Stockentreffen Sweden

My last trip took me to Orust Island, Sweden, where Thomas Ahlberg runs a kayak shop and school with the annually biggest symposium of Sweden.
More Pictures here
I have met Thomas already in Spain and Florida, but amazingly I have never been to Sweden, although living somehow pretty close by, at least compared to other destinations I have been flying to the last years 🙂

This time I enjoyed driving up with my “Batwoman Mobil”, having 4 kayaks loaded, rather than flying in with limited luggage. As hardly anybody finds its way to the remote place where I live I really love to take my “rolling home” to people I like and enjoy hanging out with. It’s not a bad place to party then 🙂


It was still a long drive over two huge bridges to Sweden with quite a bit of toll for my van, but taking the ferry would have been the same price.
I was just happy that Orust Island, my destination, was just a small island connected with (free of toll) bridges…

I was happy to see Nigel Foster and Kristin Nelson again, and was glad to get the chance to join their West Coast Trip as a guest prior to the symposium weekend, as in that way I got to paddle a bit, and to see something from the beautiful archipelago, rather than standing only in the water all weekend teaching.

Nigel, Kristin, Thomas and I all met on Monday morning to launch together with 8 students.


There was Sue from Scotland, whose talented rolling skills I was happy to discover already the night before, Fred from the Netherlands, who has been on the trip last year already, and his 17-year old son Paul, whom I admire to have the patience to paddle with his father :-).
Then there were Lotta and Hookan, who works as a pilot guiding huge freighters through narrow and shallow waters, and now enjoys sitting in the smallest watercraft available, and Corinna, Britta and Justine from Sweden, all “single travelling women” on that trip like me, very much fun to hang out with.

The trip was meant to be a combination of making some distance to see some of the really beautiful islands, and Nigel and Kristin’s professional teaching, getting all the fine tuning stroke skills which makes kayaking without using a rudder looking so easy and elegant…


For me it was good to recap all the skills Nigel tried to teach me some years ago, and interesting to watch the students making good progress.

There were few winds all four days, and therefore few waves to find to play with, but Nigel could “smell” them already when there were waves created by passing ships or around rocks somewhere out offshore. At least they were that “high” that Lotta couldn’t resist a swim in the warm water and enjoyed getting rescued by Nigel 🙂 – something good to watch and to learn for everybody.
As it came to towing an exhausted student at the end of the first day, I was happy to do the job, working out a bit harder for some time… 🙂

The campsites were idyllic between the Swedish rocks, and it was good to know that Thomas carried his huge tipi-style tent for the whole group, just in case it would be raining all night…thank you Thomas for providing shelter for the whole group! This big piece of stiff fabric filled out the whole front hatch of his kayak, being stuffed in only with the help of his “GPS”…(General Purpose Stick…)


The gourmet-style cooking at night ranged from boiling hot water without burning it and opening a freeze-dried food bag (Thomas…obviously there was no more room then in his kayak…) to chopping fresh veggies almost all night and cooking on two stoves at one time (Lotta…and her husband obviously enjoyed it!)
Britta amused everybody to pull out some kind of a written “menu” and to read and think loud what’s available for dinner tonight 🙂
Trying Kristin’s homemade beef jerkey gave me in idea about getting started with an own dehydrator at home, as beef jerkey isn’t easily available in Germany.

One night after the paddling I was happy to be asked to teach some side sculling and rolls in the touring kayaks.
We had some success, but less than I would have loved to, as my teaching method is definitively to start off first with my easy going low volume rolling kayak and a Greenland paddle, to get people relaxed and to give them a perfect basic body movement first.
Later, when they feel safe rolling in a proper style, they can transfer their skills to other paddles and boats, with usually more success than starting over in a high volume kayak.

Back from the trip on Friday afternoon to the campsite where Thomas shop is located, the place has already filled up with cars, tents and different kayaks, about 150 people found their way to Stocken!


I had to hurry a bit, as there was a rolling demo scheduled for me at 5pm in a beautiful bay nearby, where the spectators could sit on the rocks like in a natural amphitheatre.

This was the first rolling demo for me doing completely on my own, rolling *and* talking, so I checked with Martin Nissen if he might be available to help me a bit with the talking when I was on the water. Although it turned out that the people could hear me clearly talking in between my rolls, it was good to know he was there, just in case, with the list in his hands…

I asked my two talented Sunday night students Sue from Scotland and Mons, a young 20-year old guy who was working for Thomas and who has just picked up one roll after the other, to join me on the water as co-rollers. Mons even learnt another two rolls right on the demo! Great job!
When I saw Björn Thomasson floating around on the demo site in his “Black Pearl”, he was happy to complete my “background rolling team” with his advanced skills, and we were four people on the water then.
I guessed it was more interesting to see people rolling with different skill levels, rather than one expert only, and I think we all four gave a good idea about what is possible in G-style rolling.
Thank you to all my helpers!

I was fully booked to teach then on Saturday and Sunday, in the morning with 6 beginner students, ½ hr each, where I was teaching standing in the water. All students learnt at least one roll, some two or more!
The afternoon was filled with two 2 hrs session à 4 advanced students, where I was sitting in my kayak and showing the tricky rolls. We had fun!!! and I think everybody took some new rolls home.
Friday night was a slide show by Stene from Sweden about the Greenlandic competition, and Saturday Nigel was showing slides about paddling in Florida. It’s funny how small the sea kayaker’s world is…it happened I have been in both places, too…

Exhausted after those two teaching days, Thomas invited Nigel, Kristin and me again for dinner, and we finished the week with some good night’s talk…

Thank you, Thomas, for inviting me to teach at your place! I really enjoyed being there, and would love to be back next year!
And thank you, Nigel and Kristin, to take me as a guest on your trip! It is always good to hang out with you, anywhere on the world…

Four days of hard work at home, and I’ll be off to the Isle of Man…:-)


1 comment on “Stockentreffen Sweden


Another great post! Sounds like you had a good time. I LOVE your “Batwoman mobile”. It’s even bigger than the one I rented in Newfoundland this past August. I must agree, I really enjoyed having a mobile home to return to after paddling. Who knows, maybe I should buy one too! I also enjoyed meeting Nigel and Kristin last winter in Florida and hope to meet up with them again somewhere.

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