When I began writing this, there was a boat standing bolt-upright on its bow, held in place by a rope wrapped around its stern and pinched in a window sash on one of my upstairs bedrooms. The boat is an 18′ kayak that belongs to my friend Freya Hoffmeister, from Husum, Germany. She’s currently paddling it around North America, not in the here-and-there sense of “around,” but as in circumnavigating the continent, some 30,000 miles of paddling.

To fix a leak in the bow we set the kayak on end up against the house to get epoxy to settle in the bow.

To fix a leak at the grab-loop hole, we set the kayak on end up against my house to get epoxy to settle in the bow.

I met Freya in 2005 at a sea-kayak symposium on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. She hadn’t been kayaking for long at that point, but she had already mastered dozens of the rolling techniques that are part of Greenland’s kayaking competitions. While at the symposium she so often shared her skills by teaching other kayakers there that at the end of the event, the symposium organizers returned to her the money she had paid to attend. The following year she participated in the Greenland National Championships and won the women’s division for rolling with a score that would have put her third among the men.

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