Mittwoch, Juni 27, 2007

2nd internet access in Iceland

Hi! This is Freya again...

Sure, we are not looking for internet every night, as usually lighthouses on headlands don*t provide much of that luxury, but on Monday night we needed to turn into the small village of Bakkagerdi to spend obviously two or three days weather bound.

It is really stormy here! Force 7 or so blowing heavy rain allover, although from a tempting following North-Easterly direction, but what is too much is too much. We even had to take out tent down after the first night on a "civilized" campsite in town...

Thanks for Karel from Isreal to work out the daily weather updates to our Sat-phone, together with Steini.
Steini and Karel did a great job so far in staying in contact with us! Thanks to both!

Anyway, after our "rescue" story we started to contact the coastguard every day about our well-being...and they were obviously interested and happy to hear from us every day.
Twice they seemed to play the "see if you can find those guys!" - game, as after our VHF-call with GPposition we saw a helicopter flying over our heads - they seem to have found a target to practise on!

We were texting messages to Derrick every night, too, to update our blog, but obviously the communication virus is still somehow up :( After the first posts about our "rescue" stuff he didn*t seem to get any daily text anymore! We*ll try to work that out now...

You*ll find some stuff posted on Wendys blog, as she obviously stays in personal phone contact with Steini and other Icelanders like Halldor (sorry we had to pass your place, but I hope we*ll meet after the thing is done!!). Thanks to Wendy for her update work!

So first I try to update our daily positions and progress now, and whoever is capable to put that into a nice little map would be doing the greatest job on earth! Internet time now and my skills are limited, sorry...

Starting the trip at Gardskagi Lighthouse, close to Kaflavik airport, jumping out of the plane the previous night at 11.30 pm...:

Day 01 Saturday 09.06.07 to Malarif lighthouse, x-ing Faxafloi Bay - 90 km
Day 02 Sunday 10.06.07 to Melanes, x-ing Breidafjordur - 100 km
Day 03 Monday 11.06.07 no paddling, as we arrived at 8.30 am...
Day 04 Tuesday 12.06.07 to Kopaflaga headland lighthouse/hut - 70 km
Day 05 13.06.07 to a hut at Bolungarvik headland - 60 km
Day 06 Thursday14.07.06 to the Horn close to the Arctic circle - 65 km
Day 07 Friday 15.06.07 to Geirolfsnupur hut - 40 km
Day 08 Saturday 16.06.07 to the hot pool at Krossness beach!!! - 30 km
Day 09 Sunday 17.06.07 to Skagata lighthouse x-ing Hunafloi bay - 70 km
Day 10 Monday 18.06.07 to Siglufjordur town - 65 km
Day 11 Tuesday 19.06.07 no paddling, relax, sleep, shopping, internet, pool....
Day 12 20.06.07 to Flatey island - 55 km
Day 13 Thursday 21.07.06 to Raudinupur lighthouse - 65 km
Day 14 Friday 22.06.07 to Heidi on Laganes peninsula - 75 km
Day 15 Saturday 23.06.07 no paddling on a bad weather day, hiking
Day 16 Sunday 24.06.07 to Svartanes lighthouse, - 70 km
Day 17 Monday 25.06.07 to Bakkagerdi village - 80 km
Day 18 Tuesday 26.06.07 no paddling on a bad weather day
Day 19 27.06.07 no paddling on a bad weather day

Overall distance so far: 935 km
Distance left: ca. 600 km
Paddling days: 14
Days off: 5
Average per day: 66.8 km

So that*s it with statistics so far!

We found internet in the friendly house of Helga and Kari, who also made it possible we could take our soaked tent down from the campsite and stay in a nice loft. Thanks to both!
We hope the weather calms down tomorrow, but latest on Friday. Three days to Hoefn, then the South coast starts...

Our paddling days were mainly blessed so far with calm to moderate weather (well, besides that 2nd night...), just Sunday afternoon we really had to fight strong headwinds at night to reach the destination. But we were rewarded then with a great campsite at the bottom of a lighthouse and a great view of the midnight sun!

Monday was the greatest paddling day ever! Waves 2-3 m, mostly following winds with force 4-5 - it felt like flying! But if you check the GPS speed, you are doing good, but far less than it feels :(

We were lucky to have a land stop this time at Gullborg island, as the usual "living" in the kayak all day with eating, drinking and peeing whilst staying in the kayak was not really possible today...

We saw offshore a great sandstorm going on the Heradssandur, and were happy we decided to still cut across rather than going into that bay...we*ll get enough sandurs soon!

Close to Bakkagerdi between Osfles, a small offshore island and the Brimnes lighthouse at the headland before Borgafjordur leading to Bakkagerdi I had the ultimate seasickness test - choppy waters about 2-3 m, not nicely rolling waves anymore, but just reflective up and down, plus the "icing of the cake" 100 dreds of low flying seabirds around your kayak adding to the roller coaster feeling - I was really glad to be through soon and turning into the sheltered bay...

Reaching Bakkagerdi, we were looking for the "official" campsite in town, saw a van paking and assumed the right spot for landing. Checking the campsite fully dressed, we found the hot shower and jumped both under it - still fully geared up! A hot shower never felt that good! And I think the gear appreciated a sweet water rinse, too, as much as we did after that 80 km ride!
Our open palm mitts we are using are doing a great job, but when it comes to frequently bracing into the cold water, they start to get to their protection limits...and your body heat goes down...

Enjoying the cooking facilities on the campsite, we gathered freshly showered, but again a bit overtired in the kitchen at midnight, ready for a late dinner, and jumped into our bags soon.

Sleeping in long, shopping the next day, the stormy weather was getting even worse. At night heavy rain was added to an even more gusty wind, which made us picking the split paddle from the boat at 3 am to support the tent from inside...
We usually both sleep with some "sleeping masks" on the face to get some rest in darkness, how nice a "real" night feels...just what you don*t have you start to yearn for mostly again...

We really appreciated the next morning Helga*s invitation to stay in that loft! The tent was really close to it*s limits in that wind, and the bottom started to be soaked over the night...the whole meadow looked at noon more like a swamp than a campsite! We were still warm and dry over the night in our bags on our pads, but the pads soon started to get afloat coming closer to the morning... :))
We were the last tent put down...just happy *that* storm didn*t reach us staying at those sandy areas! But we*ll see how the South Coast likes us...

Iceland has sooooo much more to see besides the really impressive coastline! When I was reading the guidebook the last day, I guessed after this trip is done, I*ll need to be back one day to really see the inland! You can*t do everything on one trip...

We even felt sorry we decided to rather go fast around than to stop by all those nice places where paddlers living along th coast - Steini, Halldor, Ari, Ingolfur - we apologize for that decision! We hope to be around soon, and then to spend a few days with you guys! Seems we all need to meet in Anglesey again, where all this madness started...

Dienstag, Juni 19, 2007

We have got our first internet acces in Iceland!!!

Hi, this is Freya writing...

Eventually after 9 paddling days we headed into Siglufjordur at the North coast to resupply with groceries, charging batteries and typing our first update...we were just PADDLING and out in the bushes so far!
Sorry for the communication trouble at the beginning of the trip, but OUR e-mails from the Sat-phone to our e-mail adresses were working! That the messages to Steini and others went into their spam-folder, was not expected. And not all of the text messages to the Sat-phone were arriving in time or at all.

So we started the trip as announced on Satuday with crossing those two big bays, one 90 km, one 100 km, and ended after the second day exactly were we planned...but obviously nobody believed us we are really doing it...

We were still in pretty good shape after hard 8 paddling days in Newfoundland, so not too much of a big deal at the beginning of the trip.
Besides jumping out of the plane at 11.30 pm the previous day, getting driven by Gummi and his friend (THANKS!!!) to the closest beach near Keflavik airport, getting to sleep at 3 am, and started to paddle next day at 10.30 am...the planning days were not too peaceful either :-))

But the calm weather was just so tempting...

We ended the first crossing at 1 am, and the second crossing was planned to be done at about 4 am (the light and bright Icelandic summer nights are just tempting to keep on paddling!), but the predicted force 4 headwinds for Monday came in a bit earlier at about 3 am, and felt a bit stronger than force 4 only. But they calmed down after a while again to force 3 or so, and we just kept on pushing to the turning around at that point any more...have you ever slept whilst paddling? Or just fallen asleep on paddling? Everything is the "rest" day on Tuesday after the landing at 8.30 am was just necessary.

We just landed, put up camp and cooked "dinner"/ breakfast, as those rescue team guys showed up with their huge trucks and told us their story. So we checked up with the communication problems, and went to the deserved sleep at about 10 am.

One hour later I could kill those f...... TV guys knocking at our tent: "Are you in there and ok for an inteview?" Greg, polite American as usual said "sure" and got up instantly, I cussed a bit more, didn´t talk too much and preferred to leave my sunglasses on my swollen eyes...I am grumpy when I don´t get enough sleep!!!

Done with that chore, the next TV-crew came already down the beach...same procedure, I am grumpy, Greg politely and happily doing the job :-))

Back to sleep again...another hour, and a newspaper guy knocked at the tent together with the farmer...same procedure as above...this was our "REST" day!!!

But anyway, we kept on paddling the next days, 70 km, 60 km, 65 km, two 40 and 30 km halfdays, ending up in the first soak in an Icelandic hot pool. Another 70 km, 65 km, and we are here now...

And yes, we saw some nice shoreline with 1000000000000 of birds and impressive huge cliffs already, paddled into stunning caves and through beautiful arches. Lots of pics to share later!!!

But to be honest, mainly we are going from headland to headland on open water, we were blessed so far with winds usually moderate to low out of all directions, and with water not too challenging besides the huge distances. This is how to get around FAST.

Sure there might be other ways to paddle around Iceland. But as my time line is short due to my home schedule, that´s the way we chose to do it...

We are going shopping now, and the we´ll see! Probably resupply and post again from Hoefn at the South-East before we are starting the sandy beaches...


Dienstag, Juni 12, 2007

check in from Iceland


So we're learning how to get this communication right. Greg Called me from a farmer's home at their second stop. Of course he did'nt want to be on long. He told me that both of their cell phones went on the blink. One got wet and is drying out, the other is dead. Not sure if it just needs a charge or what.

All along they had been sending out messages via sat phone on SMS but neither I nor Steini have been getting them. So my details are really loose at the moment. But they set out from Keflavik (see the map) and headed north to that first big peninsula to Malarri at least we think that's how it's spelled! LOL! Then the next day made another big crossing up the the next big finger you see there to Melans. Correct me if these are wrong but again we were on a quick call. The second day Greg says the headed out into what became about a force 6 headwind. They talked about turning around, but then decided to just push through. That crossing in the end took 22 hours!!! Yikes!

From here they are going to slow the pace a bit, but wanted to use up some of that energy they had been storing from all the travel lately. So they are doing pretty good.

Montag, Juni 11, 2007

Found Them!

At about the same time I type this some big, buff, Icelandic Coast guard officer is walking up to a tent to talk to the occupants. He's going to tell them a story that I'm sure will surprise the both of them. Yep, Just a couple minutes a go I got the call that Freya and Greg's campsite was found and everything looked just fine. Boy are they in for a surprise!

Suffice to say we are very thankful to everyone with the Icelandic Coast Guard who took the time and effort to search for them. And thank you too guys for keeping us up to date. I can't express enough how we appreciate having the Coast Guard out there. Thank you!

Iceland Update

Hi, This is Derrick. I was at an event and was not able to get at my phone or email for a couple days. On my way home, I got a call from Steini at Sea Kayak Iceland with some troubling news from Iceland. We have not heard from Freya Hoffmeister and Greg Stamer now since yesterday morning. A full Search and Rescue Operation has been active for about 9 hours. I've talked to the head of the operation in Iceland as well, but there is no news at this point. Suffice to say, everyone's a little concerned at this point, but there is no reason to think they are not fine other than the lack of contact. I will keep you posted as soon as we learn more.

Donnerstag, Juni 07, 2007

Under the Rainbow

It's finished!!!
One of the most beautiful Greenland paddles on earth (or water...?)
Thanks to Ron Steinwall from Novorca paddles, who created a really unique paddle for me.
It has a hand-carved-to measurements wooden core, a layer of carbon, then is painted with all colors of the rainbow, sprinkled with lots of glitter and covered with a thick layer of clear varnish.
If you look at it in the bright sunshine, you need sunglasses :-))
It's almost too beautiful too use...and it's very outstanding against all my black stuff...

Iceland 2007

Well, people might say I'm a spontanious woman...but it is actually a bit less dramatic as Derrick wrote about it on his blog :-))

My decision to go around Iceland was born at the inspirational place of the Anglesey Sea Kayak Symposium 2007.

I was twice at that symposium, 2004 as a bloody firtst-time-novice to the international sea kayaking family, back 2007 teaching there as a rolling instructor.

In 2004 I listened to my first kayak circumnavigation lecture ever, held by Shawna and Leon about their Iceland expedition 2003.

Back in 2007, Rotem Ron did another fascinating lecture about her paddling solo around I took it as a sign to go there, too, on my own, NOW, THIS YEAR...

Talking to my partner Greg Stamer on the drive back home, he didn't take long to decide he won't be back to his old job when his 1/2 year of leave of absence would be over in July, but rather join me...

So we had two days at home before after Anglesey we had to fly off to Newfoundland, where we were invited to teach on the Kayakers of Newfoundland and Labrador Retreat 2007, with a nice extension after the "work" of a great 8-days paddling trip for ourselves from St. John's down to Cape St. Mary's.

This turned out then to be a good trial run for paddling in cold conditions...well, more for "Florida Boy" Greg and our "expedition partnership" than for myself, as I have paddled last year with Wendy Killoran 18 days on the South Coast of Newfoundland from Port aux Basques to Cape St. Mary's already.

We both felt pretty comfortable paddling and camping together in some tough conditions we had there already, and the decision was bombproof then:

We will be going together around Iceland!

My time frame to be away longer is pretty narrow, and I had to extend it with some charming smiles to my relyable shop managers and employees, and to the greatest daddy on earth who takes care of our son when his restless mommy is away so often...thanks to all of them to let me go! And lots of kisses to my son Helge...

Means we should start as early as possible in June, to be back latest in the beginning of August, when the weather will allow us to be done then...

So, 5 days at home only then for preparations...but before heading to Newfoundland I was already able to do some stuff in those two days (well, besides my "real" work, too...):

Rented from Matthias Cramer (, who did a quick, uncomplicated job.
Thanks, Matthias!

Weather text messages, logistics in Iceland:
Steini from Sea Kayak Iceland agreed on doing that tough and important job every day to the Sat-phone, the fastest and most reliable way to get the weather to your camp. And he'll pick us up from the airport and provides us with flares, fuel and a kayak (see below).
Thanks, Steini!

By my relyable web-editor Derrick Mayoleth, Kayak Quixotica. We hope to send him text messages via Sat-phone every day.
Thanks, Derrick!

EPIRB: mailordered from Marine and Auto in Florida, who speeded their delivery up that I could recieve a parcel in Newfoundland already just in time.
Thanks, Ethan!

Icelandic paper maps:
I've got them mailordered from Geo-Buchhandlung in Kiel.

This was the basic stuff I was feeling I needed to pre-order for that trip, besides everything I got sponsored already:

This will be my loved 3-pieces "S"Explorer by Sea Kayaking UK, which Nigel just recently generously "upgraded" to a brand new one.
Thanks, Nigel!

Greg is also getting an Explorer donated from Nigel Dennis for the expedition.

To make it work in that short preparation time, Steini will give Greg an Explorer of his fleet, and Nigel will replace that one with the next shipment soon.
Thanks again to both for that uncomplicated help!

I'm gonna use, as always on my long trips, my carbon split wing blades, donated by Epic kayaks, which hopefully make me fly around in no time :-))
Thanks to Epic kayaks!

I'm using the large blade, and will carry the medium blade in a spare paddle bag made by Kristin Nelson and Nigel Foster.

Greg is gonna use my other toy, the black carbon split Greenland paddle donated by Superior Paddles. As far as I know there was no major circumnavigation done so far with a Greenland paddle...the Superior carbon stick ist just great to be (ab)used for that!
Thanks to Mark and Celeste Rodgers!

This will be an unique combination, a wing and stick paddling won't believe it is matching! Well, they are arguing and competing sometimes... :-))

Ocean Tours Exp Reinforced, donated by Richard from Snapdragon.
They snap on with one grip, fit and stay where they should be...the best sprayskirts I ever had.
He sent me two cockpit covers, too, and lots of other spraydecks for my other kayaks...
Thanks, Richard!

Tow-lines, under deck bags, interior mounted cockpit bags, turtle deck bag, paddle bags, beaching bags and paddle leashes:
Generously donated by Morgan Goldie from North Water.
Thanks, Morgan!

Dry Suits, Overcag, PFD, Pogies:
By Kokatat, who supported me with other stuff, too in a generous sponsorship. Please have a look at my equipment website, too.
Thanks to Kokatat!

By Chota Outdoor gear. They keep my feet warm!
Thanks to Chota!

Fleece Base-layers:
By Reed Chillcheater. long pants, long sleeve shirts, Beanie, hoods, everything to keep you warm! Reed is generously supporting me with plenty of other stuff, too (no, I'm NOT taking my Reed dress to Iceland... :-(( ). Please have a look at my equipment website!
Thanks to Chris Reed!

The rest of the gear list I owned already somehow, I might write about some stuff later. Time is short...

We are leaving now!!!
We'll try to keep this blog updated via Sat-phone text messages, but we'll NOT be looking for a "proper" internet access in every cove, as we are gone for *paddling* and are out in the bushes... :-)))