Saturday, August 9, 2008

What have we learned?

After finishing the trip yesterday afternoon, we're slowly getting back to normal life. Today we teamed up with Johan and Thomas, two kayakers from Torshavn, and had a nice three-hour paddle from Kvivik in Vestmannasund. We explored two quite large caves, and wrapped the trip up with a good rolling session in the chilly, salty water. Thanks for letting us join, guys!

We have spent quite many hours talking and thinking about what made the circumnavigation possible. It has been a long and challenging paddle, both mentally and physically, so now is a good time to try and wrap up the experiences.

The trip started as an idea between the two of us in august 2007, on a weekend kayaking trip. We both started thinking about whether it would be possible, and what it would take to be ready for the challenge. During the fall, we talked further about the idea, and around christmas-time we decided that we would give it a try. After aligning our expectations for the adventure, we made a lot of detailed planning during the winter. We quickly realized that we needed all the experience we could get on paddling big seas, so we trained in the surf on the danish west coast throughout the winter.

The training in surf, and many discussions on equipment and how to manage the logistics of the trip, mentally prepared us for the challenge. Around two months before departure, we started getting all the details right - maps, equipment, food, transportation, sponsors and local contacts.
As we set out from Torshavn last sunday, we were excited about what was to come, but felt ready to meet the challenge. Looking back, we've learned a lot, during the 420 km of paddling the Atlantic sea. The change from the friendly danish sand beaches, to vertical, non-accessible rock shore with no or few landing spots, demands long, committed and well-planned day trips. Accepting that we were 100% committed to reach the goal we had set for the day, has been the most important development for us as kayakers.

Good teamwork, trust and honestness, both when we're afloat and on land has been a key to success. Often, we had to take quick decisions on for example route planning or landing strategies. In these situations, it was important to discuss our opinions and feelings about the situation without fear of being misunderstood or frowned upon.

We sometimes paddled on a tight schedule, with only little time for sleep and restitution. Here, the hours spent in the surf on the danish west coast paid off, allowing us to paddle with confidence in the conditions that we met. Many years of outdoor living gave us the most benefit from the time spent on land.

Getting in touch with local people has been an important part of both planning the daily route, and experiencing the Faroe Islands. As one of the first things after landing, we often tracked down local fishermen or sailors, and asked for highly valuable local information on tide currents, landings, weather and choice of routes. This was important information to extend the basic maps and tide charts (Almanakki) that we had.

We have been met with genuine hospitality and friendlyness everywhere we landed, and we feel that we've got a small insight in the life of a people who've learned to live life in the middle of the atlantic ocean, with the mentality of doing things "all-in", or not doing them at all.

When all this is said, don't forget to keep smiling, laugh and have fun along the way.

That's how we learned to paddle the Sea of Flames.


Thomas Kristensen said...

Hej Tue og Jesper

Tillykke med gennemførelsen af projektet – det er sgu godt gået! Vi glæder os til at se og høre endnu mere, når I er hjemme igen.

Vi ses,
Signe og Thomas

Anonymous said...

Fedt at i kom afsted til sidst og det lyder som en flot tur, tillykke med den :-)

/Martin N

Alastair Humphreys said...

well done - a fantastic achievement