Saturday, May 18, 2013

Beneath an Arctic sun

 It is rounding up to be an amazing Trip with Jeff, not quite what we had originally planed though still awesome. Here is what Jeff has written so far on the trip as we head off. you can read more of his posts on our trip here I will try and write some myself if I can soon.

Jeff writes
" So we left from Someroya, the weather is perfect, in fact you would not believe we are well above the Arctic Circle, 069 degrees 27.98' N to be precise. We are wearing dry suits and boy are we regretting it, it has to be 18 degrees + and we are sweating buckets. The skies are clear, the seas are calm and at last we are making our way south towards Vesteralen and the Lofotens......
Paddling south towards the Lofotens, Jaime in his Trak
Our first nights camp is in a small hamlet, five or six cabins, dotted above a small beach, the map says Breidvika, but the houses don't seem to warrant a name, it must be the bay that is named, I wonder what it means. We pull our kayaks high above the tideline and set up camp - tent up, stove on, fire lit, on the way across the bay I managed to catch a couple of Sei, they will enter the pot tonight and supplement our Lofoten Fish soup and broccoli. We wander down the beach, Jaime has found the skull of an Orca, or that is what we believe it to be, the jaw has large recesses for the teeth, there are numerous vertebrae laying around and other cetacean body parts.

                                                                           Orca Skull

We retire about midnight and as soon as I'm horizontal I'm pushing out the 'Z'ds' it seems only minutes before I am hearing Jaime packing away his sleeping bag, morning already? did I really sleep?

We have a lazy start to the day, I spend an hour or so, meditating on the beach, feeling the wind on the back of my neck, serving to cool down the early effects of the sun.  Jaime is doing his yoga routine, I join him and stretch out myself a little on the patio of one of the cabins.

We set off, gentle paddling beneath a strong Arctic sun, we see a seal, a Porpoise and the Devils Mouth mountain ridge, just before we arrive in Bergsfjord, we are back at Krakesslot, this time arriving as we should, from the sea................"
                                                                    Sun protection essential
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Heading South from Tromso.

May 15th Tromso Norway



It is 12am and it there is still light in the sky; sitting in the hold of a small live aboard boat, half asleep, I am writing this. Outside the water is glass calm yet the boat creeks gentle with the oceans pulse, small hills surround the area and framing the Fjords are covered in sugar white snow. While it looks like a winter scene every time i look outside the air is cool but not cold, the warmth of spring is upon the arctic Norwegian air.

(c)Worldwildadventures-8023I arrived here in Tromso Norway yesterday after a 24 hour travel day from Nanaimo BC Canada, collecting my array of bags, consisting of 2 large bags containing TRAK Kayak and expedition gear, 2 carry on pieces of a medium sized back pack and Kayak deck bag as a personal item, I walked out into the midnight un to find Jeff Allen waiting with a clean Shaven grin. I was a bit shocked as last time i had seen Jeff 6 months earlier he had a full beard “ I just shaved it off this morning actually” Jeff stated with a chuckle “I was sick of being thought of as 60 something”.

Loading into the outside car I was also shocked to find a RockPool Taran on the roof of the car, the Taran was a very fast high volume sea kayak, where as the TRAK was a low Volume 16 foot folding kayak, I had been expecting to be paddling along side Jeff in a SKUK Explorer... Alas this was not going to be the case. After some brief chit chat and a drive across the Islands that make up the area of Tromso, Jeff unloaded me outside a Marina and took me on board a boat owned by Bjorn ----- of who was putting us up here for as long as we needed before setting of on our trip by Kayak along the coast. Bjorn had been supporting Jeff a lot over the last few years as he attempted to Circumnavigate the Scandinavian Peninsula. I was now joining Jeff to either head north paddle around Nordkapp to finish the coastline of Norway, or to head south and paddle out and along the Lofoten Island Chain, we had to decide which one in the next day. (c)Worldwildadventures-8027

After a eggs sandwich, a good night sleep and a hearty porridge breakfast, the next day found us driving about town, buying food, fishing lures and visiting Bjorn at his underground bunker Kayak shop. Bjorn had purchased and old military bunker from the government and set up his online Kayakshop storage here, and fondly called it “The Cave”. We then rolled back to the boat, made a great meal of Fish burgers and sat down with Bjorn and some maps, and decided we would head south to the Lofotens as the weather for the north did not look good for the next week or two and we did not want to get stuck in bad weather and not paddle. Thus our course is set, we pack and set off from SummerOya in the morning. I am excited and happy to go paddling, to camp out, to fish and to just take in Norway in a new way (it has been over 3 years after I last visited read about that first day here ) and to see Lofotens from the northern coast.

Any way my eyes are barely staying open I must sleep..... tomorrow we paddle.


SKGABC Guides Exchange to Tromso Norway

May 13th Sea Kayak Guides Exchange
The past weekend I found myself at the SKGABC Guides exchange on Quadra island. I had been asked to come and present and talk on the Grand Canyon by Sea Kayak adventure from last Christmas, read more on that adventure here, this also meant a great social/ learning occasion with industry pairs, and of course surfing kayaks at Surge Narrows.

The event basically composed of two nights and two days. I got my big Van back on the road, cleaned out and loaded up with Kayaks, with my friend Arnaud on board and we chugged our way up the coast of Vancouver island in “The Portable Diesel Powered Kayak Shop” of a van that contained three full sized composite sea kayaks, 3 folding TRAK Sea Kayaks, and a white water play boat (not to mention a bed, clothes, kayaking gear and all the kitchen gear and food needed).
After crossing the 10 minute ferry to Quadra Island, we drove to the spit campsite to meet up with all the other people attending. The campsite was an amazing thin spit of land with all sites looking into the sheltered lagoon it created, truly one of the most beautiful drive in campsites I have ever been too!

That night there was eating, drinking and socialising at the local Inn, that then lead to a campfire and movie watching back by the water, where we all got to see Justine Curgenven’s “This is the Sea 5”.

dockprepThe next day everyone awoke to a rainy day after almost 6 weeks of sun on the coast, and the keen ones partook in self rescue training and rolling practice, while others toured the Nimbus paddle Factory or learnt about moving water theory. I myself spent the morning getting my talk finalised, and I ended up making it about more than just the Grand Canyon trip, I incorporated some of my best adventures to date and how I ended up doing what I am now doing for living.

That afternoon everyone headed onto the water to paddle in moving water, either learning basics on smaller side channels or attempting to shred the challenging Surge Narrows. Now I have surfed Surge probably 6 times now over the last 6 months, and every time it is different and throws new challenges of how to get on to the wave or how to stay on the wave. On this trip the wave had to be the hardest to have fun with I have experienced yet, to get on you had to navigate through an large space of swirling boils and cross currents from small channels, before pushing onto the wave, a wave which to start with was an angled wave that you had to fight with to stay on. As the flow increased it became more a big boiling hydraulic that took those who managed to get on for a bucking bronco ride, later in the flow it shifted in shape again and became slightly easier to get on, and lots of fun to play on, then from there it pettered down to a small wave only for fast boats. Luckly for me with the adjustable rocker of the TRAK Kayak I was able to adapt to the changing wave easily, though I still struggled to get good rides, and probably only ended up getting 4 good rides in the 4 hours we were there.

Here is some random footage Liam Mcneil got of me surfing the TRAK at surge Narrows.

I was glad to have the chance to paddle with and witness the skill of Albert ____ who lives near Surge at albert360Discovery Lodge. This young soft spoken and humble young paddler, is awesome and eats up the wave or foam pile with ease. The best thing I witnessed that day was albert pulling off a 360 degree spin in his 16 foot sea kayak, then continue surfing. Albert is also very skilled at staying on top of the foam pile, keeping the nose of the boat loose and getting some great aggressive turns out of it, where others (like myself) would drop in get our nose caught up in the current, then have our selves fired off the wave in whatever direction the nose was pointing on engagement, or bury completely and do a bow stand.
joinhole2Tired and sore we all loaded back into vehicles with boats on trailers or roofs and headed to the Legion for dinner , prizes and off course my talk. I had managed to piece together a rough collaboration of photos and video about my journey of life change and embracing becoming an professional kayak adventurer. I spoke on my life changing Decision to leave my loving Fiancé, and risk everything to go back to NZ and realise my dream of an epic adventure by attempting to paddle the length of NZ down the east coast from North to south. Here is the the rough video I threw together for the presentation.
I then went onto discuss what I learnt, lost and gained from the trip. I learnt a power and humbleness of taking a step to a life I wanted, I learnt to find the success in perceived failures (eg I failed to paddle the length of NZ, though learnt the success of daring to live), I learnt what it was like to be put in hospital by a poisonous spider. I lost a love of my life (my Fiancé had moved on and found a new man, which was fair enough as I broke off the engagement to go do all this and had been gone for 6 months), though I gained a new job with TRAK kayaks and a new direction in life.
TRAK Kayaks had sponsored me with a boat two years earlier and I had done some fun things with there great performance folding boat, and now they financed me to make the video series I had wanted to make about the boat, and so began the TRAK Files series and many great adventures traveling the world to make it over three and a half years. Here is the episode I played that night
see more of the TRAK Files Here
From there I lead on to talk about the Grand Canyon trip, how it came to be and more importantly show images and film on the experiences. Read more about our “Project Grand Canyon” Trip here.
That night, after we returned to camp most went to sleep early, though I partook with a hardy few, nestled bellow a large tarp sheltering us from the light rain in the darkness by the waters edge, in some beer drinking, shit talking, Joke telling, guitar playing, singing and of course laughing and merriment until the wee hours of the morning.
The last day found everyone tired and happy, no paddling happened and no one returned to paddle Surge narrows again, despite the fact it was flowing again, nor paddle at all. We partook in an industry seminar, ate lunch packed up, said our fond farewells and headed home.
After Chugging home in the beast I call a van, I finished packing for my coming Adventures in Norway and Namibia, at the time of writing this (the day After getting home from the Guides Exchange) I am on the plane to Norway to meet Jeff Allen and explore the coast for two weeks. Read a little more about the adventure proposal in this post or in the next few to come after this one.

Jaime Sharp.

photo from last time I was paddling in Norway, blog post here