Thursday, January 22, 2009

15th January

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.

16th January

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.

17th January

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!!!!!

18th January

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'.

19th January

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.

20th January

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.

21st January

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.


22nd January

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.