Fishing trip — A weekend in Åland

October 26, 2014

I did some fishing when I was younger, but dropped the hobby for other things as I became a teenager. It’s not that I started disliking fishing, it’s just one of those things that disappeared from my life. (I’ve done some light fishing, but nothing serious).

Anyway, I’ve talked with Anders and Johan, and them being avid fishermen, they asked me if I wanted to join them on a fishing trip to Anders’ cottage at the Åland islands. Naturally I said yes, not because of fishing, but hanging out with friends — and putting my camera to good use, is something I couldn’t refuse.

I didn’t have any gear for being outside in the elements (no jacket, no pants, no nothing). I got myself a sleeping bag, and a rainproof kit from north face. Then I added some of my winter gear: wool socks and sweaters, base layers etc. and I was all set.

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All of the camera gear that I brought.

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My two bags and my sleeping bag.

The other thing that I needed to decide was what kind of photo-gear I had to bring, I knew I couldn’t bring all of my gear, mostly because of the weight factor and also because I knew I didn’t need it. I ended up going with both of my DSLR bodies, four lenses covering most of the range that I thought I was going to need (8mm, 20-35mm, 50mm and 70-200mm) and finally, a tripod (for doing time lapses if the weather was clear).

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Anders took care of all the booking (Viking line to and from Åland), he also hooked us up with the car and a boat. We all took out two vacation days (Friday and the following Monday). We left Stockholm early Friday morning on Viking line’s newest boat, M/S Grace. The boat had lots of luxurious things, which we basically ignored (like a spa-facility). Without a doubt the most modern cruise ship sailing on the Baltic Sea.

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As we got off the boat, we pretty much went straight for the grocery store, but we hadn’t really thought of what we were going to eat, so we basically just ran around picking out a random assortment of food items. Don’t get me wrong, we did have a basic plan, but not a very thorough one. Though I was determined that both Anders and Johan had to try out Saarioinen’s Leverlåda — but that was pretty much it. (Needless to say, on the second day we were already running low on resources).

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The loneliest place on Åland.

The drive out to cottage (in the far north east of Åland) took around 1½ hour (and two ferry rides). I drove the car, a rather new Audi A3, and me being a guy who likes Audi, really loved the car.

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cottage
The cottage was a lot bigger than I expected, and had these huge windows facing the “beach” (there was no beach, only rocks)

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And as usual, the nordic archipelago doesn’t fail to deliver a spectacular view.

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The sauna, just a few meters from the water. We had wanted to take a swim, but the waves were too large to safely enter the sea.

When we got to the cottage it was already getting dark. The cottage was a lot bigger than I had initially thought (two bedrooms, a large living room combined with a kitchen), this meant we all had our “own” room, the cottage had electrical power, but no running water. The surrounding was typical Nordic archipelago:ish, beautiful. And the best part, a wood driven sauna (we used it every single day).

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Johan preparing his new fishing rod.

We wanted to start fishing as soon as possible, so we threw in our bags, only unpacking the gear we needed. I took one camera, and one lens, Johan and Anders got their fishing gear — and off we went.

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Filler picture, I admit.

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Most of the terrain was pretty rough to navigate through, either really old forest, or slippery rocks.

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Anders was the one who caught the first fish.

I got a few shots, but it had gotten too dark to shoot with a longer lens (70-200), and when we got our first pike, I resorted to my mobile phone. We also had to get back before it was completely dark — otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to find our way home. The winds were howling at around 15m/s and when it gets dark, it gets pretty much completely black (no moon, no stars, only darkness).

During our down time, i.e. not fishing. We pretty much did three things, eat, go to the sauna or play Carcassonne. Because of the storm-like weather throughout the weekend, I wasn’t able to make a time lapse outside, instead, here’s a time lapse when we play the board game.

We ended every night with sauna. Although Johan only went to the sauna the first night. Anders and I however really like saunas, and so we kept doing it. I don’t know how much wood we burnt, but it was a lot. The last night the sauna heater was pretty much glowing.

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We went to bed each night before midnight, and got up at around seven in the morning (though coincidentally, this weekend was also the weekend when DST ended, and Åland is in Finland, which is a different time zone than Sweden. In other words, keeping tabs on the clock was pretty hard).

building

Actually, we did one other thing as well, we tore down the porch. Armed with a crowbar and a hammer me and Anders took it down in an hour. It’s funny how destroying things always go faster than building something. Though my back and shoulders’ did take a beating — even now, a few days later, it still hurts.

storm
The southern parts of the island offered a lot of wind and water. And large waves, don’t forget about the large waves.

The first few days the weather had been pretty harsh. We had pretty much contained ourselves to the northern parts of the island (it was southerly winds). But we did try out the southern parts. I had to keep my distance, the salt water was spraying down on me, and the camera/lens combo I had was not weather proof.

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The third day, Sunday, the winds had calmed down a bit, and according to the weather forecast there were only winds at around 7 m/s during the day, we even had some sunshine. Anders and Johan were picking up a lot of smaller pikes, and as they were fishing, Anders spotted a white-tailed eagle, I managed to get a couple of shots of it, and during the day, and the next day, we kept seeing it. So I’m guessing we were within it’s territory.

white-tailed_eagle_flight
Click here for a larger version.

squirrel
We also saw some eagle food.

landfall
It was nice getting of the life jacket, and just walk around, shooting the boat from solid ground.

We were mostly out with a loaned boat, and I wanted to get some pictures from afar. I asked to get dropped off at the coast so I could shoot from the beach instead of the boat.

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As I got off I started to take a few random shots, and one of the series of shots I took was nothing but hilarious.

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Johan’s using his new fishing rod.

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Johan’s losing his new fishing rod.

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Anger, disappointment.

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Acceptance.

Johan had gotten a new rod for this trip, and as he was using it, it split at the attachment point. When he threw out the lure, the rod went with it — and sank. I hadn’t realized what had happened until later in the day, when we talked about the incident, and when looking through the pictures, I had been lucky enough to capture the complete sequence.

I had a pretty good time bullying him around about the rod. But then on the last night when I was adding more wood to the sauna heater, I dropped my phone on concrete. At first, when I picked it up, I didn’t notice anything wrong with it, but the next day there was a crack in the corner of the glass. Karma’s a bitch, right?

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Anders navigated us safely through the treacherous sea.

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I believe Anders was the one who caught the most fish.

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When we were done fishing for the day, and heading home, we knew we only had some steaks left, but nothing to go with it, not even potatoes. Anders called in a few favors, and we managed to get a hold of some potatoes, but we had to go fetch them ourselves. We had all been drinking a couple of beers and lonkeros, so driving was out of the picture, we decided to walk.

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I figured that it was a small walk, and that I didn’t need to bring my camera with me. Which was a pretty bad decision, not only did we see the eagle up close and personal, we also found a bunch of highland cows. And my phone camera was giving me a hard time. after a few reboots, I managed to get a few pictures of the cows, but I didn’t get a chance to get a close up of the eagle.

steaks

We were lucky enough to get some chanterelles and cream with the potatoes. Johan worked his magic, and we got a pretty awesome meal out of the few ingredients.

Monday morning; we got up pretty early, tidied up the cottage and went out fishing for the last time. We decided to skip the boat and just walk around.

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Catch and ..

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.. release.

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Pommern at Mariehamn’s harbour

Because of the DST-clock-problems, we decided to leave a bit early, which in turn meant we had to kill an hour in Mariehamn. This city is probably one of the most boring cities during any season beside summer.

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We walked along the harbour, Johan and Anders kept goofing around

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We got on early on the boat — what else was there to do? The boat we went back with was M/S Rosella, and unlike M/S Grace, this is an old piece of shit boat. The only good thing with Rosella is her speed, it only takes a couple of hours to get back to Sweden.

ferry_boat
Every time I’m in the car deck of a ferry I can’t think of anything else than M/S Estonia, claustrophobic.

ms_rosella_sunset
On our way back home, the sun was shining.

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And I tried to mimick Lasse Kongo

Good times

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At the end of the day, I can only summarize; I had an awesome time, and I’m already looking forward to the next time.

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