Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Back home from the Arctic expedition

After 2 weeks I am back home again. It took me 7 flights and 2 days to get from Aasiaat, Greenland to Maui. 

On this expedition I  made some amazing pictures and I am working on the story of this 'cool' place which will go to the major online and print magazines.

Deciding not to do the crossing probably took me more courage than actually doing the crossing. But I am glad I didn't do it. 
In the week I paddled in Greenland I have seen the condition change radically from relatively warm to icy cold and windy. With the low pressures and the amount of ice it wouldn't have been safe.  Even now I had days with headwinds  were it took me 8 hrs to do 12 mile. Although normally a very fast  board, this  inflatable with the amount of gear I had, just wasn't fast enough for long distances.

This Arctic Expedition was only possible with the help of my main sponsor STARBOARD who supported me over  the years in many ways. 

SUPSKIN made me an amazing comfortable drysuit and PATAGONIA supported me with warm clothing, the warm R5 shirts and pants and the jackets did their job. 
MAUI JIM's sunglasses, this was probably the only place where I wore them 24 hrs a day. 
POCKETFUEL  for tasty food  and Tom Hammerton of BLACK PROJECT for all his help with the weather forecasts.

The icy waters around Ilulissat
Aloha, Bart

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kangaatsiaq, Arctic Tundra.

Today Bart had to decide what his possibilities were, if he would continue paddling south from Kangaatsiaq or call this little village his final destination for his Arctic Expedition.
With the daily mileage he could paddle, it was not possible to make it to Sissimuit. The wind conditions were too unpredictable. Paddling against the head winds with all the weight on the board for the last 2 days wore him out a lot.
The intense lack of sleep took a big toll as well. The transportation options here in the remote Arctic Tundra are very limited. The next airport to get him back to Nuuk, for his flight out of Greenland on Monday, would be Aasiaat. So he needed to find an internet option in a little town with 500 inhabitants and a fisherman who would go North towards Aasiaat.

He found a fisherman who would be on his way to Aasiaat around noon and very friendly people at the local gas station where he could use their internet and find a flight from Aasiaat for tomorrow morning to Nuuk.

So after all those days paddling in Arctic water he is very much looking forward to come back to the warm summer climate of Hawaii. He will return to Maui on Wednesday and then post about his adventure. We will keep you updated.

Thank you very much to all his sponsors for making this incredible expedition possible. STARBOARD, Patagonia, SUPskin and Maui Jim.
Thank you to weatherman Tom Hammerton.
Thank you to all our friends, family and supporters for all the amazing, touching and encouraging emails, text- and Facebook messages from around the world.

"Aluu" from Greenland, Bart

Aloha from Maui, Dagmar and Soleil.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where is Bart now?

Last night Bart camped on Qepertarsuatsiaq Island. He had a good night sleep and stayed warm, what's the most important for him when he gets some rest from the paddling.
"The ski is still an intense blue, a beautiful little island, but you feel as if you're on the moon. That's the Arctic Tundra, no trees around you, just vegetation composed of mosses, shrubs, lichens and grass. Trees can't grow here as the soil is frozen for most of the year. There must be fresh water close by. A lot of birds are surrounding me."

As I could see on Bart's tracker he paddled further south the whole day, always using the cover of the island chain to escape some head winds. But the wind conditions are changing constantly. For a little while he even had down wind conditions and made between 6-8miles/hour. Greenland is 8h ahead of us. It's almost 9pm here on Maui and I can see that he is resting on the board now, protected in a bay in Kangaatsiaq.

Text message from Bart

I am so happy when I get a message, a text or a satellite phone call from Bart. Even if he is not crossing now he is paddling in a very remote place, the weather conditions are tough, the paddling is hard physical work with all his gear on board. The wind direction changed. He is fighting head winds now. Progress in getting south slowed down a lot. He is paddling now between all the little islands, staying close to shore to be more protected from the changing wind conditions.

His text message: "I won't paddle all the way to Sisimuit. It's not possible with all the changes in the wind direction. I will stay here in this area, camp onshore to get at least a little bit of sleep, and try to cover up that I stay warm during the night. I will explore the area south of Aasiaat."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bart paddling South

Bart called this morning by satellite phone. He decided yesterday afternoon Greenland time to start paddling South. Tom Hammerton, Hot Sails Designer, is his weatherman and sends him weather reports via the phone. These files showed strong northerly winds changing to southerly winds this afternoon or tomorrow. So Bart needed to start.
The board is very stabile, even with all his gear and water supply. Depending on wind conditions he can make around 3 miles per hour due to all the extra weight.
The sun sets at 1 AM, sunrise directly 45 min. after. That's the arctic summer. In the early morning hours Bart tried to sleep on his board, but it only lasted for 5 min. He got so cold, that he needed to start paddling again. Imagine, he is wearing the most protective clothing there is on the market for this climate, and Bart can't stand the cold? Then it must be very cold. I know Bart and many of you do, so that says something. I can't even imagine to be in that cold weather during the night, even if it doesn't get really dark. When we are in Germany in the winter I wear a long sleeve t-shirt and a sweater and Bart still runs around in a short sleeve t-shirt. Brrrrrr......
He got very seasick and it took him a while to recover from that, but felt fine in the morning when I talked to him. He is now close to Aasiaat Island. I will hear later what he decides to do when the head winds are kicking in.
Go Bart Go!!!!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bart paddling in the ice fjord of Ilulissat Glacier.

This morning Bart called from his satellite phone. He is testing his STARBOARD Astro Inflatable 16' in the ice fjord of Ilulissat Glacier.
He said, the scenery here is absolutely breathtaking. The sun is out, the ice shows all shades of blue, white and grey. Temperature is a little above 0 degrees Celsius. All his clothing keeps him warm, the sun glasses protect him from the intense light reflection of the ice. He is surrounded by ice, looks for water ways to get through.
I could tell how impressed he was. He is waiting that the sun sets around 1am at night!!! to take some pictures.
He will sleep on the ice, test all his equipment tonight and tomorrow and will do another board test. Then Bart will be on his way south, paddling for 4-6 days towards Sisimuit, equipped with supplies for 10 days.
His last satellite message from 1h ago: "Paddling strong".


Saturday, July 20, 2013

What's new from Bart?

Bart reached Sisimuit in Greenland 2 hours ago and decided due to the strong northerly winds to continue on a ferry to Ilulissat, the town close to the amazing glacier, where in the documentary "Chasing Ice", filmmaker James Balog caught the largest calving event ever recorded.

James Balog said " The only way that you can really try to put it into scale with human reference is if you imagine Manhattan, and all of a sudden, all those buildings just start to rumble, and quake, and peel off, fall over and roll around. This whole massive city just breaking apart in front of your eyes,". The entire ordeal took 75min.

Upon arrival in Ilulissat, Bart will decide his destination he will paddle to.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Schedule for Bart's next update.

We can expect Bart's next update by Sunday, as he is on his way to Greenland right now, .

From then on he will only be able to communicate through text messages from his satellite phone.

We really appreciate your support. We wish everybody a great weekend and thank you so much for all the encouraging emails, texts and Facebook messages.

Aloha from Maui, Dagmar and Soleil

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Update from Canada

After a week of testing the board with all the gear and checking weather and Ice reports. I had to make a very hard decision. Can I cross or not?
I have waited with the decision until I arrived here in Canada and just spoke to the airport in Qikiqtarjuaq. There is still too much ice (a 20 mile ice sheet) in front of my starting point.
Although the seasonal ice is declining 3.6% less every year, this year it stayed around a little longer. Another big factor which is less important now because of the ice, is weather.
This year the weather up there is still very unstable with as much as 4 lows in and around the strait, a 35 knot wind for prolonged time in these conditions on a board is doable but not safe.

So with pain in my heart I have decided to go to Greenland by plane and do a 400 km SUP expedition from Sisimiut to Ilulissat.

My last problem, I lost 2 of the 3 bags on the last plane. Hopefully they will come today. I will have to wait 3 days for the first flight to Nuuk, Greenland on the 19th.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ready to check in at Kahului airport on Maui

This is a lot of stuff to carry, 3 big bags and 1 quiver bag. Ready for the Arctic. Brrh, that will be cold.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Leaving tonight for Canada

Tonight I am leaving for the cold of the Arctic. There is still a lot of Ice on the Canadian side. Greenland is a little warmer with just Icebergs.

Everything is packed in three 70 lbs bags. The airlines will love me. As soon as I arrive I will do a daily update which my wife Dagmar will post on this blog.

Aloha, Bart

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Almost leaving for the Arctic Canada

Last week finally my 16' STARBOARD board arrived and almost all the equipment I will need on this crossing. This board looks great, strong and the perfect size for an expedition like this. Big thanks to Starboard.
 I will have about 65 kilos (140lbs) of gear + 40 kilos (80lbs) of water. It is always more than you expect.  This specially reinforced board is also about 30 kilos (50lbs). So all together I will be travelling with 100 kilos (220 lbs) of gear.
I will bring 10 days of food supplies, although I expect to cross in 4-7 days. But it is a long way to paddle and the conditions can change.  Weather  and wind will have a lot of influence on the speed.

I will probably take the direct route from Qikiqtarjuaq (Canada) to Sisimiut (Greenland).  First I had planned to go along the coast for 60 miles and than use the shortest distance (200 miles), but it looks like it is better to go straight over (245 nautical miles).

First I will be running some tests at the launch site for a couple of days to see how the gear is working and how I get along with the cold climate. I have to feel 100% good about my gear and the weather before I decide to go. I won't be shy to cancel everything if it doesn't feel right. Every year is different. I have to see what the weather conditions are like this year.
Tom Hammerton will be my weather man. He sees the big picture and will give me daily updates about the wind strength and directions, so I can decide which course to follow. 

Also this time I will bring along my sup bed, which I used 2 years ago.

I also made an extra side fin for the front of the board. I have always had one on my other crossing boards but this time it was a little trickier because it is an inflatable. 

This time I will bring an emergency sail with me. If I get stuck in bad weather and strong winds  I can use my sail. My spare shaft also functions as a mast.  


16' STARBOARD inflatable with attachments for gear and with extra fins in the front of the board to avoid the nose from drifting with side wind. 2x pump.

I will bring 3 paddles, one also functions as a mast.

Satelite tracker (also works as epirb)
Satelite phone
Nautical maps
2x compass
watermaker (makes drinking water from salt water)
Battery back up with Solar
Extensive Medical kit
inflatable bed
extra small inflatable for emergency
sea anchor (when I get strong head winds)
emergency small sail 

2x SUPSKIN drysuit.
1x PATAGONIA emergency winter wetsuit, neo boots and neo gloves
PATAGONIA Adventure clothing. Down Jackets, base layers, socks, 

10x muesli breakfast
10x lunch
10x dinner
nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, cookies, tea, hot chocolate 
Hammer endurance (bike) food, Perpetheum
Electrolyte sports drink Heed
Mountain oven (flameless warming pads to heat up food)
40 liter of water for 10 days