I write this update a week into our expedition we reached 79 degrees north yesterday and with that the research town of Ny Ålesund, here we have been greeted with a store room to camp in and warm showers, which is quite a treat even after only 7 days on the water and almost 200km’s of coastal travel. The weather has been a mixed bag, from dead calm sunny days to blustery rain, however the seas have remained quite mild the whole time, which is just as well for the boats are overburdened and sit far to low in the water, and with this, even the slightest wave washes across the cockpits.
We are loaded with 56 days worth of High Calorie food, and we estimate the boats to weigh over 200 kg each, and then our personal body weight on that. Tara is the only one who’s kayak does not sit to low in the water, however every day we eat food and burn fuel the boats get lighter, the strategy is by the time we reach the sea ice and wait out for the break up, we will have only about 25 days of supply’s in the kayaks (which will then be floating easily at a normal level) for our bid around Nordustlandet, the North eastern island of the archipeligo, and then we will restock from our food drop, for return to the start, the town of Longyearbyen.
despite the heavy loads the boats have proved “quick and able” and we look forward to the day they sit higher. The journey so far has been quite mild and we have stayed warm and comfy in our kokatat drysuits. As for wildlife, we have seen many walrus and one polar bear, other than that just a lot of birds and mountains, though it is all stunning. we look forward to the trip north of the 79th parallel, as this is truly when we leave civilization behind and feel the trip starts, the journey so far has just been the “warm up” to “iron out the creases”. As for the sea ice… well so far it is not looking good, the ice is still chocking up the NE corner of the Archipeligo, and even the southern end of Henlopen Straight, which is our escape route if we run out of time to get around Nordustlandet (the north eastern island), however we have at least a week to get to the ice edge and then enough time and food to wait for 2- 3 weeks for an opening in the ice, our fingers are crossed.
We must paddle on. Jaime