Kinsale kayaker paddles to Germany

A Co Cork-based kayaker has completed a gruelling 2,500km voyage during which he had to dodge supertankers and all the elements could throw at him and his flimsy craft.

Kinsale kayaker paddles to Germany

Hendrik Lepel, 34, set off from his adopted hometown of Kinsale on June 20, kayaking to Rostock, Germany.

He had intended to make it to Rostock between Aug 6-10 to coincide with the arrival there of the Tall Ships, but managed to get there ahead of schedule a couple of days ago.

Hendrik hugged the coastline and, when able, went ashore to camp at night.

He was greeted by a pod of Dolphins as he approached Cornwall, but couldn’t get into land because of the prevailing conditions and was grateful to Padstow RNLI who brought him ashore.

In the English Channel tides conspired against him, there was no wind and he nearly sank. Then he had to negotiate the shipping lanes where he had a couple of close shaves before arriving at the Belgium port of Ostend “happy to have made it in one piece”. He then made it to Holland, but not without incident.

A wave came out of nowhere, his kayak capsized, his mast was broken and there was damage to the sail. Eventually he was able to get back on track.

“The most exciting part of that leg was crossing the Rotterdam Europort Harbour. As the name indicates, it’s one of the busiest harbours in Europe. Crossing the English Channel seemed like a walk in the park in comparison,” he said after having to manoeuvre his way through at least eight container ships in Europort.

On the trip to Germany he ran aground on some sandbanks and woke up one morning to find his kayak had drifted out to sea. Luckily he was able to retrieve it.

The North Sea greeted him “with big gusts and waves,” but he made it through relatively unscathed into the Kiel canal. Unfortunately he then lost his video camera.

“Crazy that this happened 3km before arrival and after a 2,500km ride. I lost a lot of good footage but even this is part of the adventure. I guess someone might find it,” he said.

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