Monday, January 26, 2009

23rd January

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 Saunders Islands.

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.

24th Jan

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 West Point. It was a close run decision between there and Carcuss Island, but we decided we would have more options with the weather if we were at West Point, there was also a gale forecast so we wanted somewhere sheltered to stay.

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 West Point peninsular. This was quite an exhilarating down wind run with the F5/6 wind, there were times surfing down the waves were not something you wanted. Having resupplied only a day earlier our boats were as heavy and as low in the water as they could have been which meant that at times when the waves broke we had water enveloping our laps.

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 Stanley. We were also followed into the harbour by a yacht, this turned out to be Leif Poncet who we had met before leaving in Stanley. We spent a bit of time chatting to him about the journey so far and we met the family who lived in the Creek.

We then continued our journey to West Point Island, the coast line was fairly similar most of the way along, lots of rounded barren slopes going down into the water. As we approached the last mile or so to the point the wind increased, both Tom and Fiona knew that down wind was the only direction to could go.

On paddling into the harbour of West Point Island both Tom and Fiona were astonished at the beauty of the settlement. There were quite a few buildings with trees surrounding them, and lines of gorse behind that.

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.

25th Jan

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 Mount Ararat 242m for a fantastic view over the islands to the North, South and out to the Jason Islands.

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.