Follow Heike as she paddles her kayak above the Arctic Circle and meets whales, polar bears, and ice floes...
 
........Spring 2010

Thanks to all my friends who volunteered!

And many thanks to the expedition sponsors:




 




Spitsbergen-Svalbard

WE ARE ATTEMPTING A FIRST!
This kayak expedition by folding boat will take us around Spitsbergen in a clockwise direction. Spitsbergen (also named Svalbard) is situated half-way between Northern Norway and the North Pole from latitude 74 to about 81 degrees in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. The last few years, this remote and barren land made headlines because of increased melting of the glaciers and its ice cap due to global warming. This is where we will undertake our unusual kayak expedition. Spitsbergen is a Polar Bear Paradise, which gives our expedition quite a scary edge. We must follow very specific rules to ensure our safety.
There are two of us on the expedition: Juergen from Muehlheim, Germany, and Heike from Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. On May 20, 2010, Juergen will ship all his equipment to Longyearbyen-Spitsbergen. Around the beginning of June, Juergen will start kayaking alone along the western coast of the Icefjord, heading north. Heike will join him in mid-June in the town of Ny Alesund, two weeks into the expedition.
We must make a crucial decision north of Spitsbergen — either continue the expedition by circumnavigating Northaustland, or take the short-cut through the Hinlopenstrait, along the Eastern coastline of Spitsbergen. Weather and ice conditions will dictate our choice. If we circumnavigate Northaustland, it would be a FIRST. The total distance including Northaustland will be around 2,000 km. It will take us 70 to 90 days to circumnavigate these two islands. We plan on another 20 to 30 days for bad weather or layovers, which also gives us time to watch wildlife and hike in the mountains. Juergen will stay on Spitsbergen for five to six months. We will transport provisions for up to three months in our kayaks.

Logistical highlights:
• Each of us is required by law to have 30,000 euro worth of rescue insurance.
• To do this expedition, we had to get the permission from the governor of Svalbard.
• We are required to carry guns. We will have two guns, which are described in more detail in the “Getting ready” section on my site. We also will take a flare gun to scare polar bears away before a defensive maneuver takes place. • We will have two bear fences: One is a trip wire fence loaded with noise makers. The other is an electric fence, which will send a 6,000 to 8,000-V shock to a polar bear's nose should he come too close for comfort.
• We will take a satellite phone.
• Each of us will have the required EPIRB attached to our Kokatat drysuit.
• We will have a VHF radio to be able to talk to ships in our area.
• We will have a Toughbook computer, which will be connected to a data-transfer device to send compressed data through the satellite phone via UUPLUS to the Internet. This will let me keep daily logs and journals on this Web site.
• My friend Leslie, my Webmaster, will often post these entries and pictures under the “Live journal” section of this site.
• My friend Gale and my dear husband will send us daily weather forecasts and the ice maps that will help us plan our route.
• Both Juergen and I will have a GPS and a compass attached to our boat decks.
• To be able to talk to each other should we get out of shouting range, we will have walkie talkies.
• Our energy supply will be two solar panels: Juergen has a large foldable solar panel; I’ll have a smaller, flexible one, which can be attached to the deck of my kayak.
• We will both use our sails over larger distances such as when we have long crossings in front of glaciers or fjords.
• We are both paddling folding boats. Pictures of the boats are on our Web sites.
• To get ready for the trip, I had to learn shooting, sailing, and more about navigation.
• We had to plan for food and fuel for the entire trip.
• We will carry two Hilleberg tents.
• We will have almost all the important equipment doubled up, in case we lose a boat — always a possibility on this dangerous journey.

e-mail Heike

follow Heike on Twitter




Heike's paddling partner

Our trip on Kokatat's site



Click on the thumbnails to see previous trips:  
Antartica 2004

Greenland 2000, 2001,2002


Pictured Rocks, Lake Superior

New York City


Detroit

 
 

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