Monday, April 28, 2008

Stockholm Archipelago is made up of something like 25,000 islands. Or maybe 100,000, it depends on whom you ask. Last Friday, I set out to visit 30 or 40 of them. My trip began with a drive to Bjorkvik, where I delivered six Point 65 kayaks to Pierre at Kayakriet. A cool guy with a rambling compound of farmhouse, barn, yurt, tipi, Pierre runs an outfitter shop and has big groups come in for courses during the summer. His beautiful spot sits on a spit at the edge of the archipelago, perfect for launching a trip. I borrowed a boat from him, as well as the very crucial chart and compass and set off for a day trip.
From a distance the hundreds of island blend together and seem to form one unbroken horizon of land, but by taking bearings and following them I soon was finding my way around. I always love trying to hit a very specific spot on a chart by following a given heading. With little wind and almost no tidal current, I was right on course, heading out to the beacon at Bjornoon and croosing the sound to the big islands of Uvon and Morto, and the big cliff knob called Mortoklobb.
From there, I wound my way through some more little islands, on a course for a tiny little channel Pierre had shown me on the map, cutting between the islands of Angskar and Jungfruskar. I was sure I had landed in the right cove, but there was no passage, just tall water grasses. I almost left but saw a little break in the grass and poked the nose of my kayak into it. Sure enough a little passage way opened up and lead me back out to the open water. It reminded of this special place in Glacier Bay where you can sneak through a slough at the highest tides( which in August come around the witching hour) and end up flushed into Skidmore Bay. I hope to do it again this summer with students on an IWLS course.
I kept paddling from island to island, enjoying the day and the lack of people, plus all the birds.
I saw lots of eiders, murres and other ducks and my first ever sea eagle(Haliaeetus Albicilla), a close cousin to our American Bald Eagle.
Finally reaching the end of the archipelago at Gaston, I stopped and cooked some lunch, the open Baltic sea spread out before me.
From there, it was south to Gillinge, and into a cove dotted with cute houses. Pierre was actually paddling here with two girls to check out a spot for a future Point 65 trip and take a sauna.
I was hoping to run into them, but there is only so much one can reasonably expect from life. So, it the beautiful evening light and a bit of wind chop I set course back to Bjorkvik, making a couple big open-water crossings on the way, and arriving back at the car exhausted, hungry, cold, and elated.
As I drove from the take-out I was treated to a great view of a cow Moose, munching grass on the roadside in the fading light of day. And then back to the city....

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Breakfast: Cardboard and Capppucino

You will not find a finer coffee making device at any kayak shop, anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stockholm Sailing

On Saturday morning, I went with my colleague Paul to this lovely little marina filled with Hobie Cats. We scrubbed the Swedish winter off of one of them, and rigged and launched it.

Paul, "The Flying Dutchman", a former world-class rower is now entered in a world class Hobie Cat race from Stockholm to Finland and back. He has no business doing this. So begins his "training".

I got to hang in the trapeze, a new experience. We had some great puffs of wind and the boat really took off. Too soon, it was time to return to work and rig the trailer for Gothenburg.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What the Hell am I Doing in Sweden?

It all started a couple months ago, with a kevlar sea kayak smashed to bits on I-10 in western Lousiana, an event so painful it was not reported on this blog. Despite that, the story bounced around the world through other channels. The kayak world is fairly small, it turns out.
While searching unsuccessfully for another kayak to put on the roof of the Fried Piper, I got in touch with Richard Ohman, who, with his brother Thomas, owns the Swedish kayak company Point 65. I'd met Richard last spring at a kayak symposium in San Diego. Nigel Foster, a recurring character on this blog, introduced us. Nigel had just begun his new role as designer for the company. The three of us, and nine other paddling characters, enjoyed a trip to Baja after the symposium for some fun rock gardening and seafood. Richard thrust his card at me late night outside a restaurant in Ensenada and jumped in his rental car for a midnight run to LAX and on to China to check up on production.
Since it seems I'm in the road tour business, Richard asked me to come to Sweden and tour around with the Point 65 fleet, doing some demos and shows and such. Also, I'm spending some time at the flagship store in Stockholm, Pampas Kajak, helping to develop an instructional program and doing whatever else needs doing. On the side, I hope to get myself in shape for summer after a winter sitting on my butt in the Fried Piper, listening to NPR podcasts.

Road Trip to Gothenburg

The Swedish version of the Fried Piper is not at all fried. It runs on petrol that costs nearly US$10 per gallon.

A busy day of work, testing some gear
at the last island in the archipelago, with the open North Sea beyond.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Mount Saint Mary's

I gave a presentation at this stately Catholic school in Maryland yesterday. Pulling around the back during an afternoon break, I found about three hundred gallons of sweet sweet used vegetable oil, and the school was happy to give me some. Interestingly, the two theological schools I visited on this leg of the tour, MSM and Montreat, each had cups which runneth over with grease.

The largest stone obelisk in North America

Goin' boatin' with Johnny and friends

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My newest cousin

Radford University

Lynchburg College

Running Rivers in Virginia

This is Gordon, my paddling partner for a day on the Maury river at Goshen pass, Virginia. It was pretty bony, with a lot of bouncing over and careening off rocks, but still a beautiful way to spend a day off in the rolling hills near Lynchburg, VA.