Winter paddling to Stevns
(This article is available in English only)
On the 5th of January I launched for a weeklong kayak trip to the limestone walls south of Copenhagen. The winter cold hadn’t really kicked in yet (2° or 32F), but a serious low pressure in the Northsea created some heavy winds. The purpose of the trip was to enjoy life and acquire some cold weather experience. On the trip I would also make a couple of videos. The video part would allow me to test some different techniques for future expedition filmmaking. Here you can read my daily entries posted on Facebook. In the bottom of the page I’ll share some thoughts on what this trip taught me and what mistakes I made.
I had a late start, launched around 10. Leaving the Harbor also took me longer than expected, since I had to stop on the way and do some adjustments. The grand plan was to, get as far down the bay as possible, since this special day offered a weather window of easy changing winds 2-5 m/s or 3-9Knots. That way I would only have half a day of hard paddling before the south coast of the bay would offer me cover, from the strong Southerly winds that would dominate the whole week. But due to my late departure and increasing headwinds in the afternoon I only made it to Mosede beach. Which meant next day would be a long one.
Second day of my week long Kayak trip to Stevns. It’s been a hard day – I’m totally wasted. The weather front that created the beautiful sky yesterday has really kicked in. From Mosede I launched in pitch black at 5 in the morning. My plan was to get a few hours of decent progress before the wind picked up. The dark sea was already moving, and once in a while an odd wave would flush my deck. The lantern on the aft deck gave away my position to other vessels – not that there were any – but I gave a feeling of comfort. The first two hours went well, the last two and a half hour was utter misery! I had trouble keeping warm, my wrist was hurting and hail was whipping my face. As I finally landed at Køge marina I was wasted. Luckily there was a heated toilet with a hand dryer – think I spend 30 min in there…
I left the marina properly dressed and things was fun again, I had some great action in the reflexing waves passing the Harbor. And my Skim Kayak made great progress despite of the 10 m/s from S/SE. Now I’m pitched about 6km on the opposite side of the bay at Stråby Egede. My wrist is sore, but the sack is warm, and tomorrow I’ll have eggs n’ bacon.
I’m sitting in the tent, on the left I hear waves brake on the pebbles, on the right there’s thousands of tiny clicks sounding from the leaf litter… It’s sand-fleas jumping!? Today was easy going, the wind came from over land and I just had to hug the coastline to avoid getting blown out at sea. On the way I stopped for some shopping – people tend to take an extra look at you when you enter a supermarket wearing a dry suit!
The bay of Køge is renowned for it’s big trouts, so I rigged the rod and did some casts on the way – Here my new Kokatat neoprene paddle mitts really came in handy, after operating the rod, I could put my hands back In and they would still be warm.
The weather was very mild and a few rays occasionally broke trough the grey cover. A really enjoyable day.
Now I’m camped at on a tiny beach littered with tree trunks that has fallen from the protruding forrest – this is the perfect setting! Tomorrow I’ll do some filming.
And tonight I won’t be lonely… Quite a few sand flees have found their way inside the tent I see. Click click…
What a wonderful place this is! I’m still camped by Gjorslev and Bøgeskov. As I zipped the tent this morning I was struck by the beautiful scenery and immediately started setting up the film gear. I got a lot of good takes and at 10am I realized that I hadn’t had breakfast yet. What I’m working on is a few short videos for YouTube, where topics such as choice of campsite, sleeping bag usage and multifunctional gear are treated.
Excited about filming, I decided to lay off the kayaking for a day and just enjoy this awesome place – that way my sore lower arm could get some rest as well. In the afternoon I made a small fire while a couple of grey seals foraged about 200m off shore. There was no fish on my bonfire, only a can of chili con carne from Lidl – at 25dkr it wasn’t actually that bad. Tomorrow I’ll continue to the chalky white walls known as Stevs Klint.
What weather! Today was awesome! I got up early, but when raindrops started tapping the tent, things slowed down a bit. As I finally launched the wind had picked up, I had an easy start, fishing on the way to Bøgeskov. A commercial fisherman helped refilling the water bags and gave me heads up on the weather forecast. It was blowing 10-13 m/s from South (right on me nose) and it could get worse. So I strapped everything well in place and put on the neoprene hood before departing the small harbor. Now this might sound like a very unpleasant ordeal, but although it was hard work I felt warm and steady in my Skim, and soon I reached the beginning of Stevns chalk walls. The walls offered somewhat protection at least in the beginning, but as I rounded the last north facing point the waves grew and the wind started pulling the carbon blade. It was hard digging, but the scenery was beautiful, it pored down, the sky was dark grey and the green sea whipped the white walls with foam. It was POWER! After a couple of hours, with some filming on the way, I reached the last point of “secure” water; Mande Hovede. I was tempted to continue straight down south, but it was blowing from east, which meant the next hour the coast would offer little protection, hence potential campsites, and with only two hours of daylight left I made the decision to turn around and camp at a place I had passed 20 min earlier. Arriving at the campsite I felt quite euphoric and wanting for more action, but just pulling the kayak up to safe ground was tooling so I guess it was the right decision.
I’m sitting by the fire outside my new home, a wide-open pirate cave cut by the sea. In here I’m looking forward to have a nice a quiet night well protected from the wind. The last night was a different story, it was blowing 20 m/s or 38 knot! I was really happy that I hadn’t continued down the coast and risked pitching on pebbles with the wind straight in. All the rattling and banging of the tent made me a bit concerned. Although I always make sure to pitch properly I went out and double-checked, but the old Hillebreg tent held fast, and I had an excellent sleep after that. The morning I spend recording on the beach while one fisherman after the other passed by, apparently the conditions are just right for catching big sea trout. When I broke camp at midday I rigged the rod and did some fishing on the way. The wind had changed to W-SW so the limestone walls offered plenty of shelter. The sky and sea was yet again an ever changing palette of green and blue tones, once in a while broken by the winter sun – This place is amazing!
I’m about to warm some stones to put in the sleeping bag so it’ll be nice and warm- and hopefully some moisture will evaporate (note that you heat up the stones and then let them cool a bit so they won’t melt your fiber and nylon! – and remove before going to sleep). It’s really sweet this place! The cave is full of dry driftwood. Tomorrow I’ll do the last of filming and hopefully catch one of them Trout’s!
I’m still in the pirate cave and tonight is the last night in the tent, it’s going to be weird not falling asleep to the sound of waves braking. But then again I’m looking forward to a big bed and central heating. The wind has turned and the flames have changed from sideways to upwards. The filming today was a bit tricky due to the rain but then it was really sweet to have a fire for the brakes.
In all, the trip has been a success. I got the video I needed, got a lot of new experience and enjoyed myself. Simple as it sounds, one of the things that I was the most happy to have brought was a fast drying towel dedicated to wiping moisture out of the tent and the dry suit. Another thing was my new air mattress from Thermarest, it really made my nights super comfortable. And on the water the neoprene paddle mitts from Kokatat kept my hands warm and toasty. But it’s not only the gear that makes a good trip, the ever -changing colors of the sky and the amazing scenery will stay with me forever. Actually, I’ve been really lucky with the weather – or at least the temperatures (it was always a couple of plus degrees) But when I was freezing my ass off and the fingers was numb, it helped to think of some of the written accounts from past polar explorers – Putting things in perspective helps one stop whining.
Tomorrow I’ll paddle to Rødvig, eat some fishcakes and drive back to Copenhagen.
The total distance paddled was about 45nm. My plan to start the first day with a big stretch was a bit too ambitious, and it kind of failed. On the second day I already realized that I wouldn’t have the strength to paddle all the way to Stevns and back to Cph – and still be making lot’s of video. The cold morning on the second day had really drained me and my wrist was bad. The solution was to call a friend and have him pick me up at Rødvig. After that phone call I was relieved. Now I could focus on filming and enjoying myself.
I have a removable Suunto compass on my kayak, on the first day i accidentally moved it without positioning it properly back on, I didn’t notice until I was well off land and had start a longer crossing, luckily I also had my pocket compass and the GPS. But think I’ll fasten a proper compass to my boat.
I had only been paddling with a bend-shaft paddle for a couple of weeks before departing. The lack of training really messed up my wrist and lower arm. Luckily I had my greenland paddle as well.
On the third day I started filming in the morning, at 13:00 I had only a couple of shots left to do but I was hungry, so i went to lunch. When I started filming again the rain began to fall, and I couldn’t complete the last takes. Next time I’ll get all the filming done in one go! – if possible.
On day 5 when I reached Stevns, it annoyed me a bit that I hadn’t plotted any potential campsites into my map, I like to improvise and not to do too much planning, but that day I had liked to have a certain place that I knew would be safe to camp. But then again, my notion was right and I had great sleep although it was blowing 20m/s or 38 Knots of wind.
My daily distances was too short, It allowed med to do a lot of filming and meant daylight on land, but the last days I felt I never really got started before I had to make landfall. I newer got into this nice paddling rhythm. The wind slowed down the progress as well of course.
Always brig a back-up Chorizo.