Modifying my Helinox camp chair

The Helinox camp chair is a brilliant piece of deluxe camping equipment that one cannot be without.. but for one little detail: use in sandy terrain! The spindly legs arent very good in soft/sandy conditions! They sink into the sand!

Enter the fyzzy yeller ball!  Drill a hole into the ball, insert ball in leg. Voila! El problemo solved!

Thanks Eiver!

Making a spare paddle

I’d been so busy making paddles for others that I’d forgotten my own needs completely!

My new Beaufort being the shortest kayak I own has as a result a shorter fore-deck than the others. Normally I have a spare paddle stowed on the fore deck for quick and easyish access, in case of sudden need. My preferred spare paddles have been Greenland Paddles (GP) normally about 206-210 cm long, blade width of some 90mm and a loom length (on a shouldered blade) of about 50cm.

My normal GP’s were a bit too wide and a tad too long to fit the fore deck of the Beaufort WITH sail installed. So I needed make a slightly smaller stick.

I would need the spare paddle for the upcoming coastal paddle which was to start off in about 2½ weeks so I would be busy yet.

After some head scratching and dry fitting I deiced to make a simple shoulderless GP 200cm long, loom = 40 cm and blade width 88mm.

I found a ready made paddle blank I’d made some years back. It was made from two strips of nordic pine (pinus sylvestris)  sapwood, with a touch of sapwood at one end. While heavier, approx 540 kg/m3 @ 18%, than the much raved Western Red Cedar (WRC) the benefit of the nordic pine is that it is easily available, cheap and alot stronger  AND harder wearing than WRC. Perfect choice for a spare paddle which will get its fair share of bangs and misuse.

Paddle outline cut and planed.
Paddle outline cut and planed.
After the outline is ready the side outline is pencilled in.
After the outline is ready the side outline is penciled in.
Then its just alot of ole elbow grease! Despite all the hype out there, my smartphone was of no help at this stage!! ;)
Then its just a lot of ole elbow grease to thin the paddle blades! Despite all the hype out there, my smartphone, internet or wifi was of no help at this stage!! 😉
The blade width is 88mm and the staright portion is 400mm long. Blade thickness at tip is approx 10mm
The blade width is 88mm and the straight portion is 400mm long. Blade thickness at tip is approx 10mm
A minor disaster struck! A pitch pocket! right at the tip of the blade! Since this is a backup for meself, and I’m kinda in a rush and am not too picky.. I decided to continue…
.. I scraped and whittled out the excess pitch, then I made a batch of epoxy, tinted it into a reddish orange, kinda like what pitch looks like, and filled the pocket with said concoction.
After final shaping and sanding the paddle it was time to make required markings with pyrography pen . In addition to year of make and initials, I also like to burn the paddle dimensions. In this case: 200 (cm overall length) x 40 (cm loom length) x 88 (mm blade max width)
Here the paddle has a coat of wood oil and maybe 1 or 2 layers of Le Tonkinois Varnish.. still 2-3 more to go
Not the prettiest paddle out there, but it will make do, I’ve used worse and lived.

Since you’ve read this far its only fair to give some prize for the perseverance! 🙂

Paddle details:
  • length: 200 cm
  • blade max width: 88mm
  • loom length: 40 cm
  • Blade edge thickness 5mm
  • blade tip thickness 10mm
  • loom cross section = oval; width 28mm, thickness 32mm
  • Final weight: 1036 g



Utö is a small island located approx 85 kms southwest from Turku, Finland. It is quite “far out there”, away from most things, located at the edge of the open sea. Despite being far away, it really is a very nice place to visit!  The small isle community living its peaceful existence at the edge of a dark  and often stormy sea really defines the term of ‘haven’. Migratory birds are often being spotted and photographed by avid birdwatchers. Bird species rare to this area sometimes get lost and are found there first! There is something about the place, that words fail to describe, something just waiting to roll of the tip of ones tongue, something universal, yet unexplicible!

To give some idea where Utö is!
To give some idea where Utö is!

Getting there with a kayak can be an operation of “touch and go”, and does require co-operation of the weather gods as well as fluent seakayaking skills! Not for the beginner. However one can get there also via a regular ferry service. There is a hotel and some rental cottages as well as a B n B.

There is a nice website about Utö, with lots of useful information about the place.

One of the most prominent features of Utö, is the lighthouse, built in 1814 surrounded by the houses of the small community. A lot of history relating to this small place. Much of it fascinating.

These pictures are from a recent “non-kayaking” trip. I first visited Utö by kayaking there in 2012.. then I promised I would visit the place another time, with more time, which eventually I did! After the second visit I realized that I will have to visit Utö yet a third time!



SUP paddle part II

Part II, continuation for blog post A new prototype: SUP paddle part I

To finally finish the SUP paddle pair I started building way back when.. I needed to do the most annoying bit: sanding and varnishing !!! Basicly its a simple chore, so simple that its easy to botch and then the end result looks cheap… so much for all that painstaking woodwork! 😉

So its time to confess. I’m probably a laziest sander I know and my varnishing skills are pretty poor, but in my defence I only make things that get banged up, scratched, misused, and usually at some point broken… so if the varnishing isn’t top-notch I suppose it doesnt matter much in the end? 😉

So the sanding. Yes, its booring. I won’t go into that other than despite its tediousness.. Its actually an important part of the process!! Don’t skip it! I start out usually with grit 80 -> 120-> 180-> 240 after that its time to varnish! Sometimes I start varnishing after 180. Sanding between every 2-3varnish layers I use 3m scotchbrite pads (or similar).

For the past 5 years or so I’ve mainly used the following method for varnishing my wooden paddles:

  1. Pre-impregnation with Hempel Wood Impreg oil
  2.  4-7 layers of varnish, Le Tonkinois Brand. Light sanding between every 2-3 layers
  3.  redo varnishing as needed, usually after each season
Varnish: Le Tonkinois. Impregnation oil : Hempel Wood impreg. Here pictured is an old can (leftovers) of Wood Impreg1 which has been discontinued and replaced by “Wood Impreg”.. Not sure what the difference is between the two.. probably the new version is “less toxic” or some such thing…?

This cocktail seems to work nicely. Le Tonkinois seems to hold on better than urethane-alkyd varnishes out there! ‘Le Tonk’ is more expensive, but on wooden paddles you don’t need that much! Varnishing approx 6 paddles with 4 coats I use slightly less than 0.5 liters of varnish!  One of the greatest things about ‘Le Tonk’ is that the paddle shaft doesnt feel slippery when wet, when it has been varnished with ‘Le Tonk’!

‘Le Tonk’ is an natural wood oil varnish.  Consists of linseed oil, Tung oil and some other ‘natural’ ingredients. It doesnt require hazmat suits, its quite easy to apply with brush, is durable, has  nice UV protection. Works nicely on paddles! It is my “go to” choice!

Le Tonkinois Varnish brings out the wood grains quite nicely! Here is the wallhange paddle with Walnut blade.
Le Tonkinois Varnish brings out the wood grains quite nicely! Here is the wallhange paddle with Walnut blade.
The handle of the lighter paddle, pine version
Pine paddle handle- sideview
The two paddles varnished x 4 layers : Pine paddle (on left) is 190 cm long and final weight is 966g. Probably slightly heavy, but hopefully usable? Walnut paddle (on right) is 180 cm long weight: 1105g = wallhanger.. well maybe I'll try it out after I built meself a SUP board? ;)
The two paddles varnished x 4 layers : Pine paddle (on left) is 190 cm long and final weight is 966g. Probably slightly heavy, but hopefully usable? Walnut paddle (on right) is 180 cm long weight: 1105g = wallhanger.. well maybe I’ll try it out after I build meself a SUP board? 😉

Modifiying the new camera..

I had an old packet of that wonder goo called Sugru, the best before date had passed by a coupla months ago and then some.. It was coloured black!

My new waterproof pocket camera, a Olympus Tough 860 was ok, but I had noticed that the gripping “handle” was abit on the small size. With wet fingers it wasnt very “shure” fitting..

This is the itsy-bitsy teensy-weensy, gripping notch to hold onto the camera.. already have slipped and dropped the camera…

So.. I decided, what the hell.., might as well try it..

Enter the magic of Sugru!!
The new added grip! .. time will tell…?

Now I have a Sugru Customized camera.. As this is the third time during the past 3 months that I have used Sugru, I cannot  say anything about how well it works on the long term.. thus far shows lotsa promise!

The extended “Sugru ramp” feels a bit better gripping the camera and thus far hasn’t hindered any of the other functions. So its an improvement!

Laying out the Sugru was simple. Easy Peasy! Some thin rubber gloves to keep the fingers clean, a coupla small “spatulas” (ice-cream sticks) and a lead pencil to help shape and mold the “sugru ramp”. After that wait 24 hours and presto!

New camera

Before kayaking, I was an pretty avid photographer. That involved lugging and loving  a DSLR, with all the clunky, heavy and bulky lenses wherever I went. After all I could fit everything into a backpack! Thats not much ? Or is it?

The first summer of sea kayaking I faithfully lugged my DSLR with a couple lenses wherever I paddled. All was packed under deck in a waterproof Ortlieb camerabag.  For on the deck, on the water action I had a small Olympus waterproof PHD camera (Press Here Dummy). All performed sort-of-nicely. The PHD camera worked when wet.. but it was sloooooow to do anything other than use up the battery! The DSLR was great but I daren’t use it on the water. So while things were great on paper, things were’nt really working on the water.

“Ahhh what fun!” that first summer of lugging everything! I had waken up to the realization that a DSLR just wasn’t very practical when seakayaking. Sad but true.

I decided to minimize.. rely solely on the small PHD camera. Soon I learned that action photography was out. Taking pictures of the grass growing, rocks resting and when things got really wild: The sun going down was the best I could manage with the PHD!  And since I had no choice, I suppose I was happy, kinda like a average marriage?

Many years passed with this sad, passive existence, one camera followed the other. I went thru two Olympus waterproof PHD cameras in 7 years. All of them performed somehow. Low light image quality wasn’t that great.. actually piss-poor. Fine for FB postings and general documentation.  Camera start-up/Focusing speeds were low. Only enough time to get a quick snap shot of grass growing on a cloudy day! Batteries drained fast until one learned to switch off most redundant “helpful” settings! The only thing that these Olympus PHD cameras excelled in was that they remained functional in adverse wet conditions and careless handling!!  And they took better pictures than what I could draw.. so I was satisfied!

A separate camera carrier is available for the camera, this can be strapped onto a backpack strap, PFD, whatever. The carrier seems solid yet the camera can be picked out reasonably quickly for picture taking! The plastic/spiral  safety leash however isn’t very convincing!


On preparation for this years kayaking trip I realized that my semi-crappy-yet working olympus tough model…?? something something was getting slow and some of its buttons were getting a bit sticky, so I went out asking my trusty camera dealer if they had something to sell?

Shure enough, just like the previous two times, they sold me a demo model of a camera that was being discontinued! Wuhuu!  I bought a 12 month old, discontinued camera model, that had had limited demo handling and for a cheap price!

The camera in its “carrier” . The bungee cord is out of the way of the lense so the camera could be recording video while on the carrier!

Like the previous two times, this was a Olympus. Model Tough 860.  An added bonus was that it works with the same battery model as the previous model!  Size was about the same. Startup speed was quite a bit better than anything I had used uptil now, also it had a nifty “selfie” button and a tilt preview screen, which can be nifty in certain cramped photo situations. Whats best it has a “ULTRAwide angle” lense which is perfect for on the water photos!

As the model is a discontinued model, I won’t use more time to go through the characteristics, other than its:

A.) waterproof and pretty robust
B.) Takes pictures…
C.) Reasonably small
D.) Came be remotely controlled via smartphone
E.) ULTRAwide angle lense
F.)  Has a  nifty camera holder (sold separately) from which it can be taken out faster than a pocket..

These are the features I appreciate in this particular model.

What could be improved on? Well, startup speed could be yet faster . as well as focusing speed. But what REALLY REALLY bums me, is that during the 12+ years I’ve used Olympus cameras, they have been unable to do anything to clearly improve the lowlight image quality, ie. NOISE! Using ISO  settings above 400 is reminiscent of film times! Image is Noisy / grainy!  I don’t know if Olympus does this as a “retro” thing or what?

These are minor gripes because at the end of the day, the most important feature that I appreciate in a camera for seakayaking is that the darn thing keeps working, taking pictures even if its been wind and waves for 2 weeks in a row!

Camera carrier installed onto my PFD. Now I more room in my pockets for Snickers bars!!

Downside for the moment is: NO RAW capability.. but for the moment I can live with that…

Time will tell how long lasting this one will be?



Beaufort: First longer outing

For the upcoming finnish coastal paddle, Marko and  myself took our new Beauforts for a ‘spin’, or more seriously a trial run. A couple night trip with basic camping loads to figure out how these kayaks work, how they should be loaded, how we perform, how new bits of kit work, what we forgot, what we won’t need  and also.. just for the fun of it! 🙂

We logged some 100 km’s total trip. The weather was beautiful! Not so much wind, = very little sailing. The sun and warm more than made up for the lack of the wind.

Overall the kayaks worked VERY well ! Both were pleased. On smooth waters and a semi-full load paddling @ 6.5-7 km/h daily average speed was surprisingly easy for day trips of 36-38 km. We could have improved that average quite easily if we felt like it. But being the first trip of the season, we took it easyish.. Nothing fell off, nothing broke so all in all a VERY good trip!

A more complete or review of the kayak will follow after this summers trip!

Got a couple semi-decent pictures along the way. Trip took place in the Lake Saimaa system, mainly:  Yövesi, Liittokivenselkä, Varissaarenselkä, Pajusaarenselkä and Hietasaarenselkä