Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Looking for a Kayak

8/28/2013


Yesterday, I decided to find a kayak and paddle the Oslo fjord.  I had read that there’s a kayak rental place and a kayak club in the port area.


A couple of weeks ago I wrote to the kayak club fishing for an invitation, but they told me that only members can paddle with them and it would cost me much too much to become a member. I hoped that if I showed up in person they would be nicer.

I packed my daypack with lunch, a life jacket and bilge pump, took my storm paddle in hand, and set out.  

A few blocks out a tall white haired paunchy wrinkly fellow approached me and began speaking excitedly.

““↻↩↭ ՓԾ փտԺՃՉ ሶመ ሚቌቢڅ ݭ.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Norwegian.”  I told him.

He pointed at my paddle, still wrapped in blue airplane plastic.

“It’s a kayak paddle.”  I told him.

He nodded enthusiastically.  I demonstrated a few strokes.  WIth grunts and gestures he explained to me that he was an avid paddler.

“Do you know a lot of people in the area who kayak?”

He sure does, he gestured. He was happy to meet an American paddler here in Oslo.

“Can you help me?”  I asked.

He shook his head “no” and walked away.

I walked for about 40 minutes to get to the area identified on my hostel provided map as the port and began asking around the touristy piers if there was anywhere I could rent or borrow a kayak.  The answer I got was “Not here, maybe at the marina.”  I began walking to the marina.

On the way I passed a museum.  I went in and asked if I could use their restroom.  “No, it’s only for guests.”  The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City lets me use their restrooms.

I was at the marina in half and hour and found a very helpful fellow in a small fishing and boat supply shop.  He showed me a “lake” on my map where he thought there was a kayaking club.  So I walked for a ways longer, until I found a sufficiently secluded spot to admire the scenery behind a dumpster, and then a ways longer still and after half an hour was at the lake which was a cul de sac of the fjord and there was a kayaker on the water!  I asked around and discovered that kayaks were for rent there the previous year but no more.  I moved on.

“You see that building there in the distance?”   

I looked, it was far away, but sure, I saw it.

“I think that’s where the kayaking club is.”  A fellow told me.

So I walked another ten minutes, went down a small road, and found myself next to the building in a parking lot, at the edge of the city, looking at four plastic yellow kayaks on a rack.  There were sprayskirts on them.

A woman was working in a walkin container nearby.  I asked her if I could borrow or rent a kayak, and she told me to talk to her boss.

I held the proffered phone to my ear.  It rang.

“Hello?” The voice at the other end asked me.

I felt very unsure of myself.  I did not speak Norwegian and over the phone the kayak owner could not see my gear or take me for anything other than a bothersome freeloading tourist.

“Hi, I’m a kayaker.  I’m in Oslo for the week.  I was hoping I could borrow or rent one of your boats?”

“No.”

“I’m an instructor.  I teach rolling and surfing and all sorts of skills.  Maybe I could give a free lesson later.”

“Sorry, there is no room.”

“Oh.  Okay.  Thanks anyways.”  I hung up and gave the lady her phone back.

There was no more Oslo.  I had walked far enough.  

I sat down on a grassy spot near the water.  I ate my lunch and watched the kayaker do laps too far away to call out to.

I was ready to go home.  I left the parking lot, and there were some English speakers standing around a trailer with a bunch very fast fiberglass kayaks on it.  

They were nice and they were helpful and they gave me a phone number and told me there was a kayak club one town over.  I should call the number.  The club was too far to walk to.

So I walked back to the hostel, going a different way than I had come and taking pictures on the way.  Waiting for me there was an email from a friend of a friend who’s a Norwegian kayaker.  She told me two things:  Yes, she could probably help me get a job as a kayak guide in the Norwegian fjords next summer and she knew a guy one town over from Oslo that I could go kayaking with.  It was the same place I had the phone number for.  

I’m going to go kayaking.

As for the fjords, I decided not to go to them this trip.  Just getting out there would cost me a couple hundred dollars for transportation.  Another paddler friend of a friend who works out there told me that I could hitchhike.  I like the idea, but I would want at least a couple days to give it a shot and there’s not enough time.  One day, I hope, I’ll get out there on the water, paddle between snow crested mountains, and find the small plaque where Slartibartfast signed his name.

 

6 comments:

  1. Great! Take a look at http://www.mar-kayaks.pt/en/kayaks/touring/ and if you see anything you like, please let me know.

    If you tell me what kind of paddling you do, how experienced you are, and how big you are I can probably help you pick something out that's just right. Why don't you email me at kayakdov@gmail.com

    Hope to see you on the water,
    Dov

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  2. Great story and determination. And +1 for HHGTTG reference.

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  3. Thanks! The guide is indispensable for those of us who never research where we're going until we get there.

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  4. Hi,
    I found your business card in a train in Norway.
    My job is to make greenland paddles.
    Next time you are in Norway you could contact these people if you want to borrow/rent a kayak in Oslo: http://www.dntung.no/oslo/index.php?fo_id=9869
    And I would recommend this guy if you ever want to build your own traditional kayak: http://kajakkspesialisten.no/e_index.php
    MD

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  5. Wow. Thanks for getting in touch with me. I do hope to build my own kayak one day. I've read Christopher Cunningham's book Building The Greenland Kayak and will probably follow his instructions as closely as I can.

    Funny how the card seemed to find a good home.

    Hope to see you on the water one day,
    Dov

    ReplyDelete