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In this article, we shall be having a look at all things watery. We’ll put the spotlight on cruises, diving, dolphin watching, fishing, jet-skiing, kayaking, kite surfing, sailing, skim boarding, stand up and paddle, wake-boarding, water-skiing, whale watching and wind surfing. Join us as we head out onto the water.
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The Baltic Sea
This is a huge expanse of icy water in Northern Europe, bordered by Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as parts of Germany and Denmark. Its average depth is nearly 180 ft but at its deepest it measures 1,506 ft, deep enough to submerge a one hundred storey building.
Neither salt water nor fresh, it is a combination of the two and a haven to wildlife such as ringed seals and harbour porpoises, cod, herring and salmon as well as tens of millions of migratory birds; among them, the Arctic tern, divers and long-tailed duck.
It is also home to something just a tad more sinister; “The Baltic Sea anomaly”, a 60 metre circular rock-like formation which is an unusual phenomenon. Discovered in May 2011, some say it’s a UFO while some say it’s the remains of a World War II German anti-submarine device, and still others believe it is a plug to the underworld. Whatever it is and wherever it came from, it continues to baffle scientists to this day.
Type the words ‘Baltic Sea Cruises’ into any internet browser and you are instantly faced with a plethora of choice. Not surprising when you consider what’s on offer from the water. You can take in the imperialism of the Baltic’s capital cities, marvel at the architecture of St Petersburg, enjoy the panorama of Stockholm’s archipelago, and see the sights of Kristiansand’s beaches.
Diving talk in the Baltic has lately been of the “UFO” mentioned above; but that aside for a moment, the seabed has become the resting place for thousands of ships and aircraft, many of which are well preserved due to the composition of the water. The northern Baltic waters cannot support shipworm, the wood-eating clam that destroys submerged timber, so many of these vessels are still largely intact.
The brackish nature of The Baltic Sea sees it supporting many species of fish, from those that thrive in the saltier water to the south, to those that prefer the less saline conditions in the north. Among those species regularly and commercially fished here are cod, Baltic herring, sprat, flounder, plaice, salmon, sea trout, European eel and sturgeon. It is likely though that the fishing of eel will be severely regulated, if not stopped altogether, due to diminishing numbers.
Visit the St. Anna Archipelago, around 150km south west of Stockholm, for this watery treat. Here the islands, rocks and skerries provide a playground for everyone, from beginner to sea dog. A beautiful nature reserve displaying everything from uninhabited, barren rock formations to islands covered in pine and birch, it is hoped that the area will be granted National Park status before long.
The world of kite surfing has a new record to beat and it was set over the Baltic. Jan Lisewski sailed around 200 kilometres, from Swinoujscie in his native Poland to Ystad in Sweden. It took him around 11 hours to complete the voyage and put kite surfing high on the Baltic’s thrillseekers must-do list. For some great kite surfing spots around the Baltic, visit Visby in Gotland and Dalarö in Stockholm.
Despite or perhaps even because of its many shipwrecks, sailing is as popular in the Baltic as it is anywhere else on our blue planet. It’s not for the faint hearted though as there are no pleasure boat sunshine cruises here; it’s all about the challenge. Strong winds, rain and difficult navigation can lead to some hair-raising situations. The strongest currents are mostly found at the harbour gateways.
Stand up and Paddle (SUP)
SUP is very popular in Sweden. Not only is it a relaxing way to cruise the waterways, it’s also an excellent core muscle workout guaranteed to get and keep you fit. Originating in Hawaii, it has taken the world by storm and captured Swedish sporting imagination. You can begin in the calmer waters of Stockholm, improving your core strength and balance, and very soon be looking to push yourselves for a full CV workout.
Natural wake boarding with really good waves and winds can be found in the Baltic off the coasts of Latvia and Lithuania but you can wakeboard in Stockholm. At lake Halmsjön, a 623 metre long cable has been strung up over floating jetties around the course. There are 9 different obstacles; a Funbox, a 19 metre slider, 3 kickers, an A-frame, a large Grindbox, a 16 metre piperail and a streetrail providing all the inland wake boarding fun you could wish for.
There are around 70 water skiing clubs in Sweden, which are run and operated by the members. Clubs rarely own the waters they ski on but rather rent the space from the local authority. One such club, which operates on Lake Mälaren, has been allocated a section of the lake in which to play and they welcome new members. The Cable Park at lake Halmsjön mentioned above also provides water skiing facilities.
Wind surfing is one of the most popular water sports in Sweden, particularly in the south and along the west coast. There are lots of well sheltered bays with flat, calm water which is ideal if you're new to the sport. On windy, stormy days, however, the waves can rise up as much as 4 metres, presenting a challenge to even the most experienced wind surfer.
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