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. 

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