RSKE18 Year 2 Day 1 (Y2D1)

Start 1415 from Mehamn. On shore 2045 near Kjøllefjord. 32,9 km average speed 5.8 km/hr. It’s 2315 on ashore on the northern side of the entry to Kjøllefjord. A long day and a short post.

Today Mehamn celebrated their 200 anniversary since the community was moved from Omgang further east to its present locality.

Omgang once was a major fishing community situated about two days paddle further east. But as boats got bigger and safer the harbor at Omgang became to small. The solution was to move the whole community people, boats cattle and houses.

At the rorbuer where we stayed enthusiasts was up long into the morning to prepare fishcakes for a free lunch today.

That suited us fine. It to so long to shop, and then stuff/pack the boats that we were around in time for the lunch.

Then it was time to leave. The always helpful crew on R/S Peter Henry von Voss again gave us a hand and helped us launch the boats. After they had treated us to one more cup of coffee for the trip. And we had taken the opportunity to thank them again for all their assistance last year when we had to evacuate from Sandfjorden.

Today’s paddle took us past Kinnarodden and past Sandfjorden. The weather was perfect. Sun, but no wind. We were alone at sea, except for birds, seals, porpoises and some bigger whales. In the quiet windless day we could hear the whales breathe from afar. At least until five water scooters made us company at Kinnarodden.

Good business for the local community though, as is snow scooter sataris during winter. And halibut fishing.

Tomorrow we plan to cross to Sværholt, then to Magerøy. Wether permitting (WP).

RSKE18 Year 2 Day 2 Sunday 21 July 2019

From campsite near Kjøllefjorden to Helnes Fyr via Sværholt. Start 0900 arrive 1710. 45 km 6.5 km/hr average speed.

Weather was not as spectacular as yesterday, but it still was a good day for crossing fjords. Which is about all we did. First 23 km across Laksfjord to Sværholt, a short break and then 22 km across Porsangerfjord to Helnes Fyr.

We have to be mindful about both wind and currents, so just a short break at Sværholt. Today a small place with a few houses lagging on maintenance. The barn is open and has four beds, for people who get trapped here. Could easily happen for kayakers. During the war Sværholt was a massive fort with a 1000 man at peak. Protecting German convoys to Kirkenes. No way we of guessing that today. All gone by strong cooperation between man and nature .

Anyway we had a about three hour window to get across to Helnes, before the currents against became really hard. We used 3 hrs 35 minutes, and that delay was enough to give us an interesting ride around Helnes itself, as waves, wind and currents were working against each other.

Not entirely unexpected. Dag Norum warned us last year, and we keep his map with the red zones. Two adventurers like us have lost their lives on the stretch from Honningsvåg to Helnes in relatively recent years. Today was a max day and in Stein’s words we found it interesting, but not intimidating. Ad a few knots of current and wind and it would have been a bit of challenge.

Respect. Which is why we plan for an early start tomorrow, to get us past Nordkapp, and further to the true northernmost place on Magerøy: Knivskjellodden. Red on the map and special mention by Dag. The early start is so we can choose our timing at minimum current if we so wish.

The early start is also so we can hope to get to Gjesvær. Distance wise no issue at about 45 km, but the wind is forecast to pick up tomorrow evening so we might have to set up camp earlier. As always WP ( weather permitting)

Epilogue

The Russian-Scandinavian kayak expedition ended abruptly on day 147 as Erling was rolled in to undergo his operation. This is meant to be a short epilogue, a little update about what happened next. And also to say a few words of thanks.

First the operation was a major one and a successful one. It turned out Erling had to remove 50 centimeters of his small intestine which had stopped working. Luckily he will get away with a scar and no lasting damage.

He is recovering well and fast and looks forward to the lifting of a “paddling curfew” in mid September.

Although we both are a bit wistful the trip ended prematurely, Erling’s main feeling is “happy to be here”.

This brings us to the first round of thanks, to those who helped secure a good outcome from a bad situation:

>> The crew on the rescue helicopter, the ambulance plane, and the very professional and competent staff at UNN, Tromsø. Erling couldn’t have been in better hands.

>> Thanks also to the crew at R/S Sir Henry, who took care of our stuff, and also Tone and Ronald who we met at Slettnes, and who visited Erling in the hospital and used their family and network to get Erling’s papers and credit cards from Mehamn to Tromsø. Thanks also to Olav Myrslett and MiniExpressThermo who brought our kayaks down to Oslo free charge, and to Inge and Einar who brought the rest of our stuff back to Oslo as they returned after having successfully reached Grense Jakobselv.

We are now both back in Oslo, and starting to adjust to “normal” life, getting updates from family and friends, “logging on” both literally and figuratively.

….. and we have cut our hair! Which brings the trip to a definite end, and this epilogue to the last round of thanks:

>> First, thanks to all of you who have followed the trip on this blog and on Facebook. For likes, comments, advice and suggestions, it’s been an inspiration and encouragement.

>> Then last and most importantly, thanks to all of you who made this trip such an adventure for us, all of you from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Russia, who welcomed us and helped us along the way. There are hundreds of you who did us favors big and small. You are the core of the core of our adventure! THANKS!

>> And very last but not least, thanks to the home support group, Margaret, Karianne and Morten for logistics, resupplies, blog publishing and helping us feel safe knowing that if help was needed it would be at hand.

>> And then very, very last Stein thanks Erling and Erling thanks Stein for excellent cooperation and solidarity during five eventful months.

Day 147 – THE END OF THE RUSSIAN – SCANDINAVIAN KAYAK EXPEDITION 2018 – 26 July

Day 147. 26th of July. During the day Erling, the professional staff her at the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN) and we, become worried of the lack of progress in Erling’s health condition.

The pain in the stomach did not disappear as expected, and in the early afternoon, Erling was moved to a full scan/check of his stomach. The x-ray/CT showed a blood clot in the small intestine (“tynntarm”), see doctor’s sketch below.

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When these words are written, Erling is on the operating table getting the clot removed.  Then he has to spend the next days here in Tromsø in order to recover enough to move south for further recovery.

The Russian – Scandiavian Kayak Expedition 2018 has therefore come to an end, and we will use this opportunity to thank all our followers and friends during our almost five month’s journey. You are all highly appreciated!!

Later on, we will make a summary from our expedition and share our lessons identified.

Thank you!

 

Day 146 – Erling’s condition is improving! – 25 July

Day 146. 25th of July. A day in the hands of the University Hospital of Northern Norway (UNN – Tromsø hospital).

We highly appreciate all the warm thoughts and care we have been given since yesterday’s MEDEVAC of Erling. Many thanks to all our friends and followers!!

The reason of the MEDEVAC is a rare disease in Erling’s family. We were well aware of most of the issues related to the disease. However, we believe that the medicine Erling brought along for our expedition did not like the hot summer of Finnmark, and its effectiveness changed and became reduced, when we needed it the most.

Erling has been very well taken care of by the professional staff here at UNN. The medicine needed was not available in Tromsø but arrived this morning. Yesterday and most of today Erling was in a daze, well protected by our blog editor, Karianne. After he got his medicine this morning, we slowly could see improvement in his condition. Hopefully, Erling will be able to get some more calories tomorrow. 400 calories intravenously is not enough to replace the 10 000 he should have eaten.

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Stein has spent most of the day travelling around in town in order to improve some details related to the rest of the trip and make some useful phone calls. This included also a visit to Alf at Alfa Fritid here in Tromsø, which is one of the best kayak stores in Norway, almost at the same level as Milslukern in Oslo 🙂

The game plan now, given Erling’s recovery, is to take the ferry Hurtigruta back to Mehamn tomorrow evening (26th), where the crew on RS Peter Henry Von Koss from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, has taken care of our kayaks and all other belongings.

The idea is to leave Mehamn in the morning on the 28th of July, and head southwards. Weather permitting.

Day 145 – We highly appreciate the support from the emergency services – 24 July

Day 145. 24th of July. Do Norway have the worlds best emergency service?

We believe so! At 0810, the morning of 24th, we decided we had to activate our emergency plan. In Sandfjorden there is no VHF or Cellphone coverage. However, in our emergency plan we also have a Garmin Inreach, a combined GPS, Tracker and Iridium (satellite) text communication device.

When the need occurred for a hasty medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) we send the SOS signal to the InReach Emergency Operation Central (InReach OPS) in USA. In addition, we also send the message for immediate MEDEVAC to our expedition doctor (Øyvind), our head of safety (Morten) and our editor of the blog (Karianne). They received the message at 0815, and noticed it approximately 15 minutes later. The InReach OPS contacted the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre North Norway at 0840, and at 0845 both Morten and Karianne were contacted by the InReach OPS in order to confirm the MEDEVAC. The InReach OPS responded immediately and texted back to Stein for confirmation and further details. Between 0840 and 0855, the Norwegian Rescue Service was alarmed by the InReach OPS, our Doctor and Head of Safety, at the same time. The “113” Emergency phone was alarmed at 0903, and tasked the ambulance helicopter from RNoAF 330 Sqn at Bandak, Lakselv. The ambulance helicopter left Banak at 0909, and arrived at our site 0950.

Only minutes before the helicopter landed, the rescue vessel RS Peter Henry Von Koss from the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS) had arrived at the shore.  The RS vessel rescue operation had been activated by a text MAYDAY from our InReach.

The emergency team immediately took care of Erling, and they decided an evacuation to Tromsø hospital. We were flown to Mehamn Airport, where a King Air Ambulance Team from Lufttransport FW arrived from Kirkenes, and flew us to Tromsø.

Erling was given the necessary treatment by the hospital Intensive Care team, and are, as this is written, sleeping. We believe we will be able to continue our way south in a couple of days, weather permitting.

We highly appreciate the support from the emergency services: InReach Operation central, “113” (The Norwegian Emergency Service phone), The Norwegian Rescue Service, RNoAF 330 Sqn, Lufttransport Ambulance Service (FW), the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, and Tromsø University Hospital.

Day 144 – We passed Kinnarodden (Europe’s northernmost piece of land) in almost flat water – 23 July

Day 144. 23rd of July. Slettnes til Sandfjorden. 27 km, 7.1 km/hr average speed.

We started the day with a long and enjoyable breakfast with Inge and Einar.

Inge had catched a cold and they decided to stay one more day. A bit of a frustration perhaps, but they still have ample time to get to Grense Jakobselv. And when forced to stop, Slettnes Fyr is not a bad place to stay. We enjoyed the place, the hospitality of the staff and their waffles!

Last night a Sami family checked in, and we had and interesting conversation over excellent cured Reindeer meat.

They also came to see us off as we left Slettnes at 1130, late, but we planned a short day to Sandfjorden to meet Torbjørn and his brother Vidar who is trekking to Kinnarodden.

The awful weather that was forecast for today again did a no show. Good for us. We had a very good conditions and good visibility.

We passed Kinnarodden in almost flat water.

(Kinnarodden is Europe’s northernmost piece of land, Nordkapp is on an island)

We took time to make a nod to Jim Danielsson by paddling through a narrow passage and round the small islet with a mini lighthouse on it. In his book “148 days in a sea kayak”, he mentions this several times.

After that it was a short paddle to Sandfjorden, which ends in a several hundred meters long a sandy beach.

We pitched the tent just in time to put our stuff out of the rain that suddenly came.

Torbjørn and Vidar also came, not so suddenly, but according to plan, at 2030.

So now it’s time for conversation over dinner and updates from life back home.

Tomorrow we hope to make it to Sværholtklubben.

Weather Permitting. Good to be on the move again.

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