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.