Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Freya Hoffmeister joins Point 65 Kayaks Sweden

I'm very happy to announce that Freya is joining Point 65 Kayaks Sweden! While our modular kayaks are getting a lot of attention our touring boats are the core of our company and kayaks we are extremely proud of. .
Freya paddling the Point 65 Freya 18
Having Nigel Foster on board has given us tremendous support developing our  great touring boats. The designer Magnus de Brito has helped us innovate touring kayaking. Now with Freya on board I feel that we have a a team of exceptionally talented expedition paddlers and adventurer's to help us make even better kayaks

The Point 65 Freya 18

The boat Freya and Magnus have designed is custom made for her needs. It's called the Freya 18. It draws on Freya’s considerable experiences from years of extreme long-distance expedition paddling, and the result is a kayak with an unbelievable combination of speed vis-á-vis stability and comfort. It is designed to rapidly consume miles of paddling with ease while being safe, comfortable and stable in the worst and scariest conditions. The FREYA, packed with several groundbreaking innovations.

For you who don't know Freya, here some background. 

In 2009 Freya circumnavigated Australia becoming the second and the fastest person ever to do so and the first woman and unassisted paddler to complete the unbelievable trip. In January 2008 Freya circumnavigated the South Island of New Zeeland, again unassisted and again the fastest to do so. She was the first woman completing this achievement as well and, she also completed her circumnavigation of Iceland in 2007 as the fastest, male or female, to do so. 

South America
In August 2011 Freya began her circumnavigation of South America, a feat never before achieved or even attempted. Her plan is to paddle in three steps.
She finished the first 8000 km from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso in May 2012, rounding Cape Horne—the difficult way—on what must be one of the greatest paddling adventures in kayaking history.

After a summer break Freya will resume the trip in September 2012, paddling north past Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia and through the Panama Canal. Then heading south, past Venezuela, she will finish the second 8000 km leg in Guyana. On the third and final 8000 km leg, starting in September 2013, she will paddle past Suriname, Brazil, and Uruguay, returning to Buenos Aires in time to celebrate her 50th birthday on May 10, 2014.

Here Freyas own recount of rounding the Cap Horne the hard way:

#Wed 28/12-2011 Day 121#
Loc: Isla Deceit
Acc: tent
Dist: 0 km

It is really now "Cape Horn" weather - I've never experienced such storm and water in my life. The wind is up to 50 knots. But I must admit I'd rather have seen it from the safe cliff top of the Cape Horn Navy station than from this marginal beach...

At least I'm not worried that the water is reaching my tent. I'm rather worried that a rock or two would be rolling from the cliffs above and hit my tent or boat...no, this won't happen to me. I forgot to write I saw yesterday my two lucky dolphins during the day on the calm water. I mistook the sign I'd be able to reach Isla Hornos yesterday. But it was just a sign I simply survived my bad decision making with moderate damage.

Yes, it was the worst decision making mistake on my kayaking life. I stepped into the "Cape Horn" trap out of the picture album.I must have been lulled by the dead calm weather all day, and the continuous shelter of the islands.

I probably played it a bit down on this morning's update, not to worry any one. But I rather be honest to myself and to advise other paddlers who may like to try the same.

Yes, I can keep my nerves in such situations for a long while. Yes, I know I can paddle hard and long and in huge seas. But the wind is something which shows you your limits at some point. I should have turned around much earlier. I knew how fast the wind comes up here, and how strong it would be soon. But this is Freya, going head first and fight it hard. But I almost lost the fight. I learned my lesson.

I assume I was eventually paddling yesterday in 30-40 knots, with the accordingly constantly rising sea state. Nothing any more with the calm shelter of the islands. *This* eventually became BIG, and did grow today to a sea I have never seen in my life, I think...this is Cape Horn weather out of the picture album!

My landing spot yesterday, really a marginal way to land through a thick slippery kelp bed with big boulders behind it, is trashed now every 5 sec with a breaker high as a house. There was quite some surf on it already yesterday as well, though that was the only corner with a marginal shelter behind a 20 m single rock. I probably didn't hurt myself because of the slippery kelp sliding me and my kayak on the next bigger wave further up. And although I got a bit wet inside my dry suit, I think there is no mayor hole in it, rather the old worn out spot not sealed yet. I couldn't dry and check it yet. I managed somehow to put on my helmet and PFD in time. Good.

Glad the kelp and huge boulders are breaking the surf well now and the water really doesn't come up to my tent, besides lots of spray. There won't be any other choice of a tent site here.

But I will have to drag or carry my kayak for launching one day to the tiny gravel beach in the far corner of this whole marginal beach stretch. Launching from there through the rocks on reasonable conditions will be all right, rather than landing there in that massive surf yesterday, not seeing the rocks. In hindsight, I picked the right spot for my attempted crash landing. And I was glad I didn't hurt myself besides a few bruise on my legs...I'm just a lucky girl.

I do not want to imagine what I'd have done, if I'd not dared to land and have left out this marginal landing spot...
If I really would have made it through the breakers of the line of huge rocks at the end of this island, if I then wouldn't have been able to get or to stay in the lee of the island and would simply have gotten blown out to the open sea...see you, Antarctica!

My tent held up so far, but I was awake since 3 am, and had walked out probably 10 times already to check the tent and to change rock combinations to hold the guy lines. One line ripped already on a sharp rock, but I could easy fix it with a knot.

Eventually, after I was lying probably all day like a beetle on the back, stretching out all four to support the tent walls, I got the idea to take my whole half of my broken paddle, which had a perfect length, to support the tent in the middle.

Then I remembered I had a set of solid spare kevlar steering lines in my repair kit, and knotted them to each existing guy line. I spread out the line in a different angle, and slung it around a solid rock somehow. So double guy lines on each corner - this is holding now and won't rip for a while! And I can stretch out in the tent again and may even get some sleep...

I tried to secure the tent flaps with heavy rocks, but the fabric is too slippery to hold it down, and it only ripped holes on the bottom on the flaps. But although the tent is making still a lot of noise, I'm secure this will hold now.

Not sure how to cook tonight inside my tent, as it is probably still blowing 20 knots inside here :-)

No way of thinking of starting the repair on my kayak yet. The air is full of sea spray from the breakers, I may have to wait until tomorrow after noon where it is not blowing 40-50 knots like today, with lots of rain, but "only" 20-30 knots or even less. I hope to get the repair done rather with my very fast (4 min) and hot hardening two components epoxy steel resin than with the real liquid resin which will take a day to get hard. I fortunately could shop two sets of medium size tubes in Rio Grande.

This may hold up the 11 km to Isla Hornos one day, where I hope to get shelter for my kayak to cover the whole repair with one or two layers of fiber glass mat and liquid resin. The damage could have been much worse, like the boat may have crashed on a rock fully , but this will still be a floating kayak I can further on use. No evacuation necessary...

I have enough food and water for two weeks. But I hope to get out here to Isla Hornos  latest Sunday, maybe Friday night. Maybe not. Happy New Year! :-)


#Sat 31/12-2011 Day 124#
Loc: Isla Deceit
Acc: tent
Dist: 0 km

The weather calmed down today to a 20 kn west wind so far, the seas are going down from horrible 4-5 m crashing on my beach to now maybe 3-4 m, but by now 5.30 pm it is still too dangerous to launch, though I could paddle. This is a torture. I was checking different corners of this rocky beach, but none of them is safe to launch yet.

But there is still a chance tomorrow very early morning, around 4 am, if the sea will calm down even more as I have seen it already on Thursday...I should have gone that day, even with the risk of a leaking boat...

I'll check the sea state continuously until 8-9 pm today, when I should be latest on the water to reach at least Isla Herschel.

I'm not sure yet if I'm in the mood to cross over to Isla Hornos and not to leave out the circumnavigation of that famed island...the safe way is to paddle to isla Herschel into the lee of the islands, and to take the so far still great weather window on Tuesday (again a Tuesday...) too head back across to the safety of the Isla Navarino. Or I could take that great Tuesday to paddle around Isla Hornos...or latest, to get off this beach, if tomorrow it is still not low enough sea to launch safely.

The stay here on this coast which actually saved my ass is a torture, as it is somehow a trap. Rocks could fall down on my head any time (NO!!!), and a walk out is not possible, not to talk about a safe landing of a rescue boat. If they could land safely, I could as well launch safely.

As long as I'm having enough food I am all right. I may stop updating longer to save battery on my sat phone. I'm in the first third of my second battery of three now.

I even found a tad big larger stream of fresh water a bit further to the other side. Just this nerve wracking crashing horrible rolling surf on the beach...every 10 sec a noise like thunder. But that last Thursday showed it is possible to be different.

Patience, Freya...and keep your nerves about the safe launch...I have only one chance.

Ah, yes, HAPPY NEW YEAR! :-)(


#Sun 01/01-2012 Day 125#
Loc: Isla Hornos
Acc: Navy Station
Dist: 11,2 km
Start: 5:05 End: 7:05

After I wrote my update yesterday, the knot in my stomach didn't really decrease yet by watching the still crashing surf from about four different spots of my asylum beach. It surely decreased, and the open water looked all right , but it was not enough to safely launch from any corner.

- I had basically four choices to launch: The main "beach" with about 20-30 cm diameter rocks, in the furthest deepest corner, had the biggest surf rolling on it. This was the place where I already carried my kayak the day before, just in case I may stumble and fall and break it again...and to have it a bit easier on the launching day.
It was decorated with huge boulders, and had just one narrow straight line to go out. But the few lulls were not safe enough to make it that far out where the still 2-3 m breakers started to roll and crash. If one would have caught me, I'd be crashed as well. It did look different that early Thursday...

- The second choices would be on the very last corner, in a tiny lee of some rocks, where the surf was not rolling in so high. But it was still high enough, to not be safe. Sometimes the surf built on that corner, sometimes not. This corner was not possible to calculate in any way - too dangerous as well. And I'd had to carry my kayak even further over huge boulders and around two rock nose walls.

- The third choice I discovered last night - the southern, very first end of the "beach", where I really had to climb over huge rocky boulder and around rock walls even more. An enormous balance act with my kayak, and an even longer way. This beach had 20-30 cm boulders as well, and I first thought it was a bit sheltered from the west south west rolling surf. But getting closer, the breakers crashing on it were not much different to my first choice. By the way, I spent the European "New Year's Eve" just there around our 8 pm, just reconnoitering...

- The last and fourth choice was actually yesterday night after a lot of watching and comparing the different spots my favorite. It was a bit south of my campsite, and had about a meter high slippery boulders on low tide, with a tiny belt of kelp, being a tad bit sheltered behind a huge offshore rock. There was still surf rolling even on that corner, but it seemed to be a bit broken, lower and having more lulls. But yesterday, when a big wave came, it still would wash so high I could not hold my kayak in a reasonable distance position. Still a no go that night, but it gave me the most hope to one day get out of here...I was so convinced to take that spot, that I already yesterday carried one bag of wet gear and paddles away from my kayak and back to my tent...but not fully sure yet, I left the kayak on the first possible launching spot.

Spending almost all evening wandering from one of those corners to the next, watching, I almost forgot to call my boyfriend at 8 pm - Danish New Year...when I called him to say I won't launch this night, I could barely understand him from all the firework noise in the background...and I was close to tears, remembering our last New Year's even together.

But when I decided this night would still be a no go, though the seas and wind were all right, I again had to force myself to eat, not to lose too much energy, and to sleep a bit. I read my e-book, until I fell asleep around 9 pm for about an hour, waking at 10.30 pm again to listen to the waves. They sounded less! By now, I could judge their hight by just the sound...
I stuck my head out of my tent, and saw I was right - catching new hope for tomorrow early morning. Somehow the knot in my stomach, tied tight since Tuesday night, loosened up a bit, knowing I'd make it out tomorrow morning.

I now knew the torture would be over soon...and yes, the stay on this beach on this island, though it saved my life on Tuesday night, was a horrible torture!

- First, I didn't know when I'd be able to launch, after I had to let go that lovely Thursday due to repairing my kayak in low to no wind and rain. I had to household with my resources - food, sat phone batteries, even toilet paper...but the latter was the least worry. I fortunately found a bit larger stream down the beach to refill my water bags, so water was not an issue. Plus I could catch rainwater any time...

- Second, the shocking news of the death of Alejandro on a similar trip weighting heavily on my mind...I had only a few minutes to talk to my boyfriend on the sat phone, having to mourn all the time by myself. And it could have easily caught me as well...

-Third, my kayak, my tent or myself could be hit by a falling rock, or even worse, by a landslide at any time on any spot on this beach.

- Fourth, the constant noise of the crashing, up to 4-5 meter high surf on the coast, was mentally extremely tough, day and night. Knowing one day it had to go down, or no one could get me off here. Even a helicopter may have been in danger, the beach was too narrow, and the prop wash may have blown down rocks or a landslide.

- Fifth, the constant wind ripping on my tent - would it hold up? Thank goodness to a rock solid Hilleberg Staika tent...The worst day was obviously Wednesday, with wind speeds up to 100 knots - yes, you read it right - I checked on the Navy logbook  today...and my tent was really marginally sheltered behind a big boulder.

Yes, the legendary infamous Cape Horn wind speeds - I was writing on my update when I eventually had to turn around that Tuesday, 1.1 km short to reach Isla Hornos, I estimated I probably paddled in 30-40 knots - the logbook of the navy said, it was 60 knots at 6 pm, gusting to 80 knots...and I landed at 8.30 pm...and I stayed upright, and landed somehow somewhere...should I be proud I made it through those winds and accordingly rising huge sea states? No, I was rather ashamed I made the mistake to get into it...but yes, I must be somehow eventually after all those km some kind of skillful paddler...and have guardian angels. But I never, never want that experience again...and don't wish any one to get ever into it.

These high numbers for the wind speed are really shocking...for tonight, the Navy officer said, they expect 130 knots...thank goodness I'm safe and sound.

I woke about every hour last night, checking the time and listening to the surf...at first light, I would be ready to go!
I rose at 3.20 am, my gear was mostly packed already. I stumbled with the first two heavy gear bags to my kayak, as the surf on the first possible launching spot seemed to be all right from the distance.

Arriving there, I went close to the water's edge, and had to admit to myself this was still not possible to launch from here this morning...disappointing...so loading the two gear bags on my shoulders again, and stumbling back to my tent.

I then walked to the other direction, to launching choice number four, my last night's favorite, and this was the spot for this morning! Not 100% safe, but maybe 80%, safe enough for to risk it.

So walking to the kayak, loading it on my shoulders, carefully stepping from boulder to boulder with my sandals, already sweating in my dry suit...but I made the estimated 200 m without falling and crashing my kayak or myself. Good. I will just get some bruises again on my shoulder and hip...but thank goodness the epic 18x expedition kayak is still a light weight one, compared to some other kayaks...

The next walk was taking the first two gear bags to the new launching spot, more sweating and balancing...

Then it was time to take my trustworthy refugee, my tent, down. Means, I had to unload about 60 heavy boulders from the flaps and pegs...and to stuff the soaking wet tent into it's bag. But then it was the last walk with the last two gear bags! My kayak was fully empty, so it were four gear bags this time...and though I had few food left and kept just a little water, it was still heavy...and I was quite exhausted from few sleep, few eating, strained nerves...

I loaded my kayak on big boulders, high enough to not get caught by the highest breaker. But fortunately they break fast on those meter sized rocks with a bit of kelp upfront.

The new worry was to slide the eventually heavy loaded boat over the big boulders to the water's edge, and to get it afloat, without breaking the bottom or getting crashed by a high washing wave. Luckily, the rocks were very slippery on low tide, good for my kayak, but bad for my feet and legs..

But I was lucky, timed it right, slid the kayak in a reasonable flat line over the tip of the rocks, got just a tiny wash into the cockpit, jumped on and in, and paddled away, out of the danger zone...I was OUT! In one piece, myself and my kayak...

Now 11 km across to Isla Hornos - the water was almost calm, just a swell of 2 m running. The wind was this morning about 18-20 knots north west, and it was supposed to stay like that at least until noon...but who knows??? I paddled as fast as I could, but noticed, I was quite worn...two hours, that was all I needed...and I was on the water at 5 am.

I could have headed to Isla Hershel only, in the gap between the island's shelter, but I decided the weather window was safe enough this time...

Plus I saw a huge cruise boat coming just out of this gap, heading to unload their passengers it Isla Hornos. Plus I saw a sailboat anchoring in the landing bay of Isla Hornos...would they have sent out a zodiac, just in case???

But the water and wind stayed like it was on launching, and I took two endless long hours to paddle the 11 km across.Though I was aiming probably 10-15 degrees against the wind off course, I lost 10 degrees on my bearing due to the north west wind...the pictures of Tuesday came back into my mind, but I felt this chance was safe enough.

I arrived just the same time as the huge cruise boat was spitting out about 5 or 6 zodiacs, ferrying back and forth about 130 cruise boat passengers, all dressed in bright orange life jackets, to the landing.

The sailboat was the big Russian "Scorpius" I met already in Puerto Williams.They were still all fast asleep, though I called them on the radio on passing it...too much vodka on New Year's eve, eh?? They plan to circumnavigate Antarctica, taking two months, then head up through Fjordland...maybe see you again in Valparaiso?

Cape Horn Navy officer Ivan, his wife Paula, son Ivan, daughter Daniela and puppy dig Wuff greeted me on my arrival. I squeezed myself onto the tiny jetty just in the gap after the first zodiac, quickly unloaded, and moved my boat on to a higher ledge of the wooden staircase jetty with the help of Ivan and three zodiac captains. More zodiacs, each loaded with about 15 passengers, were queuing up...

I was sitting there about half an hour beside my kayak, hiding the writing on it actually a bit, still in my dry suit, and just watched the stream of orange ants disembark, climbing the staircase, without taking (fortunately) much notice of me. I was not in the mood to play the camera hero for a shit load of tourists, who paddles around South America, and finally made it to Cape Horn...

I was actually sitting there, with mixed emotions, close to tears again, being eventually safe, soon dry and warm, thinking of my friend Alejandro and his destiny, and thanking god for I eventually made it here in one piece.

I texted briefly to my website I arrived, and reached my boyfriend, son and mother on the sat phone to wish them a happy New Year from Cape Horn...

As soon as all tourists were done climbing up stairs, I took my gear bags, and Ivan escorted me to their beautiful, new house, built around the old Cape Horn light house. The hot shower felt as good as never, and I even could get all my clothes washed!

After Paula was done selling the tourists their Cape Horn souvenirs, she prepared a great breakfast, ad I was digging in heavily...I did step on the bath room scale after my shower - 65 kg... my usual home weight (too heavy!!!) is 77-79 kg...

But this was not all...lunch was a festive New Year's lunch, with a choice of food I haven't seen for months...even a fresh crab meat salad as an entrée...when I was eating like a horse, I think I was excused...thanks a lot to Paula!

Before lunch, the crew of the Scorpius came up, and good that I already bought some Cape Horn souvenir clothing, like a fleece jacket, scarf and hat...what the 130 previous tourists haven't shopped yet, the Russian crew bought... :-)

Life is good again, I'm staying in a lovely friendly European looking, x-mas decorated house with a very nice Navy family, am well fed close to bursting, and the fore cast for Tuesday still looks good...but yes, things change fast here, and sometimes too early...the weather window did close again at 11.30 am here...

If Tuesday stays nice enough to paddle around Isla Hornos, I will do. So far, it says 20-17 knots west going down to almost nothing at night. I will make it to Caleta Middle on Isla Middle, stay there probably one day, and Thursday afternoon, latest Saturday, I may cross over the 30 km to Isla Navarino into the safety of Fjordland again. But again, the weather may change...


Here Freyas blog:


Nautica said...

Muy buenoooo!!!!!!!!!

Rob said...

What an incredible kayak expedition!

Well done getting through it all. I am planning on doing something similar in the coming years.