Training is vital to successful expedition work. I’ve always believed in ‘Serving Your Apprenticeship’ and have recently returned from a week Sea Kayaking in the Norwegian Fjords.
A chance meeting when working on a P&O cruise ship has taken me down a whole new avenue of traveling and expeditions. I’ve paddled canoes and kayaks on and off for years, but never thought I’d be preparing for a trip to the fjords of Greenland this year.
It was 2019 and I was speaking on a P&O cruise in the Norwegian Fjords. I signed up for a spot of Sea Kayaking and met Laila Reigstad – here the story begins. We exchanged stories of our own expeditions and kept in touch afterwards, hoping to plan a trip for the future. Covid struck, but the wonders of the web allowed calls and messages to flow like the seas and I recently flew to Bergen to meet her again and hone my paddling skills.
We began on the beautiful island of Misje, were Laila’s boathouse faces the sea. I joined a group of Norwegians and enhanced my paddling skills, before rolling myself over for the obligatory soaking and rescue practise. Theres nothing like a face full of the North Sea..! Thankfully it was all smiles and laughter, but training for what could be a difficult situation. My grip took some adjusting and getting used to, but Laila had a wide selection of paddles which allowed me to try different ways to hold the paddle firmly. Every day is a learning day with my hands.
No-one should climb a mountain without experience and no-one should paddle either. Training is vital to safety, but also enhances the enjoyment we experience. Knowing how far you can push on safely and tackling the challenges of the seas is both invigorating and scary to me. I’ve never been great in water and terrible under it, but the freedom to roam a coastline and access places that no land lubber could is wonderful.
I then met Christian and Ketil – two further members of the Greenland team. Over the years I’ve take part on many expeditions, some where I know folk and some where we meet in country. It’s always good to meet people beforehand and the lads were a true delight to paddle with. We all have different levels of experience and skills, but worked extremely well together and I look forward to meeting them again and tackling a few icebergs in the Arctic.
We ventured further up the peninsular, launching from Alveim and Hellesøyna, enjoying each others company and the beautiful Norwegian weather. I’ve been soaked many times in this part of the world, but enjoyed stunning sunshine for much of my time there. Evenings are shortening and we sat watching the sunset over the island of Adnoyna from a beautifully situated hut. Thankfully it was too early in the season for mosquitos as I’m usually bitten to bits..!
It’s not often I get asked to pack a suit when I travel, but my trip ended with a Norwegian Wedding in a restored school at Alvheim in Øygarden. The happy couple were a carpenter from Norway and a chef from Sweden (insert all kinds of comedy capers here). I wish them both the very best for their future.
Home called and the packing has already begun. Greenland here I come – for the first time this year. Watch this space…