Around Iceland kayakers beat weather demons

Disabled adventurer Dan Skinstad and his friend Riaan Maanser are currently kayaking all the way around Iceland. The highly publicised trip is going well, save for a potentially lethal incident which happened this week.

On Wednesday Dan Skinstad fell out of the pair’s two-person kayak and was swept some 300 metres away. Riaan Maanser managed, despite high wind and waves, to turn the kayak and get Skinstad back on board. He was in the chilly sea for five minutes.

The South African duo set off not far from Bakkagerdi in Borgarfjordur Eystri (East Iceland) on Tuesday and had paddled around 10 kilometres when the weather closed in by the time they reached Glettinganes. According to a press release from the adventurers, they hit winds of some 14 metres per second, which whipped up large waves and led to Skinstad losing balance and falling overboard. A strong current carried him away while Maanser watched helplessly. For one person to turn and navigate such a long kayak in such bad conditions is extremely difficult and Maanser struggled hard for five minutes to reach Skinstad.

“Several times Riaan lost sight of Dan and at times he was some 300 metres from the kayak. Riaan rowed in the direction that he thought Dan had gone in the current only to find that it had pulled him even further away. Out ahead Riaan saw Dan’s yellow waterproofs and using his strength and experience, managed to turn the six metre long kayak into the wind and grab Dan, who had been in the one-degree cold sea for around five minutes,” the pair’s press release to the South African media states.

Riaan and Dan did not let the ordeal get to them too much, however; and they paddled a further two hours to Seydisfjordur, which was the next suitable landing site. They stayed overnight at Skalanes.

They didn’t go anywhere yesterday; taking a well-earned day off and taking advantage of Dan’s father and brother, who arrived in Iceland on a short visit, mbl.is reports. Their progress has been good and they expect to reach the south eastern town of Hofn in less than a week.

The journey is being filmed for a television series. Dan Skinstad is noticeably paralysed by his mild cerebral palsy. This trailer for the TV show clearly illustrates how the epic and dangerous journey is even more of a struggle for Dan than it is for Riaan; who is an experienced adventurer, having cycled the entire coast of Africa and kayaked around Madagascar.

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