Paddling on the Rocks in Lithuania

Getting Ready for Canoeing and Tourism.
Season's Last
Number on the Chest Paddling.

Nervousness, Fear and
Advance Planning is Part of My Canoeing.

The less I know about the subject, the faster my imagination runs. I wake up at night and wonder. The bear comes to camp, in a fierce stream the paddle slips out of hand. I open my dry bag and all the food is soaked in water. Imagination gallops. I would be a poor formula 1 driver. I would imagine a crash on every bend. I would drive the brake at the bottom. I am a bad loser to myself myself, I enjoy it.

My paddling wounds and salt into them are canoeing against the clock.

I am a bad opponent to myself. I want to win myself every time. When I read the prior conditions and make myself paddling plan, so I'll try to stay there. If canoeing is not carried out according to my plan, I have been unsuccessful. Winning other paddlers is irrelevant.
I am a bad loser to myself, but I really don't care to beat all others.

I won a lottery at GAUJAXXL paddling last spring. a frer registration to Dipolio Issukis -evet in Lithuania.

First I think that it is a running marathon race, and I almost hand over the lottery prize to re-cuirculation. I'm assured that Dipolio Issukis is paddling event in Lithuania. We canoe 170 kilometers of the Neris River from Vilnius to Kaunas.

Well, I can't refuse that. I have just paddled in a couple of days 310 kilometers to the finish. "Piece of cake" I think.

Later, I realize that canoeing is in November, the departure is after sunrise and that the next day we have to arrive 23 hours after departure. My bow engine Sampo is going to shoulder surgery at that time. I have to go alone. My class is C1. The Neris River may be frozen.

Another Gauja XXL veteran, Timo Kivinen, K1, also wants to go paddling in Lithuania and his well-maintained Gauja service team promises to come along. Did I really win the lottery, time will tell.

Foto Tuomas Tuomi
I Need a Faster Canoe.

I have a light to paddle solo, Trillium Northstar, which I am very fond of. I have used it for these long distances, but only distances less than one hundred kilometers. In Trillium, I can sit and paddle for hours.

A made here some calculations on the average speeds needed on these Baltic events.
The effect of current on speed is not included here. Depending on the water situation, the current will help 1-3 km / h.
  • Turi-Tori, 78 km, 15 hours, minimum speed 5.2 km/h
  • Vohandu marathon, 100 km, 24 hours, minimum speed 4,2 km/h
  • Gauja XXL, 310 km, 52 hours, minimum speed 6 km/h
  • Dipolis-Issukis, 170 km, 23 hours, minimum speed 7.4 km/h
For Dipolio-Issukis I need more marching speed. For 170 km in 23 hours, you have to paddle at an average speed of 7.4 km. If the canoe and the stream help one kilometer per hour, it will give almost 3.5 hours to rest. I can sit in the canoe for 3-4 hours, then have to take a break. Seven three-hour sessions and between them half-hour breaks is possible execution schedule.

I go to Welhonpesa canoe store to knock-knock the canoes. There's an old familiar Northstar Magic on the shelf. I've had Bell Magic about ten years ago. I got it as a canoe for paddling the Finnish coast line, 1350 km. Before paddling the coast, I had a stormy trip west of Hanko. I felt that Magic was too tippy for paddling along the coast. In the gusty wind, the energy goes to stay upright. I sold Magic and bought Bell Northstar, an easy-going duo to make a seaworthy solo. With Northstar I paddled the coast line without any problems. Now I need speed and I buy the Magic.

Ten years ago, Ted Bell, a manufacturer of Bell Canoes, sold the production of Bell Canoes to a company that did not start the canoe production properly. When Ted Bell was released from the non-compete, he began making the same familiar canoes under the Northstar brand.
Foto Tuomas Tuomi

Northstar Magic.

It is exciting to go back into the water with the Magic after over ten years of separation. A canoe is much better than a memory. On the other hand, my own canoeing has probably developed as well. Magic runs lightly and fast. Compared to the Trillium, I get a half mile or more walking speed.

I Adjust My Paddle for More Power.

My double-bend paddle seems to be lagging behind the Magic's speed. I can't get my pace up to the speed of Magic. I conclude that I need a little larger blade. On the other hand, I do not want to give up the ZJ paddle's ergonometric double bend design. On the loft of the Welhonpesa I found loose blades of favorite racing paddlers, Braca, which I find suitable. It is slightly longer and narrower than the ZJ paddle shoulder.

Interestingly, the official Olympic paddle maker Braca has a factory in Kaunas, where Dipiolio Issukis ends.

More Light into Darkness.

Last spring, in Gauja, in the dark and fog, we needed more efficient light on the canoe's bow. I browse the web and find even remote controlled lights, but I have little doubt about the functionality of the technology when wet and cold. Satisfied with a graceful, waterproof floodlight. The light has a fixture that allows it to be mounted on a similar rail as the rifles to which the rifle sight is attached. I make a clip from the aluminum rail to the bow of the canoe, where I securely attach to the lamp.

Training Paddling in the Dark.

Dipolio Issukis is practically night paddling. The departure is at sunset and an hour later it is bitch black. The sun will rise in 12 hours. The river Vantaa Helsinki is a reasonably good place to practice dark canoeing. There is so much light pollution in Helsinki that there is no true darkness.

In the summer it is quite normal to go out for an evening canoe from six to seven. Now it seems strange to leave at that time to the black sea.

I buy the musical light used by the musicians, the clip with the red leds at the two horns. In the dark, the light is surprisingly bright and it is good to monitor GPS in that light. In these long distance paddlings, I use GPS to smooth my speed. Therefore, it is good to see the numbers all the time. I'm not so athletic to use a heart rate monitor.

The headlight works well. It's not so bright as to see underwater rocks, but otherwise it helps.

I  Was also Thinking about Clothing.

There is always sweat in the paddle and gradually the upper underwear gets wet and loses its ability to isolate heat. When the distance is long, you do not have enough energy for both canoeing and generating warmth.

I have three layers. Slim technical shirt with a merino wool underwear and another, more durable fleece.

I notice that heat escapes from my arms. I make a wool outfit I bought from a flea market. It has sleeves and a back piece on top of the shoulder blades that holds the sleeves in place. It turns out to be a very useful garment. The heat no longer escapes from the arms.

And of course Ursuit Dry Suit is on top. I also try on a Ursuit MPS, Multi Purpose Suit, and if it doesn't rain, the MPS is more flexible than Venture. I have both outfits with me.

For breaks I have a down top.

There are several gloves. When paddling, the gloves do not normally get wet. I use well oiled leather gloves. When I get wet & cold, I have two more neopren gloves.

I have big neoprene socks on my feet. Big because I can wear more socks on my feet and still have a dry suit sock. Still, there must be room to wiggle my toes.

I have a few headlamps and lithium batteries for them. There are a couple extra of power supplies for my mobile phone.

I should try capsizing and saving myself after paddling for several hours in the cold. Huh, I decide I won't tip over. 

I follow the Neris River through several weather forecasters. For a long time, the forecast promises rainy, light breeze and warm season. Fortunately, the predictions were correct.

Vilnius is Far Away,
Dipolio-Issukis is even Further Away.

It's hard to get to a service car driver in November. We agreed with Timo that we would try paddling with one service car. Timo and his service staff, Hanna Peltonen and Vesa Mutalahti, take three seats and the rest of space is the equipment. I get my own gear and a canoe aboard Timon. A twelve-hour session in a crowded car doesn't appeal. I decide to fly to Vilnius and back. Timo gets a back seat for his own use during a car ride.

There are constant problems with the information from the competition organizer. There is a language and probably a cultural wall. The competition does not have a website, but communication takes place on Facebook. The event is mainly about Lithuania. I have to translate the competition rules with Google from Lithuania to English and then to Finnish. Yes, the translator worked surprisingly well.

I try to get information about the River Neris even from the Lithuanian State Hydrology Institute. There is complete silence from the Institute. At some point, the organizer declares that the river's water status is 5 between a scale of  0- 10. If the spring flood is ten, five would be good runoff. Then we won't get any other information on the river. At the very least, our registration will be acknowledged as received.

I have in previous similar canoeing in those Baltic countries, shaved advance look at the river conditions. Now I'm nervous enough that I decide to rent a car and drive to look at the river.

I Explore the Neris River by Hand.

My flight will arrive on Thursday 14.11. an hour late to Vilnius. I mange to see only the first three service stations. The river seems easy, flows well and is similar at 33, 50 and 70 kilometers. At six o'clock there will be complete darkness.

I don't see any problem areas. I hear one humming stream. The sound is not rapids noise, but rather a long, rocky run sings in the dark. The river's discharge appears to be constant for the first hundred kilometers. The flow is brisk, about three kilometers per hour.

I still believe that a joint service car for Timo and me is enough. On the other hand, I can carry everything I need in a canoe, so I can paddle unattended in an emergency.

After seeing the river, I decide on Thursday night that I will not Melo as the first 28 miles. After all, there are many reasons, but the main reason is that I can't motivate myself for a night adventure on an unknown river in a strange country. I have received from the river and its conditions too little knowledge that I would feel confident. The river is here next year.

In retrospect, I can tell that the difference between Timon and me on the river grew so big that the service wouldn't have had time to even go back and forth between us. The Neris River is followed by a fast highway almost all the way from Vilnius to Kaunas, but the rest of the highway to the river are very slow cart tracks. Navigation on riverside sticks is assisted by Google's off-line satellite map. We both shared our location with Google Maps for service, but on the river water level the cellphone connection is tangled.

In November and in the dark, self-service, which provides hot food and drink, dry clothes and mental encouragement, is an absolute must.


I am of the generation to which at the school was taught a limited number of things Soviet Union. The school said nothing about the Baltic countries. I had no idea about Vilnius. Well, it is the capital of Lithuania the size of Helsinki. The city is 700 years old and looks like a traditional European city. Traffic is congested and it feels like a much bigger city.

It is still easy to drive in traffic jams and while driving is sometimes frenetic, motorists are considerate and polite. I didn't hear the horn honks.

My hotel is right in the center and good restaurants can be found within walking distance. In the city center, meal prices are of the Finnish order. Alcohol is cheaper. The quality and service with everything is better than in Helsinki.

Evening refueling. 

Within walking distance I found an Italian-style restaurant. I've never had a refueling supper for paddling in a fine restaurant like . The two little goblets are greeted by the chef. One, the tuna fish carpaccio, becomes the appetizer before the soup and the other, the tiramisu, becomes the dessert. As a main course, pasta is actually the weakest link in the whole chain, a little dry to my taste. Although the pasta in the picture looks like a small portion, it was just what I needed.

Purchase of Snacks for the River. 

In the center of Vilnius, I didn't see a grocery store where I could go by car. I drive outside the center to a very Russian-looking suburb. There is a supermarket where I can park my car. I have my doubts that I will find anything in this kind of sleeping quarters shop. I am amazed when I enter the store. The selection would fit any Stockmann Delicatessen at any time. Very Central European style.


The River Neris.

Canoeing was supposed to start in the city center, but this is where the big river ditch renovation site is located. The 170-kilometer departure moved six kilometers upstream outside the city center. Information about this appeared in Facebok on Friday 15.11. with 230 kilometers of canoeists already on the move.
Foto ja video Hanna Peltonen

My Own Paddling. 
I had all sorts of mishaps along the fall, so my canoeing was minimal. I invested even more carefully in preparing for the rest of the event. The poor communication of the race organizer was a big problem for me. I'm used to acquire all the possible and impossible information when I'm getting ready for demanding paddling. Now, I am really unsure about where I'm going. Timo, on the other hand, has been practicing all fall and has the goal of getting a good position in addition to being successful. In these events i have only one aim, to finish the route in time. Now I'm not at all sure about myself, let alone my paddling.

I shorten my task dramatically. I'm not trying to paddle through the night, just the first leg, about 22 miles. I'll tell my service my plan and they'll pick me up at the first time check station. They take my canoe and other equipment to the car and bring me back to the hotel in Vilnius.

I am pleased with my decision. Now I have no reason to be nervous, but I can enjoy fine paddling along the historic river.

I even decide that my experience on the river would be perfect so I do not document my canoeing other than GPS track. I don't video, take pictures, nor take selfies. The decision is liberating and canoeing is fun.

Navigating Creeck by Listening. 

Last spring's GaujaXXL was a tough experience. Now on the Neris river was great to see, that I learned to paddle in the cold and in the dark. Although I did not paddle more than little over three hours, I did it at full speed. Above all else, I could have paddled without a searchlight through Vilnius and for quite some time afterwards. The sky was in a thick cloud and the city lights illuminated the clouds. The black silhouette of the forest was visible against the light clouds and the clouds reflect the surface of the water light, where the whirlpools are well visible. No cobblestones or fallen trees were hit.

One new doctrine is bypassing the long creeck by ear. I can't see creeck's rocks or turmoil, dodge the river by the sound without hitting the rocks. At this point, I use a wooden otter tail paddle, with which I am silently moving on. The paddle's long blade also warns me if I drift into shallow water.

When there are no lights on the river as points of reference, I begin to wait for hallucinations. They will not appear, and the darkness will not hinder my balance in the canoe. I believe it helps when I sometimes look far into the light beam and the dim landscape of the searchlight and sometimes turn my gaze on the red led light illuminated GPS to sharpen my gaze. I believe that this eye drill keeps the brain's imaging vibrant and leaves no time for the brain to tune into hallucinations. I also apply the advice I received this fall from my paddling friend Fögö, Juha Forsström, that in knee position the balance does not come from the legs, but that you know you are sitting on the tail bone. Great advice.

With Our Service Group by the Black River Neris.

I'll get to Timo's service. They won't have time to give me ride to the hotel, but I'll go with them to the next check oint to see Timo. There is a cart trail along the river, which sometimes disappears into the bushes. The atmosphere in the dark river bed is magic.

Batteries, Meat Broth and Blueberry Soup. 

Timo emerges from the black river. His lights have faded, and I'll tape him my own searchlight with fresh batteries. I also give him a thermos jug of warm meat broth and a liter of strong blueberry soup. Timo changes to dry clothes and takes a nap in the car. We say goodbye to him on the dark river. I do not envy him.

In the meantime, the service takes me to the hotel. It was great to experience riverside at night, and I am pleased that I decided to paddle only one share.

As a Tourist in Vilnius. 

Napoleon defined Vilnius as Jerusalem of northern Europe. Vilnus was a traditional Jewish city. At its best, there were over hundred synagogues in the city. Hitler and later Stalin exterminated 60 000 Jews from Vilnius.

Vilnius KGB Museum.

The pacifist in me doesn't value bad deeds. The KGB exhibition is a bit like countryside museum in Finland. Guns, somebody's glasses, lots of black and white photos of men in military suits, small pictures and captions too long for me.

Downstairs, there are prison cells that resembled the drunkards of my youth on Sofiankatu, Helsinki. Even in Finland, we still talk about bucket celss, meaning there in a bucket as a toilet. The water-rinsed squat bidet-cell looks like an officer's luxury in this environment.

The museum man in me longs for a dramatic beginning and finally tears. Nevertheless, there are many viewers, mostly serioious looking young people.

Vilnius MO, Museum of Modern Art. 

A long walk. I got lost a few times. The house is the work of an architect "now I can show my genius".

The exhibition to my eye is essentially the level of a third-year Spring Exhibition of the Academy of Arts. Lithuania and Estonia are already a long way from the traumas of the Soviet era, but here it seems they are still devoted to it. This art is experienced by almost the same group of young couples as the KGB Museum. Silent, serious and hard looking.


While exhausted by walking, I google the bus back to the hotel. Google provides me the Uber. I load it and make on order. And I'm going to become an Uberist. Prejudice disappeared.

On the cellphone, I tell you where to go, Uber tells who comes with what, what costs and how many minutes I have to wait (6 min).

The ride is better than any taxi in my previous life. Including my own career in a taxi when studying art. An unspoken, peaceful ride in a clean Passat with soft music playing. On an arrival no hussle with the money. Just thank you & bye!

Uber asks for stars and comments for the driver. I give five and would have given him a tip in addition to the $ 3 ride, but at that point Uber reports that there is a problem, the tipping does not work.

Evening Dining & Formula1.

Now, when I'm Uberman, I expand on Vilnius restaurant scene outside the walk. Google suggests Veranda, a place that is family-friendly and has live jazz. There!

Uber comes and exports. Divine Uber experience again. A ride that doesn't have to be in contact with the locals. No bargaining, just clean ride.

The Veranda is embarrassingly fine for my needs and still very friendly. A decent, professional restaurant with a busy sticker on the barstool table, which is a little taller than other tables. Hovi laments that the seats are occupied, but that reserved table is still vacant. (A knowledgeable restaurant will book the worst tables for casual entrants. They are usually places they don't want to give to pre-booking customers. Good idea.) Of course, I'm fine. And the table is not even next to the bathroom. The landscape is for the bar and pianist.

The drinks are great. Negroni for starters, good local light beer and Chuchill port wine with Kleine Browner for dessert coffee.

At the moment, tuna lacarpaccio seems to have been a fresh one too (Food poisoning incubation time is about six hours). Divine tastes, apologies to potential dolphin victims. It tasted ethically fished thou.

Enrecote is a bit over medium, but with fiery marshes I get it down to the last meat piece.

The Veranda is a great place to watch Formula Time runs on my mobile phone. Uh, I am a little ashamed.

Paddling Takes You to Strange Places.
Rarely have I prepared so thoroughly for any trip. And finally the result is something else. The preparation was very instructive. When it's cold and long paddle, everything has to be in order. The fact that I interrupted doesn't annoy me. The trip was great with everything.

Timo's service team takes my canoe and stuff by car to Finland. And a pre-ordered Uber on a cellphone takes me to the airport in good time.


Dipole Challenge PLUS 230km
1. Ilze Balode K1W (LV) 20:19
2. Edgars Purvinš K1M (LV) 20:23
3. Andris Stavro K1M (LV) 22:39
4. Timo Kivelä K1M (FIN) 27:53
5. Arūnas Maciulevičius (LT) KP2-5:00


6.Linda Tetsman + Anette Baum K2W (EE) 22:23
7.Meelis Valgeväli + Eero Valgeväli K2M (EE) KP4 11:23

Dipolio iššukis klasika 170 km
Dipole Challenge classic 170km

1. Arnoldas Latvenas K1M (LT ) 16:35
2. Vilimas Varanavicius K1M (LT) 18:39
3. Jokbas Girdvainis K1M (LT) 20:52
4. Wieslaw Koc K1M (PL) 20:56
5. Vytenis Butkevicius K1M (LT) 23:46
6. Sigitas Žutautas K1M (LT) KP4 16:16
7. Jaakko Mäkikylä C1M (FIN) KP1 3:22


8. Hillar Irves + Raul Lepasild K2M (EE) 18:22
9. Vygantas Kleinauskas + Valentinas Žala K2M (LT) 19:25
10. Migl Žegleviciute + Juras Tovtkevicius K2MIX (LT) 21:08
11. Inga Aukštuolyte + Edita Krušinskiene K2W (LT) 21:48

Good luck in your next races!

Lithuania is the 14th country where I have paddled. Now my sailed and paddled countries are on a level. I do not consciously collect these, just realized.

Link ro my Garmin

Info Links.
My canoei: Northstar Magic, Welhonpesä 
My paddle: Braca Outrigger -lapa, Welhonpesä ja tuplamutkamela, ZJ-paddle, löytyy Welhonpesästä

Weather forecasts: Windy ja norjalainen Yr - näihin löytyy hyvät, ilmaiset appsit

My hotel in Vilmius: Congress Hotel
Thursday evening restaurant: Da Antonio
Friday food store: IKI,
Saturday evening restaurant: Veranda
I rented the car through hotell. Parking vas at the hotel yard 10 € per night.

Mo art museum,
KGB-museum (The Genocide and Resistance Museum),

Baltia Paddling Events in 2020.

Estonia, Turi-Tori 11.4. 2020
Estonia, Vöhandumaraton 18.4. 2020
Latvia, Gauja XXL 1.-3.5. 2020
Lithuania, Dipolio Issukis, 13.-14.11. 2020

My Baltia Paddlings in 2019.
Linkki Gauja XXL -melontaan

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