No way the wind could have moved Stein’s neoprene boots. That must have been the fox.

RSKE18 Y2D5: 24 July 2019: Ytre Pollen to Hammerfest, 39 km, 6.2 km/hr average speed. We weren’t quick on the water today either. Our bodies ordered more rest when the alarm went on at 0700.

The rain was drumming on the tents and the winds that had spread our (wet and heavy) clothes hung out to dry, had still not fully subsided .

We deicided to try again at 0900. The wind was gone by then, but the rains persisted. But now we needed to get a move on.

First task find the things the wind had moved. Nothing lost. But no way the wind could have moved Stein’s neoprene boots. That must have been the fox. Tactfully, Per and Erling have left Stein to wonder about why the fox would consider his boots as food without further comments or suggestions.

As we were ready to pack camp the captain of the 36 foot sailing boat anchored a few hundred meters away came over to visit. His name was Christoph, just like our friend and helped from last year on Silvertärnan.

This Christoph was a French doctor working for the moutain rescue in the alps. Soon he and Stein were discussing the details of Garmin InReach. Good thing about a trip like ours is that the people we meet have interesting stories to tell. Christoph and crew had hoped to go to Svalbard, but got delayed and now their goal was Nordkapp.

Again it was 1115 before we were on the water. First leg became a 28 km 4 3/4 hour crossing to get to the northern part of Kvaløya. It may sound boring, but we paddle through small flocks of seabirds and the occasional whale will come up to blow. And the conditions were superb. No reason to worry about rain when you are in a dry suit. We were on the alert for changes in weather. Poor cell phone coverage meant that we only had the forecast from yesterday.

Still, we would have stopped earlier if we had found a suitable place, but we couldn’t. Again we think twice before we commit to long crossings. If the weather deteriorates it might become very long and hard crossings indeed. In the end we took a short break at some slippery rocks with line of sight to the Equinor LNG plant on Melkøya.

Then on to Hammerfest where we arrived at 1900. There we checked in at Thon Hotel at the waterfront. As pointed out earlier we are here to enjoy, not to suffer.

We found an restaurant nearby and ate well on food from the Sea. This is also where Gerd joined us for a beer. Gerd lives in Tromsø and is a friend of Alf who runs the kayak shop in Tromsø and is a friend of Stein.

Stein has had a problem with his back hatch cover and that is not something you can replace easily. Stein found a makeshift solution. He also called Alf when the problem was discovered. Alf posted the problem on his FB page. Gerd was visiting family in Hammerfest and volunteered to bring the hatch here.

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Thanks a lot to both!! It is best to have your kayak absolutely ship shape in these waters. Makeshift solutions doesn’t cut it.

Tomorrow we aim for Per’s friends Asle and Mette in Komagfjord. We have been assured that the sauna will be ready by 2100. But that particular sauna is 51 km away. Forecast is good. Boats are ship shape. It’s down to the “motors”. Better get some sleep:-)

Current against and aching bodies didn’t allow for any speed records

RSKE18 Y2D4: 23 July 2019: Gjesvær to “Ytre Pollen”, 51 km, 6.1 km/hr average speed.

We stayed at the guesthouse of “Ola’s bird safari” for the night. Since we arrived after closing hours for the guesthouse the owners had to come down and help us out. No problem. Since the shop was also closed and the restaurant was closed on Mondays, we got to borrow Ola’s car to go to Honningsvåg to shop.

We had entrecôte for dinner. We are here to enjoy not to suffer!!:-)

We met and got into conversations with several other guests as well. Both in the evening and after an egg and bacon breakfast. Both interesting and enjoyable, but it takes time to enjoy and we were not on the water until 1115 in time to catch a little following current before the head current set in.

We planned for a 40 plus km paddle to Store Latøy. We paddled on and took just two quick stops the last one in Havøysund. There we met a local fisherman and two of his great grandchildren as they came down to look at the kayaks (and/or the smelly guys paddling them). Anyways he tipped us about a place about 10 km onward from Store Latøy called Pollen.

We took advice but postponed the decision, a bit long and a bit late. However when we got to Store Latøy we had perfect conditions and a 10 km crossing we could “bag”. Round here it’s smart to take advantage of good conditions while they last. So we slogged on. Current against and aching bodies didn’t allow for any speed records but we got to Ytre Pollen at 2100.

We found a good campsite and cooked a meal of double rations sausage and double ration mashed potatoes, onions, bacon, leeks and no saving on the butter. This was a clear improvement in the culinary standard Stein and Erling are used to. Thanks to Per’s ability to add a little extras to the camp meals.

Not only did Stein and Erling enjoy this, so did a fox that appeared out of nowhere as we rushed to set up the tents during an unexpected downpour.

Tents done we turned to see the fox run away and dropping a small plastic bag as he ran. That was our two remaining sausages…

We secured the rest of the food in the kayaks and went to sleep. A long day, close to midnight and light drizzle, no point in postponing a much needed rest. Tomorrow we plan to reach Hammerfest. W.P.

RSKE2018 Year 2 Day 3 – 22 July 2019 – (Y2D3)

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Y2D3 Monday 22 July. We left Helnes Fyr at 0810 and arrived at Gjesvær 1705. 41 km, 5.8 km/hr average speed.

We had a comfortable nights sleep at Helnes, but we were still a tad bit slow when the alarm went off at 0545. No pardon, weather and current forecast set us a target of 1330 at Knivskjellodden.

It ended up as one long stage, we sat continuously in the boat for a little more than five hours. It’s not like you can go ashore as and when you wish round here.

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Those five hours took us around Nordkapp and Knivskjellodden (which lies a little bit further north than Norkapp).

And then to the first (shell) sand beach we have landed on since before we crossed the Varangerfjord.

And the weather was almost as forecast, only better. Less wind, more sun and warmer than forecast. Might well have been the best day of summer round here. Our good “weather luck” has not left us.

We took a good long break at Tunes amongst the ruins of a fisher community once large enough to have its own graveyard. As boats grew larger they outgrew the beach landing at Tunes, and the settlement was abandoned.

On our short visit Per fired up the stove and produced cheese sandwiches.

Well rested and fed we set out on the last leg of today toward Gjesvær . We needn’t have worried about the wind…

Just as we paddled into Gjesvær harbor a small gust of the forecast wind shoved up, but now at 2300 it is dead calm again

Tomorrow we aim for Havøysund, before we go on to overnight at Store Latøya. WP.

RSKE18 Year 2 Day 1 – 20 July 2019 – (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).

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 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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