Sea Kayaking & Touring

Svalbard Ice Bears and Islands

by jaime-sharp
Thursday, March 17, 2016
   Sea Kayaking & Touring
Thursday, March 17, 2016
A huge polar bear stares out of the screen at the audience with its mouth wide open, the audience makes audible gasps, oohs and aahs!
Jaime Sharp
by Jaime Sharp

   Full Bio

I narrate to the audience, “we thought we were done with polar bears for the day when we left the island (the island where 5 bears tried to get into our camp and had to be repelled with guns), but as we paddled further along the glacier cliffs we were chased by a swimming bear and were only JUST able to out paddle it.” The screen flicks to black and the film footage comes to life showing the bear swimming through the water with a sea kayak nearby, arguably too nearby. I am presenting the story of our adventure last summer to become the first sea kayakers to circumnavigate Svalbard Archipelago in the European High arctic. It’s a story that takes the audience on a journey through a land of ice, water and rock; a land made up of islands and occupied by an estimated 3000 polar bears, the last great stronghold, and the kingdom of the Ice Bear. At the end of the show I am blown away by the applause and all the admiration that is thrown at our tale.

I have just finished a 23 day tour, an adventure of storytelling and kayaking along the west coast of USA and Canada. I now sit exhausted at the Heathrow airport in London on my way back to Norway. The experience has been both humbling and empowering, because of how many people came out to hear the story (and loved it), and for the amount of support the community gave to help me travel and tell the story. There wasn’t as much actual paddling as I would have liked on this trip, but I was still able to share some good days on the river and ocean with some great people who love the sport as much as I do.

The first venue was the Paddle Golden Gate Symposium. Sean Morley invited me to be the key note speaker for the event and Kokatat jumped on board to support the event and thus begin the tour. We had a turnout of over 240 people, and I was able to get in 3 days of great safety boating and coaching beside some really great instructors. It was a great place to connect with old friends and new, plus paddle at one of the most stunning city coastlines on the planet.

“Not only was Jaime’s presentation about his Svalbard expedition at Paddle Golden Gate the best one I’ve seen at this symposium yet, he snuck a bit of the Radiohead track ‘Hunting Bears’ into one of his slides. So awesome! Thank you Jaime for adding so much to our spectacular paddling weekend!” - Krista Fechner, San Rafael CA

Next I headed up the coast to Mendocino with Don Cheyette of Seattle Adventure Sports, to paddle with a great crew comprised of Jaime Klein of P&H kayaks, Paul Kuthe from Alder Creek, Marcel Beige of ACA, and hosted by Jeff Laxier and Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion Kayaks, all whom had just attended the Paddle Golden Gate Symposium. The next morning we were out bright and early for some rock gardening and to push the challenge of surfing chicken point surf break. The break was named because you have to surf the wave along next to some sea stacks at a cliff face, and you have to decide how deep you started and time it properly to get off. We had some great rides and some pretty good carnage, the last bit of carnage being quite significant and ended our day on a downer, though I will let Paul Kuthe tell that tale…

After an anticlimax to a stunning morning, the journey headed north to Eureka for another presentation organized by Helen Wilson / Greenland or Bust and hosted by Kokatat. Half the town showed up and we all had a great time. The next morning I stopped by the Kokatat factory in Arcata to visit and deliver a ‘Thank You’ poster from the Svalbard Expedition. Then all too soon we were heading north again, this time to Portland.

Portland had me paddling Canyon Creek with Chris Bensch and Paul Meir, then giving a presentation to a crowd of 230 at the Alberta Rose Theater, another big and enthusiastic turn out.

“Great show! Jaime is a terrific storyteller and his adventure was beautifully documented.” - Constance Lively, Portland OR

My last talk in the USA was in Seattle. I had been invited by Mountain Hardware to talk at their store in downtown Seattle, and they expected a small turn out. That night we crammed record numbers into their small presentation room. All too soon I was arriving on a bus north of the border in Vancouver BC, where I was met by Rowan Gloag and Marty Perry of The Hurricane Riders. As soon as I was off the bus, we were headed to CBC TV for an interview. And sure enough in 20 minutes I was sitting in the studio being interviewed for prime time news about the Svalbard Expedition, and this was after they talked to me over the phone the day before for a CBC Radio Interview. I was having a small taste of rock-n-roll fame, and it was fun.

Next stop was North Vancouver for a presentation at Capilano University supported by Deep Cove Kayaks. It was an epic venue and loads of people showed up for the best talk yet. I felt like I was living in a whirlwind of storytelling and people. The very next day I was on a ferry to Vancouver Island to present to another eager crowd almost filling yet another awesome venue, the Roxy Theatre in Victoria, supported by Ocean River Sports.

“Just saw this presentation in Vancouver - Gave me polar bear nightmares last night!! Epic story, amazing pictures & video. Jamie is a very entertaining speaker!” - Karen Dominick, Vancouver BC

“Blew my mind…what an expedition…thanks for incredible storytelling and photos and wildlife encounter share!” - Wendy Fagan-Marshall, Victoria BC

Finally I was back on the water surfing sea kayaks at Jordan River with James Manke, Costain Leonard, Ben Doffe and Rueben. The day was forecasted to be huge, though on arrival we found really nice sized waves that formed well. The only issue was the large amount of logs floating in the break zone. Some of us moved along to another break that was cleaner and nicer for long boats. It was a great day on the west coast, I was so stoked to be back here and sad to be leaving all too soon again. Merely a day later I was once again on a plane, this time heading to Toronto. Unfortunately there was a raging winter storm so we only had half the expected crowd show up, but those who braved the weather were stoked to have attended.

“Fantastic presentation, the visuals were stunning and the stories were gripping.” - Aland Drummond, Toronto ON

It was great to see how people from all walks of life loved the talk and the pictures; I was humbled to find I could entertain so many people with a small but very significant (if only to me) story from a chapter of my life. This was a dream come true for me, not just the expedition but the presenting itself, as I had been inspired by such presentations when I was young and this helped me become the person I am today. I hope my stories help shape someone else into following their dreams. I am grateful to Kokatat for their support following these dreams and honored to be one of their Global Ambassadors.

"I have just finished a 23 day tour, an adventure of storytelling and kayaking along the west coast of USA and Canada."

Svalbard Expedition- North American tour