Navigating the Night

Justine night cooking

There’s no bad light, only bad planning

It is still warm here in Saint Anna in September but it has cooled off and you can definitely feel it at night. There are some real benefits to kayaking at this time of year, versus peak season (July and August), and those include the beautiful Swedish evening glow, and insanely cool mist or low lying clouds in the evenings and in the morning. The mist might be one of the neatest conditions I’ve ever ventured in. There’s also way fewer people enjoying the archipelago so it feels even more like your own playground. With the days getting shorter and our desire to make the most out of our transition from summer to fall, I thought I’d do a post about the night.

At the end of August a few of us went out to celebrate the end of a great summer with Anna, who was leaving to go back to school in Lund and to formally welcome Junior/the Finn/Thomas#2(T2) to the team. We paddled out from Mon for a leisurely hour and a half until we rocked up here. Using Anna’s gnarly map intel we later found out it has no name, which I think added to it’s level of mystique. One thing we have learnt since our night paddle in early July is to make the most of your time in the archipelago, regardless of whether the sun is still up or not. Possibly it’s just us, but we are really into night wild camping photos, and as long as you are prepared with head torches and/or fire, it can be a really exciting and new way of experience camping or paddling. I recommend you try cooking, chilling with a hot water bottle (if you’re always cold like me), and ultimately enjoying each others company out under the stars and out of your tents. It feels even more unplugged and liberating than during the day. Possibly this is the summer of embracing the night.

Drone Anna

If you’re really ambitious and up for a night paddle, I would recommend doing it like this: First, it’s a good idea to eat a big snack or possibly dinner before you head out because like all paddle journeys you can never be 100% sure it’s going to go exactly as planned. For this reason, pocket snacks and going out with fresh fuel is ALWAYS a good idea. The second is, choose an easy route because unlike navigating during the day, you don’t have full visibility and you can’t use the sea chart in the way it’s meant to be used. If possible, plan you route in the daylight so that you have mentally mapped out where the really shallow bits are and what areas to avoid. Thirdly, set-up camp on the island you are sleeping on and have fuelled up on, so that upon return from your night paddle you can simply crawl into bed. Fourthly (is that a word?!) put all your kayaking gear in easy to find and easy to put on places so that you aren’t searching tree limbs in the dark. Although this can be a fun hide-and-go-seek game if you’re really in the mood. Lastly, remember to turn off your head torches once you are afloat in the archipelago and just enjoy the silence and calm that nighttime can bring.