An educator, adventurer and environmental activist named Hayley Shephard will soon embark on an ambitious project to solo circumnavigate South Georgia Island in a sea kayak. The New Zealand native is not new to sea kayaking adventures. In 1999 she completed a two month voyage around Vancouver Island, Canada and in 2005 journeyed farther offshore kayaking around the triangular archipelago of Haida Gwaii, in the Queen Charlotte Islands, north of Vancouver, British Columbia, a trip covering 156 nautical miles.
The South Georgia Island circumnavigation is Shephard’s attempt to be the first person to solo sea kayak around the sub-Antarctic Island. Through her adventure, she hopes to not only fulfill a personal challenge, but also to raise public awareness for the Albatross, a majestic species of seabird that now faces possible extinction.
Shephard plans to begin her journey in late January in the Falkland Islands. Here she will join her support vessel, S/V Northanger, a 54-foot steel Damien II ketch owned and operated by expedition sailors Keri Pashuk and her husband Greg Landreth. She will then sail with them to South Georgia. Departing from Grytviken on South Georgia, Shephard plans to paddle in a counter-clockwise direction, heading northwest along the east coast of the island. Her biggest obstacle will be the southwest portion of the west side of the island where there are few landfalls and the seas are the most challenging. Shephard’s plans are to camp ashore nightly, eventually arriving back at Grytviken. Northanger will follow her as necessitated by British law that requires all sea-based expeditions to provide their own means of search and rescue in the event of emergency. Shephard’s departure from Grytviken is scheduled for February 3, 2009. For more information, visit www.kayakingtosavealbatross.com and www.northanger.org.