World-renowned open ocean paddler Freya Hoffmeister is facing her biggest challenge yet.
She expects it will take her the next eight to 10 years to complete, and after she’s done, she will have paddled roughly 50,000 km.
The task? Circumnavigating the entire continental North America, and that won’t even be her first continental round trip. The German world-record holder has previously completed an entire lap around Australia in 2009 and South America between 2011 and 2015.
This past Friday, Hoffmeister arrived in Prince Rupert’s yacht club harbour around 3 p.m. She set out that morning from Porcher Island’s Useless Bay at 7:40 a.m. It was Day 49 of her trip, which began in Seattle in March.
“This is the first time I’ve paddled here at all. I’ve been to North America many times but not really paddling any significant distance at all,” she said.
Hoffmeister travelled 38.5 km from her starting point tent on the shores near Kitkatla and met strong winds. With conditions unfavourable, she pushed ahead, knowing Prince Rupert was just further north.
“Today, I expected was quite rough-ish and a bit of hard work. I was bordering the wind instead of having it from the south pushing me … I headed into the wind a bit,” she said.
Winds up to 28 knots shoved the sea kayaker around, but the experienced National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” handled it.
“It’s absolutely pretty if you stay inside the Queen Charlotte Islands, it’s quite easy. If you go offshore you may encounter some conditions,” she said.
Hoffmeister fought against south-southeast winds while heading northeast, and leaned into the wind to avoid getting blown over. She always fought to keep from straying too far north.
Her plan for this leg of the journey is to finish off at Kodiak Island on the south coast of Alaska in August. She’s seen grizzly and black bears, as well as whales so far. The bears are a new sight for the experienced world-traveller.
“I hope to be finishing in Kodiak Island just for now and then I’ll start again next year. I don’t know when I’ll have the time, maybe early in the season,” Hoffmeister said.
The world explorer, who also has years of experience in gymnastics, body-building, skydiving and beauty contests, returns to Germany now and again to run her seven ice cream shops, a salad bistro and a Christmas store.
These past few weeks, Hoffmeister has been connecting with kind and welcoming hosts in communities from Seattle to Prince Rupert and everywhere in between. Her first night in Rupert, she stayed at the Pioneer Guesthouse.
The German “Goddess of Love to the Seas” will complete her North American journey in two half loops, beginning in Seattle each time with the goal of ending in New York City each time. The trip is planned to be broken into months-long blocks off and on throughout the years. To follow Hoffmeister’s quest, visit www.freyahoffmeister.com or follow her on Facebook where she posts live updates.