This week was very interesting and full of program and learning opportunities. The week was spent together with the Norwegian friluftsliv group and the place was an Island on the East-South coast of Kristiansand. The place we stayed at was a combination of old barracks and a commanding base for german officers dating back to the second world war. We were split in four mixed groups of internationals and Norwegians, and each day would contain two lectures/ activities and one night of “island survival”.
Net setting and island survival
Our week started with the island survival and our first mission was to set three massive nets in the sea before heading out to the island. We used rowing boats to set the nets. This was something I had some experience from before as my grandma and grandpa would set nets while staying in our summer cottage in Finland when I was younger.
Important when setting the nets:
make sure that the net is untangled, preferably spread it and go through before setting it into water
When you lay the net in the box make sure that the buoys, and tiles are aligned to avoid tangling while setting
Set the nets from the back of the boat, and start a few meters from the shore and lay in 90 degree angle away from the shore
Preferably set them in the evening and collect the next morning, do not leave for longer than 12 hours in the water
After setting the nets we picked up an island we would stay the night. The purpose of this “exercise” was for us to experience a “survival night” in case we had to spontaneously spent a night in a deserted island due to weather change or such.
After we found the island we started to look for a sheltered place to sleep at because we had no sleeping bags or other proper camping equipment with us. We found a nice spot between the trees and gathered dry twigs, moss and other soft vegetation to build a “mattress” to insulate the coldness coming from the ground. After spending the night, though, it would have been a smart idea to build something on top of us as well, like a little shelter from trees and sticks.
We had some fishing rods with us, so i wanted to keep warm and bring some dinner to the table, and suggested that we would go fishing from one of the rowing boats. After some few hours we had caught, in fact, five fishes. The Norwegians showed us how to gut the fishes, which I had done or watched as a child, but now actually did it myself. I found it really exciting that you could get dinner so easy and in a truly organic way. This really inspired me to catch and prepare some more fish in the future. Other students had collected mussels and sea snails, and we cooked them in the fire and the fish in foil. Everything tasted really good as some of the students had brought butter and garlic with them.
However, as a learning experience, there were a few students in our group who happened to be from the totally other end of thinking when it came to eating meat, and in this case, killing the fish, sea snails and oysters for food. Especially, the other one of the vegan students found it extremely difficult to spend time with the group as there was fishing or catching sea food present every day. It got truly hard for them after spending a lousy night at the island, and they let both the teachers and the students know that they were not okay with this, which led to a bit of drama in the morning.
However, the teachers were very understanding, and after having discussions with them they came up with some sort of agreement on how the vegans could participate without having to handle killing animal for food. In this case, we found it a little rude that we were respecting their choice, but in fact that they would have to respect our choice as well. That the respect, in fact, works both ways.
One of the lectures was about driving bigger boats, and navigating and reading the map of the coastal area. The boat we had was quite simple to steer, with one hand you used for steering the rudder, and the other for adjust the speed.
Important when driving motorized boat:
in areas of settlement the speed limit is 5 knots
When passing other boats, always pass from the right hand side, and do it well in advance
When driving to a jetty, in case of wind drive up against the wind and make a loop if necessary
Approach the jetty in an angle, attach the front rope first and steer the back of the boat sideways to jetty, attach the back rope
the most convenient knots for boating are the slip knots, that are easy to untie fast when leaving from the jetty
Important in sea navigation
know the symbols that indicate scarries, and shallow water
How to navigate in the dark by utilizing the lighthouses
The different meaning of the buoys, poles and where to pass them
The islands that are marked as bird nesting reservoir should not be approached more than 50 meters
Underwater cables are marked and on top of these one is not allowed to anchor
The slower you drive the more time you have for navigation and avoiding risky spots
In the first day we had a kayaking lecture about mainly about the basic kayaking strokes, and this was to be taught to us by a few students from our class. We paddled to a sheltered area so it would be naturally easier to teach without distraction from the wind.
Paddling strokes (unique to kayaking, as I explained the basic strokes in earlier assignment “mountain to fjord trip”)
Draw scully stroke
Low brace: this is when you are about to lose balance. To avoid capsizing raise your elbows to put the paddle in right position, flick your hips first toward to centre of a kayak, and push the paddle flat in the water
Curving: when you want to steer the kayak without breaking the speed. Here you lean on the opposite direction from when your turning, and lift the knee of inside the kayak to the wanted direction, and the kayak would turn, for this you need some speed to make it work
once capsizing take immediately hold of your kayak and paddle so they won’t drift away, the other kayakers should form a raft (preferably 2 kayaks at least) and they should get a hold of your kayak and paddle. As soon as the kayak is in hands of the rescuers (in case of cold water) a casualty should climb on top of the kayaks to get out of the water as soon as possible while the rescuers lifts the kayak and empty it (see picture).
For the other day of kayaking, me and another student from our class had a task to plan a half a day kayak trip on Thursday. The wind had been quite strong the past days (10-14 m/s at strongest), and therefore when planning the trip we were a little cautious with the plan, even though the forecast seemed to be the best so far for our day. We checked the direction of the wind and as it was blowing more or less from southwest. With this information we decided the direction for our round trip so that when we would paddle in the open seaside the we would have the wind on our back. We also checked spots for stops which would be a little sheltered coves or bays along the way, and they would also work as our escape routes.
Other things we considered was naturally the level of our group, which reflecting to the first kayak lesson from before seemed to be relatively consistent and good. We would have one of us (guides) paddling and leading in front and the other in the back keeping an eye that the group would stay together and help if anything was to happen. I think especially when kayaking on the sea it seemed very important to stay as a tight group because of the more rapid changes due to the weather.
However, as the weather turned out to be really nice in the morning (wind between 6-10 m/s) our teacher suggested that we would have a little bit more adventurous trip and take a route that would expose us more to the open sea. We agreed and could combine it easy with the original plan.
I think in overall our trip was quite successful. A few learning points were when some more adventurous paddlers in our group wanted to make an extra loop while others were waiting close to the rocks. In this situation Kyle stayed with the stationary group and I did the loop with the others. After the loop they wanted to do another one, but then our teacher reminded that it might not be the best for the stationary group to stay so close to the rocks as the wind was blowing them against the shore. Another thing was when we paddled on more open area to keep the rest of the group on the lead paddler’s further side from the shore to avoid drifting too close to the shore/ rocks. I think in overall we had quite autocratic leadership style, but i think the circumstances had a big effect on us adopting this style. We always asked if what we suggested was ok to the group, but we didn’t give much options for the group to decide. But again the wind was blowing quite hard at some points, and if given more power to the group to decide, there was a chance for drifting and potential danger. As soon as we were in more sheltered parts of the route we allowed a little bit more room for play and “relaxed” paddling.
Discovering the sea bottom
We had two day lectures reserved for exploring the sea bottom, and seeing what we could find and especially what we could eat. For the first lecture we headed for this bay in the picture. In addition to the cool suit, we had some nets, underwater binoculars, and buckets with us. We walked around and tried to find mussels, oysters, snails, different seaweed, and whatever we found that would be interesting.
Me and Kyle ready to explore the sea bottom with our professional outlook
After exploring we gathered to figure out what was what, and we had an amazing biologist with ut for these lectures, who you could basically ask anything related to the biology of things we found, and he would know.
After exploring what we found, the teacher had boiled some common mussels, and sea snails and we tasted them. They were quite salty but eatable. We learned that the common mussel is to be eaten with some caution, as some of them carry some poisonous stuff. One should look from online the areas where the mussel can be eaten and where not.
This weeks was definitely a very special and unique one, especially that there were so many of us staying in the island. The teachers were great, and the atmosphere in general good. This was probably my favourite trip of all the trips.