Expedition Paddler | Going Au Natural
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Going Au Natural

Going Au Natural

So after Nick and Pa left for home, I turned my attention back to the south and one of my favourite places in the North-Senja.


Senja is Norways second largest island, and translates to ‘Split Island or split rock’, because of the many fjords cutting deeply into its western coastline. On Senja lives a man who I have got to know and grown to like very much these last three or four years. Ørgen Karlsen is a keen and very proficient sea paddler, and in the North has become well known for his rolling and traditional Qajaq building abilities. I first met him when we were passing that region four years ago. Ørgen was going to be helping me with preparing my Iqyax for sea.

Last summer I attended a course with Anders Thygesen and built myself an Iqyax (Baidarka), this skin on frame vessel is quite unique, the bifid bow and strangely shaped stern almost makes it look as if it is based around some form of sea creature.





After completing the build of my Iqyax it started a long journey north, quite literally on the backs of the Norwegian paddling community, first of all Bernt Marius Johnsen, who was attending the same course took it as far as Trondheim, it lay in storage for several months before Brian Morsund picked it up from Bernt and transported it up to Bødo, where it was then picked up by John Rasmussen who is a good friend of Ørgen’s and he carried it back to Senja.

Ørgen was now going to paint it for me. The painting of a skin on frame is a pretty important job, much of its strength, waterproofness and durability lies in the choosing and application of the paint. I could have no finer person than Ørgen to help me out here. He was also on hand to help and guide me through the rigging of the Iqyax.




The only thing left to do now was to take the Iqyax, which I had named Ophelas, down to the water and test it out – first we went down towards Finnsness and paddled about 10KM on a flat sea, stopping for lunch on a small island in the channel, although windy there was no wave action at all to speak of, the Iqyax weathercocked slightly when paddling off the wind, but a lot less than any other kayak I had paddled before. What I needed was a little more wind and some wave action and Neptune didn’t let me down when several days later I took a small journey out to Håja, on the return journey the wind picked up very quickly to near gale force gusts, a short sharp sea developed and then I really got to understand why the Iqyax had a reputation for being such a seaworthy craft. Ophelas turned out to be what is probably the best all round balanced boat I have ever paddled, a very good turn of speed downwind, stable, responsive, she was an absolute joy to paddle. Now looking forward to a few trips along the coast back down exploring Senja and it’s outer islands.