Today, my old "kayaking friend" Conan from the Great Northern Peninsula in Western Newfoundland, Canada, contacted me via my facebook fan group. What a surprise, we lost contact for many years, the last time I saw him was in his Pub, the "The Peter Easton Pub" in St. John's.
A few years ago (actually a few few years ago) while I was photographing in Newfoundland we met via another friend, Barb Genge of Tuckamore Lodge in Main Brook. We needed to do some kayaking pictures for several publications and Conan was donating his time to help me out with kayaks and kayaking. So we did a couple overnight trips before we got further out to the rougher coastline of the Northern Peninsula.
Because it was too far to paddle we chartered a small commercial fishing vessel to bring us further out where the icebergs were. Closer to the icebergs we found one which shape attracted us the most, we launched the kayaks over the side of the fishing vessel (which was everything BUT easy!), jumped more or less into the kayak while we were trying not to turn over. That was only the first adventure of this whole trip.
Now, out in the open sea with some rougher waves (and I'm not a experienced with kayaking) we paddled towards the iceberg. Honestly, I had my doubts, many doubts, if this was really such a great idea but as closer we got to the iceberg as more I loved the thrill. We got fairly close to the iceberg, so close that we could hear cracking in the ice. It was amazing, nature adventure at its best. After we paddled around the iceberg a couple time we decided to get even closer.
I better say this very clear from the beginning - NEVER GET TOO CLOSE TO AN ICEBERG! - but at that day, with all the adrenaline in our blood we left our common sense behind and paddled right along side of the iceberg, close enough that we could touch it. Wauh, what a drill, touching a iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. I probably don't even have to tell you that I was sweating about my cameras on the other side. Salty air, salty sea water, spray and splashing waves, only to mention some of the obvious waiting dangers to my equipment. But it all did not matter in that moment. We could feel the breath of a 10,000 year old iceberg which just floated down from the arctic - it was simply amazing.
After we had our short high of adrenaline we decided fast to backup up - we heard too many cracking sounds. Icebergs can turn at any time, without any warning and when this happens you do not want to be close, especially not in the open ocean and in a little kayak. We both had our adventure rush, I had some photos - good enough, lets back up and go back to our mother ship.
We were not even 1/2 way between the vessel and the iceberg when we heard a hug crack, it almost sounded the iceberg is splitting. We immediately turned the kayaks around to hit a possible wave looking forward, only seconds later the iceberg split, a loud thunder reminded us of the danger and then all it sudden the iceberg was gone. We knew what would come next and we were happy to be far enough away to be at least outside the danger zone. Only seconds later the iceberg was shooting up into the air - that was energy pure, and again, what a experience.
A little later we battled a couple larger waves and paddled back to the waiting mother ship - by that time we were shaking a bit. What happened was that the iceberg split into 2 large pieces, because of the new weight distribution and the momentum those huge ice pieces went under water before they were shooting back up in the air, then they turn and now we had two smaller icebergs.
What a sight, what a experience and only in our worst nightmares we can imagine what happened if the iceberg decided 5 minutes earlier to collapse - our kayaking experience would have been, most likely, a deadly adventure and of course a stupid one on top.
Sometimes you need not only a bit of luck to capture great pictures, sometimes you also need luck to survive stupid decision.
I would like to dedicated this blog today to Conan, the guy which was doing this great adventures with me, a ocean kayaking adventure I often remember. I'm very happy he contacted me, now I have to follow up to hear what his last years have brought to his life.
I figured it is a great opportunity for me today to dig into my slides, fire up my Hasselblad X5 scanner and scan a few pics from the trip - I hope to be able to show more of our kayaking adventures in the future, whenever I find the time for more scanning.
And for all of you AGAIN, I can't push it enough - DO NOT KAYAK TOO CLOSE TO ICEBERGS! NEVER!
If you visit St. John's in Newfoundland please make sure to visit Con in his pub, the "The Peter Easton Pub", ask him about the trips we have done together and I'm sure you will hear more of our adventures we have done together.