Sunday, 28 June 2009
Since I was up the way, rolling around - at 8 o'clock this evening I took a scoot up to where Patrick Winterton & Mick Berwick had camped in a wee carpark just shy of Rubha Robhanais, & took in a wee blether as they prepared for a 5am start. Mike was running around with white war paint under his eyes like a thin drawn out Adam Ant - Patrick, poking at a bowl of noodles. They seemed quite jovial & psyched. Even Simon Willis had made the journey over in his luxury camper van. Some sheep were trying to gate crash.
As Simon wondered around looking for an O2 signal, we talked Norwegian highs, circulatory currents, hydration, exertional heatstroke, orientation without horizon & the psychology in soloing to North Rona, the Hunters or St.Kilda, while the collie sprinkled holy water on each tent, van wheel & kayak. Blessings come in many forms :o)

Once you've done the boring open water bit [& thats the thing about open crossings] are you gonnea put in a speedy Faeroes circ nav? I asked expectantly - It's excellent, but I don't know of anyone else who has done it.

Patrick scratched his chin. Try to get home again I think...but the ferry only goes to Denmark now. He looked out warily at the rip forming strongly 100 mtrs offshore.

Having caught his glance, & for the sake of boosting confidence, I mischievously added: Aye, that rip is 24/7, I've seen prawners going sideways in it & back throttling. A kayak goes through like a greased egg.

Generalizing, I still think some approaches to, & reasoning behind open crossings, need more examination, maybe questioning that addresses individual motivation; especially nowadays where kayaking/climbing & the great outdoors is marketed to anyone & everyone & equipment is sold without recourse to those without apprenticeship. As access to the oceans is marketed en-vogue without commercial responsibility so the commercial causalities rise. You can walk into a store & buy the best kayak & best equipment - but you can't walk into a store & buy several bombproof rolls & a level survivalist psychology - the most important tools you can have at hand. I have in the past, had serious words with a few people who have been about to cross the Minch with little more experience in a kayak than a few days in sheltered unbelievably, without a spraydeck. It's a game of commitment, not Russian roulette..

Well, there is training for an extended crossing but then there is the crossing itself - they are not the same animals. It goes without saying that I wish them luck & a safe return, but this crossing is one I'd only go at with someone like Murty maybe, as shotgun. I wonder how much input he's had in bringing to bare the realities of this journey against a schoolboy enthusiasm... I hope they roll well in a squall, fully loaded, at night after no sleep & maintain spacial direction/oppo awareness?...I hope sustainably well. I hope they won't need to also. The combining seas into South Iceland can throw a tantrum anytime & account for a lot of the mad waters that encircle the Faroes. I'd imagine any problems they hit, to be creeping down into that vicinity. I shelved the 2002 Reykjavik to Nuuk solo because of those very reasons.

Still, wee itches aside, at 5am, in morning rain most likely, they will leave for the North Rona [fine soft bivi ground in contrast to the hellish Sula Bothy alternative] & Sula Sgeir stacs, & that's a day realistically, then hit the 3 day/2 night march or die session. It still seems reverse to my mind, North to South would be my preference...Anyway, the seas have been like glass all week here & the sun barely sets at the moment.
Mainly easterly or southeasterly 3 or 4, increasing 5 at times, slight or moderate
, haar, moderate or good, occasionally very poor....
Only an exhausted Amadan could fail - it's a very good time to go on the skin of it, maybe a day or two earlier would have been optimal, but it's still good. They may make it. I left them locked in preparation on the wee slipway, happy to know that when I first arrived, I wasnae the local ghillie about to shout GET ORF MOI LAAAND!:

Out the gap turn left a bit, keep going straight on - Patrick & Mick gear up for the Faroes

Their progress can be followed live on SPOT here

UPDATE: I have since learned that there has been no organized support waiting for them at the Faroes. Trawling through the www. the main concern seemed to be getting live film of their, what seems to be, imminent landing at the Faroes south island of Suduroy. There seems to have been no concern at having a launch ready as a shadow escort in the Faroes zone, or finalized medical or hospitality support [should it had been needed], by whoever is officially looking after or covering the trip. The onus seemed to be purely on wether they would have film.... Shame on
the sponsors, whoever you are. How did you not have this base covered if you knew they were gearing up 18 months ago? I find it utterly abhorrent, that they have been left to the wind inside an exhausting an epic open crossing.

I have rectified this successfully, through various Faroe/Greenland kayaking contacts in the further Northern hemisphere. Amongst other bits & pieces now in place, I have managed to get Jon Næs on board. He is a local Suduroy sea kayaker, & also a member in the volunteer rescue company SNB on the Faroes & they have planned to meet Patrick & Mick in their small rescue boat ROYNDIN offshore & shadow them in -two-step & secondarily to their safety- he has arranged for a pal who has good camera equipment, stills & live to join him, who also writes for the local Sudurras website. Things like this have a life of their own & the news is spreading, a wee bit of coercion aside. :o)
They are now in full radio-phone contact with the local SNB launch & crew & within a proper web, of support.

15:24 03/7/09: Low & behold, they are meandering in fog, in shipping channels & increased head winds.

UPDATE 17:30: They have arrived safe & sound. Three days & nights in the Northern Atlantic, in kayaks 54cm wide & 17ft long, alone, motivated & tiny inside a totally committing crossing. A huge achievement & well done to both of you. The moment of landfall can be seen here. Now, maybe a rowing ferry service? :o)

posted by •≈ Sgian Dubh at 23:19:00 | 6 Retorts