Wild Rover Expeditions

Wild Rover Expeditions

‘In the wake of Watkins’

EXPEDITION PADDLER

We are proud to announce an amazing adventure – an expedition exploring the Arctic and North Atlantic islands of Faroe, Iceland and the East coast Greenland. For this expedition we have been working with a great team of sponsors and supporters which include, the ‘Gino Watkins Memorial Fund‘ and the ‘Andrew Croft Memorial Fund‘, Kokatat Equipment, Nautiraid Kayaks, Hilleberg Tents, Aclima Wool Specialists, Elliot Brown Watches and SEAKglobal

To reach our destination in East Greenland we shall be sailing aboard the expedition yacht ‘Wild Rover VI’ – The expedition is led by Jeff Allen and Isabelle Howells.

Isabelle Howells has recently joined the team of Expedition Paddler as an experienced Arctic Expedition Guide as well as a commercially endorsed RYA Yacht Master.

Once we arrive on the East Coast of Greenland we shall be venturing out to explore the region by sea kayaks.

The aim of this expedition is to explore the route of 1930’s explorer/adventurer Henry ‘Gino’ Watkins – Pan Am expedition which set sail for Greenland from the UK, stopping off at the Faroe Islands en-route to pick up sled dogs, before visiting Iceland and then on to East Greenland.

The expedition began in July 1932. However, on 20 August, Watkins was sadly lost whilst out hunting for seals in Tugtilik Fjord. His empty kayak was found floating upside down by his companions, but his body was never recovered.

This expedition is not only a classic sailing and sea kayaking adventure, it is also a pilgrimage to an incredible adventurer, paying homage to the man who became known as the Father of modern day sea kayaking.

Sponsors

“Guiding people in this environment is unique. I’m always looking for that wow factor, that expectation that around the corner is something that is going to blow people’s mind. It’s an amazing honour and pleasure to be able to experience that as a guide.” – Jeff Allen

Gino Watkins

Gino Watkins was feted as being the natural successor to both Scott & Shackleton, he had already made a name for himself as being an exceptionally gifted and competent leader, all before he had reached the age of 25. Gino as he was commonly referred to was one of the first British explorers to harness the ways of the inuit, both in hunting and in the adoption of the Qajaq or kayak as it is more commonly known for exploration.

Is it the joy of adventure? The challenge of stepping outside of that world of ‘credit cards and double glazing’?

About Wild Rover VI

Wild Rover VI is a robust expedition support yacht, specifically aimed at exploring north Atlantic waters, she was purchased from renowned sailor Mike Whip who commissioned her to sail around the world, making many of the adaptations to her for heavy, southern ocean sailing, she is heavily rigged and strongly built. Wild Rover has crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice and has sailed extensively around the west coasts of Britain.

Wild Rover is an Alan Pape ‘Ebbtide 39’ built in steel at Morvoren Seacraft in Penryn, Cornwall in 2007. She is a Bermudan Cutter fitted with a 50hp Yanmar engine, she has a roller furling jib, a slab reefed mainsail and also carries a ‘Code Zero’ Genoa, storm tri sail and storm stay sail, she is fully equipped for blue water sailing.

Wild Rover has eight berths, a toilet and an on board shower facility and has an 8kw Diesel heating system with a back up paraffin heater to keep the cabin warm and cosy. We are limiting the expeditions to a minimum of two and a maximum of 3 paddlers; this is to ensure the maximum amount of comfort on board.

Kayak’s for the expedition are being provided by Nautiraid Sea Kayaks of France, these kayaks are traditional skin on frame folding sea kayaks, paying homage to the Inuit Qajaq designs of South East Greenland.

We felt that this was fitting for an expedition of this nature and the folding concept also allows us to store the kayaks safely and efficiently on board, below decks during open ocean passages.

Sea Tests on Wild Rover VI

In the summer of 2020, Isabelle and Jeff sailed Wild Rover VI on a shake down cruise from Falmouth, Cornwall, North to the Shetland Islands via Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Fair Isle, carrying kayaks on board, testing the equipment thoroughly, to ensure its viability for expedition use.

We are planning to make this expedition as safe, enjoyable and as exciting as possible, we shall pick up expedition members in Isafjordur, but the weather and environment can often hinder any expedition plans and here we have had to build in a degree of flexibility as Neptune, always rules. Wind, sea state and sea ice can create delays.

Food and accommodation

Crew accommodation consists of single berths located in the fore cabin and a pilot berth located in the saloon. Settee berths will also be utilised between watches, whilst on passage. Each berth is equipped with a functional canvas lee cloth and net bags for clothing to be stowed as well as adequate locker space provided on board.

Sponsors

Any team, is only ever as strong as its weakest link, finding your weak areas and making them stronger, helps you to prepare for that time when things do go wrong. They say it is only after you have encountered these areas, that the adventure really begins.

We have tried to exercise wisdom in our choice of expedition partners because we know how important it is, that when the adventure starts, your equipment is ‘fit for purpose‘.

We believe we have chosen some great companies to work with and these include – Elliot Brown watches, because we know that accurate time keeping, especially whilst navigating at sea is crucial to your position as well as keeping on time when changing watch. Nautiraid Kayaks, for supplying us with four amazing skin on frame folding sea kayaks, I have been using these traditional East Greenland inspired kayaks for about six years now and know that these craft are exceptionally fit for purpose. Kokatat for dry suits and floatation equipment, I’ve been with Kokatat ever since 2005 and have real time experience that when it comes to extreme environments there is none better than Kokatat, for protection in and on the sea.

 Aclima Wool specialists are providing us with some incredible base layer options to keep us thermally insulated and Hilleberg Tents have supplied us with great protection with a Saivo three man expedition tent – Hilleberg have long been my favourite tent maker and I am really happy to have these guys protecting us from the effects of the weather systems which are renowned on the East coast of Greenland.

On the more technical side, Geollect will be providing us with updates on ice conditions and weather patterns and this information will be communicated to us through satellite communication equipment which is being provided to us by Global Telesat Communications. Welcome on board guys

As part of the preparation we have also turned to the Gino Watkins Memorial trust fund, for advice and for support, the trust fund gives out grants to expeditions that meet certain objectives and we met the required criteria and have benefitted much from their support, both financially and in terms of knowledge and continued guidance.

We have also received generous support from Musto equipment and Autoterm marine heating systems and we hope that we can deepen this connection in the future.

A massive thank you must also go out to a good friend of mine in Hefin Jones MC, Hefin has helped us out so much in advice and guidance, helping us to access the right professionals to help this all come together and shall also be supporting us in overall safe tracking of the expedition through Seak Global

Current Location

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Leg 1Leg 2Leg 3


Leg 1 Scotland to Faroe Islands

‘In the wake of Watkins’ expedition is a non commercial venture, but expedition members are expected to contribute to the overall costs of the expedition and successful applicants will be able to join us at various stages of the expedition.

Our official departure point is from Ullapool in North West Scotland, from here we will wait for an appropriate weather window to cross to the Faroe Islands and if weather does not allow for an immediate passage then in the meantime we hope to paddle in some of the most scenic parts of Scotland.

The crossing is estimated to take no more than three days (weather dependant).
We will then explore as much of the Faroe Islands as we can, both by kayak and sail.

Upon arrival in the Faroe, we shall resupply, rest and if weather allows, explore parts of the Faroe’s by sea kayak.

Location: Ullapool, Scotland to Vagar, Faroes.

Dates: June 2021

Leg 2 Faroe Islands to Iceland

We shall ensure a suitable weather window exists before departing for Iceland.

The crossing to Seydisfjordur could take up to 5 days and can often be quite rough.

From Seydisfjordur we will cruise the north coast of Iceland, kayaking and exploring whenever possible. We will visit the historic port of Husavik famous for its whale watching, before sailing on towards the northwest peninsula and Isafjordur, potentially taking a look at Horstrandir Nature Reserve from the water.

Other expedition members  will join us in Husavik or Isafjordur and shall have the opportunity to paddle here, familiarising themselves with the kayaks and other equipment before departing for Greenland

Location: Vagar, Faroes to Isafjordur, Iceland

Date: June – July 2021

Leg 3 Iceland to East Greenland

Having met up with expedition members in Husavik or Isafjordur, Iceland, we will then set sail as soon as there is a suitable weather window, our destination is the Kangerlussuaq Fjord region in East Greenland and from here we will explore the surrounding fjords and coastline.

The crossing to Greenland is expected to take no more than three days. This will be dependant upon sea ice as well as weather conditions.

Our intention is to explore this beautiful and remote region by both sea kayak and sail. We will repeat the crossing of the Denmark Strait, our return destination is once more to Isafjordur and if time allows, we will also get the opportunity to paddle again in Iceland before returning back to the United Kingdom.

Location: Isafjordur, Iceland to Watkins Fjord, Greenland to Isafjordur, Iceland

Dates: July – August 2021

Some expedition members will depart Wild Rover from Iceland in early August, weather may delay our return from Greenland, in which case we shall endeavour to return at the earliest opportunity.

Insurances

Wild Rover VI is fully insured with a reputable British Marine Insurance company for as far north as 67 degrees latitude; the Sea Kayaks and the guiding/leading of this expedition is also fully insured under British Canoeing membership but it is expected that each expedition member will take out their own insurance to cover them for this expedition and you will need to consider the following – travel, activity, evacuation, loss of earnings and flight/lost baggage/accommodation insurances.

‘In the Wake of Watkins’ will be ‘Safe-tracked’ by SEAKGlobal

“Guiding people in this environment is unique. I’m always looking for that wow factor, that expectation that around the corner is something that is going to blow people’s mind. It’s an amazing honour and pleasure to be able to experience that as a guide.” – Jeff Allen

Sailing experience

If you are applying to join this expedition but do not have previous sailing or kayaking experience, then we recommend that you attend an RYA competent crew or Day skipper practical course.

You may also attend a four-day familiarisation/training package hosted on board Wild Rover VI.

Kayaking experience

Expedition members need to be relatively fit and agile, paddling at a ‘Sea Proficient’ level (BC SKA award (old ¾*) – EPP L3 – ISKGA Fundamentals L3). As a descriptor this is feeling comfortable and confident in winds of up to Beaufort force 4, 4’ seas, 3’ surf, tidal flow of up to 3 knots. Expedition members ideally need to possess a self-rescue and have previous experience of towing and camping from a sea kayak.

If you do not possess the above experience, we recommend that you attend a sea kayaking course with a reputable instructor or once more email Jeff Allen at info@expeditionpaddler.com for guidance.

Expedition Equipment

Wild Rover VI will be fully fuelled and victualed at the start of the expedition; she is equipped with all safety equipment for each expedition member. Expedition members will be expected to help meet unexpected costs during the expedition, such as marina fee’s, extra fuel and rations if delayed due to weather or ice conditions
Kayaks will be loaded on board, along with Spray Decks, PFD’s, Paddles, pumps, towlines and repair kits.

Expedition Equipment

Wild Rover VI will be fully fuelled and victualed throughout the expedition; there is all safety equipment provided for each expedition member.
Kayaks will be loaded on board, along with Spray Decks, PFD’s, Paddles, pumps, towlines and repair kits.

Personal Equipment

Paddle/sail: Individual team members will need to have their own paddling and sailing foul weather gear and base layers. Pogies/neoprene mitts, Balaclava/neoprene hood

Camp clothing: trousers, shirts, fleeces/jumpers, balaclava, buff, woollen hat, gloves, down/synthetic puffer jacket, water proof jacket and trousers.
Sailing boots (which can double up as kayaking boots if required

Hygiene: Washing & shaving kit, personal first aid kit, towel, underwear, socks, foot powder

Sleeping: Sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, Bivvie bag, reading material

Camping Personal compact cook stove (Pocket Rocket etc.) steel mug, eating tools (spork/KFS, bowl/plate/plastic mug

Hydration: Water bottle, drink bladder, vacuum flask for both food & Drink, water filter (Mills bag). Ice axe for exiting kayaks onto ice flow

Food: Feel good food, vitamins & supplements, power aids
Compass, map case, PLB, VHF (if you feel you require)

Other requirements:

Personal travel to and from the pick up and drop off location

Personal insurance

Any food or drinks away from the boat

Visa requirements

Lucy Vincent

Lucy is an International Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor having mountaineered around the globe. She has sea kayaked in Patagonia, Norway, South Africa, New Zealand, Scotland and Borneo. She joins the trip without sailing experience but is used to throwing herself in the deep end. Experienced at putting together successful expeditions from South America to the Himalayas to Africa – she joined the expedition and reported for the BBC’s Saving Species programme to find the world’s rarest duck – the Madgascan Pochard and has visited Iceland previously counting migratory birds. Lucy is particularly excited about getting close to whales and seeing the amazing geology of the Faroes.

Ken Lord

Ken Lord is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an International Mountain Leader and freelance expedition leader. His passion is travel and exploration into remote and wild places, with many years working in hostile and challenging environments. A wide ranging skill set including expedition medic and photographer.

Willie Collins

Willie Collins is a keen sea kayaker with a special interest in the polar regions and its resident wildlife, especially birds. Willie is a Canoe Ireland Level 4 sea kayaker and has conducted expeditions to West Greenland, Northern Norway and Brittany and has conducted sail training on the Barque ‘the Jeanie Johnston. Willie has also trekked extensively with trips to Nepal, the French/Italian & Austrian Alps, the Pyrenees and once more to Norway

Isabelle Howells

Isabelle has been sailing for most of her life and was an active sailing competitor in her younger years.

Isabelle works in the outdoor industry as a sailing and whale watching guide.
She is a commercially endorsed RYA Yacht Master and has guided in Iceland, Svalbard, East Greenland, South Georgia and Antarctica.

Isabelle is a Senior Polar Tourism Guide and has previous experience in the areas where we wish to explore.

Jeff Allen

Jeff has been sailing for the past thirty years and is a professional sea kayak guide and coach with more than 20 years of full time professional experience.

Jeff has guided and led many expeditions, often in advanced conditions in many remote areas around the globe, these areas include Norway, Alaska, Iceland and South America and has conducted personal expeditions, circumnavigating Japan, South Georgia and exploring most of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

In 2011 Jeff circumnavigated Ireland in a record time of 25 days, a British Canoeing guide and coach, coaching and assessing up to the highest level of award in both leadership and personal skill.

Jeff is the founder of the International Sea Kayak Guide Association and runs ISKGA courses and guide training programs at various locations around the world.

In 2018 Jeff purchased Wild Rover VI with the intention of expanding his expeditions and exploring into more remote environments around the world.

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