Just before March rolled over and let April run into the picture, Justine, Lucy and I spent a very interesting and tasty weekend in Scotland learning to forage from the seashore, hone our fishing skills and create fire using traditional methods with flints, sticks and bows. We were learning from bushcraft and survival expert Patrick MacGlinchy of Backwoods Survival School, using the beautiful birch-lined shores of Loch Fyne, Argyll for our classroom. Mind, body, soul and stomach loved the weekend of fresh air and fresh food and that happy chase of flame or the perfectly whittled stick for this and that.
Having never done much fishing (in spite of my brothers’ best efforts) or really done much foraging beyond blackberrying in Autumn lanes, it felt like a window was opened into a whole new world, letting us glimpse the potential of nature’s larder. For Justine and I in the Aleutians Islands on our forthcoming paddle, the larder will be the sea and seashore as there won’t be much plant-life happening during the first months of the paddle. Hopefully, later on and further up the coast we will coincide with berrying season and other flowering plants which might make tasty additions to our food. And hopefully the bears will let us share their feasting!
Certainly in the first section, the additional calories and protein from fish and shelled edibles will be really important in supplementing our diet. It may even be a game changer if we run out of food before we reach the resupply points, but now with our trapping, spearing, line-setting and foraging skills, hopefully we shall enjoy sufficient fuel as we paddle.
We will be taking out food to the start of the row and shipping some back down the islands (along with some of the charts, extras if this and that and my supplies of medication). From all her expedition paddling experience, Justine reckons we can carry three weeks’ of food in the kayaks with us.
I had my first paddles out in Krissy, my new 3-piece Rockpool Menai this week, and compared it to the piles of kit lying about the house as they get sorted, I am sure I will provide Justine with much entertainment and myself much frustration as I try and make the numbers match and fit it all inside. There’s a definite bonus to the rowing legs of this journey – once the boat is packed you don’t need to unpack it, unless to eat it. For this kayaking leg ahead we will come ashore every night and do the daily pack and repack and unpack dance.
Meanwhile, in this moment as I write from Notts-based Alpkit , I watch another packing dance of sorts. Here, the stitching wizards are whizzing up some padded bags for us to transport the kayaks out to Alaska.
T-3 weeks until that happens. Gulp and woop and woop, all at once. Justine and I are refreshing medical skills this week and getting some more paddling time together, including packing practice. Meanwhile, outside of the busy stuff, I am spending as much time as possible with Lucy, my fiancée. Let’s just say that being fianceed makes going away for months on end much harder than it was when I floated out under Tower Bridge on the start of this epic all those (3) years ago. I’m not moaning, just sharing. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, that’s a lie. If Luce could come along too, then that would be really ace. Maybe some time she will. Watch this space.
Until the next one,
Sarah & Krissy the kayak x
P.S Thanks to all who came to the Stamford Arts Centre talk last week and donated to the charities
P.P.S In other news, I tried out the Flat Earth sail on the kayak this last weekend, too. What a run! More on this and why we are taking a sail in another blog.