Advertisement

Adventures of a canoeist along the Donegal coast

Freya Hoffmesiter performs a balancing act along the Donegal coast.

Freya Hoffmesiter performs a balancing act along the Donegal coast.

KAYAKER and endurance record holder Freya Hoffmeister is back home in Germany after paddling round Ireland.
Freda (51) is a highly-skilled open ocean-paddler who has undertaken the two world’s greatest timed sea kayaking continental circumnavigations – Australia and right around South America – plus she has numerous islands records to her name.
This summer she spent 43 days on a ‘slow kayak’ trip around Ireland. She decided to take things slowly because she’s got ‘crooked elbows’ and because she wanted to enjoy the trip.
“I chose Ireland because it’s nearby and I don’t have to fly. I drove over with the kayak on the roof of my car. It took 43 days, made up of 33 paddling days and 10 weather days with an average 46 kilometres per paddling day. It was a slow sped with my injuries but lot’s of pleasure,” she said.
For her trip around Ireland Freya paddled a heavy loaded solo expedition sea kayak with no engine or sail, spent the nights in her tent camping on the shore, with no support boat or car driving along. She carried all her water, simple food and camping gear by herself.
‘Stunning’
“Donegal was stunning. It has a very rocky coastline with tunnels, arches, caves and so many things to explore. It was really lovely and I’ll definitely come back again when I’ve seen the rest of the world,” she laughed.
“One long tunnel cave was inhabited by the oldest grey seal I seen on my trip and he was splashing round around me clearly showing that this was his territory,” she said.
Freya spent a day on Rathin O’Birne Island while a couple out for a walk on a beach in Downings gave her a bar of chocolate.
“I remember that. It was very nice of them,” she said.
On Inishboffin Island, she remembered that two young boys came on to her beach at 6am, climbed up a dune and watched her launching.
“Were they too shy to talk to me? Not sure though what young men are doing at 6am on a beach,” she joked.
“That was an almost sunny day! And dry, thank goodness,” she recalled.
“I like to paddle inside islands wherever possible and on that particular day I took the inner path of this archipelago between Aran Island, but starting at very low tide only slowly got enough water into the channel. To paddle slowly between all those quite high rocks covered fully under sea weed, and every second rock had a seal resting was magical.
Cruit
“To round the last headland between Inishinny Island was not possible so I went inside Cruit Island, right under the bridge but had to face then about 500 metres dry sand in all directions. I sat down conveniently and waited for almost half an hour for the water to come while reading my Kindle. It was sunny at least! For the last 200 metres I got too impatient and dragged the heavy kayak over the wet sand,” she said.
Throughout her trip Freya spent, on average, ten hours a day in the kayak eating on board while she spent her nights in a tent camping on the shore.
Ferya is now back in her home in Husum, Germany, spending some time with her teenage son and looking after her two ice cream cafés and her Christmas shop.
“My staff look after the shops which gives me the time to paddle all over the world. Life is good,” she said.
She has paddled more kilometres than any sea kayaker has ever done.
Last year, Freya became the first person to round the South American continent, a feat that probably no one will repeat any time soon. She paddled almost 27,000 km over a four-year period. She has also circumnavigated Australia (11 months), Iceland and New Zealand.
What will be next? She does not tell yet…

Sea stacks in Donegal photographed by Freya as she made her made around the coast.

Sea stacks in Donegal photographed by Freya as she made her made around the coast.

Top
Advertisement

Donegal News is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. St. Anne's Court, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland