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Shetland Bus kayakers will do it again

THE THREE kayakers who had to abandon an expedition to paddle from Shetland to Norway will give it a second go on Monday.

Adventurers Patrick Winterton, Olli Hicks and Mick Berwick said they were confident they could achieve their goal this time as the weather forecast for the week looked more promising.

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They had set off from Lunna on Sunday to replicate the daring voyages of the wartime Shetland Bus when freedom fighters dodged the Nazis to smuggle saboteurs and supplies into German-occupied Norway.

Before setting off, Hicks, who had crossed the Atlantic in a rowing boat in 2005, had predicted that paddling across the northern North Sea in tiny sea kayaks would be much tougher.

The kayakers were forced back around 25 miles east of Out Skerries after they encountered stronger winds and higher seas than expected.

They arrived back safe but exhausted, cold and wet at Symbister, in Whalsay, on Tuesday afternoon.

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On their way back, Winterton slipped from he cockpit of his kayak into the sea and had to be rescued by his two companions.

But after three days rest, Winterton said they had learned their lessons, implemented a number of alterations, and would set off again from Skerries early next week.

“The forecast for next week looks very good, and my feeling is that we will not get a better chance. I also feel that since we are here and have already put a hell of a lot of work into this, I would like to try again.

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“You forget the pain very quickly. The lessons we have learned earlier this week give me the confidence that we are a little wiser this time,” he said.

He added that the biggest issue they would be facing during the 240 mile journey would be seasickness and the battle to stay dry.

The forecast for the weekend is for northerly winds force six to eight. After that, forecasters expect a quieter spell before the next frontal system comes in and brings with it more unsettled weather conditions.

“We will travel to Skerries on Sunday with the aim to set off either late on Monday or Tuesday morning. The first day will be tough but after that it should become much easier,” Winterton, a seasoned adventurer and sports broadcaster from Stirling, said.

“We are desperate to have another go, but not just for the sake of it”, he said, adding that he felt proud to have made the right decision when the three abandoned their earlier attempt.

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