Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day trip in 15 degrees cold

Finally we managed to meet, all three paddling companions. We had arranged a “meeting” – that is a paddle trip where we get the opportunity to discuss matters of our long distance trip.
I had suggested Håøya, an island in the inner Oslo fjord. Håøya is a good destination for a short day trip, you can paddle 20-30 kilometers around the main Island, and visit several smaller islands on the way.  
When I started packing the car this morning, the thermometer showed 20 degrees below zero. I really like to paddle in cold weather; the only drawback is all the packing in and out of the car, and packing kayaks on the car roof with frozen fingers.
At our launching place, the water was frozen, so we needed to drive a little extra, to find open water for kayak launch.

The frost mist was blowing across the water, and the sun rose, as we finally found ourselves seated in our kayaks on the water. It was spectacular – immediately worth all our efforts.
We paddled for 3-4 hours, didn’t land but had some small breaks seated in the kayaks. On the way we discussed issues of safety, preparations to be fit for the trip, and equipment. Tor had made a sea anchor that we tested. I had for the first time my new anorak – it felt really good. Thanks Anne for your kind help! Quoc brought up the subject that a large outdoor equipment business was willing to sponsor our trip. When I heard that they also perhaps wanted to sponsor us with freeze dried food, I really became interested! Food is actually the only major expense in this project. We already have all the equipment we need and more…  

My fingertips are still a bit cold, as I write these words. It was a great trip – really worth the effort. On my way home (1 hour drive), I saw 4 car crashes – only minor accidents. People were driving like madmen. You could really feel the stress on this last shopping day before Christmas. I felt privileged that I had the opportunity to spend my day on the sea instead.
Happy christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ice and cold in Denmark too!

I was fleeing from the very cold and early winter in Norway, hoping for better conditions in my old homeland, Denmark. I brought along my baidarka, a new paddle (bent shaft Aleutian type), dry suit and other gear for winter paddling.
I was quite disappointed when I found out that winter had really come to Denmark for once. Normally, winter is quite cold and rainy in Denmark, but it seldom involves lots of frost, ice and snow – until this weekend!
My first attempt was in the Faxe bay – by my home town. The sea was calm, but lots of ice made paddling difficult. It was no problem to go through, it was just that it slowed down the speed of the kayak so much that I felt there was no point in paddling very far. I took a few nice photos, though, and got back to my dad’s summer cottage, that had become my base for the weekend.
I also filmed a short cut with my new canon camera. I think the quality was really impressive – check out the sound also!

Later, the ice disappeared with the strong westerly wind, and I had a great time paddling in lee, along the coast of my childhood’s landscapes and beaches. I had one trip to the Fed peninsula where I felt that this one trip was worth the whole trip. The kind of experience where you feel a strong unity with yourself, your craft and the elements, and you get the feeling that you can go on forever, and that time stops. Truly a good experience!

Later in the weekend, the wind became stronger, up to gale force! It was 6 degrees below minus in daytime, so I gave up paddling any more, and spent some valuable time with my father, my mother and my sister and her family.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Test of video

I thought it could be fun to add some movie clips once in a while. Outside, it's still cold, below 20 degrees! So making new movie clips is not so tempting. I joined Vimeo, and just made this test movie clip for fun. It was taken last year with my waterproof olympus mju 8000 compact camera. I think the quality is O.K. for internet use. Actually I'm impressed that such a small camera can make this kind of pictures, but maybe I'm old fashioned! Check it out:

And now I'm looking forward to some more paddling. Next week I can hopefully paddle 150 km. or so.

More (6/12): I haven't figured out how to answer the comments yet, so now I do it this way! Still got a lot of things to learn, it's probably easy. But to the comment - This was so fun and easy to do. I will definitely do more rolling video in the future - one roll at the time, and post it on my main web page. And to do it in english should be no problem - good idea! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Finally back on the water!

It has been some time without paddling. Winter came very early this year, starting 2-3 weeks ago. We have had temperatures below -10 degrees, and there is 20-30 cm. of snow everywhere. The downhill skiing centre in Kongsberg just opened, and the smaller inland waters are starting to freeze! I'm not that happy.....

This somehow cools my will to go paddling.

Today I had a nice short trip in the morning. It felt really good to be back in the baidarka.

Recently I have been working with paddles and some kayak building jobs. I have made a new formula of paddle oil finish, and feel that I have really done a lot. Improvement for my zipper sea sock is on its way. I have got hold of some materials, and will write something about it when I have done a few test projects.

Now I'm planning a small vacation in Denmark in December, so that I can paddle more. Its a bit warmer down there!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Daytrip around the "Worlds end" in gale force winds

Today me and my friend Alex did a day trip in Vestfold. We had planned to visit the remote "Færder" lighthouse. But when we approached the starting point in the Tjøme Island, we knew that it would be impossible. Gale force wind straightened out the flags and bent the trees. We decided to paddle around Tjøme - a 35 kilometer trip. We had started out early, so this could be an O.K. day trip. We had some concern about Tjøme's southernmost point, which is called "Verdens ende" - "The world's end"! Very exposed to the southerly wind. Anyway, we started out in a lee spot, and held on to the opportunity of going the same way back, if conditions were too harsh.

It was a tiring paddle, first, from lee spot to lee spot, from one island to another. But we managed well without being exhausted. We decided to begin the most exposed part of the trip before lunch - the south end of the "Vasser" island. Here conditions got from bad to worse. We had hard rain, gale force wind, and very messy seas. Large swell, windwaves and reflective waves from the steep shores of the island made paddling very demanding. The sea bottom in this area is also quite uneven, making waves difficult to predict.

My new baidarka preformed well. I noticed it was not much faster that Alex' 10 year old (530/56)baidarka, but the slightly upswept bow made my foredeck slightly drier that was the case with Alex. That was good to see.  

We managed fairly well, having paddled non-stop for 4 hours. And we decided to take a break on the first island that was possible to land on. It was hard horizontal rain, and worst conditions for finding shelter and firewood. We put up the Kiva. Tied it to our kayaks, and had a comfortable shelter for the break. It took 3 minutes to make the shelter! Finding firewood and make it burn was hard. Normally i will stuff some firewood  in the kellykettle, but not this day, of course. We worked for some 15 minutes to find wood and try to make it burn, but we managed that too, and could enjoy hot food and tea for an hour or so.

The rain stopped, and the sky was lighter when we went on. Now we "only" needed to round the "worlds end" and then paddle downwind, direction north, to our starting point. There was some extreme conditions here, and we managed well. But the easy downwind paddle was not so easy. The seas were still messy, making it difficult to maneuver and surf the waves. We had a less tiring paddle in one way, since we didn't have to paddle against the wind, but technically it was more demanding, and, therefore nearly just as tiring.
I noticed the difference between my unloaded 51 cm. baidarka and Alex' 56 cm. baidarka. I had to do a number of support strokes on the way - maybe 10-15. Alex only did it once! Having the baidarka fully loaded, however, will change this (I hope!).

We came safe home to the starting point. We were quite tired. The total paddling distance was 36 km. and we had paddled at an average of 5,8 km./hour. A little slow, but not bad, holding the weather conditions in mind. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day trip with the kayak finished

Since my last actions in this blog, I have done a few speed tests. 20 km. nonstop paddling brings me to an average speed of 7 km/hour, or nearly 4 knots. For short distances, I have paddled faster in this baidarka than in any other baidarka I have built - up to 14 km/hour, or 7,5 knots.

Today I did a 20-30 km day trip with my old friend and paddle-mate Erik. We paddled in the inner Oslo Fjord, and the weather was marvelous.

I have painted the deck bright orange. It was first painted yellow, and then I gave it a thin layer of clear varnish with some red color pigment added. It looked good, I think. The hull is now as smooth as it can get, and also covered with a clear varnish.

We had the whole fjord for ourselves, except for a few curious seals, who disturbed our lunch, begging for food?

I had brought the Kellykettle. The medium size nicely went in through the aft hatch, and we did a small water boiling contest, which the Kellykettle won (of course).

During lunch, a passing cruise ship raised some great swell, and the kayaks were thrown along the shore. We managed to save them. First, the kayaks were lying where you can see the wave passing in the picture.

On our way home, Erik managed to catch this little fish:

All in all, so far, I think the baidarka works perfect for me. It's fast and stable. It's also easy to maneuver, it tracks well and it has just a slight tendency to weathercock. I think I will attach a removable skeg, but not until I have some experience with paddling this baidarka fully loaded. A full load may change things. The deck rigging is the point I still have to work with. I have only made a standard rig now, that includes ropes across the deck fore and aft, and deck toggles that can hold a paddle outrigger for extra stability. I still need some fittings that can hold various gear in place.

The camera solution also has to be worked on. Having my heavy camera on the side of the front deck simply doesn't work. Today I tried to hold the camera between my legs - not so good. I think I will need some way of securing the camera on the aft deck, but that is difficult when you need instant access.... problems to be thought of, and, hopefully, solved....

Friday, October 15, 2010

A new test ride

Finally, my baidarka is sanded down and painted 5 times, and the hull is really smooth now. I took a trip to the nearby archipelago of Vestfold. With the hull really smooth, I could easily padddle for 8-9 km. pr. hour without much effort. I noticed how the baidarka took the little choppy waves nicely. The bow lifting itself over the waves in a smooth and noiseless way.

The sea was otherwise calm, but there was a light breeze at the end of the day. I had been concerned whether i had placed myself too far behind in the kayak. I can see from this picture that the kayak is well balanced. I found the kayak quite neutral in sidewind, with a minimal tendency to weathercock - what luck - exactly what I wanted.

Today I also got a prototype of my new home-designed paddling jacket. Anne Berg from Brønnøysund has kindly offered her help with putting my ideas into a pattern. She had made me a great paddling jacket using leftovers from winnie-the-pooh curtains (It looked great - I should have taken a photo!). The fit was almost perfect, and we're very near making it from some good quality waterproof material. More about this later on the "equipment" page.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Finishing the baidarka and first test trip!

After a few busy weeks in my workshop, I finally had the time to sew the baidarka and paint it. I chose a heavy organic cotton canvas for the cover. The hatches and cockpit were already made, so it took only one day of hard work to sew and paint. The paint I use is ordinary house paint, based on organic oil.

This is what it looked like today.....

I couldn't resist the temptation to take it to the water for a brief test paddle. It is not yet 100% waterproof, and the skin is really rugged - giving a lot of resistance in the water. I didn't expect any kind of speed, I was just curious about how it would feel like, and where the waterline would be.
It weighed 17,5 kg. with the sea sock and hatch covers on. It will probably gain another 1,5 kg. of weight with more paint, deck ropes, wear strips underneath and all. But 19 kg. for a big and tough expedition kayak is not bad either.

I felt I should really have had more time for this moment!..... It looked really perfect on the water.... The slightly built-up front, that I was uncertain about whether I liked or not in my workshop, now seemed just perfect. The stern just touched the water where it ended, and the bow touched the water about 25 cm. from the tip. That was without me in it!

What a feeling!!!!!! WOW!
It turned out to be anything I had dreamed about. This felt like the perfect kayak for the trip. It was not VERY stable, like boring stable, of course. It had no load either. But it had plenty of initial stability for me to feel perfectly comfortable. And it also had enough of secondary stability for me to lean well over to the sides without fear of getting wet (didn't wear paddle clothing, only jeans and sweater).

As I mentioned, the rugged surface of the hull really slows it down, but I did a small speed test with the GPS turned on anyway. Normal paddling with my new 220 cm. bent shaft Aleutian paddle went between 8-9 Km./h. - or 4,5 knots. Paddling as hard as I could, took me to 13 km./h. - or 7 knots. Really not bad for a coarse canvas covered hull!! I can't wait to get it sanded and painted to a perfect smooth surface! However, it takes a few weeks, so I just have to be patient, I guess.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sea sock

Before covering the framework, I started making the sea sock today. A sea sock is extremely important in a skin on frame kayak, for safety reasons. This one will be permanently fitted with a zipper. Some extra work, but I happened to have an extra waterproof zipper, so why not!

Making it before covering the baidarka enables me to give it a perfect fit. Now I'll start covering the baidarka.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Framework finished today!

So, today the framework was finished. A lot of anxiety, like "will this be good enough" went through my head. I brought it out in the beautiful sunshine and oiled it, using the traditional red colour of the Aleut baidarkas. Like a real serious artist, I had to keep telling myself "Don't fall in love with your own creations". This baidarka will be a real beauty, and no doubt, well performing.

It's so cool to hear from you, Claudio! I just discovered how this blog thing can keep me in touch with a lot of great people! I will surely post some more pictures. Best wishes!

And here, the whole framework, seen from the side.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sea anchor

I made this unique little piece of equipment yesterday!

It took me half an hour on my sewing machine. It weighs 100 grams, and measures about 10x15x3 cm when packed together. 

Parts of the coast are very exposed, and landing may be impossible. We need to do lots of long open water crossings also. The sea anchor may be handy for taking breaks - rafted together - on open water far from shore. It will ensure that you're not blown back where you came from. It may be a life saving device also, if you are drifting helplessly from shore, for some reason unable to paddle. Hopefully we will not need the sea anchor for this - rather for having pleasant lunch breaks on the sea without drifting too much! 

The baidarka framework is soon finished

Now the framework is nearly finished. The kayak will be 51 cm. wide and 540 cm. long. It's mostly made of spruce, though the ribs and the bifid bow piece is made out of oak. It all weighs 12,3 Kg. I guess it will be around 20 when the skin is on. The hull shape should be pretty perfect, as far as I can tell. I just can't wait to get this baidarka on the water and test it.

As you can see in the picture, I have built up the front slightly, in order to give it a better lift in waves. I think a flat profile looks better, though.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Test trip and meeting

Meeting today - and a short paddle trip.

We discussed a number of things, including maps, food, photography etc. We paddled a short distance, and had lunch outdoors. We tested the kellykettle (, and Tor was positive to bringing one along on the trip. We also set up the Kiva tent - intended for shelter during breaks in bad weather.

The weather was very nice!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Testing the Kiva

I have thought about bringing two tents on the trip - a safe, dry and stable one for sleeping, and a light one, really fast to set up, to use as shelter during breaks, for storing gear at night and maybe for sleeping if the air in the other tent is too thick!

For the second tent I thought of the Mountain hardwear "Kiva". I did a test today - setting it up. I haven't set it up for a year or so, and it took me just 2 minutes from it was stuffed in its bag till it stood on the lawn outside my workshop! I think this is a good idea to use.

Building the baidarka

After finding a nice pair of light spruce gunwales, I have started giving the deck shape. I don't really have time for this work at the moment, so I will look at the deck shape over some weeks now, and will have plenty of time to make changes. So far, the baidarka will be 535 cm. long and 51 cm. wide, but that may change!