Jörg and Hannes Knorr of Flensburg, Germany, were fortunate enough to have two things to celebrate this week.
Not only did they manage to finish a month-long kayaking trip Monday from Lewisporte to Quidi Vidi harbour in St. John’s — the father-and-son twosome also found a way to watch Germany’s thrilling victory in Sunday’s World Cup Final against Argentina.
A day after watching their home country claim its fourth World Cup title at the home of a fellow German couple living in Pouch Cove, the Knorrs kayaked a few more kilometres to conclude a 32-day journey in the works ever since a large supply vessel came to St. John’s last fall.
Jörg Knorr, the father, works for the shipbuilding company responsible for the Oceanex Connaigra. A seasoned kayaker, he thought it might be worthwhile to place a pair of kayaks on the Oceanex Connaigra prior to its journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
Both men were heavily tanned as they packed their gear on the Quidi Vidi slipway.
“We had pretty good weather,” said Hannes. “Maybe four rainy days. The last week or two were almost sun every day.”
The kayaking experience was even better than they had expected. Hannes anticipated arriving in St. John’s Wednesday if all went well, but instead they arrived two days ahead of schedule.
The most substantial hiccup in their travel plans came at the start of the trip. The Knorrs intended to depart from the Green Bay area, but ice conditions made that impossible.
So they paddled out of Lewisporte June 13 with hopes of travelling north to Twillingate. That, too, was not possible because of pack ice.
“We tried to go up north to Twillingate, and it was completely blocked,” said Jörg. “But it was a nice day. We were paddling in T-shirts and ice was around everywhere.”
Kayaking anywhere from a few metres to several kilometres away from the shore, the Knorrs averaged 30 kilometres each day.
“In Trinity Bay from the south to north, we made a very easy 40 kilometres in a day,” said Jörg. “It was like flying with the wind.”
They stayed in tents throughout the trip, pitching them in either a community or the wilderness, depending on how far they travelled. There were no strange wildlife encounters while camping, although they came across plenty of whales at sea. Hannes laughed about how the presence of marine mammals almost became commonplace.
“I think the past three weeks, we’ve had whales every day. They were really close to the boat, and it got to the point where you were like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s another whale.’”
The Knorrs were impressed by the numerous icebergs they encountered. They also noticed how friendly people were and appreciated the beauty of Newfoundland’s coastal terrain.
As for future kayaking plans, Jörg said he is working on a shipbuilding project destined for Australia.
“That will be close to (Australian island state) Tasmania, and that could be the next target,” he said.
The Knorrs thanked those who helped out with their trip, making specific mention of Terry in Dover, Randy in Red Head Cove, Helen in Cape St. Francis, Elke and Ilse in Pouch Cove, Linda in Carmanville, the lighthousekeepers on Green Island near Catalina and Hazen Scarth, president of Paddle Newfoundland and Labrador.