Sunday, March 1, 2009
Tom and Fiona are now back in the UK after a short stop over in Ascension Island. Since finishing paddleing the pair have not had much chance to rest their last two weeks were spent working with a variety of young people in Stanley.
The first week was primarily with the Infant and Junior School taking all their expedition equipement and boats into the school and doing a show and tell day with some of the younger pupils from the 3 year olds in preschool up to year 6. Time was also spent with the year 6 doing a team building project day which proved to be very succeful.
The second week the pair work in the community school working with all tutor groups from year 7 to 11 doing team building activities. This again proved to be very succesful as currently there is no provision for this within the school.
The evenings were spent during these two weeks either preping for groups they were going to work with or running paddling, climbing and presentation eveings. One of the objectives of the trip was to find young people from the FI who may be interested in attending an Outward Bound Classic course, with Outward Bound Trust, Tom and Fiona all helping with some of the funding. At present there are about 23 young people who have expressed and interest and the pair would hope to have their finalised 10 in about 8 weeks.
In the mean time the pair want to continue raising money to help support some of the young peoles cost, so if anyone would like the pair to do a presentation on the expedition with proceeeds going to the fund then they can be contacted on:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
A great evening was had last night with a roast chicken dinner. The evening was broken slightly with a medical incident coming over the radio in the North Arm area, The pair tried to assist by getting their maps out and getting a Lat and Long of the injured party so that Deidre could call it in. This gave the pair a good insight into how the medical services work in the out in camp.
It was an early start to the day to try and get the best winds for the crossing back to East Falkland. Deidre, Gavin and Rachael were all up and a cooked breakfast was provided making a good start to the day.
The pair left the harbour and then were on their way. The conditions were fairly ideal to start with a very light SW. Once the pair had reached the middle of the Sound conditions were slightly different, SW with a good F5 and a ground swell, waves were regularly breaking around them, but the pair made good progress to the other side. On reaching Wolfe Island the pair headed for the beach and a well earned lunch and Seista.
It was a bit of a head wind paddle to get to their camp spot for the night, the pair were yet again privileged to be camped surrounded by Jackass Penguins.
The usual calm morning conditions prevailed as the pair headed down Eagle passage towards the southern end of East Falkland.
The day was fairly uneventful, the pair were also feeling quite tired. They passed a wreck on in the shallows, whilst it had been fairly weathered there was what appeared to be a harpoon gun still on the deck so we can only assume it was a hunting ship.
The pair had another fantastic lunch spot, in the sun out of the wind etc. Their decision was to try and land soon for camp, the wind had started to pick up and there were signs of squalls and strong winds approaching. The surf across the reefs of each head land by this time was also quite large requiring going out nearly a mile to get around some of them.
Camp was found for the night on a beach littered with whale bones and flotsam.
On waking up and seeing the weather today Tom and Fiona opted for a day of rest today. This gave them a chance to have a long lye in and some long awaited R and R.
Some of the day was spent going for our usual bad weather walk to somewhere, this was Lafonia so up hill to a view spot wasn't going to be an option, spot heights around here are around 20m. The pair also spent some time finding water on this occasion squeezing water out of some of the moss and grass was the option decided upon, most of the water in the streams looked fairly stagnant.
It was a struggle but the pair managed to tear themselves from there sweet smelling sleeping bags.
The pair were aware that the swell had increased, but by the time the pair got on they seemed to have to paddle forever to get out beyond the reef breaks. The clear green coloured waves whilst looking rugged and stunning were not somewhere you wanted to be, the sizes of the sets also varied with a large set coming in every now and then that broke even further out.
There was a good NW wind blowing which pushed the pair along, the pair were in sheltered bit at present with the larger waves around the corner. They opted to land once on the beach they noticed that the other side was only a few hundred metres away.
After some lunch they decided to miss out on the large waves of the point and put the boats on the other beach and camp for the rest of the day.
Another one of Tom and Fiona's early starts with a focus to get to Bleaker Island today was going to be a long one.
They headed across bay of Harbours in the rain and mist making them have to use there navigation skills, once across the Bay of Harbours the pair headed south to the headland and Bleakers Jump. This is a narrow piece of water between the island and the head land where water from Adventure Sound comes out and at low tide may only be a couple of metres in depth, this coupled with the in coming swell can make for an interesting stretch of water.
Once close to the headland the effect of the swell was very apparent, so the pair paddled at least a mile of shore so that they were not caught up in any of the reefs and waves. This meant they were outside of all the small tussac islands scattered around, but the noise of the sea lions was still apparent.
Bleakers jump was seen at a distance but some good wave action was observed, the pair opted for heading along the south side of the island still a good way off shore. With the scale of the maps and charts being used and the distance off shore and the low lying land navigation was a challenge for the pair. They eventually managed to get to Pebbly bay by the settlement at around 1930 that evening.
They went up to the settlement to check there camp spot was ok, and were offered cups of tea and biscuits. This also gave them somewhere warm to listen to the forecast for the next day.
By the time they got back to the beach to put the tents up the sun had set and it poured with rain, the tents still damp from the rain in the morning never really dried that night inside or out so a damp night was to be had.
The early mornings were now becoming hard, the sun was not rising until half past five and a few of the nights were on the cold side. This was one of those mornings, motivation has to come from a long way within when it is cold and damp but we managed it.
Again navigating crossings to islands and head lands that are only 20 – 30 m high can be challenging, there is a need to trust your compass and set out know you will see where you are going soon!!
The pair have seen a great selection of wildlife, this day was not to let them down, as they reach the Outer Trist Islands they had a break and then on the other side of the island there was a harem of Elephant seals lying in the morning sun on the rocks, it was a great site, the Bull seal being about the same length as their kayaks the pair were glad he was asleep and on land.
The pair continued their paddle arriving at Lively Island at the end of the day. It was a strange end of day as the pair were now back in the area where the weather had caused them issues at the start of the trip.
The weather had been fairly settled for the last few days, so the pair were fairly relaxed as they got on the water in fantastic conditions. They headed up towards Mare Harbour, being entertained by the military having an early morning exercise jets were flying across the sky towards a frigate who was obviously taking avoiding action moving quite fast and doing some really tight turns healing the ship over as it did so. The pair were quite happy to observe this from our distance of about a mile and by islands as we were not sure that they would have noticed us in all the activity. Search and rescue were also out this morning practicing there stuff hovering over people in the water with lots of orange smoke going off.
The pair made their way past these distractions eventually stopping on a tussac island. They were a bit amazed that four weeks earlier when they had been on this coast they were paddling into SW or NW winds, now on the coast again it was blowing E or NE. They persevered to an appropriate camp spot for the night.
Once on the water they pair were once again experiencing E winds and surf breaking on the off shore reefs so they headed out clear of these as they made their way up the coast.
As they past East Island, where they had camped earlier in the trip they past the rookery of Giant Sothern Petrels which had fluffy white chicks when they were their these were now fully feathered and at flight school. There seemed to be thousands of them on the beaches and on the water it was a great sight.
The pair were now reaching the limit of free landings, the mine maps came back out of areas that had to be avoided. They selected what they thought was that last landing spot before the long mined stretch before Stanley.
There was still quite swell running so clapotis of the cliffs made it interesting in approach, but the pair made it safely.
The forecast for today was not favourable so the pair took the time to relax and sort out things for their final days paddle.
The pair took a walk to a spot out of the wind to make a few phone calls to people in Stanley to let them know of their progress. In moving to the other side of the peninsular the pair stumbled across a king penguin standing by itself on the beach. They sat down to watch it, after a while a few ducks swam along the shoreline so the King joined them, the pair think only to play with them. It didn't move far it kept diving and coming up underneath the ducks much to their surprise. The ducks circled it but the king was obviously having much fun playing with them.
Once back at the tents the pair took advantage of the sunshine, making themselves some chairs out of the drift wood they relaxed and spoke of their plans. One of the phone calls they had made was to Trudie and Marvin Clarke who had been one of their contacts whilst on the trip if they had had a problem. It just so happened that they were in the next bay, Marvin had been checking out some reported ordinance so they popped along to see us in the land rover. It was great to see them and they helped out with a more accurate weather forecast for the next day than the pair already had.
Up super early the pair made a big effort to be on the water before 6 am. It was an interesting launch, steep bolder beach with really thick kelp on the water at the bottom. The pair both seal launched in with the result of hooking kelp over the decks of their boats and having to work quite hard to free themselves.
Once on the water the pair knew from the forecast the night before that they would have limited time to get around Cape Pembroke before the wind picked up however they also didn't want to be there too early as the tide would be against them.
The reef off Seal Point extended out by about a mile from the point, these were some of the biggest waves the pair had seen on the trip, some of them breaking on the reefs would have given a house a competition for size.
Once around the point and in clear water Tom and Fiona could see the lighthouse at Cape Pembroke so they decided to head straight for that rather than get caught up in the surf and the kelp.
Their original plan was to land near Cape Pembroke to have lunch this area is believed to be clear of mines, however today landing anywhere near due to the surf was not conducive to a future life, so they made the decision to get into Berkley Sound before stopping. Again the waves were quite impressive to watch so the pair paddled nearly a mile off shore to clear the headland before heading into Berkley Sound.
Once in the sound we headed for Hadassa Beach for lunch. Once there Tom phoned various people to confirm and arrival time of 1400 in Stanley. The pair set off on the final half hour paddle of their expedition.
One of the people they had been in contact with was Kate Williams a teacher in the infant school in Stanley and more importantly she originates from Aberdyfi where Tom and Fiona have lived for the last few years.
Kate brought her reception class and the year 6 down to see the pair in, as Tom and Fiona made their final approach the childrens shouts could be heard quite a way off. It was a great way to finish, once on the slipway, the pair answered the children's questions and they gave them a guided tour of their boats. Trudie Clarke also came down to meet the pair as they came in, which was great and a big thanks to her and Marvin for being there just in case throughout the trip.
After the children had to return to school, Tom and Fiona grabbed a few things from their boats and made their way to Kate's house.
Kate and Phil offered the pair a bed, bath, fine food and a glass of champagne.
The pair are now putting plans together for their last two weeks in the Islands. Thursday will see some time with the sea cadets, Friday the pair will be working with the year six of the FI Junior School doing a team building day, they will also spend a day with all their equipment from the expedition with time slots to spent sharing the experience with every student in the Infant and Junior school. The pair hope to be in the community School next week running a team building programme for every student there, they are waiting for final details of when students available they will also be doing some work with the GCSE camp and walking skills group and D of E group. So our free time is slowly being eate up with all the various youth associations in Stanley.
Kate , Phil and poppy the dog are continuing to give us some amazing hospitality, thanks.
Saturday, January 31, 2009
For once we were not the first up in the house we were staying, Michael was taking his boat over to
Tom and Fiona left the safety of the Harbour at
They decided to hold off their decision a little longer hoping that it would all subside once clear of the island, this hope came true and pleasant conditions were found. The destination of
The pair found sanctuary at the east end of the island, Tom being accompanied but peal dolphins. They managed to land on a rock shelf for personal comfort break and nutrition intake before continuing there passage south to the
The journey to the Passage islands was rather pleasant as we had a rather good following wind the view back towards
The afternoon was spent exploring the island before camping for the night.
We surprised ourselves to day as for some reason we were organised and were on the water before our planned time!!!!!
The forecast for the day was that we would have a light beam wind all day, this was wrong but for once luck fell in our favour there was no wind, yes not breath just glass for the surface effect.
We made our crossing directly over to
The journey down was made easy, the pair called this a Walt Disney day. They were accompanied by 10 peal's dolphins and 2 commerson's dolphins, they continuously played and jump in front of the bows of both boats for the two hours for the last hour being joined by 4 South American fur seals playing between the boats as well. The pair decided that only Walt could have organised such an experience.
On entering the harbour we were left alone again, the pair landed on the rocks next to the jetty, exhausted by the effort of playing with natures finest a short lunch was had before a siesta of and hour and a half was had in the sunshine.
Once awake the pair got there water vessels to go and fill up as well as say hi to Martin the settlement manager. Fiona had spoken to him before the trip when getting landing permission and he had said he would really like to meet us so there we were.
Martin hospitality was great our proposed stop was extended a little so we could drink numerous cups of tea and eat bacon sandwiches. Unfortunately the weather forecast was excellent for us so we had to decline the bed, shower, pie and chips and sightseeing tour of the island, it was a great offer but sadly declined but said we would love to take him up on it if we get to
We then made our way south to get the best position to get around
Another alpine start with a complain breakfast, so we could use the last of the flood to get around the corner. This we did and due to sea state we landed just around the corner to wait for the ebb to go down the coast.
We had intended this to be a cooked breakfast and siesta stop, instead it was a cooked breakfast and mend the stoves spot. Both Tom and Fiona had a few problems, with Fiona managing to fix hers, Tom's may take a little longer.
After this interlude in the day the pair got back on to utilise another following wind and the 3 knots of tide in their favour. The cliffs they paddled past were amazing, however pictures were not possible to witness this.
Clapotis was evident for at least an hour, as were numerous support strokes when the water disappeared from underneath you or two waves met leaving you too high in the air to support on either side (the question was asked as to whether the altimeter had recorded the heights of the wave peaks if so was a climbing harness and rope required).
Once clear of Raymond Bluff the pair surfed their way to
A well deserved lye in this morning until 8am this was heaven. In the haste of going to bed the previous night the pair had not noticed what was on the neighbouring island only 100 metres away, the largest sea lion colony they had seen. This was pronounced the best PWV (poo with a view) so far, the sea lions were on a large white sandy beach and were very clear and the count was at least 30 of them, with at least 5 bull's making the presence known.
On leaving the bay pushed by the wind the pair noticed that on the other side of the island there were approx another 25 sea lions.
The joy of the wind was short lived today as it came from the side. The pair tried to stick under the cliffs as much as possible, however there were points when they had to fight to maintain position.
The days paddle ended with a fight up wind into a very picturesque beach with extremely tropical blue water and white sand to land on. The bonus was once out of the boats another circle of manicured grass (thank you ducks) just big enough for two tents.
The pair tried alfresco dining but the clouds soon closed in on them forcing them to retire to the tents for the evening.
The launch today was made more enjoyable by the presence of Peale's dolphins near the boats.
The wind hadn't quite kicked in but when it did it was SW and in our favour. As we moved further down the coast, the pair used the opportunity of an early break to do our first surf landing of the trip onto a white sandy beach filled with Penguins another quality PWV.
After the break a different story could be had, those woollies were back, the pair had tucked right under the cliffs but for some reason some of these woollies blew so hard that the pair were blown sideways towards the cliff at an alarming speed. The pair took action and decided to paddle directly across the bay towards West Head at the entrance to
As usual the pair had to put in a bit of grunt to end the day to get to the settlement from the point. Once at the settlement, the pair had lunch and were Met by Gavin, Deirdre and Rachael who had taken delivery of their food parcels a few weeks earlier and invited the pair in for tea and biscuits.
Once again the hospitality has bowled the pair over with baths, washing clothes, dinner and a bed for the night, thank you guys it was awesome and much needed.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Huge thanks need to go to Arina and Raymond who last night surpassed all our expectations on the food front by producing a large beef casserole followed by chocolate pudding all home made of course (that includes the beef). Tom was obviously in favour with Arina who decided that his pecks needed filling out to be able to paddle so he ended up scraping the bowl after having thirds of the casserole; it goes without saying he had problems moving afterwards.
We managed to get an early departure in the morning, with very little wind. Most of the day was spent paddling through the low lying islands which were surrounded by stunning mountains, some of which are 600 – 700 metres.
We manage to judge the tides just right getting flushed through the appropriate bits, only having to push it a little at the back end of the day as we did our final push across reef channel to
Arriving on Saunders at around 4.30, we went up to the sheep shearing sheds where the whole settlement seemed to be gathered. They were trying to get the last 3000 sheep sheared before the rain came in. We spoke to Susan the island owner about camping, which was all sorted.
After putting our tents up and having our dinner the other 3 guys paddled into the harbour. We waved them over, put the kettle on and helped them with their boats, before retreating to the tents to hide from the rain and plan the next days paddle.
At long last we woke up to a following wind, it was fairly light at first but it was a NE. We got on at about 0630 to make the best of it and catch the tide, we had decided to make our way to
This was one of the coldest days we had had on the trip so far, both Tom and Fiona were well wrapped up in lots of thermals and hats etc. They skirted around the bottom of Saunders before their crossing directly downwind to the
We made good time and stopped in Dunbar Creek for lunch, there were two yachts moored in there the most boats on the water we had seen since leaving
We then continued our journey to
On paddling into the
The pair landed on the white sandy beach and then walked up to find Janette and Michael who are look after the settlement for the Napier's while they are in Stanley. They very kindly offered a bed for the night along with a very nice hot bath and dinner with a bottle of wine.
The weather forecast for today was not conducive to effective paddling (ie a stonking head) so a day on the island was the order of the day.
The island is one of the main islands on the cruise ship list, and one was booked in for the afternoon. Due to the poor weather the ship arrived in the morning instead, Tom and Fiona helped out by driving the cruise ship passengers from the jetty up to the Albatross and Rockhopper penguin rookery at the far end on the island in the 4x4 Land Rovers and then doing some washing up back at the house after they had all had tea.
After lunch the pair went and had their own look at the wildlife and rookery before climbing up to the top of
A big thank you to Michael and Janette for all there hospitality it has been fantastic as hass the opportunity to see a fabulous Island.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
There were good conditions for Tom and Fiona to leave Goose green this morning with a light force 3 following wind.
We headed up towards our portage point arriving at Burnside creek for 0630. The creek was small and short, the large lake (approx 800m) marked on the map and the charts was non-existent / dry so we had to add a small overland part to our expedition before rejoining the water at Brenton creek.
There were severe gales forecast for the evening so a paddle to a sheltered spot was required. The Lafonia part of the Falklands is not known for its height of land or shelter with spot heights being around 20 to 30 meters, therefore finding shelter takes a little more time and planning.
We arrived at our camp spot in the early evening in time to put up our tents and shelter for the night.
Both tents were tested for their resilience during the night, with some minor damage to Toms. After a brief calm period in the morning we now had another gale coming in from the SW, this meant with the funnelling of the wind it would be best for us to turn our fly sheets around. This was a planned process with Tom and Fiona working together to make it happen. This worked with only a little drama and alot of flapping from the fly, however this proved to be a good decision.
The afternoon was spent distracting each other from the noise of the tents and the fact that the sides were flexing inwards more than we would have liked by playing card games. Placement of the cards on the tent floor were chosen carefully as the large gusts of wind would flow under the tent and move the cards.
Moving out of the tents was not really an option today as it was too windy.
Well the conditions had died a little, so the plan was to leave at 1400 with the ebbing tide. Tom spent the morning looking for a water source and then filling his bottles up.
When we left it was blowing a SW 5 (calm for Falkland waters), whilst this was almost following we still looked for shelter from som of the low lying land.
We were planning to paddle late on into the evening so stopped at the entrance of Brenton Loch for dinner. The evening was not as long as intented as the wind didn't drop as much as we would have hope so we did a short hop into the head wind to our final point of the day.
There was some luxury to be had at this camp spot, there was a small stream with a pool on the beach. This seemed a perfect place to try and wash some of the salt off our dry suits etc, naturally the best way of doing this is to lie in the peat coloured water and to make water angels!!!!!
With the forecast as it was one of our thoughts for crossing the Falklands sound and making up time was to paddle down to New Haven and jump on the morning ferry to do the 12 mile crossing.
The 6 mile paddle down into New Haven was into the standard F5/6 headwind. The harbour has only been complete since November so it was a great opportunity to see some of the new developments happening in the Islands.
The morning ferry had left, so we waited for the afternoon ferry. Part way into our 3 hours wait we were offered shelter in a vehicle being driven by Trevor Johnson, this was very much appreciated and helped fend off the onset of Hyperthermia.
Once the ferry arrived it appeared we were not going to be aloud on the ferry as we had not booked it more than 24 hours in advance but were given the option of getting the next ferry in four days time. We were offered some sanctuary with Paul and Karen from Goose Green, Paul dealt with shipping movements in and out of the harbour and Karen the full time teacher of the camp school in Goose Green which has 3 students. We went back to their house and had a feast of local fresh lamb and lots of vegetables all home grown, Tom had a chance to check his emails and Fiona had a bath.
The two return to the harbour with Paul after dinner to check for paddling conditions. On inspection and listening to the forecast the pair decided to turn down the hospitality of a bed and get on the water for the evening and paddle down the coast to a more appropriate crossing point.
The evening paddle lasted a couple of hours but got us to a good position for the morning to cross Kelp bay, named this for a reason Tom and Fiona have no fond thoughts of the Kelp beds of the Falklands other than we need 'kelp help'.
This day turned out to be a true 'Kurt Hahn' day for different reasons. Fiona because upon waking up yet again the weather was not as forecast and was blowing a good SW 6/7, a potential head wind and progress again would be halted for a while. We had a cup of tea to appreive the situation. We made the decision to possibly go back up to New Haven in a few hours after a little nap, it was still only 0600.
On getting ready to get on we made the decision that we could go up towards San Carlos and cross the sound there. We got on the water and the wind started to drop and become quite pleasant, the suggestion of San Carlos soon became lets cross the Sound to the other side and head North.
This we did and 11 miles and two and a half hours later we hit land for dinner on West Falkland. The evening was glorious although as we looked back across the sound we could no longer see where we had come from not because of bad visibility but because it was just too low lying and in stark contrast to West Falkland and its hills and Mountains.
We continued our paddle North up the side of the cliffs of the island to 'Many branch harbour' for camp.
It was now time for Tom's Kurt Hahn moment of the day, after putting tents up his stove decided to give him a little trouble. This was soon sorted with a little electrical tape and celebrated with desert.
Our first night of the expedition without the tents moving vigorously in the night. We had a splendid paddle in the lea of the cliffs up to the top of the island.
We would describe this as one that Walt Disney would have had problems delivering. From the moment we got on the water we had birds new to us, families of seals following us, commerson dolphins and both Rockhopper and Gentoo penguins swimming alongside us it was great.
The weather was most unfamiliar to us as it had gone calm for the first time on the trip so we were not sure what was going to happen next.
We took advantage of this and headed out along the North coast towards Pebble Island. We were now out and exposed to the South Atlantic swell where landings were going to tbe more limited and hugging the shore wasn't and option due to the swell hitting some of the rocks or the surf.
We were aware that the wind would probably kick in and it did about six miles along the coast we started to get gust of 6/7 which was a little hard to paddle into so we pushed hard to a spot where we could land on a very narrow beach surrounded by rocks.
On arrival it was clear that this was to be a penguin beach, mainly Gentoo and there seemed to be thousands in the near by colony. This kept Tom and Fiona happy for the afternoon watching them as they returned from the water propelling themselves onto the land, falling over as they came up the rocks, drying off, preening and then heading up the hill to their nest a KM inland. The supply of penguins from the water was endless and at sunset some 5 hours later they were still coming ashore.
We made a concerted effort to be on the water a little earlier today 0530, who ever said we weren't morning people!!! The art of eating bake beans and sausage at 0400 out of a packet is still a hard one to grasp.
We got on the water as the sun was rising within 20 mins of being on the water it was apparent that the wind was increasing we were just hoping it would hold off long enough to get to the Tamar Pass. On reaching mare rock the entrance to the pass both Tom and Fiona had thoughts of turning back to a beach where they could land, the wind had reached a point that they were barely moving forward. On this occasion the fact that we were still moving forward a few cms at a time meant we carried on. We crept past the first part of head land and then did a ferry glide in the wind towards the only rocky beach we could have possibly landed on.
On landing in the cove it was apparent that the other group that are paddling in the Falklands were here too. We took them up on and invitation of a cup of tea and social chit chat and comparisons of adventure had so far.
The afternoon saw us catching the tide through the pass and a lovely head wind around to Pebble settlement. On the way around we did bump in to Marcus, another paddler in the Falklands, he had come from the South and told us of the many adventures he had had, we wished him god speed and safe paddling before heading off.
On arrival we were met by Arina and offered a cup of tea and cake, this was exceeding good cake. We also met her husband Raymond, who had taken delivery of the pairs food pacel sent 20 days early. The couple offered a bed, food and a beer for the night to all 5 paddlers so alot of catching up was had before getting to bed for 2100.
We have gale force NW winds so we are still on Pebble, we are using the time to wash our thermals, unpack our resupply box and get ready for the next leg of our adventure.
Our plans have obviously been adapted since starting the trip and we shall keep adjusting them. The current plan is to keep paddling around West Falkland in an anti clockwise direction towards Fox Bay, where we shall make a decision on our route to Stanley.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Having finally done all our prep and organisation for the trip we spent the day getting the boats and all our kit to the water.
On arrival at the beach as we were getting our departure snack out of the boat it became apparent that one of the fuel bottles in the back of Fiona's boat had leaked over most of the contents, the O ring had prolapsed. The bags were quickly cleaned off and boat repacked.
We finally got going at about 4 pm with following wind, past some really stunning beaches with Magellanic penguins. We were not able to stop at any of these beaches as these still have mines on them. In fact for our first few days landings were going to be limited because of mined beaches left from the 1982 conflict, we had got maps of these from the bomb disposal unit.
On reaching Cape Pembroke we decided to land, this area was marked blue on our mines map – meaning that there was no reason why there should have been mines there!!!
We got our first insight into the size of wildlife we were going to meet there was a dead sea lion on the beach without its head the rest of the carcass was about 11feet in length.
Fiona and Tom both struggled with the planned getting up of 2 am, we delayed the get up until 4 am meaning we were on the water by 6am.
On one of our snack stops along the coast we landed on a tussac island, there were several live versions of sea lions and the groups of females and pups. They were as predicted very smelly and very loud, Tom and Fiona were not going to be going near them.
We also had our first introduction to the thick kelp there is here which at times goes miles out to sea and is extremely hard to paddle through, picking our line was crucial.
We landed at the end of the day on East Island, there was quite a bit of wind and the only place to put a tent up was on the end. There are alot of geese and ducks here and they seem to keep and area of grass for themselves on each island, you could say 'where there's ducks there's grass.
We woke up a few times in the morning to check the state of the wind which was still blowing at 5am. Tom had a sore back so we decided to stay put for the day.
One of our missions for the day was to look for water, we are aware that it is a scarce commodity throughout the islands in fact most islands are tinder dry, with fires not an option in case of setting light to them. Most islands are peat and can burn for a while, some islands have recently been set alight by lightning.
The only water we found was an extremely peaty lake at the top of the island, in fact it was a good look alike for black filter coffee. We took some anyway just in case we had no other option.
We had lunch on the beach in the lea of the island, it was here that Tom and Fiona started there "twitching" career. We had a book of birds and mammals of the islands and we started to tick off sightings which were numerous. A sighting of two Hour glass dolphins going past the bay was a highlight, their natural behaviour is to project themselves forward acrobatically through the air in a rifling action.
The other noticeable thing were the nests on the beach of the Giant Southern Petrels with their chicks which are on the venerable list.
We moved today not because the weather was good but to get to the main land. We at best managed to move forward at about 1 mile an hour, which meant that our 5 miles travelled took about 5 hours. It was a head wind paddle, there were a few squalls that came through which at best can be describe as halting any progress and at times it was all we could do to try and hold position and not to go backwards too quickly. We reckon that these may have been force 8 or 9.
We stopped at the first available landing spot on the main land and put a tent up for shelter. Hoping that the wind would drop we decided to go in search of water to fill in the time.
We found water in what you could very loosely describe as a stream the trickle was about three inches wide but running, we made sure we filled up the bottles above the dead sheep lying across the trickle further down.
On arriving back at the tent we decided as conditions were not improving we would camp for the night.
Weather forecasting is interesting here, there is a shipping forecast put out each day on the radio on MW, however this can only be used as a rough guide and monitoring the barometer aids in helping to forecast what will really happen.
We stayed at the beach at Pleasant roads for the day as the weather was a little windy still. Fiona put hygiene at the top of the list today washing her thermals and having a good wash, Tom chose to sleep.
We collected water at the end of the day to make sure we had as much as we could carry which is approx 22 litres in preparation of leaving the next day.
We had a good paddle today managing 22 miles our longest day so far taking 12 hours. We haven't really had any favourable winds. We paddled past Bertha's beach which was our first chance to see Gentoo penguins we had only seen Magellanic penguins up to this point. The beach gave us the first insight to how beautiful some of the beaches can be, miles of white sand and crystal blue water.
We managed to get to Philimore island to camp, again full of wild life. We have now gained a good repertoire of Falkland bird knowledge being able to identify 26 different birds.
10th January (Margret Thatcher Day)
We got up at what is now our usual time of 4am, this is because the winds tend to blow slightly less at this time in the morning and gradually increase before becoming too hard to paddle at about 10am. The wind then tends to drop at about 5pm so after a long siesta you can resume paddling for a quite a few hours.
We got on the water and headed out of the shelter of the Island and headed over towards Lively Sound, we stopped for a quick rest on Kidney islands. The paddle over had been quite exciting with some good sized wind waves and a quartering wind to the bow of the boat. Once on the island Tom and Fiona had a discussion about the conditions, we got out onto the Island to have a look. After fighting our way through the tussac grass to a vantage point it was clear that there were some good conditions out in the sound. We decided to hold up on the Island for a few hours to see if the weather would subside to that which was predicted.
Whilst waiting for the wind to drop we had the opportunity to see why Toms boat was still leaking. After a soap and bubble test, we thought there maybe water coming in around the hatch rim.
Indeed the NW wind did drop to about F4/5 so we decided to get on and resume our paddle. Within Half an hour the wind dropped completely changed direction to a SW and increased to about a force 6/7, we returned to Kidney Is to rethink our strategy.
On hearing the forecast on the radio a few hours later they described the day as slightly windy with a steady 60mph wind and not a good day for putting washing out, this explained the conditions we had been experiencing!!!
We found a nice patch in amongst the tussac and set up camp for the night.
We got up at our usual time and inspected the conditions and it was still quite windy so we went back to bed for a few hours.
On getting up a little later we had to have a think about the big picture plan of our journey. We had left Stanley with 15 days of food it was now day 8 we reckoned that it would take at least 6/7 days to get to Fox Bay where our next food drop was so we would have to make a decision today as to whether continuing south would be a viable option. We decided that by 5pm we would need to make a decision as to whether we could cross over lively sound and continue to head south or we would head to the settlement on Lively Island to fill up with water and then make our way to Goose Green where we could get some more food or at least top up our food capacity to 20 days and then portage over the narrowest part between the east and west side of the Island approx 500m to Brenton Loch and continue the journey over to West Falkland.
5 pm arrived and it was still blowing old boots, so we made the decision to head down wind for Lively settlement.
On arrival there were some people sorting the sheep, so we headed up to the building there was a memorial to those who had died on a landing craft from HMS Fearless during the '82 conflict. We met a couple of the farm hands and went up to the house to fill our water carriers and have a tea and homemade cakes.
We spent quite a time talking to the owners and then once replete we climbed back in our boats and continued to our camp spot for the night.
We left camp early, only after being kept awake all night by the noise of the sea lions on Green Island and the Penguins up wind of us. We paddled over to Mare Harbour which was another passage of interest due to the conditions. Once hitting land on the other side we got out of the boats for a little stretch, before another push into conditions towards Goose Green.
Once the wind got too much (ie going less than 1mph) we set up for a siesta out of the wind and then lunch. This also gave us time to continue looking for the reason for Tom's boat leaking in the back hatch. Looking at the pre exisiting damage to the skeg box, we found another small crack. We cleaned it out, let it dry and then filled it with resin. We returned to the water at about 5pm paddling until almost sunset at 9pm, this was the best sunset we had seen since starting the trip.
Another eventful day to be had on the water due to the wind, the wild life was by now mainly limited to Rock shags and Falkland steamer ducks. We got off the water as usual for our siesta, the birds were giving us some good entertainment.
The Chilean skua's were picking on the South American terns and the rock shags as they surfaced from the kelp, the giant southern petrel was standing its ground. We were waiting for the Falkland steamers to display one of their behaviour patterns which is to swim under the water and come up underneath the skua's, and hence we were witnessing a full circle of survival of the fittest.
After this exciting lunch break we got back on the water to fight our way up to Goose Green. Approaching Darwin Harbour there was a little wind against tide so hence a few waves which gave us a bit more excitement for the day as we crossed over the narrows to land on the mine free part of beach at Goose Green.
We spoke to the manager of the farm settlement there, Keith, to ask where to camp and he offered a roof over our head for the night. It was a heated port a cabin connected to the sheep shearing shed, this had a subtle aroma but was great as it had now started to rain quite hard.
We moved into our accommodation which was fascinating we had toilets and hot water so we could wash before dinner at the settlement's cafe where everything is home cooked from local produce.
A full cooked breakfast was had in the cafe this morning this included lamb chops off the farm. Definitely beats breakfast out of a bag!!!! They have lots of home cooked things we will also be picking up later to supplement our lunches for the next couple of days.
The rest of the day was spent sorting our kit, shopping for extra supplies in the small settlement shop and visiting the museum before making our way over the island onto Brenton Loch.
The shopping was a bonus for Fiona who since having the petrol leak in her boat has been eating snacks and chocolate that have a petrol lilt to them, some may say an aquired taste.
We had an added bonus this evening Keith the farm manager let us clean our selves up with a shower in his house and a cup of tea from his wife as well as the use of the internet, so thanks alot for that.
All being well we leave early in them morning for darwin and then over onto brenton Loch, the wind is forcast SW so hopefully some surfing to be had.
Our blogging updates are limited to finding someone in a settlement with a computer that is connected to the internet, we hope we should be able to do another update when we get to Fox bay.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Well things are looking pretty good for us to start tomorrow. Tom's boat is finally fixed and he is out on the water now testing that it is water tight!!!! we have done all our packing so we know all the equipment fits, we have been sorting our food supplies we have sorted supplies for 45 days split into 3 blocks of 15. Two are going out by plane drop to islands off West Falkland.
Some of our delay in getting going has been sorting land owners permission, here in the Falklands you cannot land on any of the beaches without permission. The last couple of days has seen us ringing 79 different land owners, mostly with a very positive and helpful response not only to landing by to visiting them as well.
We are slowing getting into the swing of the fast weather systems here, with barometer watching being an art. We have got used to taking sun hats and lotion, down jacket and waterproofs every time we step out side. The big bonus is with all the wind there are no midges and it seems that dispite the high ratio of sheep to humans there are no sheep ticks on the islands.
well hopefully the next blog will be from a remote area
Fiona and Tom