Min kajakverkstad

About me and kayaks

Swedish version.

I imagined that under the circumstances it could be adequate to introduce myself an my relationship to kayaks. After all, what would be the purpose of creating this site if not writing about yourself?

I start off with one of the few selfies I have ever taken. The other one includes also a horses muffle, which would not be appropriate in this context.

It was not until afterwards I was told that selfies ought to be photographed slightly from above, you are more picturesque from that view they claimed, don’t get as big a nose for instance.

Below, I will tell you a bit about myself, focusing on how I got into kayaking, where I am right now concerning paddling and what my ambitions are.

My paddle story

The first time I came into contact with a kayak was by seeing one in a picture. Don’t remember exactly how and where, but it must have been in a magazine or brochure and likely in the late seventies or early eighties.
The photo displayed the kayak model Hurricane Tracer. Only a few years ago i realised that this model is still on the market and I have rented it on a few occasions for nostalgic reasons.
I find the skegg control malplaced though, I hit it with my thumb every other paddle stroke, a Tracer will never end up on my shopping list.

The economic situation of a teenager didn’t allow a purchase back then, but there were something with the lines of a kayak that appealed to me and this feeling has been with me since.
After attending a course in windsurfing, 1984 or so on a vaccation in Greece, I got myself a surf board instead. This was during the boom where these were starting to be generally available also to non-nerds, and it was not as big a deal as getting a kayak. This never became a passion though.

For some reaseon, the underlying need for a kayak surfaced again around 1990. Found a second-hand piece in an advertisment. Went for a trip to the vendor, payed cash and got a bathub made in Germany back with me on the roof rack of my car.

The sticker says Bavarian Boote, don’t know any details about the craft but the cockpit is humongous and there is no possiblity to get into contact with the kayak except the bottom of the seat and the rattly aluminum rudder pedals.
At that time, I had no knowledge about this contact beeing crucial for more ambitious paddling. With my present, slightly improved, competency of kayaks I assess that the target group for the Bavarian boat was German families on vaccation, keeping the craft on top of the mobile home in case a little lake happened to be situated beside the camping site.

Das Boot was mostly used in the creek Nissan, I was living in Halmstad at that time, and in case of perfect weather conditions for some occasional trip to the island Tylön in the sea just outside Nissan’s outlet.
I stored it under the balcony of my ground floor appartement and pulled it by hand on a home made trolley.
This kayak is still around, despite the fact that it was completely useless. But never used nowadays.

It had more than a fair share of shortcomings, but still it was Das Boot who got me hooked on kayaking for real when it finally ended up in the family’s summer house in the archipelago of Blekinge.
By then, I had started to realise the kayak’s limitations. But under a short sunset cruise, with the city of Karlskrona’s skyline in silhouett, the sea flat as a mirror and six mighty swans in a perfect V-formation taking off from the surface just in front of me, the atmosphere and the wildlife experience elevated kayaking into an entirely new game.

Despite this, paddling did not get off the ground for quite some time yet.
Life came in between.

Not until my daughter Mimmi eventually, we are now sometime around the year 2014, became old enough to appreciate the important things in life we joined a short guided paddle tour with rented kayaks.
A few hours of paddling where I got the oportunity to try out some real kayaks made all the difference. Even Mimmi appreciated the excursion more than I had expected.
Later that year I bought a more adequate kayak of my own, a Prijon Marlin.

In 2015, my mother bought a kayak for Mimmi and my sister Jennie to time-share . They chose a Prijon Touryak. The picture is from an over night tour in 2016.

A few years later, I also got myself a Dagger Stratos, partially to learn paddling without a rudder, partially because I wanted a neater kayak with a little bit mor playfulness for my ambitions to go out into the waves of the Baltic Sea at home in Skåne.

Present paddling status

I have been paddling for quite some years now, but it hasn’t been very intense. Even now, with two kayaks in store, the majority of my kayaking is concentrated to the short periods during summer we spend in the summer house.

Consequently I am still much of an inshore-nice-weather-paddler.

The main reason for this, apart from the lack of continuity, is that I am stuck in my comfort zone. If you don’t challenge the limits now and then, it is very difficult to develop.

A double-edged example of this is that I have never capsized unintentionally while paddling.
This would be positive from a safety perspective, I obviously know my limitations and stay on the safe side of them.
But it would be negative from a developmental point of view, indolence bordering to cowardice.
Seems like, in order to get any further, I must come out of the comfort zone now and then, challenge myself and be a bit more playfull in situations where it is sound and safe.

I am also totally self-taught, which of course slows down the development conciderably. The summer of 2018 we, my sister and I, decided that it would be a good idea to get some external input on our paddling. This would be a good starting point for a more goal-oriented approach to kayaking, and also a verification of the present skills. For all I know, I could be completely useless and a major safety issue out there.

So, we (my sisters initiative really) registered for an examination to the green level of the Euro Paddle Pass, or rather the Swedish equivalent of it.
The exam went well, both of us passed.
So far so good, now we know that we are on the right track even if progress has been much slower than necessary.

The examiner Gunnar from Kajak Kalmarsund AB giving hands-on feedback to Jennie on self rescue techniques after the exam.

Above and beyond…

Paddling ambitions

My paddling ambitions are not defined by quantified goals and targets, they are more like a general direction in which I take one step at a time.

Primarily, I find paddling attractive because it takes place outdoors, is reasonably physical and allow for infinite growth of skills as well as of other more intrinsic aspects.
The latter is an end in itself according to one of my favourite maxims:

An activity in which you
quickly become proficient
is not worth pursuing.

In addition, kayaking is an extremely appealing way of geting wonderful as well as less wonderful wildlife experiences. This is something I have missed since my time in green clothing.

The overall aim is to successively widen my comfort zone to include also paddling during seasons other than summer and in rougher conditions such as the open sea. Solo paddling is included since that is something I highly enjoy.

I know that there are some of you out there that will advise against solo paddling.
On the one hand you can benefit from the assistance of your paddling companions in a tricky situation.
On the other hand there is a risk in trying to keep a group together in rough conditions as well, and you can also be lured into a false sence of safety making you take excessive risks.

Of course, solo paddling requires wider margins when it comes to knowledge, skill and good judgement. But then I’ll just have to go get those things.

In order to keep to my general direction, I have set a first sub goal, which is paddling from Simrishamnt to the eastern archipelago of Karlskrona (from home to the summer house) without having to wait for the perfect conditions or to abort as soon as the waves are larger than match boxes. This sub goal, I think (2018), is a few years ahead.

And I have just finished building a Black Pearl, mostly because i like building things but also for obtaining a kayak that appears to be a challenge in itself and hopefully an aid for further development.
The maiden voyage was extremely promissing, the separate launch report is available in English, but the rest is yet to be determined.

That was all for now, there will most likely (or at least hopefully) be reasons to update this page as time goes by and progress is made.

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