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Home* Antarctic News → Kayak adven­ture in the Sou­thern Oce­an

Kayak adven­ture in the Sou­thern Oce­an

Three young men have com­ple­ted their their dar­ing expe­di­ti­on last mon­th, repor­ted Fox­news. Two Chi­le­ans and a Spa­niard padd­led for ele­ven days wit­hin the South Shet­land archi­pe­la­go. They star­ted their jour­ney on Janu­a­ry 20th in Pun­ta Are­nas, Chi­le. With the sup­port of the Chi­lean coast guard, the three adven­tu­rers cros­sed the Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge. Three days later they arri­ved at the Chi­lean rese­arch sta­ti­on Arturo Prat on Green­wich Island. With some delay they set out on Janu­a­ry 28th. The kaya­kers tra­v­eled 20-30 kilo­me­tres per day. They explo­red the islands and met a pris­ti­ne and uni­que natu­re. Their rou­te led them along water­ways, which no ship can sail on, becau­se of the pre­vai­ling shal­lows.

The fol­lowing sec­tion is a sum­ma­ri­sed trans­la­ti­on from their blog ent­ries.

After 22 miles we tur­ned into McFar­la­ne Strait. Here we were stop­ped by 35 knots of wind. We had to take shel­ter in Yan­kee Har­bour. Janu­a­ry 31st, we cros­sed the strait in poor visi­bi­li­ty. Figh­t­ing strong cur­r­ents we reached Point Wil­liams and faced a gre­at sce­ne­ry. The next day is still win­dy and des­pi­te a strong swell of the Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge, we ven­ture to Bari­ent­os Island. The fol­lowing day is fog­gy again. We reach Robert Island only with the help of the com­pass. But here we find shel­ter in the Chi­lean refu­ge hut Riso­pa­tron wai­t­ing for the fore­cas­ted storm to pass. Also Febru­a­ry 3rd is rather serious­ly. In spi­te of brea­king sea we enjoy the basalt cliffs and a pod of Orcas on this short leg. The fol­lowing day 25 knots of wind were pushing us towards Nel­son Island. The high swell exhaus­ted. Nevertheless, we were hap­py when we were arri­ving at our day’s desti­na­ti­on. We approa­ched Max­well Bay after sur­roun­ding Nel­son Island on the South side. On Febru­a­ry 6th, just befo­re the finish, we got soa­ked again by wind and waves. It was the col­dest day of the expe­di­ti­on! Howe­ver, next day we recei­ved a warm deser­ved wel­co­me on the Chi­lean Base Frei.

Map – Kayak adven­ture in the Sou­thern Oce­an

Rou­te of the Chi­lean kayak expe­di­ti­on.

The South Shet­land Islands are a wea­ther-expo­sed land mass in the Sou­thern Oce­an. Cyclo­nes that pass through the Dra­ke Pas­sa­ge often touch the archi­pe­la­go. The stor­my sea strikes almost unbra­ked the coast of the islands. This archi­pe­la­go is as wild and rough as the con­ti­nent. Only a small area is ice-free, the rest is buried under mas­si­ve gla­ciers. Thousands of pen­gu­ins and seals rest and nest here. Some­ti­mes you can even see sin­gle Maca­ro­ni pen­gu­ins or a stray Emperor. Asi­de the com­mon Cra­bea­ter seals and Wed­del seals also Fur seals and Ele­phant seals often occu­py beach. Some pla­ces are even “green”. The rea­son are algae and in shel­te­red spots mos­ses and lichens.
The South Shet­land Islands are of vol­ca­nic ori­gin. The kaya­kers pas­sed are­as with steep basalt cliffs that are cha­rac­te­ris­tic for the land­s­cape here. As bizar­re as the cliffs pro­tru­de from the water, the sea-bot­tom at the­se loca­ti­ons loo­ks simi­lar. This forms local wild tidal chan­nels, but also high brea­kers when old swell hits the coast. The gla­ciers con­tri­bu­te to the local cli­ma­te. Cold, strong winds often whist­le through the nar­row water­ways bet­ween the islands.

Why are peop­le loo­king for such super­la­ti­ve ven­tures? In 2000 three young Ame­ri­cans wan­ted to car­ry out a simi­lar expe­di­ti­on. But they did not get fur­ther than to cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te Nel­son Island. They had plan­ned for Living­ston Island and Decep­ti­on Island. The wea­ther for­ced them to the shor­ter rou­te. Ten years later, the New Zea­land girl Hay­ley She­phard plan­ned the cir­cum­na­vi­ga­ti­on of South Geor­gia. The wea­ther put a spo­ke in the wheel of her plans too and she not even made it half way. What all of the kaya­kers had in com­mon is the expe­ri­ence of natu­re in an inhos­pi­ta­ble remo­te area. In spi­te of all the cold and the iso­la­ti­on it is stun­nin­gly beau­ti­ful and offers an sur­pri­sin­gly abundant wild­life. Hay­ley knew that. So ins­tead of per­so­nal fame she wan­ted the public alertness for the sta­te of the alba­tros­ses of the South Polar Oce­an.

Wild coast­li­ne of Fil­des Pen­in­su­la, King Geor­ge Island.

Wild coastline of Fildes Peninsula, King George Island.

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last modification: 2017-03-07 · copyright: Rolf Stange
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