Randoya Coastal Trip
Aim-Introduction to coastal activities and team development
The Randoya coastal trip consisted of 5 days of coastal activities which included sea kayaking, rowboat, powered craft, coastal biology and island overnight trip. The trip was a good change from the usual winter environment that we had become accustomed to the previous months and the week provided a lot of new knowledge. We were split into group, integrated with the Norwegian students for the week, which would be interesting as the two classes did not socialise outside the classroom.
The first day of Randoya consisted of arriving at Ostre Randoya, which was a former military base used by the Germans and NATO. After we sorted out accommodation we were straight into activities. I was first to experience coastal biology which was one of the best activities of the week. Our first section of was shallow water biology, which comprised of shoreline exploration finding several marine animal types and vegetation such as various seaweed. On the route to the activity we came across an ant hill and the lecturer told us that if ants are aggravated they urinate which is acidic and can be consumed. This experience was a bizarre and rather strange for me however it taught me techniques that could be useful in a survival situation. Whilst searching for marine life with found several oysters, which are a luxury in many cultures and the friluftsliv agenda allowed us to forage these luxuries. After 1hr we looked at what we collected, which the session was then run by Norwegian students who oversaw the activity. We found a whole array of species which was interesting to know little bits of information about them. After we had concluded the biology session we tried sea snails which were prepared by the lecturer and weren’t too bad. I had my first taste of sea cabbage which tasted good surprisingly. The day was good start to full and active week. Later in the evening we experience the tunnel systems of the island and various ruins from the second world war and the old NATO base inside the hill which was designed to protect against nuclear war. The evening was spent playing volleyball and socialising with the Norwegian class.
We began the day finishing the coastal biology, this time however was Deepwater biology. We had full snorkelling equipment and heavy-duty wetsuit due to the cold-water temperature despite being summer. Once kitted up our objective was to find as many forms of marine life in seaweed, coral beds and rock coves. Were free to explore most of the area which was rich and full of life. I found several small fish and starfish, were interesting to examine their biological structure and appearance and later once examined them as a group we found that the starfish were all common starfish however with very differing appearances. We examined all the life that was collected and found variations of crab, clams, shells, seaweed and fish. It was very useful to hear the lecturer’s information on marine biology in more depth due to my knowledge being basic due to my experience from the coast. It is a great activity with groups and especially young children as you can link science or other relating subjects to make it more engaging and out of the classroom learning. From early afternoon, we prepared for our island overnighter. We received instruction on how to set the nets for our catch of the day, packed what we would have on a day trip. This meant we weren’t allowed the use of sleeping bags for the overnighter and other basic camping equipment. We had the use of rowboats to get us to a destination which was a challenging task due to myself, Timon and Max being placed in a boat who have had hardly any rowboat experience. There was strong headwind but once we got the rhythm and pace set it came with ease. We were unsure on how to set the nets as it was also our first time doing it. Once we had set the nets and docked it was time to find a suitable camping spot. The first one was alright however was prone to dampness and insect heaven. We found another spot that was more sheltered however was uneven. The group decided upon a vote and this came with some tension. I was not bothered as it was for only 1 night but the second camp won but some were unpleased. This shows a perfect of the storming phase in group development as people tried to test the other people position and points of view. The rest of the day consisted of fishing and setting up camp. Later that night we had a feast of fish, soup and mussels. The night’s sleep wasn’t very pleasant and the following morning many people were ready to leave as soon as possible. When we collected the net we, a large cod, plaice and several pollock which was a good moral booster for members of the team.
We started the day by de-fishing the nets and cleaning them due to large amounts of seaweed and debris being caught overnight. Once this was completed, we began to gut and fillet the fish we caught. This was my first experience of gutting and preparing a fish and it’s safe to say I was not a natural. The standard procedure to cut in from the head about ¾ of the way then open the body without piercing the intestines as this can spoil the fish. After removing the organs, you can start to fillet the fish by cutting down near the head on the flank of the fish and following the spine down to the fillet comes off. I was not a natural at this however after some practice I started to get better at it. Once all the fish was prepared it was time to store it for the evening meal. Our afternoon activity was powered craft round the local area. This was good chance to increase my experience with powered crafts and open sea vessels. I was in charge steering the craft for the first leg which was at times frustrating due to the lecturer being condescending and arrogant. The conditions were choppy out at sea which made the experience more enticing due to the waves crashing over the boat, however this was not received the same by the lecturer. The navigation was straight forward and easy to navigate. Once the 2nd team took over we had the chance to learn various knots related to seamanship. Once we docked we had a quick de-brief which was pointless personally as we touched on everything that was mentioned whilst on the journey. Day 3 was a good however was ranked last for most enjoyable day of the Randoya week.
The aim for day 4 was focused on man powered craft with row boating and basic sea kayaking. This day was one of my favourite of the week. We started the day with row boating learning the basic principles and commencing on a small tour around the area. It was once again a humorous experience as I was situated with Max and Timon with the addition of Andreas one of the Norwegian students. At around half way we stopped and had a mini lecture on knots and how to secure to a jetty. We were met by some Norwegian children who were on an adventure with the Red Cross who provided coastal weeks for children from the very north of Norway. Once we returned to the base, we had a mini de-brief and used the knots we learnt to securely attach our boats to the dock. The afternoon consisted of basic sea kayaking which put me into my natural habitat. The session was led by Berit and Eliska, where we performed strokes such as a low brace, skulling for support, forward and backwards and pull and draw. The session was not thought through thoroughly and people became bored. The lecturer came up to myself and Timon to take charge where we taught edging, bow and stern rudder. The group were a lot more engaged and too round of the session we had a game of tag which resulted in myself being capsized which then the group had to react to performing a rafted rescue and getting me back into my boat. This was to slow for requirements as at sea you need to be switched on and react quickly.
The final day of the Randoya trip and it was myself, Max and Timon turn to lead a sea kayaking day trip. The chosen route was not strenuous and was easy to navigate as we gave navigation responsibility to other members in the group, encouraging and slightly forcing them to develop their own skills. The route was quite protected by coves due to the choppy water and high winds we had for the first 4 days however it was the calmest day of week. There weren’t any complications along the way and we back at base with plenty time to spare. The leadership style was mostly democratic and laisse faire as we were with a group of people who had previous paddling experience and we did not have to take full control at any points.
The Randoya week was a very enjoyable week that presented me with some new experiences, a full exposure to Norwegian coastline activities which are very popular during the summer with many sailing and fishing etc. Although we were mixed with the Norwegians we still didn’t have a brilliant bond as the feeling was that it was more like business or task oriented bond, for the sake of the week.