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Falkland Islands Circumnavigation
 

"If the human race has one common denominator, it is hatred of a headwind."

Paul Theroux

 
 
 
 
In 2009, I became the first kayaker to successfully circumnavigate the Falkland Islands, a trip in the most amazing natural environment I have ever experienced. To access photos on Picasa, click here. For the Ocean Paddler Magazine article, please read below. 

 


 

 

Trip Stats
 
Duration: 22 Days, with 2 days off
Launch Stanley: Jan 5th 2009
Back in Stanley: Jan 26th, 2009
Distance covered: 615 Miles
Direction: Clockwise
Average Mileage/Day: 30.8 Miles
Gelcoat Repairs: 4
 
 
Ocean Paddler Magazine Article
 
 
Circumnavigation of the Falkland Islands
by Marcus Demuth


The average yearly wind speed in the Falkland Islands is 24 miles/hr. By comparison, Plymouth, UK averages a yearly wind speed of only 6 miles/hr. During the preparations for the trip, I learned about a number of British, US, and German kayak teams who tried to circumnavigate the Falkland Islands in the past, but failed due to the almost constant high winds created by the West Wind Drift, the winds which go in a continuous clockwise movement around Antarctica. These numbers and statistics were backed up shortly after I landed in Stanley, where I stepped out of the plane and was immediately greeted by strong winds in which I could hardly walk. The numerous Union Jacks in front of the small houses made of corrugated steel were stretched to their limits and were flapping loudly during my first 2 days in Stanley while preparing for the launch. Leiv Poncet, a kayaker and sailor living in the Falkland Islands, recommended avoiding paddling during the afternoon, when winds are strongest; I should seize every hour for paddling whenever the winds are down, a phenomenon which occurs only "about 2 or 3 days a year" according to Leiv. Slighlty intimidated both by Leiv's comments and the actual strong winds which blew through Stanley, I decided to build my paddling schedule and periods of rest entirely around the weather and winds. On most days during my trip around the Falklands this resulted in a paddling schedule from 3 AM to 10 AM, and a second paddle in the evening from 6 PM to 10 PM. The advantage of this paddling schedule was that I not only avoided the strongest periods of winds during the day, but it also provided me a fresh start in the evening after having paddled 7 hours in the morning. By the time I hit the water in the evening, the morning paddle was already a distant memory.

Paul Caffyn describes a similar paddling schedule in his book "Dreamtime Voyage" about his groundbreaking circumnavigation of Australia. He mentions his elaborate lunch breaks with long and lazy afternoon naps. He somehow managed all this while making enormous mileage on most of his paddling days. I realized Paul made this high daily mileage not despite these bohemian lunch breaks, but because of them. It seems he made a habit of dividing his day into two six-or-so hour paddling "shifts", which enabled him to start refreshed not just once, but twice a day. Encouraged by Leiv Poncet, I happily adopted Paul's strategy for my trip around the Falklands. However, this paddling schedule has its disadvantages. It meant that I would never have a long, full period of rest and the daily trip logistics would double. I had to set up camp twice a day, carry the kayak and kit up and down the cliffs twice a day, and I had to launch and land twice a day.

When stepping ashore on the Falklands, a highly unpleasant challenge awaits the paddler. At present there are 117 minefields within the Islands. Both Leiv and the Lonely Planet guide recommended I pick up an updated mine chart from the local police station to avoid landing on a beach which may still have mines planted by the Argentinian Forces in 1982 during the Falklands War. The previous week a yacht passing through the Falklands had been about to land on such a beach with their Zodiac, but was chased away just in time by a farmer who saw them. The local police station referred me to Andy, the commander of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit of the local British Forces. Andy gave me copies of the mine charts and showed me examples of unexploded ordnance and munition that I might find on beaches and further inland during my trip. He recommended that I should avoid stepping on them. To make his point, Andy showed me photographs of people who have stepped on one of the 25,000 remaining land mines from the Falklands War. Most of these people were missing one or two of their legs. Andy again urged me to move with utmost caution.

The Falkland Islands are located between latitudes 51 and 53 degrees South, and longitudes 57 and 62 degrees West in the South Atlantic Ocean, approximately 300 Miles West of Cape Horn. The 776 islands of the archipelago, with only 499 of them named and the vast majority of them uninhabited, create together a maze like landscape. Both on a chart and from the cockpit of the kayak, the shoreline looks like a most urgent invitation for kayakers to paddle around the Falklands with its numerous little channels, islands, passes, bays and natural harbors. Ninety percent of the population of the Falkland Islands, approximately 2,200 people, live in its capital, Stanley. Approximately 200 people, the rest of the population, live in "camp", anywhere outside of Stanley. Camp has settlements consisting of one to several farm buildings and their inhabitants live mostly off sheep farming. The Falklands have a cool, oceanic climate dominated by westerly winds. Exposed to these strong westerly winds, the Islands are prone to williwaws, sudden blasts of wind descending from cliffs or mountains into the sea. These gusts, with wind speeds up to 90 miles/hr, known as "woollies" in the Falklands, are so powerful that they often pick up water from the surface and blast these water masses in the form of spray either upwards or horizontal over the water surface. The annual temperature range is pretty narrow, between an average of 7 degrees Celsius in the Winter and 10 degrees Celsius in the Summer. This looks quite mild on paper, but the almost permanent wind chill factors make temperatures plummet below freezing even in the Summer.

Two days after arriving in Stanley I was finally ready. I had completed all food purchases, packed the packages for the two food drops which would be dropped off by a twin engine FIGAS (Falkland Islands Government Air Service) plane on islands located one-third and two-thirds along the way, and I had sat numerous times together with Leiv, Mairi and his friend John Fowler over drinks to discuss the risks I would face during my trip around the windy archipelago. I was also "warned" about the beauty of the land, the type and amount of wildlife, and the hospitality and the special way of life I would encounter in the isolated settlements on my journey around the 776 islands.

By 4:00 AM on my third day in the Falklands I was on the water. I left the natural harbor of Stanley through the 1/4 mile wide Narrows under a slowly rising sun. Six hours into the paddle, still digesting the glut of information I received in the past two days and trying to cope with my own excitement, I realized that after planning the trip for so many months, I was finally on my way. It was then that I remembered an arrangement I had made with Falklands Conservation to do counts of species I would encounter along my way. Since traveling along the coast by kayak would bring me in touch with places and bird colonies otherwise unaccessible by volunteers, both Falkland Conservation and I were very excited about it. But amidst my whirlwind days in Stanley, I never checked into the office. My apologies, Sarah, I truly forgot. I would lose a full day of paddling if I were to go back and I was already feeling pressured by time, thinking that with the winds, it would be difficult for me to finish the circumnavigation in the original five weeks I allotted.

On the first day of the Falklands expedition I had more encounters with wildlife than I had on all my previous trips together (3 basking sharks in Ireland, 2 sting rays in Australia, zero wildlife encounters in Nova Scotia, and two dozen cows and a wild boar in Patagonia). Just after leaving Stanley, two dolphins swam for about ten minutes alongside the kayak. Three hours later I saw "My first penguins!", a colony of about 200 Gentoo Penguins. Later that afternoon, I began smelling a strong, foul smell on the water. As I paddled southwest directly into the wind and the intensifying smell increased, I heard loud sounds similar to the roar of lions. The culprits made up a sea lion colony of approximately 60 animals basking on a small unnamed tussock-covered island about one mile from where I first encountered the odor. Ten male sea lions roared loudly, always in constant motion, charging towards each other, while their female counterparts lay asleep, or tended their small, black newborn. I was equally fascinated and afraid since the atmosphere in this colony seemed highly charged and because I knew so little about these big animals. Learning about the wildlife was something I neglected during my preparations. I knew generally what to expect, but the logistics of the trip, such as the shipping of the kayak from the UK down to the Falklands, arranging the food drops, etc. always took over and naturally received the priority during my four-month preparation for the trip.

I have never experienced wildlife in such abundance or so closely. Among thousands of penguins, it was sometimes difficult to make a path through them as they did not move even when walking directly towards them; it was somewhat reminiscent of a crowded subway platform in New York City. None of these animals were in the least, fearful of humans. When I approached a family of seven sleeping, giant sea elephants to take photographs from as close range as possible, I was surprised when two of the animals opened their eyes, and after they saw me standing only 2 feet away from their noses, one of the sea elephants went back to sleep, and the other one did not move at all and only watched my movements with curiosity. Anyone, even an unaccomplished huntsman like myself, could have clubbed these animals to death, without any hurry or fear of being attacked by these sleep addicted giants.

Unfortunately, there is a history of depredation in the Falklands. It is a 200-year story of raw destruction and greed. Whaling vessels from North America descended on the West Falklands in the late 1700s to principally hunt sperm whales and southern right whales, but they supplemented their cargo with elephant seals and their oil. Once fur seal, sea lion, and elephant seal populations were almost depleted, penguins became the main target. It is estimated that between 1864 and 1880 alone, 1.5 million penguins were slaughtered for their oil and skins. Thankfully, since some of the inaccessible penguin rookeries and seal breeding grounds remained untouched by the seal hunters, numbers were once again able to increase. A new wave of hunting began in 1928, taking a total of 39,606 seals. The last large scale commercial sea lion hunting operation was called off in 1964 and declared a failure since only 400 seals could be found and killed, and the sea lion was declared a protected species in the Falkland Islands. The "Conservation of Wildlife and Nature Ordinance" was written in 1999 and today protection is ensured by Falklands Conservation, a non-profit conservation agency, and by private land owners who have left the land untouched and preserve it by not only not allowing the occasional kayaker to land, but by not stepping foot on the land themselves.

After having paddled 92 miles in 23 hours in the first two days on the "Paul Caffyn Schedule", on my third day, I thought about a comment Justine Curgenven made during her circumnavigation of the South Island of New Zealand with Barry Shaw. "The hardest part was to know then to go or not to go". After paddling for two days into only moderate headwinds, the wind now blew Force 6-7 straight from the west, the direction in which I wanted to paddle. Was it safe to paddle today? Yes. I could paddle in between the 10-mile-long Bleaker Island and the mainland. I would still be exposed to high winds, but there was very little swell in the somehow protected bay. Was it economical, or even smart, to paddle all day into a Force 6-7 headwind, making one mile/hr progress while paddling as hard as humanly possible? A clear "No." I felt there were plenty of reasons to stay put and declared it a non-paddling day as I would if I had been at home. Then again ... There were also plenty of reasons to go. If I declared every windy day in the Falklands a non-paddling day, I feared I would not finish my circumnavigation in 5 weeks. I decided it would be best to at least try setting out. I wanted to find out first hand how it feels to paddle in such conditions about which I was clearly ambivalent. I decided to break camp and declared this 3rd day an experiment. I paddled myself to complete exhaustion 3 times during this day. Each shift was interrupted by a 3 to 4 hour break which included setting up camp, a meal, and a short nap. I made a total of 15 miles on this day, less than a third of what I paddled on each of the previous 2 days of paddling. However, at the end of the day I was still satisfied that I could write the total mileage of 107 in my dairy. I then decided that my new strategy would be to never declare a paddling day a non-paddling day again without having at least tested the waters. In case winds and waves would prove too high and dangerous, I could always turn around, but I could always say that at least I tried. This was a strategy which I would regret deeply only a week later.

With the increasing winds, the short periods of rest, and the long days of paddling as hard as I could, new problems seemed to develop every day. Both my VHF and FM radio broke and left me with no way to listen to the weather forecast. Other gear problems were slowly accumulating. And have I mentioned the kelp fields? As if paddling in the strong winds was not enough, the shores of the Falklands are covered in thick fields of kelp, some of which measure several square miles. The kelp makes the kayak stop immediately and makes you feel like you are paddling through freshly poured wet cement. Not only is the kayak not gliding anymore, but it is even hard to get the paddle into the water, or rather, into the kelp, and it is equally hard to get it out. It is hard to say which is worse, the psychological blow of being stuck in yet another kelp field, or the slow progress and the increased energy needed to free oneself from it. Descending my spirits and physical well being further into a downward spiral, I developed painful chafing under my arms. This worsens every day. I get more and more tired every day and realized I was having difficulties exercising even the simplest tasks, like unzipping my PFD, getting in and out of my drysuit, or even opening the packaging of power bars. My thoughts and movements become less and less coordinated, and I realized I now needed more time to set up my tent than in the first days of the trip. These are all bad signs. I am also getting increasingly more annoyed by the unpleasant side effects of my ambitious paddling schedule. Due to the short periods of rest, my paddling clothes never get close to being dry. Getting out of the warm sleeping bag after only a few hours of sleep, and standing naked in the cold to get into the wet paddling clothes twice a day becomes an exercise I start to loathe. The moonscape like landscape of some campsites expose the tent and kayak to the full force of the winds, twisting and bending the tent, and with it the tent poles. The kayak which I tie to the tent by night is being pushed away by the wind, creating more strain both on the tent and my nervous system. On two occasions, the tent got blown away. Only the attached kayak and a single remaining stake saved it from getting blown out to sea with my belongings in it, and potentially worse, blown out to sea with the attached kayak. I made it a habit to wear the EPIRP around my wrist both whenever I left the tent or whenever I went to sleep. These annoying problems dominated my attention, threatening to spoil the few better aspects of the trip.
I am mentally and physically exhausted. All I want to do now is finish the trip as fast as possible. 




  
 


 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Penguins in Death Bay, with Death Head and Misery Mountain in the back (these are the real place names)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Unfortunately, there is a history of depredation in the Falklands. It is a 200-year story of raw destruction and greed. Whaling vessels from North America descended on the West Falklands in the late 1700s to principally hunt sperm whales and southern right whales, but they supplemented their cargo with elephant seals and their oil. Once fur seal, sea lion, and elephant seal populations were almost depleted, penguins became the main target. It is estimated that between 1864 and 1880 alone, 1.5 million penguins were slaughtered for their oil and skins. Thankfully, since some of the inaccessible penguin rookeries and seal breeding grounds remained untouched by the seal hunters, numbers were once again able to increase. A new wave of hunting began in 1928, taking a total of 39,606 seals. The last large scale commercial sea lion hunting operation was called off in 1964 and declared a failure since only 400 seals could be found and killed, and the sea lion was declared a protected species in the Falkland Islands. The "Conservation of Wildlife and Nature Ordinance" was written in 1999 and today protection is ensured by Falklands Conservation, a non-profit conservation agency, and by private land owners who have left the land untouched and preserve it by not only not allowing the occasional kayaker to land, but by not stepping foot on the land themselves.

Day 12, 4 AM. I am breaking down my camp at the tip of Dunnose Head and am about to cross King Arthur Bay. It is about the halfway point of the trip, but I feel I have very little reason to celebrate since both the skeg and the camping stove broke yesterday. I am making my way up the West Coast towards my second and last food drop on Saunders Island which I hope to reach in 3-4 days. My plan for the day is to cross King Arthur Bay during the morning paddle, an approximate four hour crossing of 20 miles, and proceed in the evening along the cliffs towards Death Head, close to West Point Island. A strong gale passed through during the night and at 4 AM, it is still very windy outside. Like on so many other days I find it hard to decide if it is safe to go out paddling today or not. Again, there are many reasonable and not so reasonable reasons ("... finish as fast as possible") both for not going paddling today, and for staying put. The storm from the previous night created a 15 to 20 foot swell, but the wind now seems to be stable at about Force 3-4. It is overcast, and somehow the outlook does not look very inviting to attempt a 4-5 hour crossing. I do not know how to decide. I climb up two cliffs, and look from each hilltop to the sea, and finally decide after one hour of deliberation that it is okay to go. If I am wrong or if conditions worsen, I can always turn around to the safety of the shore. It would have been a good plan if there would not have been a storm warning announced on this particular day, a warning I was unable to receive since my FM radio drowned in a leaky hatch a week earlier. In addition, I overlooked that the first 3-4 miles of my crossing were fairly protected by 3 outlying islands to the west, the direction from which the wind, waves and swell was originating. Due to the location of these 3 islands, I should have concluded that I was looking at a fairly protected piece of water right in front of me, and that after these 3-4 miles, the swell would likely be much higher than the sea state I was able to observe from my campsite. One downside of being a solo paddler is that there is no second pair of eyes to look at a challenge from a different point of view and offer another opinion.

I launched and the first hour of the attempted crossing went pretty well. The height of the swell reminded me a little of paddling on the South Coast of Australia, where I encountered the highest swell I ever paddled during a trip in 2007. Ninety minutes into the attempted crossing of King George Bay, the swell got higher and also steeper. I tried to compare the swell to Australia in order to calm myself, but it became painfully evident that the swell was now higher than my confidence. It would be painful to turn around, but I decided it would be wise to abort the crossing. I just wanted to give it another 5 minutes... Maybe I was just in a rough patch of water and it would calm down again? I had not finished this thought when the winds suddenly increased, and with it, the noise. Unbeknownst to me, at this time, 18 miles northeast across the bay at Roy Cove, the wind was measured at 65 miles/hr. Before I could even make the decision to turn the boat around, a dark and 25-foot wave appeared to my left. What was remarkable about this wave was not only its size, but also its shape. It appeared to me like a pure vertical wall of water. I would not be able to brace into this wave and slide parallel to it, nor would this wave glide underneath the boat like most waves had in the past 90 minutes. And here it was... I high braced into the wave, but was pushed over instantly. My first thought was that the water did not feel as cold as I thought it would be. I tried to roll up, but I was unable to get the paddle up to the surface. I waited a little and tried again to get in any position that would allow me to set up for my roll. I failed again, ran out of air, wet-exited and was now a swimmer in a full blown storm in the South Atlantic. All my water bags and bottles were stored in the cramped cockpit and I didn't see them disappear, but they were all gone. I did witness my seat, made of foam, flying over the crest of the waves, disappearing for good within a few seconds. My first thought was not to attempt a re-entry roll, but to get my body on the back deck of the kayak, and out of the cold water. I was looking for a few seconds to catch my breath while my body would be out of the cold water, hopefully warding off hypothermia. I pulled myself onto the kayak and without thinking about it attempted to slide into the cockpit. I failed the first time, but after the second attempt, I found myself sitting in a cockpit entirely filled with water. While the waves were still going over and under me, I realized with satisfaction that despite being pushed over a few times, I was able to keep myself up. I rightened myself with movements which felt like hand roll maneuvers I learnt over the past months during my first kayak polo sessions in New York City. With the food and camping gear in the hatch compartments and the cockpit fully flooded with water, the kayak was very low in the water and I quickly became cold. I had to pump the water out of the cockpit, or a least half of it, if I was going to have any chance of staying afloat and paddling the kayak anywhere. I felt that I had to pump for my life. I pumped as hard as I could, repeating to myself that my life depended on how well I accomplished this job. Waves were still going over the cockpit, and despite my attempts to block the water with pieces of my spray skirt, the waves were refilling the cockpit. It seemed like a lost battle, but the water level in the cockpit was going down. I took breaks from pumping only for balancing to avoid another capsize. That the seat was missing seemed not to be a problem, quite the opposite; since I was now sitting on the bottom of the kayak, my center of gravity was lower and made me more stable. This might have been just the difference that kept me from capsizing again. When the cockpit was only half full of water, I declared the kayak buoyant enough to paddle it. I snapped the spray skirt over the cockpit rim and decided to paddle towards Hummock Island, an island 4 miles away straight to the east. I reached this island without a further capsize since I now had the breaking swell, wind and waves at my back. I reached the only landing place, a 50 feet wide beach on the leeside of Hummock Island, completely exhausted and in shock.

Although I was protected from the direct impact of the storm, setting up the tent in the high winds was still extremely hard work, overturning the kayak at times. I spent the next 24 hours on Hummock Island, waiting for the winds to drop and going over the capsize again and again. I was without water. I had been keeping all the water in the cockpit for the best weight distribution of my gear, never even considering that I would do a wet exit. I was already running constantly low on drinking water. The long paddling days with long periods of anaerobic paddling into strong winds created a logistical problem that was totally new to me. I was drinking 4-5 Liters of water a day during the 2 paddling shifts, and usually gulped at least 1 Liter right after landing, twice each day. With the water needed for cooking and the occasional cup of tea and hot chocolate, my daily water consumption was around 8-9 Liters day, as high as I had ever experienced before. Even on a regular day, I feared I would run out since I was drinking surprisingly large amounts. Now I didn't have a single drop of water. The Falklands have a very dry climate, with an annual rainfall of only 17" in the Western Islands, so it is often difficult to find fresh water springs in the often flat terrain.

The next morning the winds did drop and I was able to paddle to the next settlement, Roy Cove, where I asked for water and water containers. Dan, the kind owner of the one and only inhabited farmhouse on the settlement, not only provided me with water bottles (one empty whiskey bottle, a former 3 Liter cooking oil can, and a 2 Liter Sprite bottle), but invited me into his house for tea and cookies. He also leant me his ear, while I continued to digest my bad experience from the previous day. Dan walked me back down to my kayak at his beach and we exchanged both email addresses and mailing addresses. (His address was easy: Dan, Roy Cove, Falkland Islands.) I paddled away sitting on a 5-folded and about 10% inflated camping mattress as a kayak seat, with a destination of Saunders Island, a place I hoped to reach in 3-5 days. Thanks to the Coca Cola Company and some of its enthusiasts who contribute to the littering of this planet, I found more empty plastic bottles on beaches and soon had again a water storage capacity of 15 Liters. I counted my progress in the evenings by "X more miles to Saunders Island...", and witnessed more of the incredible wildlife that the Falklands has to offer. Four dolphins played in my bow-wake on my way to Death Head. Death Head is located only 5 miles southeast from Cape Terrible, around the corner from Death Cove, and across the channel from Mount Misery. (Really!) When I woke up the following morning at a beach north of Death Head, there were 2,000 to 3,000 Gentoo Penguins around my tent. Although the encounters with the wildlife were plentiful and close, I was no longer truly able to enjoy them due to my now overwhelming fatigue. And the chafing continued to worsen. Literally every single paddle stroke became a painful reminder that this paddle around the Falklands was the most demanding trip I had ever done.

At 10 PM on my 15th day I reached my 2nd food drop on
During the following seven days paddling eastwards along the North Coast and towards the finish line in Stanley, all I could think was that I wanted to be back on Saunders Island. I wanted to see these wonderful people again and learn more about their self supported and independent life on a sheep farm on a small island at the edge of the world. Although the swell along the North Coast was usually high, between 15 and 20 feet, my anxiety caused by my experience in King George Bay had eased during this last leg of my trip. Like the South and West Coast, the North Coast also featured dramatic cliffs and long exposed sandy beaches with high, dumping surf, but landings were comparably easy and safe due to an abundance of sheltered coves. Most of the coves even had a small stream providing fresh drinking water and all of them were usually less than five miles apart from each other. The landscape also looked much more inviting and friendly, less harsh with more vegetation. In contrast to the sometimes bleak and exposed landscape in the South and West, which featured black sand due to erosion, shipwrecks from the past and present, parts of torn fishing nets, and huge piles of oversized drift wood. The North Coast seemed almost as landscaped and inviting as the shores of the little artificial lakes in Central Park.

Twenty-two days after setting out from Stanley I paddled back into Stanley harbor, closing the 615 Miles loop around the Falkland Islands. One of the first things I did after arriving at the Bed & Breakfast in Stanley was ask Kay, the owner of the Bed & Breakfast if, and how, I could fly out to Saunders Island. I asked Kay if she thought it would be a good idea to show up there again, and then jumped into the shower. My showers are short, thus I was very surprised to hear Kay telling me after stepping out of the shower that she just spoke to Dave, Suzan, Biffo, and Anthony and they all would be happy to have me back on Saunders Island ("Of course I know them... I lived for 20 years on Saunders Island myself!"). The following day I stepped into the little FIGAS plane which brought me the distance it had taken me seven days to paddle, in 55 minutes. The plane flew very low over the kelp fields and coastline of the North Coast and I was able to retrace my days and appreciate being high and dry. In the following 10 days on Saunders Island I did not have to worry about williwaws, fast approaching storms during crossings, cracked tent poles, non-working camping stoves, or putting on cold and wet paddling clothes at 3 AM while standing naked in 30 mile/hr winds. On Saunders Island, not only my arm pits healed, my spirit healed. I ate fresh mutton, the best racks of lamb I have ever had in my life, freshly caught mullet, and homegrown vegetables, and all this in the best of company.

When I think back about my 2009 Falkland Islands Expedition, I think mostly about my new friends on Saunders Island, and the other generous, sharp, and always helpful people I met in all the settlements along the way. I also think about the sea lions, the penguins, albatrosses, and all the other curious and friendly wildlife who all allowed me to experience them from such a short distance. I haven't thought about the paddling itself yet. The paddling seems the least significant part.

 

 

 

 


Marcus Demuth lives in New York City and works as a kayak instructor for Manhattan Kayak Company. In 2007, he circumnavigated Ireland as a fundraiser for the Royal National Lifeboat Association. Past expeditions brought Marcus to Iceland (2008), the South and West Coast of Australia (2007), Patagonia/Chile (2006), and Nova Scotia, Canada (2005).

Gear used during this trip: Nigel Dennis "Explorer", Lendal Kinetec Touring S Paddles, Kokatat Drysuit and Clothing, Reed Chill Cheater Clothing, MSR Dragontail Tent, MSR Expedition Stove.