Monday, October 21, 2013

Equipment summary

This trip involved taking quite a lot of gear with me to Greenland, both for my safety and also my comfort. Following is a brief comment on how some of the equipment performed.

Firstly, it should be mentioned that this trip would have been impossible without the help of Martin Rickard, of seakayakadventures.
Martin had enough faith in me to hire me a kayak for a solo trip, something most people would not do due to the risk, and he also provided the spraydeck, pfd, spare paddle and shotgun.All good gear that performed as needed.
Martin runs 2 to 3 trips every summer in the Ammassalik region and I would urge any mildly adventurous paddler to give one a go, they are awesome!

My main sponsor is Mont Adventure Equipment of Australia. I am what is called a Mont Ambassador and as a result I get to try out the best gear available. Mont produce outstanding gear with innovative and thoughtful design and incredible useability. Apart from the Mont clothing, which all performed admirably, I took a Mont Spindrift sleeping bag and a Mont Epoch 4 season tent. The sleeping bag was great, warm, snuggly and light. Sleeping bags have come a long way over the last few years and this is one of the best.
My Mont Icicle down jacket was a bit like a sleeping bag with arms, very warm and comfortable to wear.
The Mont Lightspeed Jacket and Latitude pants are the best expedition/travel clothing around. Cut really nicely so they look good anywhere, they are still very functional and getting wet or cold from the wind wasn't an issue at all.
The tent, a 6 pole structure, is spacious, very stable and well ventilated. It is quiet in a wind and suitable for mountain and expedition use. I also used a Mont Fuego carry on bag for the flights to Greenland and it was excellent.

Once again I used Smitten thermal merino underwear on this trip. Light, warm and almost impossible to get it smelling! Good stuff.

I was supplied with an InReach Iridium satellite messenger by the manufacturers, Delorme. This was just brilliant. It works so well and easily, it's like using a mobile phone to text but without the signal limitations. The ability to send and receive was invaluable. It enabled me to easily keep in touch with my wife and receive weather forecasts. Highly recommended.

My stove was a Primus Omnifuel, a virtual powerhouse of heat but still very controllable. It's other huge advantage is the ability to burn various liquid fuels AND gas. Good for remote travelling. I used a QuietStove cap with it which is very worthwhile.

For a mattress, nothing beats an Exped Downmat. I took a full length Downmat 9 and the comfort is ridiculous :-)

I was trying out a new headlamp, a Petzl Nao and the light output on full power is tremendous. It is still very controllable and can be set to provide very long running times if required. Its ability to be charged via USB was a boon.

For charging I used a Brunton 26W solar panel along with a Brunton Sustain battery and a Hahnel Unipal II battery charger. The battery charger was brilliant, it charges all types and shapes of lithium batteries as well as AA/AAA's. The complete battery charger!

The ration packs supplied by Outdoors Grub was about as good as this sort of food can get. Certainly heaps of energy and I never went hungry.

On the kayaking side, my Kokotat Drysuit did the job without problem. I used Chota Mukluks and I really think that these are perfect for cold water paddling.I also used NRS neoprene paddling mitts which didn't keep my hands dry but they did keep them warm.

I took 2 GPS's with me, a Garmin 62s and a Garmin Montana. The 62 was for backup. The Montana is a good, if rather bulky gps and was easy for older eyes to read although I do feel the 62s is still easier to read in sunlight.

I took my own paddle, a Werner Cyprus 210 crank shaft. An absolute delight to use.

For photography,  I took a GoPro Hero 2 camera, a Panasonic FT3 waterproof camera and a Nikon D7000 DSLR. All performed well and enabled me to put together a reasonable set of images from the trip.

The Paqua waterproof cases did what they were supposed to, and Axel Schoever's mapcase was the perfect expedition map case.

So, all in all, everything worked very well indeed. Nothing on the trip failed or felt redundant. 


I had 4 great days in Iceland. It was very relaxing wandering about and soaking up the atmosphere of this amazing country. Finally I boarded an Icelandair plane bound for Heathrow. I was really looking forward to this part of the trip, having thoroughly enjoyed myself on my last visit to Wales last year. I learnt a great deal about sea kayaking in a very short period of time from John Willacy , my coach and sat for my British Canoe Union 4* Leader award and passed so it was all good! This time I intended to begin training toward gaining my 5* level and John was to be my coach again this year. His style of teaching and directness suit me down to the ground. I drove from London overnight up to Holyhead, on the Welsh island of Anglesey and sorted out my accomodation, and went round to visit a good mate of mine that was supplying my kayak for my stay, Mike Webb of Rockpool Kayaks. Over the next 5 days I received about 34 hours of valuable coaching from John, another 7 hours navigation training from Ollie Sanders and caught up with lots of friends and made quite a few new ones. It couldn't have been better :-) Plus I got to paddle at the famous Penrhyn Mawr tiderace as well as some other challenging water in various locations. The time passed all too quickly and it wasn't long before i was driving to Manchester to catch a flight headed south.... What an Adventure!

South Stack


Menai Straits (image John Willacy)

Penrhyn Mawr


Menai Straits (image John Willacy)

Iceland, take two.

I enjoyed a couple of lazy days in Reykjavik, walking around exploring the city then I hired a mid sized 4 wheel drive and went for a short drive into central Iceland on the notorious 'f' roads. Iceland is an amazing country with stunning scenery, beautiful people and a rich and interesting heritage. A great place to visit.


After a brilliant visit, the time had almost come to return to Kulusuk to catch my Air Iceland flight back to Iceland.I booked a flight on the Air Greenland helicopter which covers the distance from Ammassalik Island to Kulusuk Island in a mere 10 minutes.

I had planned on crossing the day before but the airport had been closed due to the imminent arrival of a Neqajaq, a cold NE wind that can often arrive with storm force, bringing rain and snow and generally nasty weather. The forecast on this occasion was for 40 knots gusting to 60. Pretty strong. As the weather system approach Tasiilaq I witnessed a fall in pressure that was unbelievably fast. At one stage the pressure dropped 6hpa in 17 minutes!

I spent the morning wandering around Kulusuk Island killing time until my flight in the afternoon. It was clear that winter was on the way with far more snow on the hills than when I had arrived a couple of weeks earlier and a definite nip in the air.

Later that afternoon, I boarded an Air Iceland plane for the flight back to Reykjavik after having a really wonderful return trip to Greenland.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I have put together a video recording the trip. It mostly contains images already loaded onto this blog but with a bit of music the end result isn't too bad. I hope you enjoy it :-)


Thursday, October 17, 2013


The trip to Tasiilaq on the Johanna Kristina was interesting. I spent the time talking to the caretaker of the Tasiilaq museum, Carl Eric, so I learnt quite a bit about the history of the region as well as the current politics :-)
Amazingly, halfway to Tasiilaq, on a Greenland freighter in Greenland, I heard on a Danish radio station that Tony Abbott had become the new Australian prime minister. The ever shrinking world.
Once the kayak and I had been deposited on the wharf at Tasiilaq I had the task of getting all of my gear up to an accomodation place called "The Red House". I had to assure my wife it wasn't what it sounded :-) In fact, it was an excellent accomodation establishment run by expeditioner Robert Peroni. Robert had made multiple crossings of the Greenland Ice Cap and had in fact been onto the cap a total of 13 times so he knew his way about. But, his establishment was nearly 1 and a half kilometres away up many a hill. So, I gradually ferried my gear up to the Red House. It took 3 trips. Then I dragged the kayak up the hill from the wharf on a trolley to be stored for the night in one of the museums buildings, "the potato house".The next day I moved the kayak back around to Martin's container where it would be stored with his other boats for the winter. That was a 1 and a half kilometre slog up steep hills pulling a sea kayak. I was glad to get there :-)

One of the great things about travelling in out of the way places like Greenland is the interesting people you run into doing amazing things without fanfare. I met a French couple at the Red House that had been paddling the Greenland coast for the last FIVE years! Alain and Nathalie Antognelli are exploring, documenting and filming their way along the Greenland coast with an indeterminate timetable. They showed our small group of people staying at the accomodation 2 videos they are working on. One showing the hunting of polar bears in NW Greenland  and the second the hunting of Narwhal from a traditional Inuit skin on frame kayak. Both videos were superbly filmed and very, very interesting. These were filmed at a tiny settlement of 30 people with no other human habitation within 300 kms. True subsistence living,  the hunting of the animals was totally justifiable, ecologically sustainable and part of life in the Arctic.
Their website can be viewed at

More images from the Tasiilaq area


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Return to base.

The Johanna Kristina was scheduled to return to Kuummiut in a couple of days so I packed up the next morning and left Tasiilaq Fjord so I could catch the JK to Tasiilaq. It was an uneventful paddle and so by the early afternoon I had the tent back up at Kuummiut, settling back in to familiar surroundings.
In all of the time I was in Greenland, apart from the people on the French yacht and a couple I met in Tasiilaq, I saw no other people exploring the landscape, it was really past the end of the tourist season.

Eventually, it was time to pack all of my gear into the kayak ready for it to be moved around to the wharf. Once again, I searched out the front end loader driver and we put the kayak onto a pallet and off we went!