Internet is a very interesting place. Last Sunday I paddled kayak near Löddeköpinge at a place I have never paddled before, and with a person I have never paddled with before (who is also named Mats). We did not meet through a club, or a chance, we met through internet forums, and mail, and then converted that to booking a kayak trip during a Swedish autumn weekend day.
It was a lovely trip. Weather was better than expected, we were well dressed, and the location Mats had suggested was very nice. The route we travelled was tracked on Mats GPS. Picture is from Google Earth. Klicking on the picture gives a larger detail of it.The google earth file with track from the trip can be reached by following this link (To use it, you need to install google earth on your computer if you do not already have it downloaded).
We started paddling in a small river, which is shielded from the waves and the wind, and thus could be used as a safe place at worse weather. We then reached Öresund (our part of the ocean). When we left the river, water was calm, although it was blowing 5 meter per second (I would not have guessed it blow so much, actually Mats suggested it, and I believed it to be less based on judging the water). Similar to Höllviken sand reef, there is a sand reef that stops the waves. Outside the reef, waves can be blowing, but inside the reef, there is only smaller waves left. The sand reef can be seen on the google earth picture.
We took a kayak trip of 13.5 kilometers, and I had to work hard during the whole trip. Life is full of coincidences, and one of them was the similarity in choices we had made around our kayaking. Both were wearing similar Kokatat expedition drysuits, using similar Werner Athena kayak paddles, similar kind of small Oregon GPS, ...
The kayaks we had were different. Mats had bought the kayak I for a time was thinking of, a Zegul 550. As I have mentioned on another page, that kayak takes wind and waves nicely (except when the waves come from behind, then it has a tendency to turn up sideways in the waves). And it is fast and easy to drive forward. It has 5.5 meter of water line. My own kayak is 4.8 meters, and since it is bent, not all of that is water line. It is fast for being so short (I have a SKUK Romany surf). It is normally so fast that there is no problem keeping the pace of any paddle group. But it is slow compared to a Zegul 550. We paddled most of the time around 7-8 kilometer per hour. In the beginning on flat water on the river in the photo. Mats was in better shape than me, and I had to work hard to keep the speed. The Romany Surf goes well to speeds a little above 7 kilometers per hour, and really resists around 9 kilometers per hour. The speed we held was on the side where the Romany starts to take a little extra effort to keep the speed up.
This was the first time for a long time that I started to think about having a longer more narrow kayak. I really like my kayak. But the Zegul 550 is also a good one, and when paddled by a person in better shape, possibly more skilled, it got me thinking that I would like a faster kayak myself. Anyway, it was very nice to get to see the Zegul 550 in action. Mats later also confirmed it´s tendency to get sideways in the waves which was the factor that I weighed most against it when I decided for my Romany. This day, the waves were not that high, but combined with the reef, they gave good opportunity for both paddling in some waves, and for some surfing. The Zegul cut nice into the waves, and also seemed to be faster not only against the waves, but also with the waves. It was a little hard to tell, because when we surfed in, my paddle float was torn from the stern of the kayak (it was well folded, and held in place by two strong elastic ropes on the stern part of the kayak, but breaking waves has a tendency to grip at things). Luckily, the elastic rope in the paddle float was fastened in the kayak, and held it in contact with the kayak so I did not lose it. But it ment that my surfing back to the river was done with some kind of a sea anchor in the back, which made me slower than normal.
We had a rest and a cup of coffee halfway of the trip, in a small harbour in Vikhög. This I consider as a fantastic proof of the advantage of a drysuit compared to a wet suit. We paddled for 7 kilometers, starting in 8 degrees, 5 meter per second wind, no sun, and some occasional rain. When we passed the sand reef, there was enough waves to make you wet. Yet, after 7 kilometers, I was neither wet, not cold, nor sweating. We sat down and took some coffee and a sandwich. Sitting there, I can tell that it was going to become cold if we stayed too long, and I took on a pair of thin neoprene gloves and a cap. Mats already wore neoprene gloves and a cap (he is standing at his green zegul in the picture). I did not need gloves until sitting down. This was the autumns first paddling with gloves (I kept them on for the way back). I do not really like paddling in gloves, but neither do I like mits. Yet, it was too cold to be without during the rest of the trip. When we were back, Mats where sweating. I am also warm, and sweat easily, but the NRS Wavelite under the drysuit absorbed the sweat so well, that even when I thought about it, I could not feel I was sweating. When I did take the Wavelite shirt off, there was no doubt that I had sweated, it had just absorbed enough to make me feel comfortable.