Monday, 13 October 2014

Västra Silen

The lock at Gustavsfors offered the usual portage disaster. First I was delighted to see a boat slip as a very nice take out place. But where to put in again? Two options: Either carry the kayak over a narrow lock bridge with several awkward steps and a "no portage" sign. Or carry it over private property of a canoe rental company, duck under a fence and go around several parking barricades to put in at a very low boat landing, the same type that had made me capsize several days ago. I opted for option two, especially when I had discovered that I could put in at the "dangerous" boat landing but climb in myself at a different and easier spot. Still the whole procedure took two hours and it was late when I arrived at my designated campsite on the Västra Silen.

Västra Silen
Anxiously I awaited the next morning and the weather forecast update. A rather long spell of high winds and rain was predicted for the next several days - but I had to go to Arjäng to buy resupplies. Ideally I would go from my campsite to Arjäng and back in one day because there weren't any other free campsites on the Northern half of the Västra Silen. (Of course I could have wild camped, but who wants to sit in a tent in the rain when there are shelters?) Total distance was almost 30 km in high winds - and I needed time to do the shopping.Therefore I set off very early in the morning and was very relieved to see that I was on the right side of the huge lake. The westerly winds didn't bother me too much along the western shore. I made 16 km in 4 hours - not too bad considering I have a lousy paddling technique. But now I had to do the town stop in record time and of course town centre was 1,5 km from the guest harbour. I wanted to get back to a lovely shelter so desperately that I didn't eat at the local Thai AYCE buffet, didn't visit the library for internet and just had a quick supermarket stop. The latter was difficult because I had to buy supplies for five days.

Västra Silen
Paddling back was more demanding because I was exhausted but I made it to a shelter campsite with half an hour to spare before sunset. I was exhausted but proud of myself. Next day even higher winds and heavy rain was predicted for the afternoon. I just paddled 5 km further to the next campsite and set out to explore the Bufjorden there. I had thought that the strong wind wouldn't bother me much in the relatively small Fjord but as soon as I turned directly into the wind making progress became very hard work. I still explored a portage route (that I wasn't going to take) into the Östra Silen before I reached the shelter just in time before the big downpour. Thank God for shelters!

Again I got up very early the next morning to beat the wind. I had to cross the Västra Silen. The direct route across was only 1 km but I would have the wind sideways - and after capsizing my confidence into my own paddling skills had considerably shrunk. The passage was iffy but not too scary and still I was relieved to be back in the narrow canal Gustafsfors. The lock portage was easy now because I knew exactly where to trespass..... Still it was an unpleasant surprise to find out that the electrical outlets at the locks weren't working because my batteries were running low.

Once outside the canal channel on the Lelang all hell broke loose. The strong winds kicked up a very choppy lake and pushed me sideways. When I beached to relax for a minute I soon realized that this had been a mistake. I now had to get back into my kayak in a big surf and launch into the wind. But the next campsite was only 1 km away - which cost me almost an hour and scared me like hell. I just hoped that there would be a shelter - and there was. I managed to beach without smashing my boat and spent the entire afternoon and next morning watching the rain and the wind. Thank God for shelters!

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