German father and son kayaking from Green Bay to St. John’s

Josh Pennell
Published on June 11, 2014
Father and son, Joerg and Hannes Knorr, are getting ready to launch their kayaks in Green Bay. They hope to paddle a five-week journey to St. John’s. — Photo by Josh Pennell/The Telegram

A quick flick in the kayak it is not.    

A father and son have arrived from Germany with the plan to put their kayaks in the water around Green Bay and, five weeks later, haul them out in St. John’s.

Joerg Knorr and his son, Hannes, are no strangers to the water.

“I’ve been sitting in a canoe since I was three years old,” Hannes says.

He’s got more than 20 years’ experience of solid paddling.

“The first time we had him with us was in a folding kayak. He was less than one year,” Joerg says.

They have done numerous trips closer to home and also made their way to the Queen Charlotte Islands in B.C. about five years ago.

This is their first time in this province. Joerg has put his mark on part of the local industrial landscape, though. He works for a shipbuilding company that built Oceanex’s Connaigra.

When the vessel was brought over last fall, Joerg saw it as the perfect opportunity to ship a couple of kayaks over in preparation for him and his son. He did the same thing when the company he works for built a ship for BC Ferries leading up to the Queen Charlotte Islands trip.

When Joerg saw the opportunity for the trip, he started looking for a contact here who could help him. A Google search brought him to Hazen Scarth, president of Paddle NL — the provincial paddling organization.

“It’s easy to find people who are interested in paddling too. So now I’ve invited him to Germany,” Joerg says.

Scarth says he plans to bring the father and son out to see them off, perhaps in Springdale.

“Then they’ll have decisions to make. Do they sort of go inland through all the islands or do they tend to do more of headlands and more of these communities like Twillingate and these places?” Scarth says.

The combination of outdoors, culture, and human endurance excites Joerg and Hannes.

“You have to see every day how the conditions are and to make a decision every morning. What you could do and what you should not do,” Joerg says. “The most dangerous thing is if you are under pressure. You will do things which you normally would not do.”

Joerg speaks excitedly but cautiously of camping along the way and manoeuvering their kayaks through the ocean with only the power of their own muscles. As for making it all the way to St. John’s, he’s hopeful but realistic.

“That’s a plan only. We have to see every day what the conditions are and if it’s not working, Hazen promised me that anybody will pick us up anywhere we may be.”

The pair hopes to take in some familiar sea kayaking sights along the way, like whales and dolphins, but they’re also looking forward to a brand new experience for them.

“Icebergs, really, because that’s the really unique thing that distinguishes this from everything else,” says Hannes.

They admit that no matter how gorgeous the scenery may be, cold, wet weather could put a damper on their camping plans. Either way, it seems they’ll have their senses of humour to see them through.

“I feel somewhat responsible for my son, too. My wife, I had to promise her that we will be back,” Joerg says.

“And I had to promise her to look over his shoulder when he navigates,” Hannes chimes in.