It’s the second week of Annika’s (and my) holiday and we are registered for a three-day paddle course which is carried out by the local association Umeå Kanotklubb. Two days we’ll be on the lake Nydalasjön in Umeå to learn the basic technique, the last day we’ll do a tour on the Baltic Sea starting in Holmsund. I’ve been paddling for almost ten years now but never learned any technique, so I was eager to join the course. Annika has paddled only a few times before and was interested in testing paddling before buying a kayak herself.
The first day. While the others sit in very short and agile whitewater kayaks, Annika and I have chosen sea kayaks, which are longer but much less agile. The others have it easier to make turns and bents, we have it easier to paddle straight ahead and are faster, too. In the beginning we learn the basic paddle strokes forward and backward. Part two is to capsize intentionally just to learn the feeling. Do we get wet? No – we are already completely soaked by the heavy rain, that is chattering down from black clouds above us.
The second day – same location as the first one. It’s not about learning something new but more about repeating and deepening the first day’s learnings. We do a short tour to the bridge Kinabron – hardly more than 700 metres away and then we train capsizing again.
Annika and I try kamraträddning – a rescue technique. We test on our own because the instructors are more into whitewater kayaking where you use completely different rescue techniques. While Annika succeeds in rescuing me I do a mistake and her kayak is flooded almost up to the rim within seconds. We do not have a pump with us but luckily we are only ten metres away from shore and can walk the kayak ashore.
Day three – for us the highlight because we want to make kayak tours on the sea and that’s what we do today. Using sea kayaks is quite different from using whitewater kayaks and so we have an additional instructor that tells us everything we need to join today’s tour. After the instruction we carry the boats into the water and start a tour to the island Lill-Haddingen which is 3–4 km away. There we make of course a fika – a break for eating, drinking, resting. The conditions are good. Hardly any waves, hardly any wind. It would have been a really easy tour for Annika and me if we hadn’t chosen a tandem kayak. It is quite challenging to steer together and to always paddle synchronously to avoid our paddle blades colliding. It is fun to test the tandem kayak but we prefer the single ones. After paddling back almost the whole way we are shown kamraträddning – the rescue technique Annika and I tried the day before but we do not train it by ourselves. It has become later than expected when we finish our tour but especially the third day was a fantastic experience. Thank you, Umeå Kanotklubb for the course! We come again when you offer a rescue course.
Just fifteen minutes ago.
What’s a Muurikka?
A Muurikka is a Finnish frying pan for use over open fire. It‘s fun and easy to use and the prepared food is very tasty. Annika and I suppose, that the taste is so good because of the “Muurikka spices” (other people would call it soot).
Today we got a Muurikka from two couples of friends as a housewarming gift. We tested it immediately. It was such a great experience sitting on a bench by the fireplace eating the fried vegetables with rice under the blue sky of a warm summer evening. Even the mosquitoes seemed to respect that and stayed away.
Thank you, J. and M., C. and M. for the present. Another good argument to visit us more frequently. And yes – of course – all other friends are warmly welcome, too!
A kajak tour through the darkest hour of the shortest night
This night is summer solstice. So it is the shortest night of the year. That means that tonight is one of those nights where there is a sunset and a sunrise but it doesn’t get dark.
The weather was calm and warm, a good opportunity for a short midnight kayak tour. When the clock showed 23:30 I felt actually too tired to paddle, but I was able to pull myself together. And I am glad, that I did. It’s always pleasant to be outdoors and the colours of the first half of the tour were incredible.
When I started to circle the island Bredskär the light of sky and clouds became magic. Yes, I do like polar lights but the beauty of the translucent clouds lit by the invisible sun was at least of the same value.
I moored my kayak at a tiny beach on Bredskär and took a photo in the darkest minutes of the night.
Then I continued to circle the island. Now I had to concentrate on the waves and didn’t take any photos until I reached the sound between island and mainland where the sea was calm again. I moored my kayak another time – same island, but the other side. A nice place, but the magic of the light has vanished.
After some photos I entered the kayak and continued my short trip. The small promontory that is visible from our house was already in view and soon I arrived in the tiny, shallow nameless bay.
All of these flowers – and a few more – bloom in our garden. I am way too lazy to look up all the names of the flowers. You are welcome to do it by your own.
Glad midsommar – happy midsummer!
Two short kayak tours from the new home by the sea.
The first one morning last week. Just round the island Bredskär. The water surface smooth as silk and in beautiful pastel colours. Everything was quiet beside of the complaining sea birds.
The second one the day before yesterday in the afternoon. Just to the beach at Vitskärsudden. Through tiny waves and a lot of rocks. At the sandy beach I met Annika for a bath. She came by bike. The Baltic Sea not as cold as last time. Summer is coming.
Both tours were equally fun and both of them made me very grateful that I may live here at this fantastic place.
Sweden. Somewhere in the north. A little town called Skelleftehamn. A small street called Tallvägen. Street number 35. My house, that I named flygelvillan. The large living room. The left half with the grand piano and the computer. That has been a central place to me for many years.
At this place I wrote most of the blog articles of way-up-north.com. I worked. I planned my travels. I communicated. I looked out of the window when it snowed. I played on my grand piano. I rehearsed with a jazz trio and an opera singer. I composed and arranged for big band and chamber choir.
A central place.
Two days ago, on 15 May 2020 I left my house for good. It’s still mine but I’ll sell it this year.
Two days ago at 8 o’clock the large moving lorry arrived and five people started to carry all my belongings into the large car. First some furniture, then more than 150 boxes, pulka, kayak, skis and large bags with sleeping bags and down jackets. And finally my Yamaha grand piano.
The whole move took less than eight hours. Then my grand piano stood erected in the living room of Annika’s and my new house by the sea.
Shall I be sad because I left Skelleftehamn? Perhaps I should, but I’m not. The positive feelings about living together with Annika and having found such an extraordinary place to live dominate. I really have been looking forward to this new life and now it has become reality.
10 o’clock in the evening– it is still bright daylight because sunset was a quarter of an hour ago. A good time for two kayak premieres.
On the one hand it’s the first time I paddle this year. Last time was in November, more than half a year ago.
On the other hand it’s the first time I start a kayak tour from my new home in Obbola. Yesterday the furniture lorry made my move. Not only my Yamaha grand piano and more than 150 boxes (mostly books) but also my kayak moved from Skelleftehamn to Obbola.
I had it quite near to the coast in Skelleftehamn, but here I have it much nearer.
Behind the garden of Annika’s and my new house there is a small edge of wetland – frequently visited by deers and many sea birds – and then there is the Baltic Sea.
I draw the kayak to our fireplace and then through the puddles of the wetland. There I let the boat into the water, enter it and circle the islet Lillskär*, that lies less than 250 metres from our property.
It doesn’t take much time – the islet is tiny and soon I’m back at the wetlands where I lean the kayak against the wall.
While I sit at my computer it has grown dark. But when I look through the window I still can see the Baltic Sea, the islet Lillskär and when I stand up even the place where I left my kayak. How lucky I am, that Annika and I not only have moved together but found this awesome place by the sea.
* by the way: officially the islet seems to by nameless. It’s too small. According to our neighbour some people call it Lillskär – small skerry.
While I sit at my temporary desk I can watch the Baltic Sea. There are not many boats and ships passing by, but some are. The ferry to Finland far in the distance, a boat towing a raft with an excavator or the SCA Ortviken, a cargo ship on its way to Holmsund.
It’s nice to watch the ships but it’s not without risk, because the view could awaken the desire to travel.
Yesterday evening behind the tiny bay: two deer, a mountain hare, two Canada geese and some red breasted mergansers (probably). A nice neighbourhood.
Some photos are a bit blurred. A focal length of 600mm is not made for handheld snapshots. I guess I will have many opportunities to make better photos in the future.