You know what’s the best with this summer heat we’re having? Going for some water-based adventures! And that’s exactly what I did - taking my SUP Board to the Kvarken Archipelago for a sunset paddle!
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Climate Change is showing it’s HOT phase in Europe at the moment, and with temperatures above 25°C in many parts of Finland I did what I always do when things get too toasty: I go outdoors! This time I took my new SUP Board along and went for a sunset paddle in the Kvarken Archipelago. For a long time I wanted to try SUP Paddling but adhering to normal business hours of the SUP School in town has proven difficult for me. Hence an own inflatable SUP Board and the possibility to go when it’s best for me - when the kids are in bed and the sun still shines late! - works best!
It’s a nice short drive to Svedjehamn on the furthest corner of the Kvarken Archipelago and as always I took a short stroll along the iconic red boat houses which line the harbour. It doesn’t matter which season I come here, I always fall in love with this view.
With a bright and warm sun shining I walk to the secret spot I made out from the map, and start the process of inflating the SUP Board and getting it ready. Mosquitos fly around me while I handle the pump to get the SUP sea-worthy. Five minutes inflation time was claimed on the website, and like any good digital citizen I was sceptic of this claim. However, I was proven wrong and the SUP was inflated to 15 PSI in some six Minutes - the extra Minute likely coming from me slapping Mosquitos away and making sure the tube was connected correctly.
I changed into my shorts and shirt and then was ready to put out to sea! I was surprised by how light the whole SUP was, and when I will be paddling it again I think I can even plan in some short portages on future adventures!
I simply love the Kvarken Archipelago. The moraine formations from the Ice Age which are still slowly emerging from the sea (every year they rise around 1 cm) make the Archipelago very shallow, and hence excellent for paddling - and also for a large variety of wild life. There’s White-Tailed Sea Eagles, Arctic Terns, Oystercatchers and other birds calling Kvarken their home during the summer, and under water you can find massive Pikes, Perch and many other fish. There are many beautiful sand beaches, and the water temperature is often nice and warm. There’s also some beautiful lighthouses here, and they already have me scheming for future trips!
I paddle out from the small bay where I put in, birds circling around me and observing this floating human. I pass many small rock islands and almost all the time can see the rocky ground a meter or two under the clear water surface. I paddle along the shore, then out into the open where the wind blows stronger. With my packraft this would have been an uphill battle, though putting the nose of the SUP straight into the wind I am amazed by how easy it is to paddle into the wind - and even better, I think, on my way back this wind will pretty much sail me towards the beach!
I navigate myself towards the shore for a short break, where I enjoy putting my feet into the warm Baltic Sea while the sun shines on my face. An Arctic Tern lands close by on a rock and looks interested into my direction, probably wondering how this human managed to get completely dry on this small rocky island. I smile as it takes off and decide it is also time for me to continue - the sun is nearing the horizon, and while it does not get dark at all right now it is nicer to paddle while it is still light.
Back at the beach I meet two Germans from Hamburg who are travelling around the Baltic Sea with their Van, and we chat about Vaasa, SUP paddling and the beauty which is around us, all while I easily deflate the SUP and pack it back up in it’s backpack. After my first journey at sea with my new SUP board I am mighty impressed with it. It is easy to inflate to the recommended 15 PSI with the Pump, and just as easy to deflate - the valve can be locked into a deflate position which means packing up is the easiest thing ever (and something which I imagined would take me 20 Minutes or more). Simply open the valve and then start to roll up the SUP Board from it’s tail to the front - The whole procedure didn’t even take five Minutes! And as outlined at the beginning, inflating it was just as easy and a quick affair.
Handling-wise, thanks to the fin which is easy to install the board is very stable and easy to manoeuvre with, and the width of 86 cm makes it very stable for a beginner like me. The sharp tip and overall long length of 335 cm make it a fast SUP, while at the same time it still is very agile and it was easy to paddle between the rocks and reeds. The reinforced sidewalls of the SUP definitely are a Plus here in the Kvarken Archipelago as sharp rocks linger everywhere, while the EVA Grippad not only made it very clear where I should stand but also gave me good grip on the wet board. The SUP Paddle is both light and easy to adjust in length from 170 to 220 cm, which makes it great when the kids want to try to SUP as I won’t need to get an extra paddle for them! Overall the construction of the board (with a 9 mm Dropstich and a reinforced Stringer for more stiffness) is high-quality and I don’t doubt that the kids and me will have a lot of fun with it. It comes with it’s own backpack and everything together - SUP board, backpack, Pump and paddle - weighs ~11,5 kg, which means it’s light enough to carry it also on the bike to the beach!
After everything was packed up and I had killed a dozen Mosquitos it was time to head back to Vaasa. On the way home the sun was coming closer and closer towards the horizon, bathing the sky into a beautiful orange. Damn, it’s pretty to be outside!
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