What does a paddler, who has five free days in summer and wants to paddle? One thinks about the South Sea being a good destination. OK, not Tahiti, the time would not even suffice for the flights. So then the other South Sea. The Danish one. Well, that joke works better in German, where the South Fyn archipelago is called “Danish South Sea”... While studying the charts the view wanders left and right. Langeland? Could be reached by ferry from Puttgarden very easily. And Als? In viewing range of Fyn and Ærø, in the south the historical city center of Sønderborg, on the northern shore wide spaces and a whole lot of nothing. Along the western shore Als Fjord and Als Sound, if the weather should prove to really be too nasty. To the East the Baltic Sea with the South Fyn archipelago and the open Kiel Bay. As the weather forecast was not able to reproduce the summer of 2018 and likewise promised wind and showers and partly thunderstorms it quickly became clear that island hopping in the South Fyn archipelago was not really the thing to do. A call to the Købingsmark campsite and the answer that we did not need to reserve a pitch and we had a plan: We go to Als! Wednesday morning the trip started with a “bunkering” stop in Flensburg and in the afternoon, we were on the island. With sunshine and considerably warm temperatures we first put up the tents and the camp – our home for the next four days – and the first calories were directly consumed. Finally, we were on holidays!
Thursday morning, the tarp moved loudly in the wind and the forecast promised a lot more of moving air. Between Force three and Force five, that provides funny waves on the Baltic Sea. As the main direction was westerly and the gusts had no other plans, the decision was a quick one. Go west along the north shore for on the way back with wind and waves from behind we could fly. One nice thing on the Als north shore is the wide beach areas and thus landing for lunch break is possible almost everywhere. We decided to do exactly this on a beach near Holm, where a moraine cliff provided a bit protection from the wind. The way back was as expected: surfable waves and fast. So before calling it a day we had time and power to look for a couple of play waves.
The next day was forecast as the best (will read: least windy) of the whole period. Even better: the wind should change to easterly. Consequently, we went along the north shore heading eastward. With little wind and a lot of sunshine we launched and turned our bows right. Letting beaches, moraine cliffs and gravel banks passing by, the landscape provided a bit of alternation. Behind Tranerodde lighthouse (a tiny 10m lighthouse) the dominant landscape became forest, which lasted almost until Fynshav. Short to the harbour after approximately 10 nautical miles we landed for having well earned lunch. Meanwhile the wind had changed – and indeed it became south-easterly! Provided with calories and power and motivation we relaunched and headed westward, always looking back for one or another wave to be surfed. Tranerodde and Lavensby were passed quickly as we were in flight mode. The wind had regained some power and now already reached force four again. After more than sic hours aboard we were back in Købingsmark. Even though in the end the sun had to give way to the clouds of an approaching warm front it was a really beautiful paddling day along the north shore of Als.
The first thing we heard on Saturday morning was a loud grooming. The sun had no chance as the sky was dominated by dark thundery clouds. The wind was not able to decide between strong mean wind and stormy gusts and every now and then thunderstorms and showery squalls came and went. No weather for playing around wide offshore, as had been our initial plan. As the wind direction had backed to westerly, we weighed the options. Paddling in the Als Sound to Sønderborg, hiding from the gusts in Dyvig Bay or Augustenborg Fjord, or fighting wind and waves on the north shore, where we could land quickly on the beach in the case of thunder or squall lines? After lengthy considerations we decided for the last option and put in the kayaks directly at Købingsmark beach, while out on the sea showers, squalls and sunny patches changed quickly. Storm-force gusts were ridden out, with onshore wind about 100 meters from the beach not really a big problem. In the vicinity of Holm, a bit further west than on the first day, we found a good place for lunch break. Even table and banks to sit on were provided! From a dock a great view to the windward west coast opened. At force six and more not the place to paddle today for us. Backwards with trailing wind again felt like flying, more above than in the waves. From time to time squalls and showers provided a bit of extra fun and more than enough waves to be surfed. All in one, an interesting day with a lot of fun on the Little Belt waters.
Sunday morning the almost already obligatory thunderstorm was followed by putting down the camp. In the end we seem to have had a good standing with the weather gods, as they let shine the sun while our tents went into their bags. As we also had to drive back that day it was clear that the paddling would be a short one. Thus we decided to go for another surf and play session with still strong westerly wind off Købingsmark beach. Occasional rolls and manoeuvres in the waves provided lots of fun despite the passing showers and squalls. After some hours the Norse kayaks had to retake their places on the car roof and we headed back to Germany on four wheels instead of three keels.
A wonderful paddling trip – despite the not always very summerly weather – came to its end. And we all agreed: North Als is a great paddling destination! We will surely come back.
See you on the water!