Meet Al Bakker, the owner of Southern Sea Ventures and a veteran kayaking guide. The picture above is of Al launching from an iceberg during a trip we took in Svalbard (also known as Spitsbergen), up in the European Arctic Ocean. I like this picture because I captured the concentration on his face with great timing! click on this and other photos to enlarge.
March – Toured a few cities in Australia doing kayak presentations;
April - Switzerland;
May – Gdansk, Poland to bring a new fleet of kayaks on board Polar Pioneer;
June - Scotland to do a 14 day Scotland /Faroes paddling trip. All the outer islands in Scotland, Faroes and then finished in Bergan, Norway. Then another 14 day paddling trip up the Norwegian coast, crossing to Bear Island and Spitsbergen in July;
August – Fiji trips;
Sept – Australia, office and sales;
Oct – Switzerland, Research paddle circumnavigating Elba, Italy."
Posing with his two best kayakers ever!
Having the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the outdoors is energizing. And being able to provide holidays where people get a chance to experience elements of it is quite rewarding. The reality is that it is work like any other job with pros and cons that you don’t perhaps appreciate when you don’t rely on the work for a living."
Now I'm getting tired! Let's see how Al relaxes and meditates on the water:
What are two of the most memorable experiences or places you have had in your years as a leader of kayaking expeditions?
"Very tough to answer. Paddling through the Yasawa Islands in 1982 in a fiberglass double kayak that I had built and cut in half and carried from Canada to Fiji was very special. The interaction with kids and people who had never seen a kayak, a clear plastic drinking cup, portable stoves, was lovely. 2-3 weeks of camping and paddling, all self contained.
In the polar regions it is tough – paddling amongst the big icebergs in Greenland is amazing, watching sunrise on Rode Island in Scoresbysund, as is watching a bear stalk a seal, race across the ice, dive into a seal hole and come up with the prize. We had a special evening last year in Antarctica south of the Lemaire Channel. People were camping on shore so it was after dinner. Calm conditions and cold but a few of us paddled in a setting sun with the sound of pregnant Leopard seals reverberating in the background. A low trilling sound that carries around you not unlike thunder but with no wind it was very special."
"I think most people benefit from the act of making a decision to go to one of these “hard to get places” knowing it is expensive and having to save or prepare for others who are just busy just make the time to do it. I have had numerous “busy” people who have had a life changing experience on a paddling trip. Where they make a conscious decision to ensure they have some time out each year. And even more importantly- that they realize how valuable it can be to help provide that opportunity for their children or spouses to experience something similar. AWAY from computers, telephones, texting and all our other daily distractions.
Once you get “out there” you will always want to try and do it again."
To see my own unofficial guide to kayaking in the Arctic, read my post Kayaking in the Arctic and Antarctica - 9 Tips