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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


Hebridean wonder
Friday, October 26, 2007

A wild storm ushered us off the Hebrides this morning - not by kayak, but by ferry! Winter is definately on the way and it was definately too stormy to paddle 20-odd miles into. I had a great time on Lewis - it's a beautiful, wild, wind-battered place with hundreds of craggy islands, improbably white sandy beaches and steep bleak cliffs pounded by swell. We had great fun paddling with the locals and appreciated their love of down-wind paddling. I'm glad we got to paddle down Loch Seaforth in a stiff southerly as I remember Mike talking about it a year ago on Mull - what a fantastic idea to just paddle one-way pushed by the wind! The Storm Gathering was a great success and everyone seemed to have fun braving the weather in a stunning location. Barry and I went off twice on overnight trips, travelling up the west coast, finding beautiful campspots and always being pushed northwards by a force 4 or stronger wind. We had a fun evening on Taransay with Mick Berwick ( the location of the BBC Castaway programme), and enjoyed a 29 nautical mile day which ended with us being pushed by the wind and the tide around Galen Head as darkness fell. I am already planning to come back next Summer and I hope to make it out to St Kilda and the Flannans aswell as see the summer birds. Tomorrow ( Saturday ) we are off to the Scottish Canoe Show in Perth where we're both giving talks - Barry about his trip around Britain and me about the Queen Charlotte Islands. Then tomorrow night, it's another ceilidh!! My sore back survived the Storm Gathering ceilidh so should be OK for another one!!

Storm Gathering in Stornoway
Friday, October 19, 2007

Today was the first day of the 2nd UK Storm Gathering in Stornoway. I went surfing at Tolsta ( sorry if I spelt it wrong) which was great fun. Some 3-5 foot waves making for some fun rides. Patrick Winterton was enjoying looping his kayak numerous times!

The 4 days previous to that Barry and I paddled on the West Coast of Lewis, exploring some of the islands in the Pabay area. The swell was pretty exciting - bigger than we typically get in North Wales and good practice for New Zealand. I've never paddled in so much FOAM! We ended by paddling to Barvas, on the doorstep of Mike Sullivan and family! Thanks to them for leaving us a car and trailer on the beach, all unlocked with the key in!! It's great here on Lewis, very beautiful and I feel very at home. I'll try to post piccies later

Surfing in Seaforth
Saturday, October 13, 2007

Mike Sullivan and Murty Campbell took Barry and I for a down wind paddle on Loch Seaforth today. It's one of their favourite places to go during a stiff southerly as you can enjoy about 14km of surfing up a thin narrow loch with the wind gusting at your back. It's easy to do a shuttle so you only paddle one way and it's a pretty safe way of going out in strong winds. Today I sensed that Mike and Murty were a little disapointed that it was only about a force 6-7 but we all still had a few good surfs and enjoyed the free ride. We also saw lots of wildlife including a white tailed eagle at close quarters, a mink and an otter. My back is feeling much better today ( still a bit stiff but so much more flexible).

On the backburner in Lewis
Friday, October 12, 2007

Things don't always go according to plan! Barry and I made it across the Minch to Lewis on a beautiful calm day on Tuesday. We landed, moved the boats up the shore a bit, I sat down to cook dinner and my lower back started to really hurt. I damaged the ligaments a bit about 3 weeks ago lifting furniture but thought it was better - obviously not. I spent the next 24 hours lying in my tent, before local paddler and organiser of the Storm Gathering, Mike Sullivan, rescued me ( wtih help from his friends Benny and Rory). I'm now recovering with a sachet of hot beans ( well, not literally.. but some fancy hot material ) on my lower back. I feel slightly better today and hope I can paddle tomorrow. Barry, meanwhile, is paddling up the West coast of Lewis by himself! So not exactly how we planned it, but I'm glad I'm getting better and I'm really grateful to Mike and Jayne for looking after me. His kids are keeping me amused on a walk down to their local beach!!


In Training!
Friday, October 05, 2007

It´s just been a big birthday for my dad and I am out in Spain celebrating with him. So since I´ll be paddling a long way in New Zealand in January, I figured I better do some physical training! Here I am on the golf course getting into shape! Just look at that swing!

Actually, in more relevant training, on Monday Barry and I will start an attempt to paddle up to Lewis in the Outer Hebrides for the UK Storm Gathering in 2 weeks time. Weather permitting, we´ll paddle from Skye, cross over to Lewis and then paddle around the island clockwise, arriving in Stornoway in time for the Storm Gathering. I´ve never been to Lewis before but I gather it´s very beautiful and the West coast can be very stormy with big surf. THe organiser of the Storm Gathering has already told me that the trip could be "ínteresting" if they have typical October weather! Of course, I say it´s "Training" but really it´s fun - or at least I hope so! Barry and I have not been on an overnight trip together before so October storms on Lewis should be a good test! Let´s hope we don´t drive each other crazy!!

I think there are a few places left at the Storm Gathering for anyone interested.

New Zealand - here we come!
Wednesday, October 03, 2007


This is the official announcement of a trip that was first dreamt up almost a year ago, but remained as a small but niggling seed in my mind until a couple of months ago when it took root. I am teaming up with Barry Shaw to attempt to circumnavigate the South Island of New Zealand this Southern Summer.

I believe this 1,700 mile journey will take us along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and is also one of the most committing and challenging circumnavigations that can be undertaken in a kayak. The swell on the south and west coasts rarely drops below 2 metres with hundreds of miles between sheltered landings. Gales are common and can arrive quickly so we have to expect many surf landings and launchings. In Fjordland in the South-west there is no road access for 300miles so we will have to be entirely self-sufficient. These considerable difficulties are the reason why only 3 paddlers have continuously circumnavigated the island before, and this includes the very talented Paul Caffyn and Chris Duff. Chris was capsized over a dozen times in the surf on his circumnavigation. No women have yet paddled around the South island, although 2 other women ( Freya Hoffmeister from Germany and Barbro Lindman from Sweden) are making 2 independent attempts on the South island this year.

I think the fact that only 3 people have achieved this journey in almost 30 years, and now 3 women are trying it in one year is quite interesting. Who knows why this has happened. Seakayaking is certainly taking off in popularity and more and more people are going on challenging expeditions. Barry & I made plans for our circumnavigation attempt before we knew about the other 2 expeditions. Now we know, our desire to explore this beautiful place and challenge ourselves there hasn't waned. However I don't like the element of competition the 3 attempts in 1 year has introduced. That doesn't mean I'm not competitive! Perhaps that's why I don't like it because I don't think an expedition is the right arena for a competition so I don't want to get drawn into competing there. We are each dealing with our own unique natural challenges and to stay safe we need to make decisions based on the weather and conditions, not on whether we're going to be first or the fastest. I don't mean to assume the others just care about being first - I know it's a big motivating factor for Freya, but I don't know Barbro at all. I've also got nothing against trying to be fast, but my personal preference is travelling slowly enough to experience the place that I'm paddling in. So partly to avoid competition, and party because the most settled weather is usually from January onwards, Barry & I will be leaving in January, whereas Freya leaves in October and I think Barbro leaves in December.

We will be starting in Christchurch towards the end of January 2008 and paddling clockwise. We're allowing 3 months which we hope will be long enough to explore a little, and sit out the bad weather. We're already running around trying to get things organised. Our kayaks start the long journey to New Zealand before us, and leave in a container from Nigel Dennis' factory next Tuesday. From there they go by ship to Washington on the West coast of the States, and transfer to a Johnson Outdoor container for their onward journey to Christchurch ( thanks to Nigel Dennis & Lendal paddles for sponsoring this cost). Barry has tested his brand new boat and even managed to loop it in the tide race off Cemlyn Bay last Friday. There wasn't a drop of water in the hatches even after a thorough thrashing! We've also been talking to sponsors and lots of lovely sponsored gear has arrived ready to go in the containers - 2 dragonfly stoves, fuel bottles, water containers and a water filter from MSR, dry bags from Sealline, thermarests & Southern Hemispher compasses from Silva. We have a meeting with 'The North Face' on Monday because they'd like to give us some financial support aswell as kit. It's all very exciting.

You can read more about the expedition on a dedicated page on my website - ( thanks Derrick for doing a great job there), and I'll be writing updates on my blog as we move ahead with the planning, and during the trip.

We're still working out lots of details with help from people like Paul Caffyn, Chris Duff & Susan Cade so thanks to them their help and advice. Also a big thanks to our trip sponsors so far.

The North Face for expedition kit and financial support.
SeaKayaking UK for 2 Explorer kayaks & shipping of the kayaks.
Lendal for 4-piece paddles & shipping of the kayaks.
Kokatat for expedition wear.
MSR for stoves, fuel bottles, a pan set and water filter.
Casio for 2 Pro-Trek watches.
Thermarest for 2 thermarests
Sealline for dry bags
Silva for compasses.
Snapdragon for spraydecks.

We're looking for a good deal on hiring a satellite phone for the expedition so if anyone has any contacts, or would like to sponsor this part of the expedition then please get in touch.

See you on the water!

For More Information

also see;

Freya Hoffmeister

Barbro Lindman

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