Kayaking Shetland Bus

, July 17, 2011

Kayaks on the Shetland Bus
© Patrick Winterton

Yesterday three kayakers left the Shetland Islands in an attempt to reach Norway and complete the first crossing of the North Sea by kayak. Astutely named Kayaks on the Shetland Bus, the challenge commemorates the attempts made by Norwegian seamen during World War Two to transport military agents and refugees between German occupied Norway and the British Isles.

The team is made up of three experienced mariners. Patrick Winterton, Olympian and sports broadcaster, completed the first kayak crossing from Scotland to the Faroe Islands with another member of the Shetland Bus crew, Mick Berwick. Mick is a former national slalom paddler and as the oldest member of the team, he’ll be able to share his knowledge of the sport with the youngest member, solo Atlantic Rower Olly Hicks.

The crew left from Lerwick at 1300 hours (GMT) on Satuday 16th July and paddled to Lunna Voe, where the base of the Shetland Bus in Scotland was located. Beyond the Shetlands, the crew shall route due east to complete the 288 kilometer voyage to Bergen. In the last 44 nautical kilometres the team have agreed to race to the Shetland Bus commemorative statue in Bergen to respect the efforts made by the 44 seamen who lost their lives in the World War Two operation.

Overall the crossing is expected to take at least four days and three nights (an average speed of 2.5 knotts would be good going, Winterton claims). Taking sleep breaks in the darkest hours and at intervals during the day, the team hope to drink every 20 minutes and eat every hour. Have a look at the kit they’re bringing to get an idea of the demands on time and supplies over the journey.

If you think this trip is a little mad go to Virgin Money Giving. The team hope to raise money for RNLI and Make A Wish, suggesting donations of £3.88 or the price of a pint.

Track their progress over the next few days as the work east towards Bergen.