The date of the tour was agreed a month ahead. An article for an appreciated magazine was in the makings, something for people to dream away with between business meetings, and perhaps encourage some into kayaking in the Finnish archipelago. This time four people set out to do it for real, scouting for seals and eagles in summerviews.Last chance before wilderness

{jcomments on}Seals disappeared 40 years ago. Only within the 10 last years the population is back thousands. They look good on picture and always surprise us. They show special curiosity for kayakers and can get close, within only a few meters. Grey seals prey fish and are quite skilled and quick learners. They adapt to human activity, swim far in a short time. Opportunistic seals pick fish from fishermans nets especially in the spring and fall. In the summer intense motorboat traffic pushes them far to sea where boat navigation require more skills. We would need the proper weather to reach areas where boaters don’t go and seals enjoy. A bit of luck will say.

P7120054_crop.jpg We were four altogether, one tandem and two single kayaks starting from the Gullö Island with 12-km to go. Heading for Grytskär through sheltered passages. This first hot day with more than 30-degrees Celsius in the shade was to be an easy trip. No wind. We spotted cormorands, dopping, canadian goose, herons and an eagle high up in the sky to mention the less common kinds of bird.
As we arrived at the cottage everyone felt for a swim and cool down. We stayed for a quarter or more in the water. Then sauna was started and I went to prepare a light and nourishing dinner. Salad on new potato, P7120057.JPGsprinkles of onion, dill, eggs, sprinkles of olive oil, winegar and tomato topping to give colour. Finnish fried onion with sausages went together. As the sun went down our dinner was completed with a fruit cocktail and tea boiled on water from the Dagmar well.
Tuesday morning was dedicated for a training session. If it went well we would go off-shore, scouting for seal, rear spieces and nice islands. The wind had picked up for a steady 6-m/s easterly. Cloud formations warned of increased wind. The medium difficult route had to be revised during the first 30 minutes. We paddled closer to Korsholmarnaland and into shelter. We reached Korsholmarna. A ship going back and forth in the distance caught my attention. Trials to inspect with a tube telescope were not successful, too much wave movement. We landed to use the tube there. Boilinghot rocks and some interesting formations caught my interest.  Stephen found the rock “smooth” and comfy for a nap. Something we all would have preferred during geology lessons at scool. I took off to inspect the shores and after an hour we were done. Stephen probably started to feel hungry as he came to look for me.
 Manouvering through is funThe return paddle was through some narrow passages and tail wind to took us home to bascamp. Except for seagulls we saw a seagull relative. The darker Fulmarus Glacialis and Shilidonias Niger, which in principle could have been nothing more spectacular than young gulls or Stercorarius Parasiticus.
 The day reached late afternoon. Stephen went for a rest in the sunset while I started the cooking. We had wok for food with pieces of lamb meat left over from dinner. It was tasty again. We discussed fiercely about science, non believers and religious matters at the evening tea. segelskär distanceWe telescoped for the fisherboat on Segelskär that took the hournalists out, but smog and darkness was setting in for poor visibility. I went out on the rocks to keep watch on possible wildlife and Stephen went for his favourite book, the couch and a candle.
 I had an early next morning. Woke up at 6. Assuming Stephen was eager for some more sleep I decided to do a solo paddle in increasing wind to the Segelskär isle. Stephen – the Irishman was still sleeping and might want to have some more rest, with reading books. This would be a committing 10-km paddle 180-degrees south. A paddle I would not put a beginner in, even during the relatively calm conditions of 0.5-m waves. All landings with one exception would be steep and slippery cliffs and often 2-km's away. Occsionally the water is flat. If relatively skilled boaters were joining in sea kayaks this leg would take a total of 5 hours including a rest on arrival. The journalists went there in a fishing vessel for overnight camping.
I wanted to land and picture my Blade kayak  on the top of this deserted island. Occasionally waves washed over the spraydeck. Somewhere halfway recognisable closing in was happening. The last four kilometers felt like the kayak added weight. Perhaps water in the hatches? According to the GPS my speed close to the same as in the start with headwind. Two wave systems are usually crossing closer to Segelskär as one front of waves are split, bend around and then re-join. I arrived after 1.5 hours, which was fast for touring.  
 P7140635_crop2.jpgBefore arrival at 8 am I called the journalists. They were having breakfast. The ones to greet Seleskär - almost thereme first were flying inspectors Razorbills, followed by the red-legged Black Guillemots. A bird that is rare in Finland. I imagine they would be easy prey for humans as we all were at close range without flying away. Paradise perhaps. I wish people would allow peace and privacy for the birds and we could enjoy quick snaplooks of them without taking extreme measures. Soon walking heads appeared. First the videofilming fisherman followed by the photographer. I was occasionally diving in waves.  Guillemots did not care. One had hering in its peak.
 Some photo session, drinking, jogging around the island and then off for the return. I had no breakfast yet. I did some paddling into shallow bays, between rocks with swell and small breaking waves. They created great contrasts of golden brown, white and blue in sparkling morning light.
 The return paddle went faster with top surf-speed of 12-km/h and also slowing down to 6 for short times. I navigated using the compass and found myself being 500 meter off course ofter the first 8 kilometers. Not quite sure which of the islands was the one I was supposed to target. I recognised the area and set course by vision on Grytskär. Back in 1 hour 20 minutes from leaving Segelskär. I had my photos safely with me. P7140636.JPG
 Stephen read a book in the sunshine. We prepared breakfast and went out for a last training session. We were ready with the essentials by lunchtime, with some repeats of techniques from Tuesday. A sailingboat had ancored outside North of Grytskär, and as it happened the crew was Dubliners as were our trainee. Quite som coincidence!
- Why does an Irishman come all the way to Finland to lern kayaking? They asked.
The obvious answer shoyld have been: "Because here the training and archipelago is the best in the world of kayaking. If you’d wanted tidal races, then of course you’d have to go elsewhere. They Irish were sailing along the Finnish coast. Norway and Sweden were already done in previous summers.
 Our paddler trainee had several great wins after some initial struggle to get manouvers right. Bracing on sweepstrokes and backwards paddling, as well as successful selfrescue that gave standing ovations from his coutrymen. Never mind about the precise sternrudder between rocks and up for a “Give-me-five”. We were ready for a rest and lunch after which we’d meet the journalists and head home. It was a nasty 12-km for Stephen. I had warmup 20 in the morning so for me it added with a cooldown home was near perfect. It was too hot. 30+degrees, sunshine from an open sky took a toll on me too of course. Restin gbody and soul
Stephen took a sudden refreshing swim followed up with dried fruit, and sips of  water. We were both ok to go again for the last 5 km. Our travel time of 3 hours matches well the 4-km/h standard paddling speeds for a beginners group. Usually tiredness when kayaking is the combination of activity and too little food/water intake.
The journalists were left behind waiting for the flounder caught in the morning to get smoked, and arrived an hour later carried by the Rödjan caretaker and Fisherman Micke.
Stephen got a motorboat ride the last 5-km to Ekenäs and the hotel he'd booked for the night. In the morning he took the bus towards to Turku and a waiting sailing adventure.