Coastal course

We have already had a lot of student organised trips with the Norwegian students before. After the sea kayak paddling week we went to a coastal trip together again. All of my classmates and some of the Norwegians took part in the program. We learnt about using the sea and coastline as an area of learning, development and experiences in diverse user groups. We gained knowledge about boat and sea safety, sea laws and regulations on sea travel, navigation, principals of sailing and first aid. So we have already known a lot about life in the eco-systems of the sea and tidal waters.

On Monday we met at 1000 at Kongshavn in Kristiansand. As everybody got there we loaded a big boat with our staff and travelled to the place where we were staying by ferry. This place used to be a military area. We got some informaton about the island and had a short tour after arrival. Then we packed out and had a lunch break. My place used to be a hospital but it was quite modern. The hospital was necessary on this island because plenty of soldiers used to lived there. By the way, I was surprised about this information and also it was in really good condition.

In the afternoon, my first activity was sea kayak paddling. I was really happy with that because we have already learnt how to paddle. Some of us in the group was responsible for teaching basic paddling techniques. We met at 1400 and went for practising kayak skills. We were paddling around some islands and experienced different techniques. At the beginning of paddling the weather was nice but quite windy. During the trip, sometimes we had rain and the wind became stronger. However, we were paddling back when we realised we were in a big rainy storm. It was so difficult to control the kayaks and paddle. We didn’t see anything because of the rain. All of our clothes was wet and the kayaks were also full of water. The weather became quite cold. That was the first time when I felt warmer in the sea than in the kayak. Finally, we got the shore without any accidents and changed the wet clothes. Then we had short free time so made and had dinner in the local kitchen.

In the evening, we had a lecture about the island. Our teacher talked about the history of the area and different dangers there. We also went for a round trip in the island and had a look on some special buildings which were built several years ago. The island has a 9000-year-old history and nobody could have visited there before because it used to be closed. Nowadays people can come and use the island because it has been a recreational area since 2014. Our teacher also mentioned dangers so we were warned about sticks and vipers there. There are also several animals on the island which are not dangerous at all. In the end of the lecture, we could have had a look on the top secret command center where soldiers used to control in the world war. There were some original staff which looked really interesting.

On Tuesday morning, we also met at 1000 and went for paddling again. However, all of us has already known the basic techniques so we went for coastal touring. I was responsible for planning the trip and leading the group. I decided paddling round the island Vestre Randoya so it was a round trip. The weather was definitely better than before. In the afternoon, we had a lecture about shallow water biology. We were wading and searching different things in the shallow water and found a lot of seaweeds and sea animals. Species identification was really interesting. I was surprised about so many eatable plants and animals in the nature. We could have tried what do ants and sea snails taste like. After the lecture, we had a lot of free time so we went for swimming and fishing.

On Wednesday morning, we had another lecture about water biology. However, this time we were snorkeling in deep water. It was my first time to try this activity so my pair was an experienced person. Breathing was really difficult since I couldn’t have used my nose. However, breathing under the water was amazing. It was also weird when I swallowed some seawater because I really tried to focus on swimming. We were equipped with a diving mask, a shaped breathing tube called a snorkel, and swimfin. It was a cooler water so we also wore wetsuit. I didn’t find anything interesting but some of us collected seaweeds and sea animals, too. We were discussing what kind of animals we found and then we put them back to the sea.

In the afternoon, we were preparing for the island night. The intention was to be self-sufficient and survive the night on an island. We had to find food resources, animals, snails or mussels to catch. We were allowed to bring one storm kitchen, fishing line, water bottle and matches. Each person could have brought their own personal clothing for a normal day out on the sea. Before the island night, we learnt about line fishing and setting nets. There was a Norwegian student who was responsible for setting nets so she explained it very well. We got a theoretical presentation of nets about various types and sizes. Then we packed in and got boats. Our group was quite big so we needed 4 boats to row. However, some of us couldn’t have handled it since we didn’t get any instruction how to row this boat. Personally, indeed it was difficult. The island where we spent the night was really close. We were so lucky because of the weather and environmental conditions. Also we set the nets and caught a lot of fishes for dinner so we could have made delicious evening meal. I slept quite well because it was not cold at all during the night.

In the morning, we broke camp and started to row back. We had lecture about catch of the day at 1000. Our teacher taught us how to clean the nets and prepare fish. We learnt how to gut a fish, how to scale a fish, how to fillet a flat and round fish. Then we got some tips how to make delicious meal from fish. We decided to make fish soup for dinner. The rest of the day, I learnt how to use outboard engines. This kind of engines is really expensive so we had to be careful and gentle during driving it. We were surprised that we don’t need license to drive this boat. In the evening, I went for a short hike with my Hungarian classmates and discovered the island. We also played football and volleyball and then we ate our special fish soup for dinner.

On Friday, we have a similar schedule with rowboats. We had a short boat trip around Vestre Randoya in beautiful weather. Rowing was difficult for the first time. I was in boat with our teacher so he helped me when I did it wrong. After a while, I got used to that and became better and better. We changed our positions during the trip. Each person could have practiced navigation at sea. We had a short break on an island where we were sunbathing. When all groups got back to the accommodation, we started to clean and tidy up the rooms. I was upset about leaving this amazing place. I got a lot of experiences during the week which I am really proud of. All of Norwegian teachers and students were helpful and lovely all the time. After this coastal course I feel I am more skillful and experienced in summer activities.