When Our Kayak Trip Plans are Disrupted by Worldwide Pandemics

kayaking at sunset

Chris Whittaker and Nuka de Jocas had planned that 2020 was the year for an epic kayak expedition in Alaska. Then along came COVID-19…

Chris and Nuka of For Fun’s Sake Expedition had been planning a 3-month kayak trip along the Inside Passage of British Columbia and Alaska, to begin mid-May of this year.

They had lined up sponsors, started making videos about their expedition, got onto social media to build their audience and put many of their logistics together.

Then they started to hear rumblings about a coronavirus spreading around the world. As countries started locking down to try to prevent the spread and deal with those already infected, they realized things were quickly getting serious.

On COVID-19 and Social Responsibility

Chris and Nuka knew they didn’t want to be on this expedition during the peak of the virus. The problem was, no one knew when it would peak or how bad it would get.

for funs sake expedition teamChris Whittaker (left) and Nuka de Jocas (right)—the For Fun’s Sake Expedition team.

They thought about simply pushing their trip back a few weeks to try to wait out the worst of it. But they needed to stay within their weather window. That meant departing from Vancouver Island sooner in the summer season rather than later.

They heard government and health leaders encouraging people to be in the outdoors…but to stay local. International borders had closed or were closing. They didn’t know how things would change even from their departure date to the end of the trip.

Then they started to think of their decision as an ethical one, rather than just a logistics one for them.

Chris said, “The link between the isolated communities [we’d be traveling to] could be quite dangerous. If we were to go to one of these communities that was previously unaffected, and then they suddenly had an outbreak because of us…that would be a pretty terrible thing to do.”

They also didn’t like the possibility of putting an extra strain on those communities’ limited emergency medical services if anything would go wrong on their trip.

In the end, said Chris, “If we’re putting out content and videos, and we have sponsors behind us, in a way we’re ambassadors of what people in the outdoors should be doing. If we’re going on multi-month, multi-day, multi-week trips then other people are going to be doing that, too. So it’s sort of our responsibility to show people that now is actually not necessarily the time.”

They opted to push the expedition back a whole year to 2021.

The For Fun’s Sake Inside Passage Kayak Expedition (of 2021)

The best place to get all the information about Nuka and Chris’s trip is on the website: For Fun’s Sake Expedition. You can read about their purpose, their background, their route and more.

for funs sake expedition trip mapThe Inside Passage route Chris and Nuka will paddle, starting on Vancouver Island

Chris shared that “having fun is a primary motivator. But we want to share the journey with as many people as possible. We want to help others see and enjoy the natural world in the same way we do. When we share the how, people will gain their own reasons of why they’d want to do it, too.”

So while their main purpose is to have fun, they want to tackle a few serious topics in their videos, too. Things like:

  • Threatened killer whales and what can be done to help them
  • Marine mammals of the Pacific Northwest
  • How not to get eaten by a grizzly bear
  • The return of the humpback whale
  • Climate and environmental concerns
  • Areas of interest within the Inside Passage

killer whaleA killer whale—one of the sights they’ll see on their kayak expedition

They’re excited about interviewing experts in these various topic areas for their videos so they can present these accurately and in the best way possible.

You can follow the latest updates from Chris and Nuka on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.



(photos courtesy of Chris Whittaker)

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