Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Tape Can Fix Anything

Rising early to ensure we caught the bus we laboured down the road to the bus stop with all our bags. We were feeling a bit defeated, Tom especially, at packing the boats and worrying about if The Brave Sausage would be doing any more paddling this trip. We took an almost empty bus to Fiskebol where we changed to a much busier bus. We’d picked the little town of Gausvik as our destination as it had easy access to a beach from the bus stop, wasn't far from Harstad (where we could get a ferry to Tromsø) if Tom and I had to bail and it was a doable distance from Tromsø by paddle. The bus broke down ten minutes after we boarded and we sat in a lay by, sun shining on still blue waters and wondered if we’d made a terrible mistake. Almost the entire journey we spied what looked like perfect paddling conditions, that is until we haul our gear off the bus and head down a track to the beach at Gausvik. The water was choppy and the wind strong and we had a crossing to do. We ate lunch before attempting to reassemble the kayaks and were so lucky to have done so. A lady out waking her puppy got chatting to Justin and Melissa and invited us to build the boats at their place as there was a bit of shelter from the wind. We carried all our gear down there and got chatting to the couple, Jahn & Ann-Hilda. They owned a beautiful house on this little spit of land and had built a little apartment they rented out on Airbnb.
We began to put the boats back together, explaining to Jahn that the Brave Sausage was in need of some assistance he took a look at our broken pieces and ran off to get a rivet gun and a big roll of mega duct tape. The rivers were a no go unfortunately, but using Jahn’s dad’s motto ‘you can never have too much tape’ we got the boat back together. Jahn told us the right time to attempt the crossing and offered for us to camp in their garden as the best time would be to cross between 4am and 5:30am. They also had a couple from New York staying in the Airbnb who went out fishing with Jahn while we hung out drinking coffee and chatting with Ann-Hilda. We cooked dinner early, had some utterly delicious rhubarb and cinnamon jam Ann-Hilda had made on crackers for pudding and the watched transfixed as Jahn prepped the fish they'd caught. He kindly gave us two big cod fillets. We bid everyone farewell and hit the hay as we were going to be up before 3:30am.
Photo Credit - Melissa
We were on the water by 4am and the crossing was easy. Glassy water, light winds, barely any currents. We paddled into the sun, passing a massive sea eagle and under the bridge. Tom and I decided that The Brave Sausage deserved recognition for her continued service and knighted the boat, forever to be known as The Brave Sir Sausage. We stopped for breakfast and coffee on a bit of rock down the coast before paddling on towards Grov where we’d been told there was a shop and we’d likely be able to find somewhere to stay. The water was so glassy and in the misty morning light it was hard to determine where water ended and sky began. We spotted porpoises and a weird large fish swimming just below the surface. We struggled to find Grov as it is very well tucked away at the end of a fjord, but we tied up the boats to the dock by about 11am. 
It felt weird arriving before lunch having done 7 hours of paddling already. We changed into our dry clothes only to discover the gate to the dock was locked. Fortunately after only a few minutes of us dithering, wondering what to do a guy turned up and unlocked the gate. He said it was locked at night but not during the day. We headed into town to the shop and then back to the picnic tables outside the community centre. Despite a retired ships officer regaling us with many, many tales and a tour of his boat house we were no closer to finding somewhere to camp. Just as we were packing up thinking we’d have to get back in the boats to loom for a place to stay a friendly guy approached us, he knew Jahn, and suggested we stay at a campsite across the fjord, about a mile away. He rang the owner to establish the cost and make sure he had space and happy to have a definite place to go we got back in the boats and headed over. We met a group of Swedish guys gutting and cleaning their catch for the day, including a seriously mean looking catfish whose stomach was full of shells. We enjoyed hot showers and cooked next to a hobbit hut, before another early night. 
The next day we had a number of crossings to make and the conditions weren't as glassy as the previous day. In fact it was pretty choppy, but we were lucky that the wind was in our favour so we made good progress and Melissa and I both felt more confident in the less than ideal conditions. We noticed that along this stretch there were far fewer little boat docks for us to pull up to and also a lack of sandy beaches so finding spots for breaks was tough. We had spotted a little harbour just before another bridge and crossing we needed to do so we were planning on stopping their to ask local advice about the imminent crossing. The boat ‘dock’ when we arrived was by far the ricketyest piece of floating junk we’d come across. But a kindly local told us we needed to make the crossing in the next hour if we were going to so we had a quick refuel and got back in the boats. As we rounded the headland we were hit with a strong headwind and whilst the crossing was straightforward the wind was really something to contend with. There was also a fair amount of swell as we turned down the coast and started scouting for somewhere to finish for the day. Sadly this bit of coast was primarily rocky and offered little in the way of a safe place to come ashore. We had spotted what looked a bit like a beach on the phones but when it came into view on the other side of a bay it didn't look promising, however there was a rather large house with a little dinghy in front of it so we had eyes peeled hoping for a dock or boat ramp. There was neither but there was a little bit of a gap in the rocks which we could safely land the boats on. We were a bit concerned about pitching our tents on their lawn, but since no one appeared to be home and since it really wasn't a good idea for us to continue with no idea of where we could safely get ashore we made dinner and went to bed.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Introducing The Brave Sausage

We had been told about a tidal race near the bridge north of Henningsvær and the islands beyond it so we planned our departure from Sandvika campsite to hit this stretch as the tide was flowing from low to high. We made good progress down the coast and under the bridge to Henningsvær and stopped for lunch in sight of the bridge with the tidal race. As we approached the bridge we noticed the water flowing pretty fast against us, so I'm not sure if we misunderstood the advice we got or if this was as good as it gets if you're paddling north in this channel, but it was harder work than we’d expected. Luckily the wind was at our backs which gave us some help, but also caused some chop and some strange eddies and lively patches of water we’d not encountered yet. As we continued up the channel towards the open sea the current seemed to now be in our favour so we made good progress. Rounding the headland with open ocean stretching away to the horizon on our left we began to experience increasing swell and I really found this next stretch scary and trying. 
Our destination for the day was a white sand beach on an island in a bay in a nature reserve, Laukvikøyene. We’d been told this island-filled bay was like the Caribbean, but approaching the dozens of islands in the swell it didn't feel tropical and it was hard to determine which island we wanted to aim for as all we could see was rocks. Melissa had thought she’d seen another suitable beach on a different island when looking at the maps, but we couldn't see either as we tried to just position the boats to minimise the effects of the waves. Finally we spotted the beaches and decided Melissa’s was a better shout due to the direction of the swell. We landed on the beach, the sun came out and I instantly felt better. Tom had somehow been unfazed by the conditions and had found the sight of the open sea exhilarating not terrifying, but I was thrilled to be safely on dry land.
We had a little explore, checked the tide times and heights and decided pitching the tents on the beach was the best bet. Melissa and I cooked whilst Justin and Tom put the tents up. It was warm, sunny and we had our own deserted island. It felt particularly rewarding after a hard day's paddle and, as always after a day of exertion, dinner tasted incredible. There was some heavy rain and wind in the night and morning came with a less Caribbean feel. We expected to spend the morning lazily paddling between the islands in this bay as we slowly made our way to Laukvik. John had commented to us how navigating islands in a kayak can be very tricky as it's hard to get a good vantage point and he was certainly right. As we had timed our departure terribly we were at mid-tide going to low. On this occasion it wasn't that the currents were a problem, but these little islands were only in very shallow water and it was hard to distinguish between rock and seaweed and whether the water was deep enough. Justin and Melissa took a more cautious approach whereas Tom and I fearlessly (and foolishly) pressed on. We very quickly found ourselves beached. Tom got out to push us into deeper water and found his feet sinking knee deep into mud. He nearly lost a croc and we had a few moments of worry as he struggled to get back in the boat, before basically having to use our paddles as punting sticks and drag ourselves back to deeper water where we followed Justin and Melissa back out of the islands and towards the open sea.
The conditions hadn't improved from the day before and as we left the protection of the islands we faced chop, wind and swell. I hated this next stretch. It was less than two hours but I was so scared the whole time. We finally spotted Laukvik and headed in. It was hard to see where the dock was but an opening appeared to our right with a large sea wall protecting a big harbour. I burst into tears as we paddled out of the swell and into the calm waters. Justin and Melissa chatted with a fisherman as they paddled by who said that this stretch as always rough as there was nothing between here and Greenland but open ocean. We moored the boats and Tom gave me a big cuddle. We grabbed our bag of dry clothes and walked up to the cafe. It wasn't open, but a sign said ‘Keans Beans this way’ so we followed the signs into a big old boat shed and to a door that said ‘come in’. Opening the door we were totally amazed to find a little artisan coffee roaster. We filed in, found places to perch and he made us some delicious coffee. We spent the next hour chatting to Chris, drinking delicious coffee and warming up.
Our next stop was the cafe. We all agreed continuing in these conditions wasn't possible. Tom thought the boats were up to it, but he didn't want to subject me to hours of terror. So now the hunt was on to figure out the logistics of what next. Norway’s impressive bus network extended to Laukvik and the decision was made to pack up the boats, take the bus to where we thought it'd be safer and then continue paddling to Tromsø. Justin and Melissa’s boat, The Green Onion from Stockholm, was as it had been when they assembled it in Narvik. Unfortunately our boat, The Brave Sausage, was a little worse for wear. There had been a number of cracks when we assembled the kayak in Narvik which we’d repaired with liberal quantities of Gorilla Tape, but on taking it apart we found a number of new cracks including one of the plastic plates becoming entirely unattached from the poles. Not good.
Having packed the boats and dried our stuff as best as possible we started to look for a suitable place to stay. The little town was in full setup mode as their local fair started the next day so we thought we’d offer to help with the preparations, but the locals weren't interested. We opted to pitch the tents on a patch of hard ground near some camper vans, had dinner and strangely had the best nights sleep so far. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Perfect Days, Painful Days & Rest Days

Tom was groaning in agony behind me as we approached Svolvær. We had paddled 32 miles the previous day, conditions had been perfect so we pushed on way past our daily target of 20 miles. From our white sand beach camp spot we had paddled to the village of Offersøy and on crystalline turquoise waters through dozens of tiny islands whose only inhabitants were birds.

The fjord crossing was unbelievably glassy allowing us our first glimpse of porpoise and we found the tiny canal shortcut some locals had tipped us off to through to the magnificent Raftsund. We landed on another perfect sandy beach and got chatting to a dad & his daughter who told us we should push on to see Trollfjord tonight as the weather was turning and it was rare for the mountains to be clear of cloud. He suggested a beach on an island in the middle of Raftsund for us to camp on and bid us good luck.
Despite being tired having already come more than 20 miles we got back in the boats & headed for the island. After pitching the tents and unloading our gear we paddled off to check out this tourist hotspot. The entrance was almost hidden from view but the frequent boat traffic made it clear where we were heading. Amazingly as we paddled into this narrow fjord with its sheer rock face soaring a thousand meters up we were the only ones in there. As we paddled back out a party boat entered the fjord with its live band blaring “ooh baby baby it's a wild world” and it's crowds of tourists waving and snapping photos of us. By the time we made it back to camp Tom was done for and went straight to bed. You can tell how bad he must've been as he didn't even want dinner.
We were slow moving the next day and agreed we’d meet Justin and Melissa at Svolvær later that day. Though conditions were still great the constant stream of power boats, ferries, fishing boats & jetskis caused us a fair amount of anxiety as each time they passed we’d have to deal with their wakes. Approaching Svolvær Tom was almost incapacitated with pain as he fought to control the rudder whilst contending with shooting pains from his lower back to his foot. Luckily despite all this he managed to spot the particularly huge wake left by the massive ferry and turn us into it in time that meant it broke completely over our bow, which was scary, but if it had hit us broadside I'm pretty sure we’d have capsized, which would have been worse than scary.
We found a place in the harbour to moor the kayak, changed into dry clothes and headed to the store for resupplies. Svolvær was a bit of a shock after all the idyllic villages, towns and beaches, but despite it being less appealing than our other spots Tom and I hoped we were done paddling for the day. Unfortunately we got a text from Justin and Melissa saying they hadn't found any suitable campsite in town and had just left for a campsite 7 miles down the coast. We’d already done 15 miles and the thought of getting back in the boat was not one we relished but following a quick Google search of other options we realised we just needed to suck it up and keep paddling. The promise of a hot shower and laundry certainly helped with motivation. Tom did some adjustments on the rudder, we changed back into wet clothes and started out the harbour. Within 10 minutes one of the rudder wires had come loose and we had to pull over to fix it. I was super nervous as we paddled out past the towering ferry but we got out of Svolvær and down the coast unscathed. Finding the entrance to the inlet the campground was at the end of was a little tricky, but with Tom’s excellent navigation we found the right place. However, as we were arriving at low tide the channel we had to get to the end of had become impassable. We got out the kayak and pulled and pushed it the last third of a mile wading through thigh deep water, up a tiny rapid and then a mud flat. Not quite the end to the day we’d expected.
We pitched the tent in the drizzle and hit the showers then joined Justin and Melissa in the communal kitchen/diner where we started to hatch plans for the following days. None of us had any desire to revisit Svolvær or the busy route to Trollfjord which had been our intended plan so it was time to detour again and see what other options we could come up with. The only thing we knew for sure was that we couldn't leave until high tide at around  2pm so we were in no rush in the morning. We left at around 1pm and it was lucky we didn't leave it later as the bridge under which we’d had to drag the kayak the evening before was now only inches above our heads. Squeezing through we made our way into the bay. 
The conditions were considerably swellier than anything we’d faced previously and having made it to the other side of the bay Melissa said she wasn't keen on continuing. We’d made a rule that if anyone felt it was unsafe they should speak up and we’d change plans accordingly. We spotted some other sea kayakers back on the other side of the bay so we decided we’d paddle towards them and try to ask their advice. We were surprised to find a dock and campsite which hadn't showed up on google maps and decided we’d spend the night as the swell and wind were only forecast to increase.  We actually ended up spending three nights due to conditions, but it meant we got to explore the area by bus and bike. We took the bus to Henningsvær on one day, nicknamed the Venice of the Lofoten, it was a super cute fishing town on the end of a peninsula. It's mostly famed as Norway’s biggest cod fishery, but it's also home to The Climbers’ Cafe and Lofoten’s climbing scene. On another day we borrowed the campsites rickety bikes and rode into Kabelvaag and the Svolvær. It was much less intimidating approaching Svolvær by road! We got ourselves a new dry bag as we’d managed to put holes in one of our others and since we had no spray deck our kayak would always end up with a significant amount of water sloshing around in the bottom.  Our dry bags were holding up well but our ‘improvised dry bags’ (rubble bags wrapped around the things it was less critical to keep dry) were not so great. 
We rode back, marveling at the ability of a bike to propel you unaided down a hill and got ourselves ready to leave the next day.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Crossings are Scary

The conditions were pretty good as we set off from our camp spot down the coast. We intended to make it to Ballangen, a little town about 10 miles down the coast, and then decide what's next. Arriving into Ballangen the sun came out and while Tom watched the gear the rest of us headed into town to get cash out and buy more supplies. I ended up crashing, low blood sugar I think, and once I'd had some lunch I fell asleep on some telegraph poles. Justin and Melissa meanwhile met a retired teacher, John, who gave them a lift to the gas station and then explained that his village down the coast had a place to moor the boats, to camp and even hot showers. We decided this was an offer too good to refuse and so we climbed back in the boats and headed out. As we rounded the coast the conditions got more choppy and the village always seemed to be around the next headland. All in all it ended up being a further 11 or 12 miles which we did without a break. By the time we rounded the final headland into the bay and spotted Kjeldebotn we were really having to dig deep to make it in. We moored the boats and I immediately went into violent shivers. Tom and Melissa were amazing. They got me out of my wet clothes, put 2 hats on my head and found me somewhere warm to sit. Tom then made me a hot chocolate whilst Justin and Melissa spoke to the local fishermen to explain John had invited us.

John soon arrived and they opened up their fishing hut for us, said we could sleep in it and use their bathrooms and shower. The harbour is community built and ran by the local fishing and boat owners association. I eventually stopped shivering and after dinner John came and picked us up in his car and took us on a tour of the area. We drove up the local mountain, enjoying beautiful views in his cosy car whilst he told us about the local area. We were completely amazed at the level of community spirit in this beautiful little town where local associations took care of the road into the mountains, the harbour and even the local grocery store. People would pay into these associations and volunteer their time to provide better facilities for the local community. It was really inspiring.

It was past 11pm when we went to bed but still light. Due to poor conditions forecast for the following day John had offered to give us a lift in his boat across the fjord to the northern coast. We were all nervous about towing the boats behind John’s fishing boat so we set off tentatively, Justin and Melissa manning the towline, Tom chatting to John and me just transfixed by the bouncing blue boats bobbing in John’s wake. Despite a few moments of concern we made it to the other side and past Ramsund unscathed. John expertly pulled up against some rocks & we unloaded all our gear & pulled in the kayaks. After waving John off we packed the boats and set off paddling. After a couple of hours we spotted a pristine white sandy beach which we knew would make a perfect camp site for the night. We beached the boats, unloaded our gear, set up our tents and gathered wood for a fire as Tom and I were out of camping gas.

John had kindly given us 4 large fish fillets and 8 fish cakes. We fried up the fishcakes as a starter and made a tomato and fish sauce for our pasta. Tom reckoned it was the best meal he’d ever had! We had a relaxed evening around the camp fire and hit the hay as we knew we had our first big crossing the next day to Lodingen. The stretch down the coast to the headland opposite Lodingen was a little rough but as we rounded the headland we felt the wind coming down the fjord and there was nowhere to really pull in the boats to assess the situation. Justin and Tom we're confident we could make the crossing so we set off. In hindsight I think it was mostly luck which got us safely across. Tom and I took on a lot of water, it was really pretty rough and though it was only about 20 minutes of paddling it was hard paddling. I was quite honestly terrified and had to just chant “paddle really hard, paddle really hard, don't think about the water, don't think about the water” to myself. Turns out Melissa felt pretty similar. We made it into Lodingen harbour and once we located the public jetty we headed into town. 
Lodingen is a cute little town with a lovely community run harbour with facilities for camper vans so after restocking we hung out in their little kitchen to get warm and look at forecasts. After a few hours the wind had died down and we felt confident to continue. We made good progress with a tail wind, made it over two other smaller crossings and began the hunt for a camp spot. We pulled into one beach, but there were houses nearby and horses grazing so we weren't too comfortable and so we pushed on to a beach on the other side of Rinøya that we’d spotted on our maps. We almost missed this secluded little treasure as we rounded the headland into the bay, but as we set our eyes on it we knew we’d made the right choice. Another perfect sandy beach with grassy areas and even a little wooden building we could shelter from the wind beside. We couldn't figure out the purpose of this little structure; it was low, there was seats all round the inside of it and it had a big fire pit in the middle with cooking grate and kettle. But it's decking made an excellent drying spot and kitchen. We went to bed tired and full hoping that the weather would be kind to us in the morning.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Arctic Express

Location: Narvik, Norway
The Swedish trains have a simple luggage policy - you can bring what you can carry. Nevertheless we were close to the limit with our our kayaks and gear. Labouring into the train we found our compartment, bundled all the bags around us and settled in for the overnight ride. The compartments are a lot like the 2nd class carriages on the Indian railways except we had a six person compartment for the four of us and there's no one coming round selling snacks at the stations (which is a shame). We’d met Justin and Melissa in Stockholm station an hour before we departed and conversation as flowing as we caught up on the last couple of years as the train whizzed north.

Despite the light night we managed some sleep before changing trains in Boden and heading northwest to Narvik. The train was fairly empty and we moved around the carriage to get the best views of the mountains. We were all surprised at how much snow there was on the ground and the fact the lakes in the mountains were still frozen. But we were now in the Arctic Circle so maybe this shouldn't have been a surprise! We unloaded at Narvik and while Melissa and I watched the stuff Tom & Justin headed to the gas station to ask about places to camp. With directions to a little spot by the beach with toilets we started to make our slow and painful progress under our heavy burden. Luckily after only about five minutes a guy in a pick up asked if we needed help and offered to drive our gear to our camp spot. Justin jumped in the truck with the stuff and the three of us followed on foot in the drizzle.
We set up our tent by the sea and Justin and Melissa opted to just camp out in the toilet to save getting their tent wet. We ate dinner together in another toilet block and did ‘Happy, Silly, Sad’. The next morning we hit the local supermarket to stock up on groceries before getting on with assembling the boats. To our slight horror a number of the plastic plates that form the connections between the parts of the boat had cracked. Thankfully we had a large roll of gorilla tape which we liberally applied and then continued with putting the boat together whilst hoping our repairs would hold up. A local guy out walking his dog stopped to chat with us, offering us some tips and places to look out for. We packed our gear into the boats and then struggled to carry them down the pier to the water. Lesson one - if moving the boats on land, move them empty and pack them at the water.
But we got them on the water, got into them and paddled out. Thing was, although that morning the water had been calm and glassy by the time we set off the wind had picked up considerably and the water was pretty choppy. We made it round the headland past Narvik’s harbour before deciding to pull in for lunch as the wind was higher than we liked (we’d gone about a mile and a half). We parked up on a beach and after a snack and a quick scout of the area we headed back out as the wind seemed to have dropped. Rounding this second headland the water was tougher still and after battling with it for a few hundred metres, Tom and I taking on considerable water as we had no spray deck, we beat a retreat for the harbour to check the forecast and decide what next. Lesson two - if the conditions have changed you shouldn't head out just because you've packed the boats.
We moored up in the harbour and hid from the wind behind the marina building whilst trying to determine what was happening with the weather and tides that afternoon. After a couple of hours the wind died down and the forecast said it would stay low so we got back in the boats and paddled back out. It was still a little choppy, but much better than earlier and we managed to get about 10 miles down the coast including a crossing where we all felt a bit like we were on a treadmill. Exhausted we pulled into a beach and camped next to a dilapidated barn and an empty house. It wasn't exactly how we’d envisaged our first day of paddling and we’d covered only half the distance we were planning to in a day. We were pretty sure our plans would need revising.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Something on the Horizon

So yeah, my resolve to keep writing once we got home didn't really stand up to much.  Honestly there's just not much to write about in normal life.  Not for me anyway.  I don't think it helps that I spend 40 hours a week in front of a computer for work so I'm not really keen on sitting down in front of one during my free time.  Plus with all the best intentions we have not really been the weekend warriors or micro adventurers I might have hoped we'd be on returning.  Life back home is just so busy.  But now we have something which certainly is worth writing about.  Something we are so excited about.  Well actually, two things.  But I can't tell you much about the second thing, not yet anyway.

In three weeks time we'll be in the Arctic Circle.  We'll be spending the summer solstice in the land of the midnight sun further North than we have ever been.  And we're going to be paddling, not pedaling.  We are going sea kayaking in northern Norway with Justin and Melissa.  You may remember these two from our time up in North BC.  We met them at Warm Showers host, Cheryl's house in Terrace and spent the next 11 days riding North to The Yukon together.  They arrived at the perfect moment to buoy our spirits when Tom was struggling.  We rode long hard days, had our first bear encounters, swam in glacier-fed lakes, ate giant breakfasts, suffered horrendous swarms of mosquitoes, summited passes, enjoyed root beer floats and suffered the disappointment that is Watson Lake together.  So despite spending less than a fortnight together this friendship forged in the crucible of the road felt strong and life long.

It's true we have zero experience of sea kayaking, but when they contacted us late summer 2016 and said they wanted to reunite Team Baby Bunnies for a little adventure in summer 2017, fueled by google searches and excited Skype chats a plan was hatched to paddle from Narvik to Tromso via a little detour to the Lofoten Islands.  And we had plenty of time to buy kayaks, practice kayaking and learn what we needed about navigation, safety and how the sea works.  Well we thought we did, but like I said, life is busy.  We settled on folding kayaks as they are transportable and Justin and Melissa had met a couple a few years back who had a Folbot Greenland II which they had paddled along a long stretch of the North American coastline and raved about the boat.

I'm going to talk about our boat buying fiasco in another post, but a fortnight ago we had still not got our boat out on the water.  We'd managed only to assemble it once, in our garden, and we were filled with trepidation about how feasible this trip was going to be.  Last week we had a two day course booked with Sea Kayaking Anglesey in which we hoped to take out our boat and learn enough not to die at sea.  It was just the two of us with Phil the instructor and it was the perfect antidote to our huge sense of foreboding.  The boat floats, we can paddle it and Phil taught us enough about route planning, forecasting and safety that our feeling of dread has been replaced with a feeling of excitement.  If you want to learn to sea kayak or improve your skills Phil is your guy.

We've got a few more bits of gear to get and a little more map studying to do, but we're almost all set.  We are meeting in Stockholm, Sweden where we board an overnight train which will take us north through the Swedish countryside, into the Arctic Circle and then west across to Narvik, Norway where we will set up our kayaks and take to the water.  We've then got 22 days to make our way to Tromso where we will part ways with Justin and Melissa and return to the UK to embark on an even bigger adventure...but more about that another time.