måndag 12 september 2016

Now an approved HBB-paddler


This will be the last blogpost in this blog. I met with the HBB jury last week and apparently all my maps and logbook were in order because now I am an approved HBB paddler and will most probably get the HBB-number 172! Yay!!! 😃I’m the only woman to finish this year out of the 4 that started and going through the statistics (got some help here from my way more competitive husband) realise I have the 5th fastest time for women over all. Last but not least and definitely most important, I really enjoyed the whole journey with fantastic, good and some not so good days from Svinesundsbron to Haparanda. All good reasons to feel pleased about how this project turned out. It was a very nice meeting and fun to bring back memories from each day. Later when arriving home reading Jim Danielsson’s book I started to think I might have to retire early to fit in all the kayaking I found inspiration for 😛.

Right now I’m on my way home from a business trip to Luleå flying over a long stretch of islands that I passed with my kayak earlier this summer. It is a really cool feeling to have such detailed knowledge of the Swedish coastline that I recognise lots of places that I kayaked passed; Rödkallen, Junkön and Bjuröklubb were all far enough east for me to see through the small window and later when getting closer to Stockholm I saw Öregrund and Väddö, including the incredibly long strait/channel that took me almost a day to complete. Picked up my iPad that still contains the images of my daily routes so that I could follow my track in detail from above.

When going through all the previous posts using a large screen I realised the absolutely embarrassing amounts of spelling error that slipped through late night's proof reading (not sure I can even call it proof reading when seeing the result...) in the tent. Sorry about that! For those of you starting to read the blog now, consider yourselves lucky, I think almost all of them are gone now. I also think signing up for "English spelling 101" should be a task on my to do list since it became painfully clear that I can't spell either "coffee" or "weather". All the times I wrote coffe or wheather were not typos, it was due to good old SBS (Skit Bakom Spakarna).

Finishing with a few photos from an amazing early morning paddle with my husband two weeks ago. Autumn is great that way, you don’t have to get up super early to see the sunrise 👍🏻😀☀️!!!



fredag 22 juli 2016

Concluding thoughts and statistics

Two days later...
Woke up in the middle of the night yesterday dreaming I was paddling :-). Pitch-black, I could not get my head around to where I was and what was happening. Feeling the matress with my hands I was clearly not in the kayak but this was not the tent either. After a confused couple of minutes I finally realised I was at our summer house, sleeping in a normal bed, the blinds pulled down. Being so used to the tent and it never being dark up north it was really uncomfortable not seeing anything and not being able to orient myself. Guess it will take a couple of days before my mind is back on track (have also been able to convince my husband not to pull the blinds all the way down for a while).
Trying to summarise the trip is not easy, it has been a very varied experience in every sense but mostly a very positive one. To see the entire Swedish coastline and how nature changes along the way in regards to both flora and fauna, with salt water on the west and south coast to gradually go over to fresh water far up north and the alteration that comes with it in architecture of both houses and jettys has been facinating. I've seen so many beatiful places and camped at so many fantastic islands.
The more challanging days have forced me to find mental strategies to just keep going and I've come to realise how much you can choose your attitude. Your mind (at least mine) is easily fooled and choosing to rethink a situation in a positive way will affect the way you intrepret it. When having bad weather like fog, hard winds or rain it's so easy to just think "That's so typical! Fog, when the sun is shining back home!" but I've instead chosen to focus on how lucky I am to have this weather today and not for example four days ago when I did a big crossing. That has made a great difference for me and stopped a lot of negative thoughts and sulky behaviour while paddling. Distractions are also good, listening to music or singing or just trying to think of something completely different. When having strong head wind I've tried to think that every paddle stroak will bring me forwards, if just a little bit, while sitting on the beach or in the tent won't.
The good days I've just had a sense of complete happiness and harmony and have relished every moment. There has been quite a lot of these days and I've come to realise I really like being able to have everything with me that I need and to just pack it all up in the morning and continue without leaving any trace behind. It's such a nice contrast to everyday life when stuff and gadgets are plentyful and almost seem to consume us, you don't need that much really to live comfortably. With that said I don't deny I've highly appreciated being able to stop at nice restaurants or cafes and enjoyed the comfort these places have provided. The contrast though between this and the simple life in the tent have made these experiences so much more memorable and brought the enjoyment to another level.
I've also been very lucky with not having any physical pains or problems during the trip except from swollen and stiff fingers and a rash on my butt :-) (probably from sitting in damp or wet clothes all day every day) but nothing that have affected my ablilty to paddle.
So when you finnish something like this you always get the question if you'd ever do it again and well, yes I think I could and would appreciate a repete run along most of the coast if I could only skip the coast of Halland and Skåne. I found this part boring and monotonous to paddle and way too overcrowded to comfortably be able to sleep in a tent, extremely shallow water hundreds of meters out from the shore (standing in knee-high water in the middle of one of these bays having lunch next to the kayak, not being able to get ashore will stay in my memory forever) and just beach after beach most of them very similar looking. I think this part is better enjoyed from land.
In this last post (there might be one more when I hopefully get approved by the HBB jury sometime during the upcoming autumn) I would like to thank everybody that has followed my journey here on the blog or on Facebook and all the great inspiring comments you've given! Everybody I know and don't know, all friends, family and colleagues.
Special thanks to:
All the people along the way that offered me a place to stay the night and fed me delicious food. Highly appreciated!
Joe, old friend from New Zealand who visited us last summer and whos inspirational motorcycle journey around the world got me thinking about this trip again and made me realise that it is possible to follow through on desired projects. You just have to decide to go for it.
The two Annas (Anna D: personal trainer and Anna G: physical therapist) that kept my body in shape and got me ready for this trip.
Kajaksidan and Jörgen Kard for help with finding a suitable kayak and paddle and a lesson improving my paddling technice.
And last but definitely not least, my family, Erik, Carl and Ebba for being supporting from the start of the idea that I would be away from you for such a long time to do this!!! I owe you big time!!!

Some final statistics:

Total number of days: 61
Active paddling days: 55
Total distance: 2416 km

Of those 55 days I had:

Tail wind: 21 days
Head wind: 23 days
Side: 6 days
Mixed winds: 5 days
Days with no wind or winds below 2 m/s: 0 days
Mostly sunny: 28 days
Mostly rainy: 4 days
Days with thunder: 6 days

Curiosities

Total hours spent in the kayak: 388 hours
Average speed: 6,2 km/h
Approximate number of paddle strokes: 1 490 000 (based on 64 strokes per minutes)

torsdag 21 juli 2016

Gear List

Since the first day in Svinesund the plan has been to post a list of all gear as soon as I had a day where I could not paddle and nothing else to do. That day luckily never came!

So now when I'm finnished and have a bit more time at my hands, here it is:


Paddling

Kayak, World of Kayaks 500
Paddle, Greentip Ray Wing
Paddle, KajakSport Sea Performance
Lifejacket, Hiko Swift
Paddle leash, Outlife
Paddeling cushion, Skwoosh
Poogies, Suzy
Sprayskirt, World of Kayaks
Float, Outlife
Bilge pump, Outlife
Deck Compass, Silva
Maps covering the entire coast (Calazo + homemade covering the rest of the coast)


Camping

Tent, Hilleberg Allak
Sleeping bag, Katmandu
Sleeping bag liner, Macpac
Bed roll inflatable, Exped
Inflatable pillow, Exped


Electronics

1 powerbank with solar charger
3 powerbanks (mAh tallied up: 32 000)
iPad mini
iPhone
Chargers to iPhone, iPad and all powerbanks
Selfie stick and remote shutter to iPhone (never ever in my life thought I’d own a selfie stick :-))



Cooking

1 outdoor kitchen, Trangia
1 multifuel burner, Primus
2 liters of petrol
Kitchen kit, Sea to Summit
Cutlery, Sea to Summit
Sealing clips
Zip lock bags
Rubber bands
Knife
Matches
Foldable Kitchen sink, Sea to Summit
Pack tap (waterbags, 6 + 10 L), Sea to Summit
Rubbish bag, Klättermusen


Clothes

3 singlets, Icebreaker
2 sport tops, Icebreaker
4 pairs of underwear, Icebreaker
2 t-shirts, Icebreaker/Macpack
1 long sleeved t-shirt, Icebreaker
1 fleece jacket, Haglöfs
1 pair of gloves, Craft
1 pair of pants, Colombia
1 pair of shorts, Icebreaker
1 short skirt, Icebreaker
1 pair of short tights, Icebreaker
1 pair of short tights, Nike
1 downjacket, Macpack
1 goretex jacket, Norröna
2 bandanas, Buff
1 goretex rainhat, Galvin Green
1 pair of wollen socks, Smartwool
2 pairs of ordinary socks
1 pair of sneakers, Nike
1 pair of sandals, Merell


Hygiene, first aid

Allergy tablettes
Pain killers (diklofenak gel + paracetamol tablettes)
First Aid Kit
Sunglasses, Oakley
Sunscreen
Leukoplast tape (to cover blisters)
Tweezers
Tic2 (tic remover)
Aloe Vera gel
Shampoo, conditioner, soap
Nail scissors
Toothbrush +  toothpaste
Packtowel Sea to Summit
Toiletpaper (in ziplock bag)
Pocket trowel Sea to Summit


Food (at start, complemented as needed)

Freeze dried food, 32 portions
Flour
Nuts
Rasins
Dried apricots
Digestive crackers
Canned beans, lentils, tuna and tomatoes
Garlic
Sundried tomatoes (vaccum packed)
Dried sausages, Cabanoss
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Spices
Pasta
Peanut butter
Soft cheese on tube
Rye bread
Powdered milk
Musli
Fruit
Vegetables


Miscellaneous

3 IKEA bags (for transporting gear between the kayak and the tent)
Dry bags lots in different colours, Sea to Summit
Reparation kit for the kayak
  • Plastic padding Glass fibre plaster
  • Sanding papers
  • Plastic padding gel coat repair
Extra rudder
Camelbak water container
Deck of cards

onsdag 20 juli 2016

Day 61, July 19. Done!

From: Seskarö
To: Vitikari udde, Haparanda
Distance: 22,5 km
Total distance: 2416 km
Wind: N 3-8 m/s
Weather: Sunny, 20 C
So today was my last day, only had a bit more than 20 kilometers to go and despite head wind that should not be a problem.
Started my morning by having a shower (found one just next to the toilet provided by the harbor, the door was open and there was no fee) to spare my family who would have to spend the rest of the day with me in the car.
Got going about a quarter to nine and took my time this morning to really go slow and enjoy it. Passed under the bridge to Seskarö and after a few more hours turned up towards the mouth of Torne River.
The current here was visible when looking at seaweeds and rocks and all of a sudden I was more or less stuck in an area with very dense seaweed. Had to get my rudder out of the water to actually move forwards. When finally getting out of this place and a little bit further I saw them!
My family was standing there on Vitikari head with balloons cheering. It was an amazing feeling! Got out of the water and up to the cairn, put my hand on it and had the compulsory photograph taken.


That cairn is actually placed in the middle of a garden belonging to a small summer house so it did not at all look as I expected. Just as everyone else is saying the mosquitos are nasty here and to get out of here as soon as possible I reckoned I found a great spot just a kilometre up the river where there was a place to get the car all the way down to the water. It was not a great idea... The current made paddling up the river extremely hard work, at one point I thought I'd have to just give up and go back but the thought of that got my blood pumping and I managed to get to the shore, exhausted.
The rest was done in classic Omberg/Blomberg family-style, got all gear in the car, the kayak on the roof racks and drove all the way back to Stockholm, keeping stops to a minimum, arrived safely back home 11 hours later. We managed to pass the Höga Kusten-bridge at sunset and view was definitely worth a stop, this must be the most beautiful bridge in Sweden!
Today's route:

tisdag 19 juli 2016

Day 60, July 18. So close!

From: Strömmingsören
To: Seskarö
Distance: 56 km
Total distance: 2383,5 km
Wind: SW-NW 2- m/s
Weather: Mostly sunny, heavy shower around noon
Great sunny morning and an early start, yes! Started this day by paddling a lot of open sea and the conditions were perfect, sunny and light wind from southwest. The last couple of days I started listening to the Swedish radio show "Sommarpratarna" and getting entertained by all their stories the hours and kilometres pass by quickly and easily.

I had a loosely set goal today and that was to reach Seskarö so that I could have a great last meal at Seskarö Wärdshus. I've visited a fair number of nice restaurants during this trip and to top it all off by eating at another one recommended by "The White Guide" I reckoned was a great way to end it all. By lunch it was looking good and I realised I would be at Seskarö around half past five 😀, sweet!
The paddling during that afternoon was not easy though, the wind was strong and the waves big and just like that within a minute the wind shifted from SW to NW resulting in a very choppy and messy sea with waves coming in on a 45 degree angle from behind from both left and right. I felt like a little piece of floating cork being thrown around in every possible direction. I was still making good progress though and arrived safely at Seskarö at the time I originally estimated (I'm getting really good at this, figuring out how long it will take me to kayak from one place to another 😉). The harbour I thought would be good for getting ashore and camping turned out to be everything but. I ended up on a private little beach just next to it walking up to the house asking if I could park my kayak and pitch my tent for the night, they said yes! Thanks guys! I hope you have a great big family get together!
If you ever pass Seskarö, make sure to visit Seskarö Wärdshus, the dinner was absolutely delicious!!!
Reindear filet with potato cake and a chanterell sauce 😀, yummy!
As I'm sitting here enjoying a fabulous meal my family is on their way up north in the car, the plan is that I will stay put here at Seskarö until they have 4 hours of driving left and then I will pack all my gear and head for Vitikari head where they will great me and this whole trip will be come to an end.
Today's route:

måndag 18 juli 2016

Day 59, July 17. Weather worries

From: Nord-Mörön
To: Strömmingsören
Distance: 50,5 km
Total distance: 2327,5 km
Wind: SW-S, 3-10 m/s
Weather: A bit of everything, sunny, cloudy, rain and thunder, 17 C
Once again a rainy morning that made my start later than I wished for. I figured out a way though not to have to pack a soaked tent. Started wiping the entire canvas with a wettex sponge cloth before I take the tent down and it works like a charm, when I pitch the tent again at night there is no trace of the mornings rain.
When I got in the kayak the sun started shining and I had a good couple of hours before I started hearing thunder from afar and saw very dark threatening clouds moving my way. Doing big crossings in these conditions always have me feeling a bit worried since you never know if the thunder all of a sudden will come your way and also if the wind will pick up massively. But today it all passed and the sky cleared up. I don't know if you can see it in the photo below but the change from dark cloudy skies to clear was distinct and was reflected in the sea in a fascinating way.
My first stop was the harbour at Junkön where I visited the cafe for a very late lunch. Took a walk around the island afterwards and walked by a cool old mill from the 17th century (when paddling passed this when I arrived I actually thought it was a playground and the mill a replica of the Mumin- house 😂).
As I left the wind had picked up considerably and in very good tail wind I continued for a couple of more hours, stopping for the night at another one of the stony beaches. Big pro, it was windy here and I was able to pitch the tent without getting attacked by the mosquitos.
Today's route:

söndag 17 juli 2016

Day 58, July 16. I'm closing in

From: Ole-Vipersagrundet
To: Nord-Mörön
Distance: 52 km
Total distance: 2277 km
Wind: SE-SW: 2-9 m/s
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 19 C
I'm really getting closer to Haparanda now, probably only have three days left after today. It feels both great but also a bit sad. It has been a fantastic trip so far. Some hard times, sure, but mostly I've really enjoyed it.
Had a very late start today, there was drizzle all morning so I let myself sleep 'til 9 am and then just hanged in the tent until almost lunchtime. Got in the kayak at half past twelve 😱😀. The pro of having such a late start was that the wind had also turned over to more southerly and that means tailwind!
Had a first short leg before I stopped at Pite-Rönnskär for coffee and to have a look at the famous Heidenstam Lighthouse that actually first was in use at Sandhammaren (the southeastern head of Sweden that I paddled passed day on day 17) and then moved all the way up here.
After that it was time for another evening paddle but this time not as calm and pleasant as usual, strong winds, dark clouds and big waves had me staying alert! Specially when rounding the heads since most of them end with a long spit of rocks, heaps of them hiding under the surface when you think the coast is clear.
When getting out of the kayak the mosquitos thought it was pay-back time for yesterday's absence and was waiting for me ready to finish me alive. I worked out a good routine for these late evenings to stay sane, first mosquito repellent on before I even leave the kayak, then dry clothes that covers everything but hands and face, get the cooker going to boil water, while waiting the 10 minutes for the food to get ready pitch the tent and get all the gear in. Then finally eat inside the tent that is warm, dry and mosquito free 😀!!
Today's route: