KayakVagabond

the website of Greg Stamer

Preparations and countdown…

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2008


A dry run at packing is always wise when you have a new kayak and new gear. Good old elbow grease and idle threats always seem to help… Many thanks to my good friend Russell Farrow at Sweetwater kayaks for providing a “test” Greenlander Pro.

Early this morning I donned my wool socks, pulled on my jet-black Kokatat drysuit, and wriggled into my size 11 Chotas. I slid into the Greenlander Pro with my boots squealing in protest against the hull until they found the footpegs. A snug fit for my feet, but it will work. All dressed up and nowhere to go! Unfortunately, I wasn’t about to glide among icebergs or sea stacks, rather I was merely testing the fit of my new boots and was racing against time before I began roasting in the sweltering Florida heat. I jumped out just as I started to feel the first trickle of sweat running down the suit. The neighbors glanced over but didn’t even say a word. From rope gymnastics to strange rolls to wearing a black drysuit in “summer”, they stopped asking questions long ago …

Snow fell recently in Newfoundland and icebergs continue to spill down “iceberg alley”. That can be difficult to fully grasp when living in the land of palm trees, humidity and alligators with the mercury rising over 90 degrees. One of the delights of kayak expeditions is that you can jump aboard a jet and suddenly be exploring an alien landscape — literally a different world in a matter of days or even hours. At this time last year, I distinctly remember the excitement of seeing a moonscape of black volcanic rock appear beneath me, as my plane descended in Iceland, one day prior to beginning a kayak circumnavigation.

Preparations for my Newfoundland circumnavigation are proceeding smoothly, and I expect to be getting underway the second week of June. My life is currently a flurry of excitement and activity: buying months worth of dog food for “Bear”, my Chow/Golden Retriever mix (he’s in the photo, but you’ll need “finding Waldo” skills to see him); ensuring that all the bills will be paid; learning to become proficient with new gear (even practicing putting up and taking down my new Hilleberg tent) working out an efficient packing scheme, and hundreds of other details both big and small.

An “expedition” just wouldn’t be an expedition without some stress, worry and concern. But everything always manages to come together in time. The inevitable challenges have to be taken in stride. A roof leak, an expensive car repair and an elbow/bicep injury caused some anxiety. Just a week ago I was researching all options to discover a way to get a kayak shipped from Maine to Newfoundland. I asked for help on the forums and spent hours on the phone with shipping companies. That’s when I received an email from Malcolm Rowe, a kayaker/judge who I met last year, offering to let me use his kayak on the trip. At first I refused — as a kayak takes rough treatment on a solo trip where it is dragged more than it is carried. However Nigel Dennis offered to replace Malcolm’s kayak after the trip, which made this option reasonable. Many thanks to Malcolm and Nigel and everyone else who has provided assistance.

Once the trip is underway, I will be posting daily updates to this blog with the help of Karel Vissel, who will provide Google maps and weather, and Derrick Mayoleth, who will create the blog entires. Between internet stops, I will post short status messages sent from my Blackberry or a satellite phone. I’ll capture plenty of images and post them as possible. I hope that you will follow my progress on the trip, and add your comments!

  1. derrick Said,

    hmmm, I have a tight fit in my cockpit with the new shoes I have. I was starting to consider filing the tips a bit! :) In the end though I just moved the footrest back . .

  2. Greg Said,

    Freya told me that her new Chotas seem to have a longer sole. These are great boots but I wish they came in half sizes. size 10.5 would be perfect for me. For his “Vacation to Hell” expedition Russell Farrow is using the breathable Chotas. I’ll be curious to see how he likes them.

  3. russell Said,

    Very stylish hat my man! I hope you like paddling the “Pro ” as much as I do…not the easiest kayak to pack but fun to paddle loaded or empty. Really fast in following seas!

  4. Brian Schulz Said,

    Weird, I paddled an older pro a fair bit and hated it, maybe the design has changed. Anyways, I just wanted to stop by to say the site looks great Greg. I send people here to show them an example of what web layout should be. One of the best.

  5. Jeff Fabiszewski Said,

    Looking good, I love that Pro and ditto to Russell.

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