All posts by kristofferv@gmail.com

Guided sea kayak tours + photo workshop in Lofoten

Information booklet in PDF:
Guided sea kayak tours

Click here for our Facebook info page.

 

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Kajakk Nord in cooperation with photographer Tomasz Furmanek, Hattvika Lodge and Ut i Lofoten is inviting you to 5 days of kayaking in Lofoten.

Price: 9.999 NOK
Dates: 27-31 July and 3-7 August 2015

To sign up click here.

Accomodation and base camp will be at Hattvika Lodge, Ballstad in Lofoten. From here we will explore the Lofoten islands on daytrips. All trips will take advantage of the weather conditions. This means we are flexible to choose the best route available to us. There will be opportunities to explore mountains and coastline on foot as well.

Experienced required:
Trips are aimed at beginners and above. You should know how to self rescue and buddy rescue or be willing to learn this after arrival in Lofoten with the guide.  All trips will be held at an appropriate level dependent upon the skill level of the group.

What is included:
Accomodation at Hattvika Lodge in Ballstad Lofoten.
Guided day trips.
A sea kayak (P&H Scorpio, Seabird Explorer, Winner).
Spray deck.
Food, self served breakfast and lunch, ready made hot meals for dinner.

Not included and must be brought:
– Dry suit or wetsuit for paddling.
– Paddle.
– Safety west.
– Warm clothing. Even though it is summer in Northern Norway you should bring a set of warm and windproof clothing, as it can get cold.
– Any other sea kayaking gear you prefer to use which is not mentioned in the ‘what is included’ section.

Photo workshop:
– Photography gear for kayaking: GOPRO , compacts cameras and DSLR’s, Dryboxes and divehouses
– Practical advice for photographing in a wet environment
– Style and composition
– Photographing at sunset and sunrise
– Photographing campsites at night
– Post-processing
– Photography in social media
– Practical tips and tricks

Itinerary (dependent on conditions):
Day 1: Arrival at Hattvika Lodge. Orientation and sorting out sea kayaking equipment.  A trip with the sea kayak for those who have time.

Day 2: Daytrip along the coast.

Day 3: A paddle through Nappstraumen to Vikbukta. We will let the tidal current work in our favour in both directions this day. For those willing, a guided hike to Himmeltinden is highly recommended. This takes approximately 3 hours up and down.

Day 4: Daytrip along the coast.

Day 5: Departure day. One last paddle for those who have time.

Getting there:
There are several ways to arrive to Ballstad. The easiest way is airtravel via Bodø (www.sas.com or www.norwegian.com) and connect with www.wideroe.no to Leknes airport. Leknes have several arrivals with good connections from Bodø airport.

If sea travel is more convenient, Hurtiruten (www.hurtigruten.com/no/norskekysten/) is a good alternative as it arrives the local village Stamsund at 1900 and departures in south direction at 2230

If you travel by car, the ferry (http://www.torghatten-nord.no/english/) from Bodø to Moskenes (Å) is a good alternative. Several departures a day.

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If you travel by airplane or by Hurtiruten, transportation from airport (Leknes) or shipdock (Stamsund) is included. Pickup/ return service is included.

Hattvika Lodge – private restaurant – activities year round!

Hattvika Lodge offers the ultimate facilities for small private groups or corporate business events in authentic surroundings in Ballstad, Lofoten. We offer activities at sea or in the mountains year around and the location is private and only for you!

Ballstad has been fishing for several centuries. The harbour is a safe haven surrounded by wonderful mountain that invites active activities and gives a fantastic overview of Lofoten. Right on our doorstep in Hattvika is some of the best fishing grounds in Lofoten, We say; Welcome Ski & Fishing!

For seakayaking, Hattvika is close to perfect as you have the sea on your doorstep. Right outside Ballstad you find thousands of islets and reefs on the inner shore of Lofoten. We truly welcomes you together with KayakNord and Tomasz Furmanek to this event.

For adittional information see: http://www.hattvikalodge.no/#!home/cotz

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Transit lines

A transit line is a simple way of paddling more effectively. It will let you save time and effort.

A transit line is created by lining up two fixed objects, creating an imaginery line across the water.

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A transit line between the post and the mountain in the background is used to paddle a straight line.

The paddler in the photo above is using a post and the mountain in the background as a transit line. If, from his perspective, the mountain is moving to either side of the post, he knows he is veering off the transit line. The paddler must keep the post fixed at the same spot on the mountain in order to paddle straight.

This simple technique is useful when wind and/or currents are pushing your kayak off your desired course.

 

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Nina the storm

The storm named Nina hit the Norwegian east coast on saturday 10th of january. On the following day a group of sea kayakers went to Saltstein (Nevlunghavn), a place known for surfing and decent waves. Little did we know that Nina had cooked up 4 meter waves and fairly wild conditions.

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Ross Richards is paddling uphill to get out to sea.

 

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Downhill paddling

 

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A 4 meter tall wave

 

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Not the easiest of conditions.

 

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Paddling behind some skerries.

 

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Nearly overwhelmed by foam created by the 4 meter waves crashing against skerries.

 

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A wild day.

 

Here`s a short video from some of the action that day:

 

 

 

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Nærøyfjord

This fjord is located in western Norway and it´s the narrowest fjord in Norway. At the narrowest it´s 250 meters wide while the mountains soar 1761 meters above sea level.

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From a sea kayaking perspective this fjord offers steep mountains, several big waterfalls, great campsites, great hikes, harbour porpoises (phocoena phocoena) and the possibility of having this fjord all to yourself.

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One of the larger waterfalls in the Nærøyfjord.

That last point will prove tricky during the summer months as the small towns of Flåm and Gudvangen are overrun with tourists wanting to see the fjords onboard ferries, speedboats and sea kayaks. Campsites during that period can be packed with boy scouts from Great Britain, while boats full of chinese tourists on a fjord safari sail by your overrun campsite every hour. Not exactly what you expected. I recommend you to visit this fjord outside june and july. The months of April, may, august and september can be great weather wise in this region.

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The Nærøyfjord in May, just before the fjord is overrun with tourists.

There are three different starting points for a sea kayak trip to the Nærøyfjord. The towns of Gudvangen, Flåm and Undredal all offers good starting points. If you have two cars, paddling from Gudvangen to Flåm is possible as an overnight trip. The good bits is basically between Gudvangen and Undredal.

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This campsite is marked as campsite 1 on the map. It is one of the better ones and frequently used during the summer months.
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Campsite 1

There are alternatives to camping on the more well known campsites. If you don´t mind hiking it´s possible to hike up the Stigen homestead and find a suitable campsite above the homestead. Just follow the trail past the homestead and you´ll find suitable spots to camp.

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A possible campsite above the Stigen homestead.

If you keep following the trail you´ll come to the Beitelen lookout point. From here you can see where Sognefjord, Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord meets.

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Beitelen lookout point.

In addition to the many tourists in the fjord during the summer months, other annoyances include the goats near the Stigen homestead. They are extremely keen on nibbling and tasting you and your equipment.

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Nibbling goats.

This fjord is worth visiting in a sea kayak. Check the weather and go outside the busy season and you may have a really good sea kayaking experience.

Depending on how warm your sleeping bag is or how well you manage in colder climates, the months of may to september can be good for being outdoors in this region.

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Source: http://www.worldweatheronline.com

 

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Spectacular scenery in the Nærøyfjord.

 

Here´s a video from the fjord:

 

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Media discovers sea kayaking

My friend and co-paddler on many trips, Tomasz Furmanek, has received alot of publicity from kayaking trips done together with me and others.

His photos captures awesome moments from some of the coolest places to kayak in Norway.

The following media has been running this case recently:

The Daily Mail
The Telegraph
Grind TV
Daily Star
NRK
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Behind the paddle a chat with Tomasz Furmanek

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Rescue scenario

I participated in a sea kayaking symposium arranged by Roar Laugerud from Wannado. Among other topics, rescue scenarios were practiced with the local search and rescue services.

I was lucky enough of to be picked up from the water in what was a quick and comfortable rescue.

 

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Carabiner modification

Sea kayakers use carabiners for various purposes. You might have one on your tow line, throw line or contact cord. Some carabiners come with a nasty tooth at the gate, which can cut or get stuck on the deckline  when releasing the carabiner.

 

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The tooth at the gate can damage ropes or hinder release of the carabiner from decklines.

 

If you have any type of carabiner which you are using on ropes, you can simply file down the tooth with a metal file.

The end result may look something like this.

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Not only will it be safer, it will be easier to release the carabiner from  the deckline.

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kN 22 9 8. 22 Kilonewtons along the spine. 8 to 9 kilonewtons across the gate.

Some claim filing down the tooth will weaken the carabiner strength.  On your carabiner there should be a kN (kilonewton) rating, which says something about the load the carabiner can take along the spine of the carabiner and on the spring itself.

This particular carabiner can take 22 kilonewtons (2,2 tons) along its spine, while 8 to 9 kilonewtons (815 to 917 kilos) across the gate. Filing down the tooth on the gate will probably weaken the carabiner, but is it likely to weaken it so that it becomes useless or dangerous for sea kayakers? Personally I do not think so, as you are likely to stress the spine of the carabiner in a towing situation.

 

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Measuring distance on maps

Marking distance on a map before launching your kayak, makes navigation and decision making while in the kayak easier. Why? Because you can quickly see distance travelled, distance to destination and distance of any alternative routes you might want to undertake.

Of course, when you know the distance you roughly know the time it will take you to travel that distance. I for instance know that I roughly paddle about 5 km/h. I therefore mark distances in 5 km intervals on the map.

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1:50 000 bar scale in km.

Every map should have a scale, which tells you the relationship between a distance  on the map and the corresponding distance in the real world.

I have a 1:50,000 map, where one unit of measurement (the blue grid squares) on the map equals 1 km. Put another way, the map represents the real world at 1/50,000 of its actual size. So, 1 cm on a 1:50,000 map is 50,000 cm (50,000 cm equals 500 meters).

To mark the distance I plan to travel I need something to write with and something to measure 5 km on the map with. In my case I used a tent guy line.

First, measure 5 km on the guyline and tie a knot.

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Tie a knot on the guyline to mark your preferred unit of distance.

Then simply lay the guyline on the map and plot your distance.

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A planned route is plotted on the map.

So after plotting the distance from my campsite to my destination I find out that the entire distance is about 25 km, which will take me about 5 hours. At any time during my paddle, I can check the map to see how long I have to go to my destination or any other point along the plotted route.

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Plotting alternative routes helps decision making

I can even plot alternative routes. Let`s say I wanted to check out the other side of the fjord. I can plot a route to an additional spot. When I get to the crossing of the fjord, I can evaluate if I have the strength or time to pursue this alternative spot.

 

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Fuerteventura and Lanzarote

During august 2013 I decided to go for a solo kayaking trip to Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. These are Spanish islands part of the Canary Islands, located just off the northwest coast of Africa, 100 kilometers off Morocco.

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The guys at Kayak Fuerteventura, helped me plan the trip and rented me a kayak and paddles. Everything else I brought from Norway. This of course included a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, freeze dried meals, clothes, kayaking gear and various other stuff necessary to live off the grid for a few days. I had to buy a stove and gas canister in Fuerteventura, as the one I brought was not compatible with the canisters available in Fuerteventura.

The weather forecast was good for the next four days. However, as I was to find out, the wind would pick up and the waves would be a challenge.

The tide difference would be about 3 meters as it was full moon during my kayaking trip. This I did not consider a risk on this trip. My main concern was wave height, breaking waves and wind. Fuerteventura is known as a haven for wind sports, but high winds would mean big waves and at best hard work, and at worst dangerous conditions. The east coast is in general more protected compared to the west coast, where the coast is more remote, has fewer landing spots, is less populated and more exposed to the sea. Truth be told I want to paddle the west coast, but this is an expedition not done alone, but with a group of experienced paddlers.

My plan was to paddle from Corralejo in the north, over to the south east coast of Lanzarote. I would then return to the sand dunes south of Corralejo and be driven down to Las Salinas and continue on to Las Playitas in the south. The main reason for the drive, was to avoid the less scenic part of the east coast.

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Crossing over to Lanzarote

 

I began the crossing over to Lanzarote in perfect conditions with very calm waters. The crossing is about 12 kilometres and took about 2 hours. I followed the craggy, steep and wild coast until I reached a black beach located about 1 km from the village of Playa Quemada.

East coast of Lanzarote
East coast of Lanzarote
A suitable beach to land on
A suitable beach to land on
First campsite, Lanzarote
First campsite, Lanzarote

 

I returned the next day to begin the crossing back to Fuerteventura. The wind and waves had picked up and I also hit a current moving east. There was a belt close to Fuerteventura where the current was faster and the waves were taller, compared to other places on the crossing. I did feel very small and at some times stupid to expose myself to such conditions. The waves were about 1,5 meters and some were breaking. Looking back I realise I was outside my comfort zone at the time. The risks were in fact higher than what I was comfortable with handling.

Reaching Lobos Island
Reaching Lobos Island

 

In any case I was glad to reach the small island of Lobos, northeast of Fuerteventura. I landed at a sheltered beach, where I met up with Jorge and Juan from Kayak Fuerteventura for a summary of the trip so far. They were there guiding tourists in kayaks. After an update on weather  we departed and I headed on towards the sand dunes on Fuerteventura.

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Meeting up with Jorge and Jose on Lobos island

 

I met up with Juan, who drove me to my campsite where the road ended, south of Las Salinas. The full moon was shining bright and the desert landscape was glowing in its silvery light. It was great sitting there, reflecting on the trip so far.

Campsite number two, Fuerteventura
Campsite number two, Fuerteventura

 

The next day the 1,5 meter waves and strong wind was back, and I had a bumpy ride until lunch time at a wild area called Jacomar. After passing Jacomar the waves and wind calmed a lot down, making the rest of the trip a lot more enjoyable. The landscape was getting steeper and taller. It almost reminded me of the steep fjords we have in Norway, except the landscape here was dry and brown instead of green and wet.

A bumpy morning ride
A bumpy morning ride
Lunch at Jacomar
Lunch at Jacomar
Rock gardens on the east coast of Fuerteventura
Rock gardens on the east coast of Fuerteventura
A fisherman`s shelter at a remote spot on the east coast of Fuerteventura
A fisherman`s shelter at a remote spot on the east coast of Fuerteventura
Punta Del Jurado, Fuerteventura
Punta Del Jurado, Fuerteventura

 

For a change I received some following wind and sea on the last stretch before Las Playitas. I was paddling along at about 10 km/h, double of what I normally do.

I arrived at Las Playitas and Jorge picked up the kayak later that day. Fuerteventura can be a really challenging place to sea kayak. I`ve explored parts of the west coast on foot, and it is wild! A sea kayak expedition there is on my bucket list. I just need someone else to join me for a week or so.

The village of Las Playitas
The village of Las Playitas

 

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Lofoten

Lofoten is one of the most exciting sea kayak destinations to explore in Norway.

During July 2014 Tomasz Furmanek (www.furmanek.com) and I had the opportunity to paddle from the small island of Vaeroy up along the uninhabited west coast of Lofoten to the small town of Ramberg.

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The plan was to paddle from Værøy, cross the Mosken tidal current and explore the exposed west coast of Lofoten.

Værøy is a beautiful island with many sea eagles, puffins, numerous other kind of birds and lots of fish. There are white beaches with no one on them, awesome campsites and fantastic mountain peaks from where you can see Røst to the south and Moskenes island to the North.

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Campsite on Værøy
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Exploring Værøy on foot as the midnight sun is shining
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From a peak on Værøy, looking south.
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Værøy padling

 

On day 2 we had nearly circumnavigated Værøy island and we were ready to begin the crossing of the Mosken tidal current north of Vaeroy. However, the weather had other plans for us, as thick fog and strong wind moved in from the west. Visibility was poor and unacceptable for crossing this tidal current. We had to pitch our tents and wait another 12 hours before conditions were acceptable.

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Landing in thick fog

 

The word maelstrom originates from the Norse word of male, which means to grind. The Moskenstraumen or Mosken tidal current, was in the old days marked on maps with enormous whirlpools and dragons. The phenomenon has also been described by poets, explorers and authors as something very dangerous. It seems this may have created an undeserving reputation, as it is possible to cross it with a sea kayak.
The Mosken tidal current forms between the small island of Mosken and the larger island of Moskenes. As the tide pulls and push a large amount of water through the narrow and shallow Mosken strait, the water speeds up through this overfall. At its strongest the tidal current forms a system of eddies and currents which, given rough conditions, is risky to cross with a sea kayak. However, given low waves, low wind, good visibility and good weather the tidal current can be crossed fairly easily.

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Approaching the Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait.

 

Given that all the risks above are eliminated, there only remains the risk created by the tidal current itself. So how is it possible to eliminate this remaining risk? It is essential to understand how tide and this specific tidal current works.

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Looking over to Mosken island and Moskenes Island from Værøy island. The Mosken tidal current is between the Mosken island and Moskenes island.

 

The tide moves in and out with an interval of 6 hours. So after high tide, low tide occurs after 6 hours.

The flow (speed) of the tide increases with 1/12 of the total difference between low and high tide in the first hour.
The second hour = 2/12.
The third hour = 3/12.
Fourth hour = 3/12.
Fifth hour = 2/12.
Sixth hour = 1/12.

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Landing on the small Mosken island for a break.

 

In Lofoten the total difference between low and high tide is about 3 meters. So in the first hour after high tide, the water level decreases with 1/12 of 3 meters. So the water level will decrease in the following manner:

First hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm
Second hour 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Third hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fourth hour: 3/12 of 3 meters = 75 cm
Fifth hour: 2/12 of 3 meters = 50 cm
Sixth hour: 1/12 of 3 meters = 25 cm

So, knowing this we can see that the third and fourth hour is when the flow of the tide is the fastest, while the first and sixth hour is the slowest. The first and sixth hour is of course when the tide is turning, and hence there will be a brief moment when the tide is standing still before it starts moving in the opposite direction again.

Knowing this we have to find out how the tide behaves locally at the Mosken tidal current. There is a Norwegian Pilot guide (a rather large PDF document, see page 234) which describes in Norwegian the Mosken tidal current in detail. According to the pilot guide, the Mosken tidal current turns 1,5 hours before high tide and 4,5 hours after high tide. Knowing this we can use the tide chart for Bodø and plan to be in the middle of the tidal current either 1,5 hours before high tide or 4,5 hours after high tide.

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In the middle of the Mosken tidal current, low tide.

 

We left Værøy at 10 am and paddled over to the small Mosken island in the middle of the Moskenes strait. At Mosken island we took a long break waiting for the optimal time to make the crossing to Moskenes island.

The crossing itself went fine as all the risks above had been eliminated with careful planning and favourable conditions. The crossing would not have been attempted if any of the above risks had been unacceptable. This place can kill you and it is certainly not worth risking anything, to cross this tidal current. As we were crossing we noticed that waves were moving in a very gentle current. There were a few hotspots where eddies and stronger currents formed. I can imagine these hotspots will be rough when the flow is at its strongest in the third and fourth hour. The waves were mostly 0,5 meters with some 1 meter waves. All in all it went well and we felt in control.

After arriving on the uninhabited and exposed west coast of Moskenes island we landed at Refsvika for a snack and a rest.

 

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Refsvika

 

Our aim, due to pretty much perfect conditions, was to paddle as far as we could in order to avoid being stuck due to bad conditions. So we paddled on towards Bunes beach, which we knew had water and a possible escape by portage to civilisation if conditions turned ugly.

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Reaching Moskenes island after crossing over from Mosken island.

 

The west coast is wild and truly an awesome place to be. There are several large caves and tall, steep, craggy mountains all along the coast.

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One of several caves along the west coast of Lofoten.

 

We arrrived at Bunes beach 11 hours after leaving Vaeroy island. The midnight sun was shining from a blue sky and we were two very happy and tired paddlers sipping whiskey and soaking up the atmosphere.

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Approaching the Bunes beach,
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Campsite at Bunes beach.
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Enjoying the midnight sun view.

 

The next day, fog was forecasted to set in at 3 pm. We knew that part of the trip would be encased in fog, so we started early towards Ramberg.

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We just had to stop at the Horseid beach, it is awesome.
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The fog moved fast at 3 pm, exactly as forecasted.
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Staying close to land due to fog

 

After a couple of hours in the fog, it cleared as the wind picked up. We ended the journey with some following wind and waves, allowing us to surf towards our destination. A great end to a fantastic, challenging and most memorable kayaking experience.

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Surfing towards our destination in Ramberg.

 

Here’s a video from the trip:

 

And here´s a video from a trip done in July 2015 in the same area:

 

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