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Shetland Bus kayakers reach Skerries

Setting off from Lunna on Sunday morning ar (from left to right): Patrick Winterton, Olli Hicks and Mick Berwick - Photo: Hans J Marter

THE THREE adventurers attempting to paddle across the North Sea in their sea kayaks have safely reached the Out Skerries after a tough six and a half hours journey.

Patrick Winterton, Mick Berwick and Olli Hicks set off in appalling weather conditions from Lunna on Sunday morning after a visit to Lunna House, a former base of the Shetland Bus.

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They had arrived in Shetland on Saturday morning on the NorthLink ferry, visited the new Scalloway Museum and later embarked on the first leg of their journey from Lerwick to Lunna.

The trio said they were inspired by the bravery of the men serving in the Shetland Bus who had crossed the North Sea in small fishing boats supporting the resistance against Nazi occupation of Norway.

Olli Hicks, who had crossed the Atlantic in a rowing boat in 2005, said the trio was prepared for an uncomfortable journey.

“To the untrained eye the kayaks we use look vulnerable and flimsy, but actually they are pretty sturdy. The main survival feature lies in the fact that you can roll them over, and it is quite easy to get them back up again without swimming.

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“We can carry all we need in the hatches, and we have enough food, water and communication equipment to last us for what we hope will be a less than four day crossing.

“The difficulty of being in these boats is that you are very limited in moving around. You are effectively tied to the cockpit.”

Mr Winterton, a former member of the British Olympic winter team added that the northern North Sea was one of the most treacherous and unpredictable waters one could navigate.

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He added: “The big problem we are going to have is that you are soaking wet through. Five minutes after you have stopped paddling you are freezing.

“You have to stop, get some reasonable dry clothes on and then get into the insulation bag. That’s how we survive. It is all about being organised. And I am afraid we have not quite achieved that yet.

“It is not a nice prospect, but we know from past trips that it can be done, and the satisfaction when you get to the other end is immense.”

They expect to arrive in Bergen on Thursday. Their progress can be followed at: www.kayaksonshetlandbus.com/Pages/tracking.html

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