Not too long before its start the trip was shortened to a two and a half days tour. This was sad but also meant that we would have to bring and organize less stuff especially less food. Therefore and also because we were more skilled by now concerning trips in general I was very relaxed concerning the planning and packing. (maybe a bit too less thinking about the different conditions this time). The whole group agreed that this time we would be bringing food and cooking together in the groups of the apartments we lived in. This meant that the organization was rather easy as we could just in the evening before the departure pack everything we thought suitable in one big bag and bring it the next day. This gave us a certain variety and we were also hoping for freshly caught fish to make it even better.
Concerning the equipement I brought pretty much the same as I would usually bring for the other trips. This prooved not to be entirely suitable for the more summerly conditions as I will describe more detailed in the following. I also checked the weather forecast for the region and found that it was supposed to be very warm and sunny. Therefore I brought a lot of thin clothes and just one warmer jacket for the evenings. This was also a bit optimistic.
What I learnt
General things to remember for the next trips in a warm season:
- Bring tweezers (!) especially in summer. I forgot mine at home and of course there were ticks everywhere in the grass and in the forest. During this time of the year (early summer) and in this area (woods and meadows) this was to be expected (also in Norway…). So when I had the first one biting me I had to borrow tweezwers to get it off. Then I had to borrow it again to get a small peace of wood out of my toe which also happens easily in summer when one likes to go barefoot.
- Do not trust the weather forecast! Even though it said it would be about 27 degrees warm and sunny every day I was very happy that I also brought long trouseres and a jacket. I ended up wearing them pretty much the whole time since it turned out to be cloudy, windy and a lot colder than expected.
- When putting up a hammock: Do not use trees which ae very far apart (if it can be helped). It is much harder to get tension on it and it is quite possible that even after tightening it with all ones strength ones derriere touches the ground when one moves during the night
- A hammock with a mosquito-net and long clothes can be a necessary/ very nice to have protection against the small bloodthirsty animals of all kind.
- Even if the sun was hidden by clouds from time to time and the wind made it feel rather cold it was helpful to have a hat and wear it especially around noon (preferably one that does not fly away even in stronger wind).
Knowledge from the lectures and practicing
Biology in shallow water can be very interesting since a lot of different lifeforms share this area. We were equiped with brailers, boxes to put the findings in, funnel-shaped plastic things with a see-through bottom which allowed a clear sight in the water even if the surface was rippeled, and some waterproof boots which were attached to waterproof trousers. Then we were sent to explore and have fun wich we did. Since we were the first group having this lesson there was plenty ro find. There were small crabs, one of which was carrying eggs underneath its tail wich is usually folded tightly under the body. This is also a way to tell female crabs, which have a broad tail away from male ones where the tail is thinner and shaped more like a triangle. The crabs were afterwards all set free again. The same accounted for the small moon jellyfish (harmeless to humans) all the plants, most of the snails and shrimp that we caught. Some of the shrimp and the snails were poiled though and we tasted them together with the mussels that we found. Even though snails can always be eaten mussels somtimes filter too many (for humans) poisenous particles and therefore it should always be checked wether it is advisable to eat mussels. There is an app in Norway called „Blåskjell“ meaning „common mussel“ with wich it is possible to check wether this mussel is edible. According to Svein who held the biology lesson if the common mussel is edible so are the others and the other way round. We were lucky to be able and try them. The common mussel, the hard clam and the oyster where all very tasty, especially the last one (unboiled). To open them they were cut through their strongest muscle which is found at the bottom on both sides with a knife.
The snails were in my opinion not as tasty but also not of a bad taste. To get the boiled snails out one was to get their „door“ with which they close themselves off the environment away and pull them out (easiest with tweezers).
Pretty much all of the seaweed was said to be edible as well but most of it would have had to boil for half an hour up to one hole hour. Sugar kelp can also be dried and then produces some kind of sugar on its surface. We learned that many of the different seaweeds were furthermore used for very different products such as animal feed, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals or bioenergy.
After this we went on to find other special plants such as sea cabbage (edible) and some special small red seaweed that could be eaten uncooked.
Rowing sounded rather easy as it was explained to our group: put the paddles through th holding devices on the boat and into the water and pull with the same strength on both sides to go straight, sitting backwards to the direction you are going to. There were two people per boat and while the one in the middle was the „main motor“ the one in the front of the boat was stearing.
But when we tried it we found that it was not quite that easy for us. In the beginning we kept turning unvoluntarily and I (who was responsible for the steering) did not right away find out why. But soon I realized some important things:
- It is important not to steer too much at once. Instead of paddeling so hard on one side that it starts to turn in the other direction it is better to just steer a bit at a time. If the course is nearly correct it is possible to just steer a bit by paddling on one side then maybe doing one stroke with both paddles and then the next one can be used to steering again. This way the boat keeps going forward and not just in circles.
- If a lot of correction is needed fast it is possible to communicate with the other person in the boat. Either to make him/ her stop or to get help with paddling on one side.
- The wind does play a major role. Paddling equally hard on both sides therefore often meant to go into the direction of the wind instead of going straight. I realized that sometimes when I was crossing a strong gust of wind I could sometimes just paddle on the side where the wind blew us to and would go straight for some time.
- Some of the paddles had a metalring on them which made it easier to keep them at a certain length (more or less) .This can be helpful also for getting the paddles not too deep/ too less in the water. Still if one would move the paddles too much around they would hop out. And suddenely cross in the middle.
After I realized this and practicesd a bit we were able to row nicely in the same rythem and rather straight. Still I feel like a major improvement for bigger rowboats would be a rear mirror to keep an eye on where one is going without turning all the time.
After some time we were starting to fish. For this long see-through string were used with many different kinds of hooks and fake worms. Everything was rolled up and could be lowered down into the water until a weight in the top hit the ground. Afterwards the whole thing would always be moved up and down. It reminded me a bit of letting a kite fly just that it was going down instead of up. When a fish was on the hook the string was cooiled up and the fish hit on the upper part of the head to kill it. Afterwards it was stored in a bucket until the shore was reached. Then the fish was taken apart by first cutting from the anus until the gills in the bottom and getting the organs out. After this the next cut came behind the gills in about a 45 degrees angle towards the fishes head. Then starting from this cut the meet was taken of all the way back until the tail finn. Usually one feels the bones as „something hard“ and can just follow them while cutting.
Since I had (thanks to Covid19) just one time done kayaking before with this kind of sea-kayaks and this had been on the Otra I was very excited for this lecture.
First we planned where we wanted to go and took the (waterproof) maps with us when we set out. We paddled into a small bay protected by surrounding islands from the wind and the waves. There we practised different paddlestrokes.
According to Thomas (our teacher) for a good foreward-stroke three things were important:
- The upper hand should open to prevent injouries.
- The pushing (upper hand) and pulling (lower hand) of the paddle should be balanced, the upper hand never going higher than ones eyes
- The rotation of the upper body should have moved both hands at least over the center line of the kayak when the stroke is finished.
For a turning stroke it was remaaked that the leaning to the front combined with a wide sweeping movement always looking after the blade of the paddle were the most important.
Another very important thing in kayaking was the edging. Here it was better to keep the kayak a little bit on edge for a longer time than to just edge it a lot for a short time. Also the edging has to be done away from the direction one desires to go to (edging towards the left to go rigt) by pulling the knee on the side of the desired direction up. The upper body should remain in the center to avoid capzising.
After this we went out into more open waters and found the sea relatively calm. Still thesight of a seemingly flat sea can be misleading because if the waves travel away from oneself one does not see them that well. Only on the way back going against the waves one realizes that they are there. Also the wind and currents can be dangerous. Therefore it is good to always be careful when paddling in the sea.
We also learned the X-Rescue (another professor named it TX-Rescue) even though my group performed the more storm/ waves suited and less spray skirt friendly way. If someoone falls out the kayak or capsizes and gets out, he/she is to hold on to his/ her kayak in order not to be seperated from it. This is especially important if there is a lot of wind or a strong current. (One of our professors told us to turn the boat around immediately the other one would leave it upside down for the moment.)Then the swimmer should move to the front of his/ her kayak. The rescuer would come sideways (at around a 90 degrees angle) to the tip of the capsized boat (T). The swimmer can hold on to the tip of the rescuers kayak while this person gets the water out of the other boat by lifting it and trning the opening downwards. After this in our case the kayak was pulled over ones lap (X) the right way round and the swimmer would climb up on the rescuers kayak into ones own, gets ready (fasten the spray skirt) and gets pushed of foreward by the rescuer.
The other way would be to place the emptied kayak next to oneself stern to heck and hold it on the rim of the opening. It is helpful to lean onto the other kayak to support it better. While the other person is climbing into their kayak.
In the evening right after the official kayak lesson one of my fellow students gave a lesson in rolling the kayak around. To do this first I learned to push myself up on the tip of another kayak. This was a good practice and also important to get up again fast without leaving the kayak all the time.
To flip the hips („explosively“) upwards and get the head up last is essential to get (and stay) up at all. With the arms the paddle is placed on the surface next to the boat and swept along the surface to perform a support stroke. It is not very helpful to pull the paddle down towards oneself. I was very proud and happy when I managed to roll. Still I practsed a bit longer and got pretty cold and better.
Motorboats are especially nice if the motor works. As a rowboat they are not very suited. Since my group was the last to get into the motorboats it seemed as if they got more and more damaged and when we used „them“ there was just one left that worked. The non-working included also the huge motorboat wich we used for our arrival. This caused a few problems: we had to switch a lot for using the one boat and, even more important, we needed another possibility to get back. Our professor arranged a taxiboat to transport us back.
Still I learned in which angle (45 degrees) I was to approach the dock as slow as possible then switch the motor to neutral while I got alongside the jetty. Than someone in the front would jump of with a rope and I would switch to backwards to stop the boat and then back to neutral and press a small red buttom to switch the motor of.
To start the motor the gas (on the handle) should be turned on the red starting sign and the black lever for some extra gas should be pulled out and the engine switched on neutral. After this the string can be pulled with a lot of force and as fast as possible. Then more gas should be given to keep th motor running.
To turn one moves the handle in the opposite direction to where you want to go to.
The group dynamic was special because of the covid situation. Therefore we were not allowed to meet all together exept maybe outside. Since we spent pretty much all our time outside and this was our last trip together it was nice to meet for the meals and in the evening as much as possible. By now we knew each other rather well and this also made this trip special for me.
A very important moment for me was when we sang together (outside) on the last evening and also talked a bit about how we felt with this beeing the last trip. I discovered that even though everyone expressed and handled the situation differently regarding the feelings we all seemed to have a lot in common.
I am sad about the ending and at the same time happy about the way it was.