Our expedition around Denmark as it was blogged day by day. The keen reader will notice that our entries becomes shorter as the journey unfolds, this was not due to laziness but sheer exhaustion. We simply had to prioritize our filmmaking over blogging.
That said, I still believe that there’s a lot of valuable and inspiring reading for both paddlers and “normal” people alike.
If you seek additional information or advice regarding paddling Denmark please feel free to write me.
The first day of an outdoor adventure is always something special. The morning was beautiful as we launched from the Dam at Højer, but the day soon turned out to be troublesome.
First we launched 1,5 hour later than planned due to filming. That meant an increased risk of running aground. – which almost happened when we wanted to take a shortcut trough the maze of tidal streams.
Later the wind picked up and we didn’t benefit from the tide, that would have been in our favour.
Paddling along Rømø the waves grew bigger and Thor capsized as a 1,5m wave broke on top of him. After two missed rolls he had to exit the cockpit. Kay says: “I saw Thor’s kayak drifting halfways capsized in the waves, first I through he was sculling, but then he didn’t upright himself. I thought that he might be stuck and popped out of the water beside the kayak to support him while he scooped back in.”
At 16:00 we decided to camp on the northern tip of Rømø. It’s flat and windy here but we have some high ground we can share with some sheeps.
Tomorrow the weather looks bad, so we might stick around for a day. But we are in high spirits.
It’s been a long day that started way too early and ended with a dramatic crossing.
We started paddling at 05.00 trough a maze of ever changing sandbanks and currents, we were a bit in a hurry since the wind, which was right in our face, would pick up at midday.
As we approached the northern part of Fanø we saw colourful objects hovering over the beach, it was kites in all shapes and sizes!
The prospects of continuing was poor since both wind and current worked against us, having nowhere to camp we continued. As we reached the tip of the island we pulled in, it was a huge beach with two meters of tidal change. We could see across the strait to the dunes at Skallingen, the southernmost tip of the notorious Northsea coast. Our plan was to do the crossing at slack tide, which meant waiting 3 hours, but knowing that the wind could get even worse we took our chance with the current.
It should be mentioned that the strait leads to one of the busiest harbours in Denmark: Esbjerg. hence we had to time it right crossing the shipping lane.
We launched in small breakers that became bigger and got messed up in the current, later the brown water became confused chop, the current was pulling the kayaks towards Esbjerg, the wind pushed us back and the waves tried to knock us over. It was hard work, but there was little else to do, we were relying on our skills and determination, and it felt good.
A crossing that normally would take 40 minutes took us 1hour and 15 minutes. We landed on Skallinge happy and tired after a day of 12 hours paddling – in headwind.
Tomorrow we face the last great ordeal before the west coast: Blåvandshuk. The tide is strong there and you only got a two hour window to pass it.
We started out early with great plans of rounding the point of Blåvandshuk. But chose to end the day after only three hours of paddling. We chose to drag the kayaks ashore at Hvidbjerg Camping – only an hour from Blåvandshuk. Tomorrow and the next days forward the winds will be too fierce to allow any progress, therefore we’ll rather spend our days ashore in a place where we can recharge batteries and enjoy a cold drink, opposite to being pitched in the sand dunes after Blåvandshuk.
And the fact that the camping got a spa doesn’t make it worse.
Still stuck on land due to high wind. Luckily they got a spa on this 5 star camping.
The forecast doesn’t look promising for the next five days. The wind is simply too strong, so we wouldn’t have any progress if we tried.
A lot of attempts of paddling Denmark ends on the west coast due to bad weAther and lack of time to finish.
But we’re in god spirits – we have found an Irish pub.
See video updates on Facebook
Visit from fellow kayakers.
Today Kim and Anders came by our place to say hello. They are father and son on their way around Denmark like us, they started their journey a day before us and are also landlocked due to bad weather. Unlike us, they don’t have the time to wait out the wind and have decided to change plans and circumnavigate Sjælland (Zealand) instead. They didn’t seem that disappointed though. As they said: our main goal was to go paddling.
You can follow them on Facebook
Blåvand, the area where we are camped has the highest concentration of Germans in Denmark – about 4 million visitors.
So you can imagine that the spirit is high in the only pub in town, when Germany is playing against Ghana in the World Cup.
We are of course frustrated, that we are limited by the bad weather, but we will be shooting some of the scenes for the film we are making, so time here isn’t spend in vain after all.
We are really excited for tomorrow. The wind is still too strong for kayaking, so we’re driving to the town of Hvide Sande (white sands) to meet a very interesting person.
The person were going to meet is Christian Bollerup. A local who’ll tell about life on the west coast, and show us his model ships and handmade small scale fishing boat engines.
As most of the towns on the west coast, fishing is the main income, but tourism is also big here, and the sea and fjord makes it a popular playground amongst wind and kite surfers.
We’ll of course bring the cameras and make it part of the film.
Here’s a video of one of the motors.
Today we drove to Hvide Sande to visit Christian and Anna Bollerup and see the church ship that Christian has crafted by hand. The model is a detailed copy of a fishing boat named “Jenny Skomager” that he shipwrecked in a storm in the Baltic sea, in the winter of 1961. After seeing the ship he took us to visit his friend and fellow builder – also named Christian, to see their workshop where they build boat motors. All made by hand and designed based on their own calculations and intuition. When asked what they used the engines for they replied: “Nothing. When it works, it’s not interesting anymore – then we build a new one”
The day was rounded off with a lovely dinner and sightseeing tour with their son, Jens Bollerup.
Spitting waves and two capsizes. We’re back at sea and it feels great!
We rounded Blåvandshuk at 11am. Just in time to catch the north going current. Rounding the point was a wet affair, due to lots of white breakers, but it was a suiting welcome to the real Westcoast.
The west coast or Vesterhavet can be quite a mouthful. Literally. And other kayakers that has undertaken the journey describe it as mentally exhausting, since there’s nothing but dunes and waves, day after day.
Avoiding the breaking waves was a constant challenge today. We had to paddle between the waves breaking at the beach and the bigger waves breaking on the outer reef. Like paddling between two white lines in constant motion.
The challenge is to stay focused and read the sea ahead and look out for breakers from the side. Otherwise you might find yourself spinning around in a roaring wall of white foam… As it happened to both of us.
I removed the big camera bag on the aft deck, which had made it difficult for me to roll. So after the wave had stopped pulling, I could roll back up easily. Kay being an expert didn’t have any trouble tipping back up from his capsize. But he lost a pair of gloves and a nautical ruler. One could say that we got baptized.
Yesterday’s excitement has diminished. The wind has been against us all day, luckily the waves has gone from 1,5 to 0,5 meters and the wind has been 4-8 m/s
But it was still hard for the body to paddle against the wind. The goal for the day was the three wind turbines at Hvide Sande. In a way it was nice to have a fix point, on the other hand it was demotivating to watch them grow that slow.
The calm conditions allowed us to put on our headphones, and music in the ears, a gore-tex shelter for the head and shades on the nose you feel a sort of distant comfort looking out trough the salt stained screen where a pair of hands works the paddle.
The music really helped one to cope with the dullness of the sea and sand dunes.
Tomorrow we’ll be paddling against the wind as well, but the day after it should change!
Yet another day with headwind. We are now camped about 30 kilometers north of Hvide Sande.
Kokatat has sponsored us with prime kayak clothing – all Gore-Tex. Here’s how we wear it, air it and store it after a long time at sea. Read more about our clothes under Kokatat.
Our favourite is probably the waterproof bibs with dry socks – it feels like wearing a pair bombproof farmers pants that’ll walk you trough anything.
There’s a storm coming.
Our first day of calm weather. It was a real joy to get on the water. Hardly any wind and the waves rolled lazily under our boats.
On our way we saw a lot of the old WWll bunkers, once build as a grand Nazi defence project. Many of them are now being demolished since they cause great hazard for beach guests.
We are now camped a tad south of Thyborøn and Limfjorden. But the weather has changed. The rain is beating the tent sheet and a bright white flash illuminated our nylon hut for a second. We felt the wind picking up as the dark clouds came rolling, so we picked up some driftwood, connected it to the tent and buried it alongside the tent – that will hold better than aluminium pegs. The ends of the tent are connected to our kayaks, so hopefully we’ll have good nights sleep.
(Sorry no pics – bad connection)
Stranded in surfers paradise.
As we arrived at Vorupør last evening we met a gang of surfers. One of the summer residents, Tomas, invited us for dinner and a bed at his hostel Surfkollektiv.dk. It was a great evening, lovely dinner w dessert!
Today all 10 of us went to Tomas’ surfshop at the harbor, and got offered surf lessons by our new role model; 14yr old Marius.
Neither Kay nor I have surfed before, but he was a great teacher. We had some good surfs and Kay ended the session by doing headstand on the board. And our surf instructor only wanted payment in the form of fish cakes!
Sadly we already have to leave our new surfer friends, the sea is calling for duty – and although surfboards are awesome they won’t carry us all the way to Hanstholm.
Feel free to join thorfjensen.com on Instagram: @actionthor
Today was a great day, we were surfing towards Blokhus on big old waves from the North Atlantic. We started off crossing the bay of Vigsø and after a quick lunch we continued into Jammerbugten (the bay of wails) we were on a joyride though, and kept shovelling mile after mile, out on the open we had some great encounters with Boobies (in danish: suler) that was darting after fish.
We had to end the joyride an hour before Blokhus since we had an appointment with a man of the past.
A real køgemester (a chef and ceremoni master from the viking era).
By the cracking fire he taught us about Njord – the god of the sea, and helped us to make an offering to his honour. It was a great experience and just what we needed to strengthen our spirits and help us on our journey.
You can find him on LinkedIn
Grass under the boats. One really appreciate the small things in life, when out on adventure.
The paddle to Løkken strand camping went pretty uneventful.
We were tired from last nights seance and had both our headphones on. I was listening to a piano piece by Philip Glass and I must have dazed off, because suddenly a wave broke on me. I braced but tumbled over. The blue sky disappeared and I found myself in a beautiful world of emerald green and yellow sand. Sitting in my kayak, wearing hat and shades, still with the piano playing, I enjoyed the tranquillity of this upside down world for a moment, before I got in position and levered myself back into the wind and waves, to continue the journey.
We decided to stay on land today, since the wind will be in our favour tomorrow and the day after.
I got sick in the night and haven’t been doing much all day except sleeping, uploading film and charging batteries.
Think my body saw it’s chance for resignation and took it.
Kay and Jenny went sightseeing, and later Kay washed our clothes. He also rinsed his Kokatat jacket and bibs. He came back triumphing: Feel how soft the fabric actually is!
We compared it to my jacket that was still stiff and crusty from 16 days of saltwater.
Our kayaks also got an overhaul in the afternoon and now all the compartments are bone dry.
Today we left Løkken.
The wind had been ripping the tent all night. About noon the sea had calmed enough for us to venture out.
It was a hard start, just getting out trough the surf took us about 20 min.
Paddling trough the beach breakers was hard enough, and then we had to pass the first reef that was rolling meter high waves at us. After a game of waiting and explosive paddling, we got to the second reef where the waves was thundering two meter high walls of water and foam. It was hard to find a passage trough this inferno and when you thought you finally had found a relatively calm wave, a new one would follow and drag you back towards the beach.
It was very intense and exhausting. I found my self praying to our newfound viking gods, “common just give me a break Aegir” but then a new wall would come beating in.
When I got tumbled over, the wave hit so hard that water ran trough my nose and mouth and I had to clench to the paddle with all might. I had no air, as I was being dragged upside down trough the turbulent wave. The panic started to spread and I wanted to eject, but the pull made it impossible for me to reach the sprayskirt loop. Instead a new wave broke on top of the kayak. My lungs was screaming for air and the salt was burning in my throat. Then suddenly a calm moment. I got the blade to the surface and rolled up to a breath of fresh air, looked around and turned the nose towards the sea.
As I met Kay on the other side of the last breakers, he looked pretty worn out. He had lost his sunglasses and been knocked over as well. But there was no time to waste as we where in big sea and both our rudders had been worked in to a fixed position. We helped each other pulling them back into place and started paddling down wind.
Today we rounded the northernmost point of Denmark. Skagen.
We are happy to finally have overcome the Westcoast, and looking forward to seeing the sun rise every morning. Sadly the wind has changed and will be right in our faces again next week.
But luck has it that there is a festival here in Skagen. So: time to explore the local customs!
We have reached the top of Denmark and have paddled 437 kilometres so far. About a third of the entire journey. We have 25 days left and hopefully the sea and weather will become more manageable as we’re going southwards, so we’re in good spirits.
Today we had a look at Skagen town by day. It has a very charming old part, with low brick houses and lush gardens, often with a BMW or Porsche parked out front.
Kay went for a stroll around town and I went to “Skagen’s Museum”
where many of the iconic paintings that made this town so famous, can be seen.
Artists from all over the world came flocking to this little fishing village in the 1870’s to capture the special light in their naturalistic outdoor paintings. The motives were mostly the fishermen and their family’s daily life.
Right now there’s an excellent exhibition focusing on Laurits Tuxen, an artist who’s regarded to posses the same amount of talent as the famous Krøyer, but contrary to Krøyer and his fellow painters of that time, Tuxen pursued a career as portrait painter for royal family’s all over Europe.
Later in life, Tuxen bought a house in Skagen and became one of the founders of Skagen’s Museum.
The exhibition presents Tuxen’s work trough his career, everthing from his first strokes to Queen Elizabeth’s family portraits and of course a lot of motives from Skagen.
We left Skagen this morning, there was a light wind from south, but at least this headwind wasn’t as cold as the one we had against us on the west coast.
We had planned to cross the bay of Ålbæk, a paddle that would take us about 5 hours, but after three hours the wind picked up which meant the crossing took us a total of 6hours.
When we landed a bit south of Strandby, Kay refused to paddle against the wind anymore. And I was all in favour for that.
We’re pretty sick of headwind, it’s really draining for your muscles and spirit, but tomorrow it looks like it’ll change.
Beneath the chief navigator reveals his secret of navigating Denmark
Yes another update about wind, but today it didn’t work against us, we just had to wait until 3 in the afternoon before we launched.
We passed a palm beach at Frederikshavn. We don’t have palm threes in Denmark, it’s too cold at winter time. So, in the fall the palms are dug up and stored in a heated greenhouse, so they are fresh and lush for next season.
Now we are pitched in a cosy little harbor; Voerså. There’s a house for the sailors and hot showers – lovely!
Tomorrow we’ll continue south.
Great day, we did about 60 K.
Now our bellies are full and we’re in the hay.
North of Jutland is left behind and the landscape is changing into a different kind.
The sea is shallow and the land is lush… – hush!
Kay has fund a bottle from the kayaks keep. A liquid that makes a nun dance, and sailors weep.
Aching bags and shoulders sore. Kayaking Denmark is a delightful chore.
Camped at Rygård strand, Havhuse.
The coastline on the eastcoast is very shallow, and we had to go way out to get a bit of water under the boats. Tomorrow we’ll paddle towards Grenå, and start figuring out how we’ll make the crossing to Sjælland.
In the evening a friend came by and we had a few beers and a bonfire. The temperature here is a lot higher, so we had a pleasant evening on the beach.
To keep the paddles flying in the day, we need fuel. Fuel in the form of chocolate and other foods with a high energy/low volume ratio. In the beginning of the trip snickers satisfied every craving, but now we’re also snacking fig bars and fruits like apples and bananas.
For lunch it’s Vasa bread with cheese, topped with either jam or cucumber, we also ate sausage in the beginning but it settles a bit too heavy.
During the day we drink plenty of water. A few times we bought a bottle of coke, that’s a really satisfying treat – also when lukewarm and shaken, but it takes up space and adds weight.
The best lunch, of course, is when docking in to a harbour for a fish burger and a coke.
Good bye Jutland – hopefully.
Weather has been beautiful and paddling was nice. Now we’re positioned at Hjelm ø. An Island 5K off the coast.
Tomorrow we’ll cross over to Sjælland if weather and tide allows. It’s about 36 kilometres and hopefully well launch tomorrow morning.
Across the ditch.
After 5 hours of sleep, regularly interrupted by screaming seagulls, we launched the kayaks at 7:30. The forecast was far from ideal but we were eager to get to Sjælland. (The largest of the Danish Islands, housing the capital Copenhagen) The distance across was about 36 kilometres and the wind would be against us all the way, blowing 4-6 m/s. And the current would sweep us northwards at 1knot. It was a tough start, short pointy waves constantly flushed the kayak, and we had only our compass bearing to guide us since Sjælland was laying beneath the horizon.
After a couple of hours the waves eased down and paddling became less straining. In the fourth hour we saw land, which gave us a boost of new energy and confidence.
After six hours of intense paddling we reached the northernmost point of Sjælland (Sjællands Odde) – tired but happy.
Now we’re camped in a shelter by Odden Havn. There’s a small festival in the harbour and we are celebrating our arrival with an all you can eat barbecue. It couldn’t be better!
We’ve been paddling about 60 kilometres today. With an average of about 8 km/hour, normally we go about 6 km/hour. It’s been a good day thank’s to the wind – and the gods of the sea of course. We landed in darkness and are now waiting for the highlight of the day: our instant Adventure Food! After that it’s tent up and hit the sack.
Castle in sight!
Kronborg Castle is guarding the northern entrance to the strait between Denmark and Sweden.
Deep down the dungeons Holger Danske, a danish giant warrior from ancient times sits asleep. The story goes that he will wake to action if Denmark is threatened by an extrenal enemy.
Tomorrow we’ll reach Copenhagen, actually we would both prefer not to stop there, since we live there and paddle there every day, but there’s also a film to be made, so we’ll probably spend a day there filming.
We entered the Harbour of Copenhagen early evening, after a seven hour paddle from Helsingør. On our way we stopped in Espergærde for breakfast with some friends.
Our feelings of arriving at Copenhagen differ. We both live here, but I feel that it interrupts the adventure – the illusion of being out on a quest. Kay on the other hand is thrilled to come home and take a shower, as he says: “We knew that we had to stop by”.
Tomorrow we’ll take a tour trough the canals and continue down south in the evening.
It was lovely to sleep in a real bed again.
We met around noon and did some filming in the canals. A cool thing about Copenhagen is that you are able to enjoy most of the old center and lot’s of the most important buildings from the water.
After our history cruise we stopped in Nyhavn and had herring and beer on an old wooden ship, belonging to a friend.
Now we’re camped on a small island, supporting a highway, just south of Copenhagen. It’s great to be out of the city again, and even the noise of the highway doesn’t bother us. It’s not louder than the breaking waves that normally puts us to sleep.
30 K crossing and now camped in a cave.
The weather was beautiful as we launched to cross Køgebugt, a large bay south of Copenhagen. The crossing took about 5 hours and started on a calm mirror-like sea. But in the last two hours the wind picked up, and we had to work for it – again.
We followed the coastline down south, along Stevns Klint, a 40 meter high chalk and limestone wall running along the coast for 12 kilometers. The wall is now a Unesco world heritage site, due to a layer of clay that reveals that the earth was covered in ashes about 65 mio. years ago.
We have now parked the kayaks in one of the limestone caves and Kay has had his first fishing lessons. We only got 4 bags of Adventure Food left (the dry food sponsored by Eventyr Sport). The thing is that we expect to be at the finish line in 6-9 days. So we better start catching some fish!
We have decided to take the fastest route to the finish line. That means we won’t be going around the southernmost islands on our way back to Jutland and the Danish/German border. The reason is that we lack time and are tired – and that the many islands that we’ll be navigating between makes better scenes for the film.
Navigating amongst the islands is a bit more challenging since we only have a greater overview map, but at least we know that finish lies at west – maybe 5 days from now?
Island life. We arrived at Fejø in the afternoon. René, a local inhabitant, took us to his house and served us an excellent meal; fried smoked pork with new potatoes and parsley sauce – all locally produced. We just kept eating, and ended up consuming a kilo of pork between the two of us. Later we got a tour around the island and did some filming.
Crossing with 11 m/s from Lolland to Langeland. Today we had yet another day with great progress and are now camped on the west coast of Langeland.
The two kayak heroes were sitting on the deck of the clubhouse, drinking beer while watching the flies dance the sun down.
They were tired but content, the sea had been good to them and there were only two days more to go.
Camped on a sand dune at the entrance of Flensburg Fjord. The journey and filming is almost completed. Tomorrow we’ll reach the finish point and we’re trying to prepare ourselves for all the media that’ll be waiting. Cameras flashing, reporters shouting and helicopters buzzing.
Think I’ll just put on my shades and try look cool, Kay is more worried about his hair….
Day 39. (The End)
The plan was to go ashore for a lunch before reaching the border, marked by a stone. But after 3 hours of paddling we found ourselves in the bottom of Flensburg Fjord, right next to the border. Surprised by our sudden arrival we paddled ashore, the stone looked nothing like we expected, and after a moment of short hesitation we placed our crooked hands on granite pole and thereby cementing our completion of the journey!
Joy, confusion and relief.