Saturday, January 31, 2009

26th January

For once we were not the first up in the house we were staying, Michael was taking his boat over to Carcuss Island to pick up some tourists and take them out to the South Jason island. This was a good sign that a local wanted to go out to sea in a boat, the weather as predicted was good.

Tom and Fiona left the safety of the Harbour at West Point Island and happily bumbled downwind towards Woolly Gut. We now know why it is called this, its because they get woollies there. A woolly is a strong down draft from a hill or a cliff, just like West point. Once through the gut and just south of the island on route to Split Island, Tom and Fiona questioned their choice of route due to the interesting conditions they were experiencing, the regular need to brace on the paddle as you were blasted from the side was a clue!!!

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 Split was an interesting one, the pair knew that landing may not be possible but want to see the split that splits the island that gives it its name.

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 Passage Islands.

The journey to the Passage islands was rather pleasant as we had a rather good following wind the view back towards Split was truly amazing, made up of very dramatic cliffs of 155metres. The last mile saw the pair having to dig deep a little as they arrive as the tide was starting to run North against the wind causing an element of a tidal race. Once through this the pair were rewarded with stunning rock line and gullies as they paddled to a landing spot on First Island.

 The afternoon was spent exploring the island before camping for the night.

27th January

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 Weddell Island all went well with our first sighting of a Wilson's storm petrel. On arrival at the island the pair had a well earned comfort break before making their way down to Gull harbour to visit the settlement.

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 Stanley early.

We then made our way south to get the best position to get around Cape Orford in the morning. This meant landing shortly after dark at the point, not our finest campsite but comfortable none the less.

28th January

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 Cape Meredith. They pair had moved much faster than they had planned so managed to round the cape in near flat water. On rounding the cape the found the first beach they could to land and camp to end their 36 mile day.

29th January

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.

30th January

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 Fox Bay. This was actually a very good decision and the pair now had a very pleasant down wind surf once away from the cliffs.

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

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.