It feels like a long time coming, but Jaime, PG and I have finally come together for the first time. I flew from New Zealand, and Jaime from Canada, and we have spent the past 5 days at PGs home in Molde, Norway.
I was maxed out with 30kgs of checked luggage and another 16kgs of hand luggage.. (still not sure how I pulled that one off!) and Jaime arrived with three gigantic bags and another mountain of hand luggage as well. Our bags contained precious cargo – kokatat drysuits, PFD’s and other gear, 20kgs of Fresh As freeze dried fruit, mountains of camera gear, assorted footwear, Lendal paddles, watershed drybags, down jackets from Wear on Earth in NZ, and lots and lots of other things for our expedition. It was like Christmas pulling everything out of bags, and trying it all on!
We went for a short paddle to trial some new gear and for PG to test out his new Windpaddle sail. I was in hysterical laughter before we’d even left the bay – let’s just say I’m really glad no one was watching and that Jaime’s video camera had fogged up!! hopefully we won’t look like such fools when we leave Longyearbyen!!
The other important reason why we have all congregated in Norway is for PG to teach us how to shoot, and for us to become comfortable with rifles before we arrive in Svalbard. Polar bears are a very real risk, and it’s almost certain that at some point we are going to have to scare them away, and we need to be prepared for a ‘worst case scenario’ situation.
PG’s as experienced as it comes with weapons, he has spent more than 10 years in the military, and has a strong interest in hunting. I wasn’t really looking forward to target practice, but it actually turned out to be quite satisfying and I think PG was quietly relieved that we were both okay shots. Let’s just hope we don’t have to use them.
So tomorrow we all fly south to Oslo and then back north to Longyearbyen, Svalbard. We are likely going to spend at least a couple of days there before we paddle away. I’m excited and I think Jaime is too.. and PG.. he’s amped about a circumcision of Svalbard!! Let’s just hope his English improves slightly in the next few months..
Again, thank you to everyone who has helped to get us this far, it’s been a massive effort just to get to the start line, and we couldn’t have done this alone.