Berthold Hinrichs, Arctic Sailor

Amabassador Lee paddles BC Canada
Location: Kloekstad, Bodoe, Norway

  • Models paddled: AdvancedFrame Expedition (Current), and AdvancedFrame Convertible (Past).
  • Water that he paddles: Fjords, Coastal/Ocean, Bays and Estuaries.
  • What he uses his yak for: Sailing Boat Tender, Daily Paddling.
Born in Northern Germany in 1951, Berthold has been making his own way in the world since the age of 16. With a diverse educational background, he has worked in a number of fields such as graphic design, set building for theatre, nursing, and most recently, carpentry. While working as a nurse, Berthold discovered his love for kayaking, so he bought a cheap 2-seat inflatable kayak and ventured on a number of nice trips in Norway while on vacation. Well, that kayak did not last very long so he invested in a tandem hard-shell sea kayak. Eventually, he immigrated to Norway and purchased a 21-foot sailboat which made him quickly realize that there was no way his hard-shell was going to fit. Needing a compact kayak that he could use from his sailboat, he chose an AdvancedFrame and has never looked back. He loves the connection with nature that his AE provides. Wherever he is anchored, he can simply inflate his kayak and paddle with the seals, whales, and polar bears; although he admits that he was quite uncomfortable when a polar bear once swam towards him.

Favorite AE Story:
This last winter I left our harbor at Christmas time and sailed north of the Lofoten Archipelago in Norway to an island called Senja to spend some time whale watching. There I met a friend who, like me, is a whale-enthusiast. We spent every day out at sea observing whales and, when the weather was good, I used my kayak in order to see the whales at their own level, face to face. One day I was very lucky and met a group of orcas teaching their youngsters how to catch or maybe how to play with a seal. The seal kept its position above a rock and the orcas used occasional waves to be lifted over the rock. This went on for hours until it got dark (that means 3 pm this far north). Sometimes the orcas passed under my kayak and carefully avoided tipping me over with their fin. Another day I came very close to humpback whales that also passed under my kayak and surfaced very close.

One of my greatest dreams has been to stand on the back of a whale and actually touch him. Well, on this trip, that nearly came true. One morning I could almost hear whales “calling” and I noticed that there were some humpbacks just outside the harbor. I then noticed that in the harbor the herring were going crazy. So I rushed to get my kayak in the water and paddled out. I did not get very far before I could hear them breathing and saw their plumes. When I rounded the corner I was breath taken. The whole bay was filled with whales, both orcas and humpbacks, participating in a feeding frenzy. There where at least 50 to be seen and a lot more down below. I had with me my big Sony-cam and a GoPro and I was in heaven. There were a lot of close encounters but one time a humpback surfaced right on my side. With all of the activity, I had got a lot of water on my cameras and had to retreat a little to dry them up. Just as I was working on drying off my cameras, a humpback surfaced right in front of me at full speed and then all of the sudden I was on the back of him. I was lifted up a little on his back then he slid down! I know that I did not exactly stand on its back or touch the whale, but I think this is the closest I will ever come to a dream come true!