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07 March 2007

Post-trip clean-up & DCC Race 10

I spent most of Tuesday 6 March cleaning up and washing smelly kayak gear. At 3pm I started thinking about the Derwent Canoe Club race. I felt ok, even though I am still having problems with pins and needles in my hands, so I put my Grafton Paddle Sports 'Wizard' kayak on the car.

I arrived at Kingston early so I could get used to a kayak that is vastly less stable than a my loaded mirage 580. I felt a bit wobbly for a few minutes but when you go from a loaded sea kayak to a light racing kayak it feels great.

We were racing a time trial up the river and a handicap race on the way back. I held back a bit on the time trial because before my circumnavigation I felt like I was going into lactic acid meltdown by the first bend and I had a very hard paddle the day before.

As I paddled up the course I was keeping an eye on the paddlers in front of me to try and gauge my progress and I was keeping a similar gap. By the end of the time trial I felt good for a change. I noticed a big difference after the last 4 weeks of intensive training.

On the way back in the handicap race I was feeling great and for the first time this summer I was able to build through the race (even though I did wash ride to the first bend). Normally I am ready to die by the shallow last bend and I am looking for an ambulance down the finish straight but this time I was able to sprint to the end. There is only one more race now in a fortnight then a short break to 22 April for the 'Total Eye Care' Huon Series - 4 races, 22 April, 27 May, 24 June, 29 July.

05 March 2007

Day 26 - 5/3/07

Matt's finished his circumnavigation - 26 days (24 paddling, 1 day for repairs & 1 due to weather).

Today he left Kettering at 7.30am. Initially, conditions were fairly calm and he cruised down the channel at 9 km/h. At 10am he was at Gordon where the Channel widens and he faced very strong s/w headwinds as the course of the channel turns to the s/w.

By 12.55pm he was off Dover and called from his kayak to say he was sheltering in a cove, having a break, sitting 10 metres from a sea eagle, perched in a tree.

I had travelled down to Cockle Creek, half expecting to camp there and see Matt tomorrow but, true to his word, he appeared just before 7pm, having paddled for 11 and a half hours in headwinds, driving rain and steep seas. He hugged the coast for much of the time, paddling further (than the straight line course) but utilising every bit of shelter available.

He quickly changed into warm clothes, we loaded the kayak and headed off. 70km into the wind for the day.

I'm not sure whether Matt will be paddling in the Kingston kayak races tomorrow evening. He now faces the problem of trying to edit 16 hours of video into something watchable. That may take a lot more than 26 days.

04 March 2007

Day 25 - 4/3/07

Matt delayed his departure from Safety Cove until 8.30am because the wind was supposed to ease during the day, then got bored waiting so he headed off to Cape Raoul.

He rounded Cape Raoul at 10am and zig-zagged his way across Storm Bay - changing angle every time the wind changed but ended up heading to the northern tip of Bruny Island and into the D'Entrecasteaux Channel to finish at Kettering at 6.15pm.

On the way he was enthralled by tens of albatross, thousands of mutton-birds, seals and dolphins.

There were no land stops on the way, drinking 1.5 litres of water and eating a couple of muesli bars.

At Kettering he headed for the Roaring 40's business and found Kim & Ian there. They kindly offered a shower (or thought his thermals smelled too bad) and set up his tent on the grass next to their shop. He then walked up to the Oyster Cove Inn for a meal. Happy Birthday, Matt - you deserve it.

His plan is to finish tomorrow, but I don't know how he's going to do it.
I roughly reckon it will be at least 65-70 kms into head winds. I will drive his car down to Cockle Creek to await his arrival. If he can't make it tomorrow then I can camp and wait for him.

03 March 2007

Day 24 - 3/3/07

Matt rang at about 8am from the sea, off Visscher Island near Cape Frederick Hendrick, to say he would hope to be at the boat ramp at the S end of Pirates Bay at 10.45 for a bit of a break. As he was calling, a penguin about 20 metres away was squawking at him in the background.

Today he was up at 5am and started paddling at 6am to take advantage of the N winds that he hoped would last all day.

We decided to take our dog, Topsy, along for the ride and made the assumption that the boat ramp area was outside Tasman NP. Certainly not a pristine, wilderness experience but we take care.

Matt arrived at 11.15am (never been very punctual!!) in perfect, sunny conditions.

Matt had some lunch and unloaded some unwanted gear - bivvy bag, spare meal packs - and generally relaxed for a short time.

He wants to make as much progress as he can today, bearing in mind that tomorrow W winds are forecast, then SW at up to 30 knots in the far S.

So his plan for the remainder of today is to try to get around Cape Pillar and up into Safety Cove. The views will be spectacular and I hope he takes a lot of care. If he makes it the distance for today will have been 80-90 km ish.

Call from Matt at 6pm, camped at Safety Cove, happy with his day's work but very tired.

Tomorrow will be tough.

02 March 2007

Day 23 - 2/3/07

Phone call on the answering machine when I returned home today:

"Hi, I'm at Spring Beach, near Orford. Stopping here for lunch at about 2 pm and hope to go on, maybe down to Earlham or Rheban area, about 20 kms away. Conditions seem to be lifting a little bit at the moment, but will just have to see if that stays. It's been misty with only about between 1 and 5 kms visibility all day, with a SE headwind - only moderate but enough to be annoying though."

Distance so far today has been about 35 kms.

Matt rang again at 5.45pm saying he had made it to Earlham, near the Lagoon, just S of Sandspit Point. He has made camp in a paddock, surrounded by sheep manure and jack-jumpers. Apparently it was the best spot he could find.

Total for the day was about 50 kms, after he followed the bays much of the time.

His plan for tomorrow, when finally some favourable winds are expected, is to start early and try to get to Pirates Bay by lunchtime and Fortescue Bay later. Forecast is "NE to N winds 5 to 15 knots, increasing to 15 to 25 knots during the afternoon then tending W late."

01 March 2007

Day 22 - 1/3/07

I expected Matt to wait at Wineglass Bay until winds became more favourable - maybe Saturday 3/3 for N winds - but he wanted to push on.

So at 7am he set off in atrocious conditions (SE wind, fog) around Freycinet Peninsula, through Schouten Passage and across, due W to Buxton Point. He apparently could not see where he was going due to rain & fog, relying on GPS & compass to navigate and only saw where he was in the last 5kms of this leg. He had just arrived when he phoned me at 12.45pm.

Buxton Point is very exposed and unpleasant in strong s/e wind. Hence, he does not expect to stay here for long - just enough to get some food and recover a bit - before pushing on to Little Swanport.

It seems that favourable winds are always 2 or 3 days away, changing as forecasts change.

He said his hands look as though they have been in a bath for a month. They certainly did not look good when I saw him at Bicheno, but he did not want any medical treatment for them.

Matt wanted me to say Hi to everyone who reads the blogs of his progress, and especially to the people who have made kind comments about what he is doing. I pass on the messages and I think they lift his spirits when things seem to be going against him. Thank you from Matt.

When I saw him at Bicheno he got rid of some gear that he hadn't used or needed & loaded up with more fresh water so the net effect was probably a weight increase. To give his fingers & wrists some different exercise (from gripping around the paddle shaft) he sometimes paddles using his hands and still manages to reach 6.5km/h.

Call at 3.55pm to say he was camped just inside Little Swanport estuary, on the south side, very comfortable and a nice site in a paddock next to an old shack.