All posts by kristofferv@gmail.com

Why risk is necessary

Why would anyone in their right mind paddle in 4 meter waves or rockhop over skerries in their sea kayak?  “Because it’s there” said Mallory when talking about his ascent of Mount Everest in 1924. It seems that thrill addiction and adventure is something we humans can enjoy even though risk is present.

The sensation of thrill comes when  endorphins (a hormone-like chemcial) are released into the bloodstream during stressful experiences. Endorphins resembles narcotics such as opium, only without the negative side effects. Humans need a certain amount of stress in their lives to maintain the level of endorphin secretion we have become used to. Some have enough stress as it is, while others have greater needs and seek out stimulation through risk taking adventures.

The brain’s level of arousal depends on the amount of information the brain is receiving. An experienced sea kayaker paddling on flat water might be underaroused. A new sea kayaker paddling in 2 meter waves might be overaroused. This suggest that there exists a level of optimal arousal for each individual.

Optimal arousal

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Optimally aroused

Stages of adventure
Colin Mortlock proposes four stages of adventure a person can experience in outdoor activities:

Play: Absence of fear, fun or boring.
Adventure: Some fear, participant is in total control but challenged.
Frontier adventure: High degree of fear, risk of physical harm and lack of complete control.
Misadventure: Too much fear and failure is likely. Dissatisfaction, physical and psychological damage is likely.

A representation of Mortlock's stages of adventure
A representation of Mortlock’s stages of adventure

“You learn good judgement from experience; you gain experience from poor judgement” – Reg Lake

The qoute above indicates experience is hard to gain without some risk involved. The key is to gain experience without getting into serious trouble.

Sea kayaking involves risk, but so does everything else in life. With too little risk the experience becomes boring, with too much risk the experience becomes dangerous. Risk is therefore necessary to make your experience interesting, challenging and valuable for learning. If you remain within your comfort zone and play you will not grow as a sea kayaker. If you constantly find yourself in misadventures you are likely to stop sea kayaking. With a mix of frontier adventure and adventure you are likely to increase your competence level as you adapt and master new risk levels.

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Source: Simon Priest & Michael A. Gass “Effective Leadership in Adventure Programming”.

Remote beaches in Lofoten

Here’s a short review of some great beaches on the west coast of Moskenes island in Lofoten.

The west coast of Moskenes island is remote and isolated with no roads. Access to these beaches is only through hiking, sea kayaking or boat.

All of these beaches used to have settlements before the inhabitants moved to more central areas in the 1950s.

Some of the beaches are huge and ancient. They have been around a long time and are surrounded by some of the oldest mountains on this planet. They are a bit harder to get to, but they are great to camp on and the midnight sun can create long lasting memories as it paints the sky and landscape orange. Watertemperature? Cold!

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Bunes beach

Accessible by ferry or sea kayak from Reine, Bunes beach is one of the more popular and accessible beaches. It has a fresh water source, toilet and plenty of campsites. Privacy is usually not a problem here as it’s such a huge beach. It’s also possible to hike up to nearby peaks, such as Helvetestinden.

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Looking down on Bunes beach from Helvetestinden.
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Tentview towards the midnight sun.
From Helvettestinden.
From Helvetestinden.
A campsite near Bunes beach.
A campsite near Bunes beach.
With good weather the beach can be spectacular.
With good weather the beach can be spectacular.

 

Horseid beach

Accessible by ferry from Reine and a following one hour hike. This beach is one of the least visited beaches. There is fresh water near the beach. Horseid beach is the largest beach.

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Looking down on Horseid beach from Branntuva ridge, a great hike from Horseid.
Hiking towards Horseid beach.
Hiking towards Horseid beach.
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Exploring the huge Horseid beach.

 

Kvalvika beach

Without doubt the most visited beach, This is mostly due to that it’s easily accessible by a short hike. Kvalvika has also recently received attention from the movie “North of the sun”.  There is a fresh water source on the beach. Excpect many visitors on this beach.

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During summertime you may have trouble finding a good campsite.
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Peaceful one moment and rough the next. Conditions can change within minutes.
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Sea kayaking to this beach is only for those who knows what they are doing. The conditions can be rough.

 

Refsvika beach

Only accessible by boat or sea kayak. A long and steep hike from Å is possible but only for the most dedicated hiker. The beach is small and surrounded by steep mountains. There is a cave nearby with 2-3000 year old paintings. There used to be a settlement here and you can see the remains.

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Sea kayaking here requires planning and preparation. It’s not for beginners.
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One of several caves on the west coast of Moskenes.
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Looking down into a cave on the west coast of Moskenes.
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Inside one of several caves on the west coast.
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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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