 

Back to Thursday paddling

Today I just did my second kayak tour in Tromsø this year. The first one was on 4 May and it snowed. Then the weather was bad and I hardly had time. Then I was on an Arctic cruise, then home in Sweden and then it was holiday period. Today was the first “Thursday paddling” with the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club after summer and I was happy to join.

Together with four other kayakers we paddled to the island Håkøya where we took a short leg stretcher. Then we paddled a bit along and back. I didn’t make many photos. The others were fast and on the way to Håkøya it was quite wavy. So I was challenged and even a bit stressed, but in a positive way. Now I’m looking forward to the next time. Takk for turen, fellow paddlers! Thanks for taking care of me.

My first Thursday paddling 2023

Today I was joining the “Thursday paddling” of the Tromsø Sea Kayakers Club. They started the season two weeks ago, I joined today for the first time this year.

At 18:00 a group of 13 kayakers left the shore by the boat houses and headed to Telegrafbukta, the small bay near my apartment. In the dull weather the kayaks and the paddlers in their drysuits always look quite colourful.

Although I’ve already been paddling in Sweden several times this winter it took me some time to find a rhythm. When I’m alone, I use to paddle slower.

At Telegrafbukta we decided to continue to Sydspissen, the southern tip of the island Tromsøya. There we turned back, paddling through snow showers.

We already saw it on the way there – there was very low water at Telegrafbukta, or just “Bukta” as the locals say. We took a break there but only a short one. The weather was too chilly to be comfortable.

We talked about the weather and came to the conclusion, that summer probably already was on first of May and now summer season is over. I’m not completely sure, if this theory will prove true, but on the way back spring or summer seemed to be far away.

It reminded me at last years first Thursday paddling. It was on 28 April and the weather was as snowy as today. Let’s see how the weather is next week.

A calm afterwork kayak tour on the Baltic Sea

Low water. I have to walk a bit. First over the remaining ice, then over the soft sand and through shallow water until I can set in the kayak.

The weather is extraordinary calm, the water surface soft as silk. The water melts with the horizon and I cannot measure sizes in the distance. The other two boats that I spotted while paddling to Obbolstenarna were sea birds.

I go on land on two places. One island of the Obbolstenarna, and a leftover ice cap on a shallow bank nearby. It has become quite warm in daytime and snow and ice are melting.

I play around with my drone that I bought two weeks ago and made some aerial photos. I probably will never publish them in the blog. Too bureaucratic the process to get the Spridningstillstånd, the permission to publish such a drone-taken photo in Sweden.

1:45 hours later I am home again. Today it looks like equally fine weather. Probably I’ll go kayaking again.

Like ice in the springtime …

In the rare cases where the temperature rises above 0 °C something special happens: Ice and snow melt and become a liquid known as „water“. One of these rare occasions is called „spring“ and this is what has started happening right now. In these days many things happen that are related to ice, snow, and water.

8 April: Vattenplasket in Malå

Last Friday Annika and I visited our friends Lasse and Martine in Kusfors and stayed over. Lasse is a journalist and had a job in Malå the next day. There was a very special ski competition named “Vattenplasket” – the water splash. A ski hill and instead of a finish line a large basin with knee deep water. Is it possible to downhill on ski or snowboard and have enough momentum to cross the water? Let’s see:

Most of the competitors failed, two actually managed it. True sportsmanship showed a small boy that did not get enough momentum with his sled and just walked into the water. Kudos!

9 April: almost a kayak tour

On Sunday Annika and I tried to do another kayak tour. Five days ago the ice was stable, this day it had got holes and was not reliable anymore. While Annika stood on safe ice I tried to cross the old ice to the island but **splash!** broke through several times. No biggie, the water is quite shallow and we have drysuits but it is exhausting. When Annika started breaking through as well, we decided to return. Another time …

10 April: winter bath

Finally. Annika and I. Twice. And then: sitting on the rocks in the wet bathing clothes without freezing because the sun is so warm. Springtime!

12 April: ice work

This is a piece of ice seen from the side. You can see the different horizontal layers that accumulated over time.

This is however no glacier ice nor Arctic sea ice. It is a piece of ice from our way to our house. Annika and I have been chopping the ice bit by bit for many days and today was the day: the way to the car and the road is free of ice and snow.

12 April: another “almost” kayak tour

There are other parts that are free of ice: Most of the weak ice between land and the island Lillskär is gone. After work I tried to paddle around the islet. We had low water (-30 cm) and some of the stable ice was grounded while large parts of the sea were open.

The first part was easy but when I almost rounded the island I came into an ice field. I already had seen it before starting the tour and thought I could paddle through. In theory this was possible, but the wind and the layers of ice made it near to impossible to steer the kayak.

So I got off the boat, jumped into the 60 cm deep water and while standing turned the kayak back to course. Now I could continue my island circumnavigation. Anyhow I consider exiting the kayak on the tour cheating, that’s why I say: I almost circumnavigated Lillskär today.

Even though the ice floes may have been 7–8 cm thick you couldn’t stand on the ice any longer. The ice was “rotten”. Many tiny vertical channels had weakened the ice and made it sensible to vertical stress. You can see it on the next photo. The piece on ice is standing, the bottom part of the ice floe is on the left.

What a wonderful vårvinter kayak tour!

Yesterday the weather was calm and sunny. A perfect day for kayaking! Perhaps to Vitskärsudden, our favourite beach?

Chapter one – Bredskär

Kayaking needs a bit of preparation, especially in winter. After we have fixed a problem with Annika’s rudder, dressed ourself and went over the ice to the northern tip of the islet Lillskär we are ready to start our tour.

Annika goes first, I follow. We turn left and paddle along the edge of the ice.

Sometimes we cross fields with crushed ice. Many of the ice slices are thin and in the waves they sound like tuned bells.

We paddle along the island Bredskär. The waves are shallow and there is hardly and wind. I have to make a short stop to take a picture of the “ice monster”, then I follow Annika to the sandy bay in the northeast of the island.

We continue following the coastal line until we come to Bredskärssund, the sound between Bredskär and Obbola. As expected the sound is covered with ice and we have to return.

Time for …

Chapter two – Vitskärsudden

Slowly we paddle back enjoying the exceptionally beautiful weather and the ease of movement. Leaving Bredskär behind we cross the water heading for the rock that marks the entry to Vitskärsudden.

Arriving there more ice fields wait for us. Here are many layers of thin ice and it is not easy to find gaps to put the paddle in. Often it just glides and slides away.

It is not possible to paddle into the bay. It is covered with ice floes, many of them thick and large. But we do not want return home – too beautiful the day – and decide to paddle to the islands Obbolstenarna where we shortly have been two days ago.

Chapter three – Obbolstenarna

The way there is easy. No mentionable wind, just open water. In front of the islands there is another ice field, but it is small and easy to cross.

The next ice field is thicker. We try to break through but decide to go round. We just follow the coastal line.

In the south we go round an ice cap. According to the nautical map there is no island, just a shallow with some rocks.

Again I take a small detour to take a photo. This time to a large ice block.

Then we paddle north. First along the islands …

… then …

Chapter four – Home

we are leaving Obbolstenarna behind and head home. We enjoy the effortlessness of our today’s kayaking but we got a bit hungry. 10–15 minutes later we stand on the ice near our house.

We take a tour selfie then we drag our kayaks back home. First over the ice, then through the snow.

Thanks for the fabulously beautiful tour, Annika!

Annika tracked the tour with her smart watch. Here’s a small map. I added some names.

Back in Obbola – 20 hours

Sunday 10:30

After a breakfast in the sun heated winter garden Annika and I dress for a kayak tour. Special challenge today is not the frozen bay but the deep snow in our garden. I plunge through the snow, Annika is taking snowshoes while dragging the kayak behind. We are walking over the ice to the small skerry island Lillskär and then turn left until we approach open water. There we start the tour. I give Annika a push, then be both are sitting in our kayaks hopping forward until we reach open water.

We paddle to the islands Obbolstenarna. The way there is fast, a clear sign that we have tailwind. And true, the way back takes much longer. Yes, we are cold, but the winter garden is very warm and soon are we.

Sunday 17:00

A friend from Stockholm is visiting us today. Time to dig out our barbecue place. The two benches are covered with 20-30 of snow and it takes a bit of digging, until they are usable again. On the photo you still can see last day’s ski track crossing the bench.

Sunday 19:00

It gets cold and we have moved to the winter garden again. Blue sky, blue sea, blue snow, blue hour.

Sunday 20:23

A bright greenish light crosses the night, much faster than a plane. What was that? Many other sightings in Sweden confirm my thoughts: it was a bolide, an extremely bright meteor. I never saw anything like this. Since it was a matter of seconds, I couldn’t even think of taking a photo.

Monday 5:45

I wake up. Unnecessarily early for having vacation. Anyhow I peek out of the window. A beautiful morning, and with -13 °C a cold one for beginning of April. I pull ski pants and a down jacket over my pyjamas, slip into my boots and go out to take photos and wait for the sun. The icy edge at the horizon is already sunlit and I can see a weak light pillar above the island Bredskär. Fifteen minutes later the sun rises over the forestal island and I enjoy the sun for a short while.

Monday 6:30

When I’m back in the house it is still early. Time to take off the warm overclothes and continue sleeping …

 

The last two kayak tours 2022

It’s Friday and the day before Christmas Eve. It’s actually my last working day but I worked only short, thanks to flextime. At 11:10 I stopped developing software for this year and went out kayaking.

Two days before the sea was open between our small ice covered bay and the islet Lillskär. Today it is covered with a layer of new ice. I drag the kayak to the end of the bay and start the tour.

Just crossing the 100 metres of ice seems to take ages. The ice is too thick to paddle through, too thin to walk on and too soft to push oneself forward with arms and ice claws. So it’s a lot of back and forth to get a bit of momentum to crash another metre with brute force. The stiff neoprene of my survival suit does not make it easier and I’m so exhausted when I leave the ice behind. I change plans. I won’t visit Obbolstenarna today (farther away) but the island Bredskär again. I turn the kayak and paddle north. Partially to open water, partially through fields of thin feathery ice. Let’s see, how far I’ll come.

I reach Bredskär and start to circle it. Looking at the right I see snow covered islands in the distance and ice fields. It feels and looks quite arctic.

This impression changes directly when I look left and see the forest of Bredskär passing by. Looking straight ahead gives another view: The port of Holmsund with the ferry to Finland. Between that and me: many ice fields.

I pass the small bay with the sandy beach and slowly follow the shore line. When I want to turn left again to enter the sound that leads back I am stopped by another ice field, this one thicker than the others. I remember the first 100 metres today and decide not to break through but to turn. It will make the tour a bit longer but I have holidays and I’m not cold. The outer side of the island is beautiful anyhow in the light of the lowering sun.

Yes, the sun is lowering. The tour took longer than expected. I decide to watch the sunset from the kayak and slow down a bit. My fingers are getting a bit cold, but it’s worth it.

A good two hours later I arrive at the first ice field again. The ice channel that I had created by breaking through has frozen over again but breaks under the weight of my kayak. Shortly before 14 o’clock I stand on the bay ice again. The tour was a bit demanding, but impressive and beautiful. A great start into the Christmas holidays!

I’m however quite sceptical about Annika’s and my idea for tomorrow: Christmas eve paddling together. With temperatures round -10 °C the ice will probably be too thick the next day. A pity!

One day later – Christmas eve. Annika and I peek through the spotting scope to check the ice situation. Looks like the ice has gone. I walk to the ice edge and see our observations confirmed: Yesterday’s ice has gone and beside of some new and thin ice fields the water is open. So let’s take a kayak tour together!

This paddling tour was magic. The sea surface was smooth as silk, the sun felt warm and the new ice was easy to paddle through. The air was so clear that we could spot islands far away and there was almost no wind. Beside of the high frequency noises when crushing the ice with our kayaks and a dog at land barking at us it was completely silent.

It was Annika’s first winter paddling tour and I’m glad and lucky that it was such an exceptionally great one. May many other tours follow in the future! In spring, summer, autumn and winter.

 

 

 

 

Break at work II – ice paddling

Today has been another clear and calm day. It was colder than the day before with temperatures round -19 °C. Today’s plan was paddling, at least round Lillskär, the small skerry nearby.

Step 1 – fetching the kayak

I knew exactly where our kayaks are. They lay in the garden – hidden under a layer of powder snow. So the first part of my paddle tour was digging out my kayak.

Step 2 – dressing and get equipment

Survival suit · thick mittens · ice claws · smartphone · camera · waterproof bag for the camera · paddle. Just the basics, I won’t go far.

Step 3 – crossing the ice

After some frosty days the ice on the shallow bay seemed to be thick enough to support my weight. I walked over the ice dragging the kayak behind. At the edge of the bay there was an ice range that I had to cross. I entered the kayak and mostly I used my ice claws to drag myself forward. Sometimes the ice supported the weight of me in the kayak, sometimes we broke through. Although the ice range to cross was only 100 metres wide I had to take several breaks. Some to take photos, some to catch my breath.

Step 3 – paddling

Then I reached open water. Almost. The water was covered with a thin layer of transparent ice needles that made the water look crystallised. It slowed down the waves and I could hear the high-pitched clinking while I was paddling through. Very fascinating!

In addition to that the sea was smoking. When it is as cold as today, the surface water evaporates and quickly resublimes to tiny ice grains that build this moving fog that colours the sea in a pale white.

Step 4 – visiting an ice exhibition

When I passed Lillskär I bent right to the mainland. There were some ice-coated rocks and thicker ice floes there – an extremely beautiful view in the low sunlight. I just went straight ahead. The first ice floes were split by my kayak, on the thicker once I had to use my ice claws again to move forward.

Step 5 – back to land

I realised, that my tour has taken much longer than planned, although the distance was tiny. I was clad in my survival suit, the kayak was on the ice and in 20 minutes my video meeting would begin. I had to hurry up!

The ice near the mainland was too thick to paddle through, but too thin to walk on. So, ice claws again. Not easy, when you lack trained arm and abdominal muscles. When I approached another shallow, I just left the kayak, splashed a bit trough soft ice and knee deep water until I reached the bay again.

From there I could walk on the ice and drag my kayak behind until I reached our property. I went to the house and transformed from paddle guy to IT guy as fast as possible. I informed my boss and colleagues that I would by 5 minutes late. That gave my the chance to take a hot shower, because I was freezing.

Did I miss anything of the meeting? No, the others had to fix audio and that took longer than my shower.

After the meeting, round 12:15 I walked out again to make a photo of the cloud bank and the sea smoke in the low winter sun.

Tomorrow shall be another cold and sunny day. Let’s see how I’ll spend my work break …