In 1975 Colin Mortlock led a six man expedition along the arctic coast of Norway, covering over 500 miles from Bodo to Nortdkapp and slightly beyond. Many people see this as the first modern style sea kayaking expedition, with similarities to the mountaineering developments which were taking place in the Himalaya’s. There were significant developments in terms of equipment, not least the Nordkapp sea kayak designed by Frank Goodman but I believe that the Wild Water 5 pocket buoyancy aid which was standard equipment for sea kayakers for years had its origin in this expedition. It was seen as such a ground breaking trip that it was serialized in the Sunday Telegraph magazine.
I was fortunate that 11 years later in 1986 I was able to follow part of their route, from Tromso as far as Honnigsvag, a small town just past Nordkapp. In contrast to the unsettled weather experienced by Colin Mortlock and his fellow paddlers, we were really fortunate. For 26 days out of 28 we had light winds, higher than average temperatures and long hours of sunshine. Evenings were frequently spent sitting around in t-shirts although we were quite a way north of the Arctic Circle.
As we passed under the cliffs of Nordkapp (307 metres or 1,007 feet) in flat calm conditions it was hard not to think of the sailors who had traveled these waters as part of the Arctic Convoys which were heading too and from the northern ports in the former Soviet Union during the Second World War.
This was a memorable trip with other members of the Jersey Canoe Club, we were fortunate with the weather, which we took full advantage of.
Crossing to the Lyngen Peninsula, the tip of which is at 70 degrees north. This was a spectacular area and we were blessed with superb weather. One morning it was so hot we went swimming.
The island of Fugloy towards midnight. I always said that one day I would return to paddle to this spectacular island. 26 years on it is an ambition which is still waiting to be achieved.
Paddling into Lyngen Fjord.
Most of the time we were blessed with settled warm weather. In 4 weeks we only lost two days paddling to poor weather, and they were consecutive days, when we were close to Oksfjord.
We woke one morning to particularly settled weather and seized our opportunity to paddle around the most northerly point of Europe. Nicky and myself approaching Nordkapp.