Wednesday, February 11, 2009

31st Jan

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.

1st Feb

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.

2nd Feb

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.

3th Feb

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.

4th Feb

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.

5th Feb

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.

6th Feb

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.

7th Feb

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.

8th Feb

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.

9th Feb

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.

10th Feb

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.