Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Svalbard North America East Coast Tour 2017


Kayakers complete World First Circumnavigation of Svalbard Archipelago

On the 5th of September 2015, a team of three kayakers completed the first ever kayak circumnavigation of Svalbard Archipelago including the islands of Spitsbergen, Nordaustlandet, Barents Oya and Edge Oya.  The 2200km long journey took them 71 days, during which they paddled north over the 80th parallel, had many encounters with polar bears, negotiated ice choked waters, survived gales, and endured days of freezing temperatures in the Arctic wilderness. 


This “has got to be the kayak adventure of the year” ~Sean Morley USA  

In the heart of the Arctic Ocean, at 76-81 degrees north, the Svalbard Archipelago remained one of the world’s last great ‘firsts’.  Despite numerous attempts, no one had ever paddled around the four main islands of the archipelago, and the most notorious of the islands being “Nordaustlandet”, for the majority of the year, the island remains trapped in ice and only a brief window, if any, opens up in the far north, allowing passage.

“The talk that must be heard” ~ Jeff Allen UK

The name of the expedition, ‘Ice Bears and Islands’, refers to the many polar bears that roam in this desolate wilderness, also known as ‘isbjørn’ in Norwegian and literally translating to ‘Ice Bear’, polar bears were also a huge (literally and figuratively) hazard on the trip.

All past attempts at the circumnavigation were brought to a sudden end: one team had their kayaks smashed to pieces; another was trapped by fast moving pack ice, and the most recent and horrific being two Norwegian paddlers who were attacked by a polar bear. 

“The images alone had me on the edge of my seat, and the presentation was a great mix of funny, scary and honest… I loved every moment” ~ Mia Kulseng Norway

Jaime Sharp will be telling the tale of their succesful adventure, using video and photo tied in with his spoken narration to draw you into there arctic adventure. Jaime has presented this show over 25 times in over 6 countries, come along and be amazed.

 
*Large Art Poster Prints will be for Sale at all events
Many to choose from $15 each or two for $25, can be signed by the photographer on the night.

Montreal, Quebec May 10th
https://www.kayaklatinsdunord.com/evenements

Time:  19-21:30
@ Lozeau. 
6229A  St-Hubert St
Montreal, Quebec

Tickets $10 p/p here
https://www.kayaklatinsdunord.com/evenements



Rochester, New York May 12th

WIN! Come along and enter to win a new Lendal Paddle on the night included in your ticket purchase.
https://www.baycreek.com/svalbard.html

7.30pm
BayCreek Paddling Center
Town of Brighton, Buckland Lodge
1341 Wesfall RD, Brighton, NY
 Tickets here
https://www.baycreek.com/svalbard.html

Boston May 13th
WIN! Come along and enter to win a new Lendal Paddle on the night, included in your ticket purchase.

http://paddleboston.com/rentals/events/
 
7pm

Charles River Canoe and Kayak
Waltham Paddling Shop
160 Riverview Ave, Waltham, MA 02453
 Enter a raffle for a free Lendall paddle. Tickets are $10 (pay at the door).

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Double Down the Grand

 


www.lendalna.com


In front of our double kayak, a wall of water reared up so high it seemed as tall as a building, and that building was toppling on top of us. In the bow seat Jill disappeared into the crashing carnage, with a lurch she re-appeared, not that I witnessed this, myself now being swallowed up into the frothing torrent and then being spat out with disdain. Blinking the water and grit from my eyes I could see the next wave coming, though noticed I could not see the bright yellow double sea kayak, which Jill and I sat in, it was still submersed in the turbulent water, rearing and jumping about us. Both of us slammed through the next wave and where paddling hard while white water exploded everywhere; or should I call it “brown water”?

Really there was so much silt in the river from the rains; the Colorado was living up to its name sake meaning “the color red” and its rapids made our 22 foot kayak feel like a tiny toy riding a chocolate milkshake in a blender.  Looking down stream danger was lurking, my voice erupted from my mouth like an angry lion tamer, “RIGHT PADDLE, RIGHT, RIGHT!” Jill quickly started paddling forward on the right as we steered the vessel left of a large hydraulic, missing it’s gnashing recirculating frothing mouth in the river… barely. Suddenly with no option we hit a large wave side on, I threw my weight into it to brace, we struck it and I was engulfed in brief darkness as the boat was swallowed up yet again and then spat into the eddy. In order to counter the wave impact, I had the boat leaning downstream; as we unexpectedly shot to the side of the main flow a whirlpool grabbed the nose of the kayak spinning us in the same direction capsizing us. I tried to brace the boat on its side and initiate a roll, though I noticed Jill lifting her head to the sky, Jill didn’t know how to roll, I wasn’t able to yell to her to keep her head down before we capsized into the dark gloom of the silty river.


www.kokatat.comJill Brown and I have Just returned from a unique “Self Support” adventure down the famous Grand Canyon, together in a 22 ft fiberglass double sea kayak, we completed what has been called a world first self support journey. Over 11 days we traveled down the main 227 mile section of the river from Lee’s Ferry to Diamond Creek carrying all the supplies we needed in our kayak with no Rafts following for safety or support, however journey was not a solo vessel journey, we where members of motley crew of 7 other keen paddlers in a mixed bag of vessels from white water creek boats to Single Sea Kayaks and white water Expedition Kayaks.

This adventure was not intended to be a world first adventure; it started a year ago as an idea of how to bring someone down the Grand Canyon, on a self support kayak trip, who could not paddle their own kayak. I had been invited on the trip by friends, and it was to have no rafts, thus all the kayaks had to be able to carry all their own food and gear in the kayak. As this trip was to be my third trip down the Grand Canyon (my first being possibly the first self support single sea kayak trip done in 2013 more here ), I felt that a double sea kayak would make a great vessel for navigating this Iconic American white water river, after all they take wooden dories and Large Rafts down it.

I managed to find what I felt was the perfect double sea kayak, it was a fast expedition touring boat, was maneuverable and could hold a lot of gear, allowing two people to live out of it comfortably, it was designed to handle rough seas and large surf launches and landings on the coast, so I had a good feeling it would handle the huge waves on the Grand.

Our Crew
https://chapul.com/

Camp at night
 
Double kayaks are often jokingly called “divorce boats” and ironically I went through 3 expedition partners during the planning of this trip before finally the last one, with only a weeks’ notice, committed and stuck. Jillian Brown is a brave friend of mine from Squamish BC Canada, who had expressed interest in the trip when I was telling her about it during the lead up, with a last minute partner cancellation, I threw the option at Jill and she was in. She had not paddled on rivers any bigger than class 2 in a canoe, and though she was a sea kayaker, she did not know how to roll. Though I felt strongly that all that did not matter, in fact that was exactly what I wanted, to be able to share this journey with someone who was not experienced enough to do it on their own. On top of it Jill was a professional photographer, and was able to help me document this awesome trip, for good or bad.
More on Jill and her photos at www.instagram.com/jillianabrownphotography/


On day 4 we found ourselves upside down a the bottom of a rapid, it wasn’t even one of the big ones. we had made it this far OK, though now I was slightly questioning what we where doing, as we swam awkwardly through the next small rapid and worked the boat to the side of the river, with help from Kevin in his white water kayak towing the double as we swam with it. as we emptied the double like a big canoe on the shore, there was time to process the problem, and basically I realized there is no reason to try and cut out of the rapids early in this vessel, it is fast enough, long enough and heavy enough to punch through all but the biggest the river has to give, so we just need to choose the raft lines and stay on line all the way through the "Gnar". 11 days later we had made it through all the biggest and baddest and had not flipped again... well... we almost flipped on "Granite" rapid, but managed to roll back up with the help of the next wave; and we certainly took some huge hits, with Jill left pretty battered by the end of the trip after being the first one in the kayak to impact, and always going the deepest and hardest into the rapids. It was a solid journey, and gave us a taste of what John Wesley Powell may have gone through with his wooden boats some 150 year earlier.

“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.” John Wesley Powell

The journey was breathtaking in scenery, wonderful in weather, and unbeatable as far as friends and fun, the double sea kayak proved to be a great option for journeying self supported on the grand Canyon, and I would most certainly do it again. Though no damage was done to the kayak, a plastic one may be a better choice for anyone looking to follow in our paddle strokes.

Here are some more images from our adventure, and a log of our days, stay tuned for a full story coming soon in a publication near you.
Jaime Sharp

More Photos and the Trip Log 

https://www.cascadedesigns.com/

 
Day 1 19.4 mile camp Feb 11th
Jill's birthday 
Training day, 
After a painfully long ranger brief and gear check, where our Canadian coast guard approved pfd's failed and we got a hard time about our fire pan being 2 and a half inches deep instead of 3. We where finally on the water just after lunch.
Tried rolling the double, it didn't want to happen easily, so I thought we best swim and see what we where dealing with, for worst case scenario. It was a pretty swamped kayaked, and even with mike helping empty over the front of his kayak, we only managed to empty the front cockpit. Got Jill in and secured her with a spray skirt. Then I climbed in the rear and started pumping out water from a completely filled cockpit. Eventually got it empty and underway again. It is a real hassle to empty the boat, and to try and roll, so best we keep it up right!!
Double handles well in the rapids, we move quickly and plow through holes and waves alike. Side ways is not good, and steering is hard without rudder. Rudder works well in the rapids. Jill ofcourse takes the brunt of all the rapids and is often submerged, only the biggest rapids bury me and often I am only splashed in the face.Dani and Heather swam Badger (the 1st big one) but we all made it through Soap Creek and House Rock. started to rain this night.
Started to rain lightly that evening. 
Dinner tuna melts in the Dutch oven
Desert chocolate brownies in Dutch oven
  

Day 2 camped at mile 44 Feb 12
Today was the roaring 20s, camped at mile 44 , President Hardy, Neil's sock roasting camp, rained all day.
Dinner
Butter chicken 
Roasted banana bread with chocolate

Side Canyons abound with many adventures to be had.

Day 3 Feb 13 Camped at mile 66, palisades creek
Today was a slower kayak day. Camped at mile 66, palisades creek.  Dani is not managing the river well and has Damaged her kayak again.
Burgers
Banana bread in Dutch oven


Day 4 Feb 14 Camped at clear creek, mile 84
This day had more action with unkar, nevils, Hanz, and sockdolager rapid. Camped at clear creek, mile 84, where we walked over all those slippery rocks to get water in the creek.  Danny has damaged her boat yet again, and is now considering hiking out tomorrow from Phantom Ranch.
Steak and mash potatoes
Choc Almonds for desert 



Day 5 Feb 15 Ego Beach camp, mile 98.9.
Today we said goodbye to Danny at phantom ranch. She conveniently  meet a hiker who was from flagstaff hiking out that day and driving back to Flag that night, who was also happy to hike out with her and help carry the sea kayak, even if it meant finishing up at 9pm in the dark. Awesome. She loaded up three satchels of stuff at phantom ranch to be muled out at $73 a satchel, and started hiking . We pushed on with mike, now only a group of 8, to hit the big four of the furious day 5. Horn, granite, hermit and crystal. Hearts where racing and times where pumping and we powered the double through all of them. Horn the line was enter river center on the right edge of a big hole and then drive hard left before being swept into the next hole,  we hit our entry line though couldn't get all the way left, Jill stayed out of the hole, I nudged through it sideways with an explosion of white water engulfing holding the stern and allowing the double to pivot and straighten Into the rest of the rapid and power through the big waves.

Granite was one of the longer big rapids yet, we lined up center right and powered our way through the continuous wave trains, a lateral wave off river right pounded us, I tucked hard into it, but something grabbed us and ripped us left and almost capsized us. I manged to get in a high brace and held the double up a bit,then with help of a buffeting wave the boat  came back upright, and we Plugged through the rest. Our center hatch had popped open a bit as on Hans rapid, and allowed some water in. We stopped and pumped out.

Hermit was more intense than I remember, but the line was simple, straight through those enormous waves. In we went each wave bigger, climbing high, dropping deep, climbing, climbing, climbing the next, exploding off the top and down into the trough, then the last big one, a continuous breaking wave, swallowing the 23 foot kayak whole, holding us stationary for a brief second then spitting us out into the smaller tail waves that where still quite large. Eddied out and watched the next group through.

Crystal was next, we didn't scout, just ran center left of the big hole at the top and drove right between the next hole and the rocky boulder garden near shore. Safely we all pulled out at a beach in the lower eddy and made camp in a very cool location.  Dinner was chicken sausage Alfredo pesto with cream fresh, then a vanilla apple cake in the Dutch oven for desert.ended at camp just below Crystal and Lower Crystal or Ego Beach camp, mile 98.9. 
Great epic day. I am so glad the double got through. Tomorrow we aim for 30 miles all the rapids are a bit tamer than today, until we hit lava in a couple of days. 
Cream fresh pesto pasta
Vanilla apple pie 

SealLine Dry Bags doing what they do best www.seallinegear.com

Day 6 Feb 16 Camped at Randy's Rock, mile 127
 we started with Tuna rapid (6) and went through all the gems, side stops at Wheeler boat, Shinumo Creek, and Elves Chasm. Camped at Randy's Rock, mile 127 with the overhanging Tapeats. 
Dinner was steak and mash potatoe,
desert chocolate almonds. Pre cooked pancakes for breakfast. 

At the Granaries, Nankoweap

Day 7 Feb 17 156 mile last chance camp
Started with rain, great day on the water chewing up miles and enjoying the great rapids.
Hiked deer creek, toasted to Judd's dad who died five years earlier and his ashes had been spread here. Judds dad had done the Canyon 5 times in his life.
Ran upset rapid and got a great line, with me kissing the whole at the end to swing the double back straight into the rapid. 
Meet Allen Yip from NZ randomly at ledges campsite, he is moving to Squamish this summer. Spent 30 mins talking while the rest of group headed to camp. Powered the double down steam eating up the 5 miles and arriving at camp about 5 mins after the others arrived. camped at 156 mile last chance camp when that bigger group had taken the Ledges already
Dinner was Mexican lasagna in the Dutch oven with chocolate for desert.

Entering Lava

Day 8 Feb 18th Camped at 182 mile? Upper chevron
Today we hit Lava! Visited havasu river, it was blue and not brown which was awesome. Loads of fish in the river. Paddled down stream to national canyon for lunch and a hike up the stream to collect water. Then we hit lava. Went past the volcan rock where some of us touched it others didn't, then soon we where scouting lava from the right hand side. It was big and chunky, though no worse than any other rapid we had hit already. Judd and Neil went first and then Jill and I in the double. We hit our entry line good, juts touching the right of the entry hole, and the. We slammed through all the features of lava. Getting swallowed by the hole at the end, but spat out. We where solid the whole way through not once feeling like we where going to tip.
Ryan heather and Kevin came next. Heather swam though the rest where fine. Made it to camp just before 6pm. Great day, now it is all easy from here out. Stoked the double has been so solid through this whole river, I was a little worried at the start, now I feel super confident in the boats abilities. The 

Kevin adding some flair to his waterfall jump
 Day 9 Feb 19Camp at 215?
Long day, bit of rain, stunning evening light on Canyon walls. Lunch at whiltemotr çanyon?
 
Day 10  Feb 20 camped at 220
Before leaving camp we meet up with the 3 guys "through hiking" the Grand Canyon. They where on their last 10 days. Of the 3rd 30 day section, they had some interesting story to tell and we wished each other well.

Our group had stayed in camp today until 1pm, the. We blasted down to our last camp for the trip by 4pm. Then it got fun, with us getting a bunch of beer of another rafting group, and then us all drinking the last beers we all had and dressing up and getting our nails painted pink. Fun night, thankfully not enough alcohol to get hangovers. Stunning starry night. We had done it, we got a double sea kayak down the Grand Canyon, through all the big rapids. 
 


 Day 11 Feb 21st
Pulled off at diamond creek mile 226
At 10.20am. Dan was there to meet us. What a trip
Dan Jill and mike drove back to canada with the double on top of the van.

Jaime checking the tie down on the double for the rough road out at Daimond Creek Photo by Jill Brown
Day 16 
On my flight back to NZ I flew Phoenix to la on the same flight was one of the through hiker guys from the Grand Canyon, he recognized me and said "Hi" then Told me that day after we had seen them, his brother fell down a slot Canyon and fractured his arm and needed to be heli evac'ed, it took 18 hours for the chopper to arrive. The 3rd guy with them left as well as mentally it broke him, the one brother then hiked on alone to exit the Canyon at diamond creek a few days later. they where all so close to completing Hiking he entire length of the Grand Canyon together, bummer. and what Small world that we ended up on the same flight.
Jill and Jaime at the end of the Double Down the Grand journey.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Svalbard Circumnavigation Expedition Nominated for “Expedition of the Year” 2016 by Canoe and Kayak Mag.

Vote
Vote HERE and help us win this prestigious adventure award

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The Canoe & Kayak Awards is a forum for the paddling community to recognize excellence in our sport. Winners are nominated by their peers and chosen by everyday paddlers. The Canoe & Kayak Awards celebrate all aspects of our sport, with a very simple bottom line: Which paddlers, expeditions, and causes most inspire our readers to seek out their own paddling adventures.
Read more at http://www.canoekayak.com/canoe-kayak-awards/about/#ULSOSlizkqJFgsQ2.99
Expedition of the Year Presented by Nexen Tire
Awarded to the team that completes the toughest, most committing and historically significant paddling expedition of the year. Multi-sport expeditions are eligible if paddling is integral to the mission.
Vote              Vote HERE and help us win this prestigious adventure award
01 Talk Intro
Svalbard Islands Circumnavigation Vote
The Team: Tara Mulvany, Jaime Sharp, Per Gustav Porsanger
What: The ‘Unclaimed Circumnavigation’ of Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago; the last team to attempt this exped’ where almost killed by a polar bear. 3 previous attempts failed.
How: Late last summer, New Zealand sea kayakers Sharp and Mulvany teamed with Porsanger, of Norway, for a first-ever, 1,370-mile circumnavigation of the remote Arctic archipelago. In 71 days marked by gale-force winds, thick fog, and debris-choked water, the team’s route included a 43-mile, 15-hour crossing as well a 26-hour push across the 110-mile cliff front of Europe’s largest glacier. And polar bears. Lots of polar bears.
Online Canoe and Kayak Visual Feature here
http://www.canoekayak.com/land-of-ice-and-bears/
Expedition Website Here
www.svalbard.worldwildadventure.com

Team Jaime Sharp©jaimesharp-0088©jaimesharp-00887©IcebearsandIslands-00723©icebearsandislands-8365©jaimesharp-7546©jaimesharp-00654©jaimesharp-5092©jaimesharp-3806©icebearsandislands-9698©jaimesharp-6652©jaimesharp-9072©jaimesharp-8236

Vote                                 Vote HERE and help us win this prestigious adventure award

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Christmas Tale Retold After 10 Years of Belize

 

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It is Christmas Eve and I lay in my tent camped on the edge of a whitewater river in the jungle of Belize with my clients. It is now ten years on since I first came to work  here in Belize, and I find it just as alluring  now as I did then ( though perhaps a dab more normal than I thought of it back then). Sleeping in the jungle with the sounds of the multitude of life around me, the stars twinkling above me and the roar of the rapids on the river next to me; I am brought back to a group email ( no blog back then) I first wrote of this experience back in 2005. My words then echo now in my mind as I sit being present to what's around me. I have included my old email below along with some photos I have taken over the years in Belize to accompany .
I hope you all have a great New Years and... Keep exploring.

Jaime

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Written in 2005

Dark, wet and moody Jungle, where the rain falls so hard and for so long the ground pools even when it’s flat. The air itself becomes wet and the jungle rings with the noise of drumming everywhere. It stops suddenly, just as it started, though what is left now are the heavy drips that build from the upper canopy, drumming all the way down till large droplets strike the sodden earth. Now the sound of the river returns, a constant buzz from the nearby rapids, the frogs start calling and singing, the jungle is now alive with a new kind of music, and overture of tones and harmony that clutter, yet give symphony. A toucan flies across the gap made by the river winding through the jungle.

We are camped out on the side of the Moho River, in southern Belize's Toledo district. This trip is a four day journey through the jungle via the Moho, which runs a path

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(c)Worldwildadventures-0030That leads to 5meter pool drops and an assortment of shoots, just to add excitement to the otherwise tranquil setting. We travel on inflatable two person rafts or kayaks, sometimes known as duckie's, they are stable and durable, and thus we can let our clients captain them without a guide, after a little lesson of course. All around us is life, howler monkeys in Ceiber trees, four eyed grey opossums who come to see who is in their territory at night, multitudes of birds, from eagles to Grackles (a type of black bird), to Oropendulas with their TUI like calls (for those in NZ), to the tiger Heron, who has a call a little like the gentle rumbling snarl of a tiger.

Boy I am humbled by the beauty and magnificence of this world. The two Mayan guides I work with, Pedro and Camellio, live in such a simple way and are so in tune with and knowledgeable of, the jungle we travel in, that I feel like an alien on an in hospitable planet, though boy I am super happy to be here.

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Pedro is teaching me how to catch Green Iguana from the kayak. The iguanas hang out on trees along the (c)Worldwildadventures-2014river and when you surprise them on low branch they leap into the water. The trick is to paddle up slowly with your PFD of and as the jump you jump in after them, grabbing them by the tail until they stop spinning then they just relax until you let them go, quite amazing. I have not yet caught one, they are dam fast.

I found an amazing snake (in fact I found a number of them over the week), called the blunt headed tree snake, delicately long and super thin, it is a striking creamy white with large terracotta orange bands on it, its cat like eyes give away that it is poisonous, though it is extremely docile and even if it did bit it mouth is small and its fangs at the rear of the mouth (the specialises in eating frogs and their eggs, as well as insects). This particular Snake curled around one of my fingers and made itself at home staying there for 20 min's until I encouraged it to move to a tree.

 

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(c)Worldwildadventures-0129-2Previously the trip starts on the ocean out on the Caye's (the name for the islands here) on the barrier reef of Belize (the second largest in the world). Here the sand is white and he water is warm and clear, the snorkelling great, eagle rays, morays, sea turtles and sharks, not to mention the multitudes of fish species found amongst the coral. Out here on the Caye's( pronounced Keys), brown pelicans dive for fish along with yellow and blue footed booby's, who in turn get harassed by frigate birds for their food. The frigate cannot dive for its own fish, due to the huge wings and little body, though it must resort to piracy.

On some of the Caye's live spinney tailed iguanas, a lot more ferocious than the green, however I did catch one (see attached photos). Out here we kayak from key to key or patch reef to patch reef, snorkelling and eating and drinking, catching seafood when we can. The kayaks are also set up with a sail so we can sail when the trade winds are blowing. Out on the Caye's I think of myself as more of a snorkelling guide, as that's what we do mostly, so it is very cool to spend so much time in the water and getting to know the foreign fish here.

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However this place is amazing and has so much potential, the people are very friendly, though can be quite in your face sometimes. The Mayans further south, are simple and quite, living of their farms as they have done for centuries. It is interesting to live in a country with so much ethnic diversity, Creole, Garifuna, Mayan, and Mennonites, all different languages, and culture, though one nationality.

Any hew; I am great, merry Christmas and happy new years to you all.

J

 

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