We paddle with the merry band of disparate sea kayakers who head out to sea under the Paddlers of Simon’s Town banner on WednesdayPaddlers of Simon's Town sticker on Marita's kayak on the Schwentine river, Germany evenings and Sunday mornings.  While every paddle in False Bay is a special experience and this summer we have been blessed with particularly good weather, our friends in the Northern Hemisphere have experienced extreme cold.  We lived in North Germany for a while and my first sea kayaking experience was along the Schwentine River and over the spillway into the fjord at Kiel.  

Although we did a lot of kayaking in the North Sea and the Baltic, we rarely paddled in winter.  Paddling friend Marita from the Klausdorf Paddelverein in North Germany emailed these photos of kayaking in winter in Germany.  Can you make out the Paddlers sticker on her kayak?  The landscape is exquisitely icy, but you can’t afford to fall into the water unless you have a dry suit .

Frozen Paddle photo by Marita LehmanOn the few icy but clear winter days that we did paddle we felt as if  we were entering another world.  Trees covered in real icing and only the flowing sections ice free.  If the snow was thick, then the trip from the boat house to the Schwentine River below was almost the best part – a sled ride in your kayak. Once on the river, we had to keep to the middle where it was still open. As you paddled past layers of sheet ice floating in the reeds, sections would break with the tinkling sound of ice in a crystal champagne glass.  

My fingers burnt with cold through my inadequate gloves and the water that dropped from the paddle froze onto the deck of the kayak to form a squat stalactite.  We lined the bottom of our kayaks with isotherm camping mattresses to insulate our legs. But essentially we had to keep paddling to stay warm.  The sparkling landscape made up for the cold as did the knowledge that a big mug of gluhwein waited for us at the clubhouse.  Paddling on the Schwentine River Germany in winter photo by Marita Lehman

Thank-you Marita for the beautiful photos and the happy memories they evoke.