Solo Kayak Circumnavigation of Tasmania
1 November 1999 - 4 December 1999
Paddler - Matthew Watton
Kayak - Tasmanian made Greenlander with 2 sails
Day 1 - 1st November 1999
Start point Pirates Bay, Eaglehawk Neck - Tasman Peninsula.
I woke up and listened to the 5.55am weather report. The forecast was for s/w winds with a gale warning from Flinders Island to Tasman Island. When my father heard this, he assumed that only the east coast had a gale warning. What the weather bureau meant by that was that all the north, west and south coasts had a gale warning, but not the east coast - which was more protected from the s/w winds. The radio stations are just slack with the way they describe it - to save time.
Once again I had made many checklists of gear that I needed to take on this trip but I didn't bother to use them when I was packing the car. I just went around all the areas that I keep my paddling and camping gear and piled the gear into some big bags and put them in the car. I left home at Lauderdale at 7.30am and had a short stop off at a supermarket to buy some more snap-lock plastic bags.
I had arranged to pick up Michael Preshaw from his house at Sorell so that he could drive my car back from Eaglehawk Neck for me. We arrived at the boat ramp at the southern end of Pirates Bay at 11am. The weather was miserable as I packed the kayak in the rain. There was also a fairly strong westerly wind. As a result I packed the kayak quickly and not very well. I ended up having to strap a couple of bags to the deck until I could pack it more efficiently on day 2.
I had finished loading it at 11.55am and after a couple of photos that Mick took with my brand new camera (Minolta waterproof) I started paddling at midday. My aim for the afternoon was just to get to Marion Bay. There was a westerly wind as I paddled up Pirates Bay and it was gusting strongly. I put my smaller sail up as I passed Deep Glen Bay. This section of coastline has some really interesting caves but the swells were too big to explore the passages and this wasn't the focus of this trip.
As I approached Kelly Islands the water was fairly calm and the wind was only blowing in short strong gusts (westerly). The water in the bay was flat because the bay was filled with kelp forests that reach the surface and acted like breakwaters.
It was still only mid afternoon but I thought it would be a good idea to only have a short first day. I hadn't been paddling much to prepare for this trip. I had only been riding to work a few days a week (20km) so I definitely wasn't in peak physical condition. I continued to paddle into Lagoon Bay near Kelly Islands and stopped at the northern end of the beach at 2.30pm.
I had camped in this spot a few months earlier on a trip with Maatsuyker Canoe Club. I pulled the kayak up near a wooden picnic shelter and set up my tent. Within half an hour I realised that I had set it up a few feet away from a bull ant's nest. I am sure they weren't there when I put the tent up. I couldn't find another flat area for my tent close by so I just trod carefully. I have had quite a few jack jumper and bullant bites in the past and really don't enjoy that burning sensation from their bites.
I spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking the kayak and re-packing it. I did a rushed job at Pirates Bay because it was raining and I didn't want to hold Mick up too long. I cooked up my first of many Continental packet pasta meals (Chicken Curry - I suspect has no chicken in it - just the suggestion that it would be nice to chuck some in with the pasta)
Pirates Bay to Lagoon Bay - 25km
Day 2 - 2nd November 1999
Start point - Lagoon Bay
I got up out of the tent at 6.15am. It was clear and sunny and there was no wind. I started paddling at 8am and reached level with Hellfire Bluff at 10.30am. Hellfire Bluff is at the southern end of Mercury Passage (level with the southern end of Maria Island). I was paddling up the centre of Mercury Passage because I was undecided about where I was going to head for. I didn't really want to go into Orford because it meant paddling an extra 10-12 km for nothing but I didn't think I could get fresh water on Maria Island. The factor I was considering was that I had enough water for that night but if I got to Freycinet the next day I probably wouldn't have access to fresh water.
At 11am a light s/e wind came up and I put a sail up but the wind wasn't strong enough to help much. The wind gradually picked up and I started to make good progress with both sails up for about an hour. When I reached the area opposite the neck on Maria Island the wind turned more to the east and I still made good progress - getting the most out of the sails - not caring too much if I was blown over in warm, sunny weather.
Within another 15 minutes the wind swung to the n/e and then northerly and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I put the sails away. By this time I was still in the centre of Mercury Passage - about 5km from Maria Island and 8km from Orford. I stopped in the middle of Mercury Passage for 5 minutes while I considered my options. I just put in a few small paddle strokes to prevent myself being blown backwards.
I decided to paddle towards Maria Island and headed for a bay that looked like it had a creek flowing into it (on the map at least). I pulled onto the beach and checked the map more closely. Four Mile Creek was supposed to flow out into that bay. I walked further and discovered a very smelly lagoon behind the beach. I kept walking hoping to find the creek that flowed into the lagoon but it was totally dry.
I continued to paddle north along the coast of Maria and eventually stopped at Darlington next to the picnic shelter. There were toilets here and fresh water, which was a pleasant surprise. Once again I cooked up a 'packet pasta'. I made a cup of hot chocolate and as I squeezed the air out of the snap-lock bag with my hot chocolate powder in it, I squeezed too hard and sent a big cloud of hot chocolate powder up into the air which was blown over the other occupants of the shelter. They didn't look very happy as they glared at me with brown powder on their faces.
Before I went to sleep I reorganised my kayak again to make it easier to pack quickly in the morning.
I just kept out my bivvy bag, sleeping bag, inflatable pillow & thermarest mattress. I slept under the day use picnic shelter with a couple of fishermen. They were planning to get up at 4am to go and check their nets that were on the eastern side of Maria somewhere. I was planning to get up early to try and make it to Schouten Island before the n/e wind got up too much.
Lagoon Bay to Darlington - 44km (69km)
Day 3 - 3rd November 1999
Start point - Darlington, Maria Island.
I had a terrible nights sleep due to harassment from the mozzies. I got up at 5.15am and the fishermen had already gone. It didn't take very long to pack up my gear. I did some stretching and had a bit of a jog up and down the beach to get my body functioning again. It is always takes me a few minutes to warm up because I don't bother to hang my paddle clothes up to dry each night.
I would usually go for a run and do stretching every morning because I didn't want to get any injuries on the trip. I was ready to paddle at 5.45am and I gave my father a phone call because it was his birthday. He was fairly 'impressed' to be woken at that time on his birthday.
I listened to the weather report after that and they predicted a fresh n/e wind to come up during the day. I was really hoping that it would be later rather that sooner.
I started paddling at 6am and there was a very light n/w wind. I planned to head straight for the western edge of Schouten Island but I couldn't see it very well because it was 30km away. I could see the rocky island - Ile des Phoques, that was in line with my course - so I headed for that instead.
I reached Ile des Phoques at 8.40am and as I got there the wind dropped. I thought that I could hear someone yelling out but I eventually realised that the noise came from seals that were barking at me from their rocks on the southern side of the island. I snapped a few photos and then continued around to look into a big cave on the n/e corner. It looked interesting but I kept going towards Schouten. It was hard to force myself to keep up a good pace when there was no wind and no close reference points to see how I was progressing. I decided to do sets of 200 strokes at a moderate/hard pace followed by 30-50 easy strokes. I managed to keep this up for at least an hour between 9am - 10am.
I reached the s/w corner of Schouten Island at 10.45am and it was a relief to have crossed that section without any drama or strong headwinds. I hadn't paddled across open stretches of water like that before and I was quite nervous before I left. As I paddled up the western side of Schouten Island I saw many small and large fishing boats working close to the shore.
As I reached Sandspit Point on Schouten Island (n/w corner), which is at the western end of Schouten Passage I could see the n/e wind gusts heading towards me as dark patches on the water. I wanted to continue to Wineglass Bay but the strength of the n/e changed that plan. I decided to just head across to the southern end of Freycinet Peninsula to Passage Beach. As I approached the beach I could see three sea kayaks on the beach, and three people sitting near them.
I hit the beach close to midday and the three guys helped me carry the kayak up the beach. They were on a trip with Coastal Kayaks/Freycinet Adventures. They were shocked at the weight of my kayak (even with 4 of us carrying it). There was no way that I could lift it by myself. I was only able to lift one end of the kayak at a time or drag it. In hindsight I would take a small v-shaped wheeled trolley to move it (if I did a long solo trip like this again).
We sat on the beach and talked for an hour or so and then they left to go back over to Schouten Island where they were camped at a hut in the passage - in Moreys Bay. I fell asleep on the beach and got sunburnt legs. I put my tent up in the campsite and lay down in there instead and had another snooze. I woke up again at 6pm and then went for a walk along the beach and around the rocks further into Schouten Passage. After another packet pasta on my Trangia I went to bed.
Darlington to Passage Beach - 36km (105km)
Day 4 - 4th November 1999
Start Point - Passage Beach
I started paddling at 8am and as I did I passed the Coastal Kayaks guys who were paddling back up to Coles Bay. By the time I reached the eastern end of Schouten Passage I was heading into a moderate n/e wind. I don't think it had eased at all overnight.
I continued up the coast, pacing myself. I paused outside the entrance to Wineglass Bay as I considered stopping in there. It is a beautiful place to stop but the side trip would have added 6 km that was unnecessary while I had lots of daylight left. The wind wasn't too bad so I continued towards Friendly Beaches.
Just as I reached Cape Tourville the n/e wind 'freshened' (B.O.M. talk for blowing a gale) and I had to really struggle to make the distance up to the southern end of Friendly Beaches. I headed to the beach on a 4 foot wave and landed right at the southern end of Friendly Beaches - near Freshwater lagoon. It was a huge relief to land after struggling into the wind for about 6 hours.
I went for a look around today's 'home' and found a good flat spot for my tent. The only problem was that it was 5 minutes walk from the kayak so I got a bit more exercise as I set up my tent. I then went for a walk to get some water from the creek that flows into Freshwater Lagoon because I didn't trust the name enough to drink directly from it. All I did for the rest of the day was eat and then go to bed early.
Passage Beach to Friendly Beaches - 38km (143km)
Day 5 - 5th November 1999
Start point - Friendly Beaches (southern end at Freshwater Lagoon)
I had good intentions of getting up early (5.30am) so I could be on the water at 6.30 to 7am but as I lay in my tent - sometime after midnight I could hear the rain pelting down and the wind was still blowing strongly.
I listened to the 5.55am weather report and heard that it would be still n/e 15-25 kts. When I looked outside at the water it just looked nasty. I wanted to reach Bicheno at least but there were white-capped waves from the head winds as far as I could see (N.Friendly Bch's).
As I left south Friendly Beaches the first wave got me soaked as I paddled out through the break. The whole way up Friendly Bch's I had the wind coming from 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock and was making slow progress. There were lots of reefs that I had to negotiate, with 1-2 metre waves breaking over them. As I reached each point I sheltered on the southern side for about 5 minutes to have a rest, and drink and eat to keep my energy up.
As I approached each of the points I was sheltered from the waves but not the wind. These conditions were the worst for the Greenlander kayak with a wave deflector because the wavelength was short enough that as the kayak hit a wave it pushed the wave deflector up and then it slapped down on the next wave almost stopping the kayak ... then the next wave would stop you dead. It was a continual process of trying to pick a gap in waves the get the kayak running but I would be stopped dead every 100m or so.
[I asked Penguin Fibreglass to make up a wave deflector based on the surf lifesaving surf ski wave deflectors because the greenlander nose dived a lot when running down swells, stopping you and turning you sideways. I had to weigh up whether it was more important to be able to get good runs with the swells or be able to cut through waves easily when paddling into short chop like this. I ended up deciding that the kayak was better without the wave deflector.]
As I was paddling north from Friendly Beaches I had my Break O'Day 1:100,000 map on the deck but I had lost count of how may points I had passed and I thought that I had gone further than I really had. It was hard to judge the scale of how far I had travelled on the map when I had been moving so slowly due to the wind and waves.
I finally reached the Gulch in Bicheno at 12.25pm. The wind had not let up at all and it was still very strong n/e. There were no fishermen on the jetties in the Gulch so I didn't bother to stop there for a chat. [The gulch is sheltered but there are no beaches in the gulch. You could tie up to a jetty or land carefully on the boat ramp] I didn't want to damage the kayak so I continued through the Gulch and paddled around to Waubs Bay, which faces north away from Bicheno. It was receiving the full force of the wind and I caught a few of the good waves as I approached the beach. The waves were about 1m high and I ran down one that turned me sideways. As I approached the beach, the wave peaked up again and tipped me over because I wasn't paying attention and bracing into the wave enough.
I dragged the kayak up the beach and pumped the water out of the kayak with my manual pump to save the battery. There was a grassy area just in front of me and a toilet block and taps. It seemed like a good spot to put the tent up except that I was in a town and there was no way that you would be allowed to put a tent up there. I found a shower that was cold water only but it felt great to get all of the salt water off me. It was a cold day and I got some very strange looks having a cold-water shower outside wearing my thermals. I found a changing room at the back of the toilet block and it was a relief to get out of the cold wind and get into some dry, warm clothes.
I went for a wander around the town to buy some sun block cream and zinc cream. It was really stupid to forget these and the backs of my hands were already blistered, as they were the only things that were left uncovered. I couldn't feel them burning during the day because of the water and wind cooling them but at night they really burned.
I waited until dusk until I put my tent up on the grassy area near the foreshore so that no one would tell me to take it down. I pulled the kayak up onto the grass for security and so people would hopefully realise that I had paddled there and not hassle me about camping.
Friendly Beaches to Bicheno - 30km (173km)
Day 6 - 6th November 1999
Start point - Bicheno
I woke up at around 6am and took down the tent straight away and repacked the kayak. Each day that I packed the kayak I tried to make sure that the balance of the kayak would be ok [between front and rear halves] for the conditions that I thought I would be paddling into and that I had easy access to things I would need next [in flat conditions I tried to make it even so it would flow smoothly. Into headwinds or if I would be catching big swells I tried to put a bit of extra weight in the back half to keep the nose out more]. I left at 10.30am and headed off into a light n/e wind with a 1-2 metre rolling swell. The sky to the east was light cloud but there were ominous thick black clouds on the hills to the west.
As I left Bicheno I decided to paddle fairly close to the coast - just outside the break. Along Denison Beach and then Seymour Beach to its north there were some large waves breaking. I was nearly caught out as I passed the mouth of the Douglas River where there must have been a sand bar. The sky was getting very dark and I decided to stop on the southern side of Long Point, which gave me shelter from the n/e swell. I pulled the kayak up the beach and as I was setting my tent up behind the dunes a lady came down from the house on the point and asked what I was doing and when I told her about my trip she offered me a hot drink.
I spent the afternoon in the house on the point that was still being finished inside. She was a runner and had done the Cradle to Coast runs [includes a 63km run down the overland track. The good competitors do it in 5.5 hrs] and 3 Peaks races. Her husband was an abalone diver who was currently down on the south coast somewhere. I left the house just as it started to pour down. At this time the wind also seemed to turn from the n/e to the s/e. The wind was very strong and the waves in the bay quickly built up. The rain was a solid wall of water.
There was torrential rain most of the night but during one short break I managed to get out to double up on all of the pegs on the tent. It was very lucky that I had some large snow pegs to use in these sandy conditions because the tent would have blown down quickly without them. The wind was so strong that I packed up all of my gear in the tent so that I could get out quickly if it came down or was destroyed by the wind.
Bicheno to Long Point (Seymour) - 16km (189km)
Day 7 - 7th November 1999
Start point - Long Point (Seymour)
I woke up to find sunshine, moderate s/w winds and that the vote for Australia to become a republic had failed. I got onto the water at 7.45am and had a brief slog into the southerly wind as I paddled around the point then got the sails up and sailed and paddled for the next 20km to Ironhouse Point- making good time. As I reached Falmouth the wind dropped totally for a few minutes and then picked up as a light n/e breeze. There were large waves rolling into the beaches off Scamander and further north.
It seemed to take forever to paddle up the beach towards St Helens Point [28km stretch of surf beaches]. It was a huge relief to round St Helens Pt. I wasn't really sure where I should camp but I thought I might find somewhere on the northern side of Georges Bay. I headed towards the barway and I caught a 2-foot wave and held the kayak straight for a while but was eventually turned sideways. After a few more of these I was inside the sheltered area behind the breakwater. The easier route into Georges Bay is on the northern shoreline of the channel. This channel is dredged for the fishing boats.
I landed at Dora's Point (inside the breakwater on the northern shore) where there was also fresh water at a toilet block. [There is also a toilet block with fresh water on the southern side of the bay at the boat ramp] .I managed to get a lift into the town of St Helens (after I phoned one of the local policemen that I knew) and bought a few essential supplies (a pizza, bottles of coke, savoy biscuits & mexican dip) condensed milk tube, bottles of fresh water and 'The Examiner' newspaper - for n/e tide times.
Long Point to St Helens - 78km (267km)
Day 8 - 8th November 1999
Start point - St Helens
I left Doras Point right on 8am. The tide was flowing in through the barway quickly and I could only just make forward progress. As I paddled around the point there was a light n/w wind and I headed for 'The Gardens' [an attractive area of granite rocks surrounded by white beaches], which was about 12 kilometres up the coast. The wind speed gradually increased and I stuck close to the coastline - having some fun dodging between the rocks and reefs. The wind stopped for about 5 minutes and then picked up from the n/e.
At 10.30am the sea breeze came in strongly from the n/e. I continued for about half an hour after I had reached the entrance to Ansons Bay at Policemans Pt. I could see the roof of a building on the dunes just ahead. I stopped on a beautiful white beach and walked up the dunes and found some builders putting the finishing touches on a wilderness resort (to be operated by one of the Cradle Mtn businesses). All of the walls of the building facing north, south and east were louvred glass windows. There must have been hundred of panes of glass. I sat out on the balcony deck looking over the water talking to the builders during their lunch break for an hour or so.
I walked back down to the beach and explored for a while and by the time I got back to the kayak the wind had turned to the n/w. I could now make good progress again and continued on to Eddystone Point and then around it. I stopped near some shacks at Picnic rocks [4km n/w of Eddystone Pt]. I put my tent up in the front yard of an unoccupied shack. [It is possible to stop at a boat ramp on the northern side of Eddystone Pt. It is sheltered
St Helens to Eddystone Point - 40km (307km)
Day 9 - 9th November 1999
Start point - Eddystone Point
I got up straight after the 5.55am weather report and managed to hit the water at 7.05 am in anticipation of a big day. There were clear skies and there were gusty westerly winds (blowing offshore). The water was a beautiful aqua colour, the sand was a brilliant white and there were big granite boulders everywhere. It would be snorkelling heaven.
I followed the coastline closely and I was able to use my small sail on the northern half of each bay and get a bit of assistance as the angles with the westerly wind improved. When I reached Cape Naturaliste the wind dropped and by the time I reached Musselroe Point the n/e sea breeze came up. This was a relief because I was expecting that the tide would be going out which meant that I would be paddling against the current. The tidal flow is strong enough around some of the points to make any forward progress very hard.
I sailed across Great Musselroe Bay but the wind stopped as I reached the western side of the bay. Without the wind assistance I had to hug the coastline to lessen the effects of the outgoing tide. As I rounded each point it became increasingly hard to paddle against the current. I had to catch the standing waves to make it around each point, and paddle very hard. I took it easy as I paddled around the shore of each bay to rest for the effort required to get around the points. The current was flowing like a river and the water surface was glassy with big standing waves.
I finally approached a point that I thought was Cape Portland. I didn't have the correct map out because I had gone further than I had planned to so I wasn't quite sure. As I got closer I could see that there were 1-2 metre waves going in all directions but the water surface was glassy smooth. When I got there I could see the bottom and tell that the water was flowing very quickly.
I paddled flat out and only made progress by riding on a wave and trying to jump from wave to wave - edging my was forward. After about 15 minutes of paddling on a big wave treadmill, I angled further out to sea where the water didn't have the glassy appearance. I hoped that I could make more forward progress out there. I eventually made it around the cape at approximately 3pm but without the correct map out I had no idea how far it was to Tomahawk - but I was determined to get there. If I had known it was going to be a further 30km when I had already done 58 km with some against the tide I would have stopped straight away, but I had an incredible craving for a bottle of coke, an ice cream and other junk food.
I followed the beach around Ringarooma Bay just in case I couldn't bear to be in the kayak any longer. I still didn't have the correct map out and I could see some land a long way across the bay to my right, that looked like an island. With about 20km to go the wind strengthened from the s/e and I got some assistance from my smaller sail while I continued to paddle. As I continued, the land that I thought was an island turned out to be Tomahawk on the other side of the bay that curled around. I changed my course to head directly across to that area.
To say it was an incredible relief when I touched the sand at Tomahawk at 6.05 pm would be an understatement. I knew that the caravan park shop shuts at 6pm and as soon as I had pulled the kayak clear of the water, I got my wallet out and ran to the shop. I begged the guy to re-open it and I quickly bought some re-supply fuel (chocolate bar, coke, fruit tingles, Savoy biscuits and Mexican dip). I felt very weak because I hadn't eaten enough during the day.
While I unpacked my gear I found that when I packed my metho at Eddystone Point I hadn't done the lid up properly and almost a litre of metho had leaked into the front hatch. It seemed that the metho had damaged the sikaflex that sealed around the bulkheads. I was too tired to care at that particular time. I set my tent up in the pouring rain and then had 3 x 20c turns (1/2 hour total) in the caravan park showers, and then passed out in my tent.
I was thinking of my trip as sections, with each 90 degree turn of the compass leading to a new section. I had now finished the first leg without too many dramas.
Eddystone Point to Tomahawk - 88km (395km)
Day 10 - 10 November 1999
Start point - Tomahawk
After finishing the Mexican dip and savoys for breakfast, I lay there while I stretched aching muscles to assess any damage from the previous day's paddle. I needed to have a sleep in and I stayed in my tent until I had reached the absolute stretch limit of my bladder at 10am.
I started paddling at 11.15am and I didn't really feel like doing anything. Within 10 minutes of starting, the light westerly had become a strong westerly. I struggled across towards Waterhouse Point and decided to stop before rounding the point.
While I was looking behind the dunes for a place to camp I stood on a log to get a better view. While I was standing on the log I felt an incredible sharp burning pain on my calf and jumped off the log. I could see a bullant biting me through my thermals. I washed my leg in the water and then put stingose on it. The pain had gone after an hour or so.
I found a camping spot and then went for a walk towards a point that had a large sand dune on it. When I reached the top of the dune I discovered that I was within a few hundred metres of Waterhouse Point. I thought that it was about 10km away because as I approached it Waterhouse Island the island blended in with Waterhouse Point and it looked as though the point stretched for miles. If I had realised that the tip of the point was so close I would have continued and got a bit closer to Bridport.
Tomahawk to Waterhouse Point - 13km (408km)
Day 11 - 11 November 1999
Start point - Waterhouse Point
I left Waterhouse Point at 6.55am into a light westerly. As I paddled through Waterhouse Passage I was cruising along on automatic pilot, singing to myself when suddenly a huge shape rose from the depths just next to my left paddle blade. It was grey on top and white underneath. I let out a big yell and quickly realised that it was only a dolphin. In fact two of them had simultaneously risen next to my left paddle blade.
When I looked behind me there were about 10 dolphins that had snuck up behind me. They swam along with me for a few minutes until they were bored with me. For the rest of the trip to Bridport the only other interesting point was the bird colonies on Sanderson rocks. It seemed to take forever to get to Bridport against the s/w wind.
When I got to Bridport I paddled into the fishing boat harbour to have a look around and then eventually pulled up onto the beach just near the caravan park. My bullant bite had become a hard itchy lump on my leg and was driving me crazy. I stayed up late reading a book and then had a restless nights sleep.
Waterhouse Point to Bridport - 37 km (445km)
Day 12 - 12 November 1999
Start point - Bridport
I woke up at 5am and lay in the tent listening to the wind outside. I was imagining another unpleasant day of headwinds and even before I got out of the tent I had psyched myself out of having a good day. I reluctantly got up at 6am and started paddling at 6.55am. There was a light s/e breeze and I expected it would turn around to a head wind at any time. I put both my sails up anyway and soon after the wind turned easterly and picked up a bit. It was just strong enough to be worth having the sails up.
After passing West Sandy Point I could see the Black Rock Pt, 20km to the west. I wasn't sure if I should head straight across the bay and risk being caught 5km offshore when the wind was forecast to turn south-westerly. I decided to just go for it while the easterly wind continued. Before I knew it I had reached Low Head. As I paddled across the mouth of the Tamar the easterly stopped and it was dead calm. By this time I was feeling stuffed and with no tail wind to help me along or a head wind to force me to keep paddling, I decided to sit there and rest in the sun, not moving anywhere, in the mouth of the Tamar.
I eventually started plodding along again towards West Head (of the Tamar). I passed that point and then continued but a n/w wind slowly picked up until it was very strong. I struggled into Bakers Beach and found a good campsite after walking through a gap in the sand dunes. There was a very low tide and it took ages to pull the kayak a couple of hundred metres up the beach to the dunes.
Bridport to Bakers Beach - 82km (527km)
Day 13 - 13 November 1999
Start point - Bakers Beach
I left Bakers Beach in a strong n/w wind and a big n/w swell. I had trouble getting out through the surf and even more trouble once I was out. I hadn't packed enough weight in the back of the kayak and as a result the front of the kayak was burying into the waves easily and slapping down onto the waves heavily - jarring the kayak. I wouldn't have been surprised if it had just snapped in half and gone down like an Americas cup yacht.
I was hoping to make it to East Devonport as my parents were travelling up from Hobart and that would have been an easy spot to meet them. I was making very slow progress struggling into the very strong n/w wind, so I decided to head into Port Sorell. What an adventure that was!
There were big n/w swells rolling into the port and the tide was also very low. I managed to avoid most of the big breaking waves coming into the port and headed diagonally s/w across the entrance. Once inside the scary section I stopped on Freers Beach, just south of Hawley Beach.
The only problem was that the tide was low and there were about 200m of sand flats and rocks to get the kayak above the high water mark. I sat and considered my options for a while and considered leaving the kayak for the next 5 hours until the tide started to come back in, but I didn't feel like sitting around waiting.
I ended up taking out one of my dry bags that was full of my clothes. I used it as a roller underneath the kayak. After 25 rolls - moving it in front of the kayak and rolling the kayak over it, the kayak was at the top of the beach, next to a grassy foreshore area. I got changed and went to buy some lunch at the shop nearby. At the shop I met a guy from Victoria who had been riding his mountain bike around northern Tasmania. We swapped a few stories and then I went to lie down in the sun.
Mum and Dad arrived and I topped up a few of my supplies. They left to go and stay at the caravan park at East Devonport while I camped next to the beach at Port Sorell.
Bakers Beach to Port Sorell - 10km (537km)
Day 14 - 14 November 1999
Start point - Port Sorell
When I got up on Sunday the sky was clear but it was very windy from the n/w. I headed back out of Port Sorell and as soon as I had passed the point I was faced with a real struggle again. I was trying to paddle into strong winds again and large rolling n/w swells. Each time I looked across to the coastline I could barely tell that I was moving. For the second day in a row I would almost have been relieved if the kayak had been smashed apart on rocks so that I wouldn't have to go any further.
I injured my right shoulder in May 99 and as a result it was normally sore for the first 10 minutes of a paddle - until it warmed up properly. Today it was still aching after 2 hours. I couldn't lift my right arm without a lot of pain.
I reached a reef just to the east of Devonport airport and the weather was getting worse. I had previously been making very slow progress but as I reached the reef the waves were bigger and I was not making any progress. I kept struggling for about 15 minutes - still not going forwards. I noticed that there were people watching me on the foreshore and I imagined what I looked like to them. I didn't want anyone to call police and have the water police coming out thinking I needed to be rescued so I turned to head into the beach for a rest.
About 50m from the 'beach' I felt a sudden scratch under the kayak and I looked down but I couldn't see rocks due to the foam on the surface from the strong winds. I jumped out quickly and dragged the kayak towards the beach. There were lots of rocks just under the surface. I got to the beach and pulled the kayak clear just clear of the water and went walkabout to find a campsite.
I found a sheltered spot just behind the dunes and set my tent up. The beach itself consisted of 10 metres of sand and then above that there were 15m of pebbles before the dunes. I pulled the kayak up the sand section and then lifted the kayak one end at a time to get it over the pebbles and above the high water mark.
I was again feeling really washed out and I lay down in the tent in the mid afternoon. I soon fell asleep and when the sun came out and warmed the tent it felt really therapeutic.
Port Sorell to East Devonport (almost) - 16km (553km)
Day 15 - 15 November 1999
Start point - East Devonport
Shortly after I had woken up I wandered over to look over the front of the dunes to check on my kayak and I was stunned to see a red Landcruiser parked on the beach with a trailer behind it. There were 4 men sitting on the trailer with my kayak also sitting on the trailer. I let out a "HOY". They apologised and said that they thought "it had been washed up".
I got the kayak back again and was faced by the same conditions as the previous two days. I had more gale force n/w to westerly winds. I also had torrential rain, hail, and sunshine. One minute I was so tired and cold and within half an hour I was boiling in the sun. It was a great feeling to get across the mouth of the Mersey and then stop at the Mersey Bluff beach. I bought a couple of salad rolls from a shop up the road.
I had a rest for an hour and then headed off. I was hoping to at least get to Turners Beach. There was still a very strong n/w wind when I left Devonport but it turned more s/w by the time I had reached the mouth of the Forth River. As I started to cross the river mouth the water was very rough with steep waves going in all directions. It would have taken about 15 minutes to paddle the 200m across the river mouth. I continued for another kilometre and then stopped on the beach outside Camp Clayton at Turners Beach. I had camped there before and if I continued further I would be in Ulverstone and I didn't want the hassles of worrying about the security of my kayak at night.
It was just my luck though. Within 1/2 an hour of getting changed and setting up my tent the head wind had stopped for the first time in 3 days and the water was glassy. I really should have packed up and made the most of the conditions but instead I walked up to the shop and ate 2 x ham/cheese/pineapple toasted sandwiches, a bottle of coke, an ice cream and some other stuff.
Camp Clayton is a good place to stop and camp [private property - get permission from the office]. The only problem is that I wanted to camp as close to the beach as possible and to do this I was about 10 metres from a railway line. When you are lying on the ground only 10 metres from train lines you may as well be lying between the tracks. The ground shook as I lay in the tent - 3 times that night - and I thought to myself it would be really messy if my tent was pitched on the tracks.
So far I have only had 2 good days with mainly tail winds, no wind or cross winds. The other 13 out of 15 days had been very hard going.
East Devonport to Turners Beach - 23km (576km)
Day 16 - 16 November 1999
Start point - Turners Beach
I started paddling at 8.30am. The weather was sunny and calm with a light n/w wind. I paddled fairly close to the shore as I passed Ulverstone. As I paddled past the mouth of the Leven River I stayed close to the beach to find passages between the rocks and the breakwater. As I paddled between the 'Three Sisters' (3 small islands 1/2 way between Penguin and Ulverstone) there was a seagull 'colony' on the island closest to the shore. It had the typical stench of sea bird 'poop'. There were hundreds of young seagulls that were practising flying, swooping around like a Red Baron dogfight and playing around in the water as well. It was just nice to see seagulls in their natural habitat instead of scrounging for food near towns or feeding from a tip.
I paddled straight past Penguin and stopped at Preservation Bay at the Penguin SLSC. The weather had clouded over and there was a cold breeze. I walked across to the service station and bought some energy and morale boosting food i.e. 2 bottles of coke, chocolate, and a meat pie & sauce. I also bought a couple of salad rolls for later on.
There was no one around at the surf club so I headed off as soon as I had devoured my pie and coke. As I got closer to Burnie the wind was strengthening from the n/w and I also remembered why mothers tell you to wait an hour before going in the water after eating - for the next couple of hours I kept burping up a mix of coke, pie and chocolate. Oh well it was tasty the first time that I ate it!
When I arrived in Burnie I had a rest for a while behind the breakwater - sheltering from the n/w wind that was now quite 'fresh'. I had now decided to stop at Somerset and give Andrea Smith (policewoman, ex Clifton SLSC) a call. As I passed Cooee Point there was a horrible stench from the sewerage works and the water was very brown and cloudy. It was a relief to get up wind of it. Within another 15 minutes I had stopped at Somerset in front of the surf life-saving club - at low tide. The tidal range is around 3 metres on the n/w coast and this was also a very flat beach. I called Andrea and she said she would come down and see me. She also offered me a place to stay for the night.
I got into warm clothes and had a salad roll while I watched the tide bring my kayak up the beach for me. I eventually got sick of waiting and dragged it up into the bushes - hiding it completely.
Andrea turned up and took me to some shops and I picked up some supplies and we drove up the hill to her house. That evening Andrea cooked up a feast of stir fried vegies. It was without a doubt the healthiest food that I had eaten in about 3 weeks.
Turners Beach to Somerset - 41km (617km)
Day 17 - 17 November 1999
Start point - Somerset
I got up 6am out of habit. I had a very comfortable nights sleep in a bed for a change but now I was faced with the problem that I wasn't really sure where I was and it was a fair drive to the beach and I had more gear than I could carry in one trip if I did know where to walk anyway. Andrea was still asleep and I didn't really want to go and wake her up to hurry her to take me back to the beach. Instead I just read magazines for 3 hours until she decided to get up.
When I got down to the beach I packed my kayak and shortly after a reporter from 'The Advocate' newspaper turned up. I think Andrea might have told someone that I was going to be leaving from there. I had to pose for some absolutely ridiculous pictures and then I was on my way ... at midday.
It really annoyed me that I was leaving so late and it just reinforced my reasons for avoiding staying anywhere except camping on/near the beach with my kayak. I had wasted a morning of light breezes to have to paddle in moderate to strong n/w wind again.
I headed directly from Somerset towards the outside of Table Cape. It was deceptive as I paddled to Table Cape. It looked close - because it is so big but it was actually 15km away. It took over 2 hours to get there into the head wind. Even though it was fairly hard going I could still appreciate the beauty of the clear water, steep cliffs and green vegetation as I paddled past Table Cape.
For the next 10km towards Boat Harbour I got into a rhythm and kept plodding along like Cliff Young in his gumboots. I got out to stretch my legs for 10 minutes and had a good look at the map again. There was a further 17km to Rocky Cape but I had stayed there before and I knew that there was a good spot to camp and from there I had a good view to the next leg across to Stanley. I liked to make it to a landmark or around a cape by the end of a day rather than just stop at somewhere anonymous along the coast. It is also nice to wake up and start off paddling towards some brand new scenery.
As I continued to Rocky Cape it clouded over and I still had a head wind. The swells were short and it was the worst possible wavelength for my wave deflector. The wave deflector kept bouncing up and down - slapping on the swells - jarring the whole kayak and me in it. The best solution was to angle slightly away to increase the wavelength for a smoother ride. This slapping was the biggest drawback of the wave deflector but it was definitely worthwhile in big following conditions - where the Greenlander is prone to nose-diving.
By 6pm I was feeling really stuffed after 6 hours of headwinds. I managed to keep myself moving by doing sets of either 100 single strokes moderate effort and 25 strokes easy OR 200 single strokes at moderate effort then 50 strokes easy. By paddling along like this and concentrating on my stroke on the efforts I made good progress and didn't think so much about my weariness.
By the time I reached Rocky Cape and weaved my way through the rocks to get around to the western side it was 6.40pm and quite dark in the thick clouds. I set up my tent in the picnic area on the grass and flaked out in my tent - totally stuffed.
Somerset to Rocky Cape - 42km (659km)
Day 18 - 18 November 1999
Start point - Rocky Cape
I woke up for the 5.55am weather report but didn't take any of it in because I was still half asleep. I dozed off again and eventually got up at 7am. It was sunny and there was a light n/w wind. I started paddling at 8.30am heading west aiming at the ship at the end of the Port Latta jetty but I changed course by 9am to head directly at the southern end of the Nut to aim for the town of Stanley.
The wind stopped totally and shortly after I saw 4-6 dolphins but I was too slow to get my camera out. I kept cruising along in the calm water and sunshine with my hat on with the flap down the back and sides and I was surprised by a gannet that dived into the water about 5m in front of my kayak. I hadn't seen it coming due to my 'blinkers' on my hat.
I managed to get some good photos of the Nut as I approached in calm conditions. I wanted to get to Stanley before 11am so I could listen to the cricket test match (Aust v Pakistan - day 1 at Bellerive). At 10.50am I still hadn't arrived so I got my small walkman out to listen to the coverage as I paddled. Steve Waugh won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat.
I landed on the long flat beach (Tatlows Beach), s/e of the Nut. Within 5 minutes I could tell that the tide was on the way out - quickly. By the time I had got changed the kayak was about 50 metres from the water. I left the kayak where it was and walked up to the town - still listening to the cricket. I paid some bills at the post office and then decided to go to the pub so I could actually watch the cricket as well. I could see the kayak and the tide from the pub so I ordered nachos entrée, scotch fillet (med) with pepper sauce and a Boags Premium beer. I thought of it as my 'last supper' before heading down the west coast. I was getting quite close to it now and I was nervous about the unknown of what I would be faced with.
As I walked back to the kayak I stopped at the newsagent to buy a paper and there were a couple of guys in the shop who realised what I was doing. I told them that I was sick of the headwinds and they said that they thought that the wind would turn from n/w around to n/e overnight. The weather reports on the radio hadn't very helpful but I thought that they might know what they were saying because they were locals. I decided to paddle a bit further to at least get to North Point so I could take advantage of a n/e if it changed by morning.
I lay around in the sun at Tatlows Beach until 4pm as I watched the tide creep back up the beach towards my kayak. I changed back into my paddle gear and I was ready to go by the time the water reached the kayak. I headed off again with a gutful of steak and a couple of beers - which wasn't ideal as I paddled around the nut into the n/w headwind and rebound off the nut. I considered my options, checking the map and I decided that it wasn't worth paddling around North Point and then heading 10km to the south just to camp on the sand dunes - especially if it was n/e by morning, because it would be an unnecessary side trip and leave me with crosswinds and headwinds rather than tailwinds. The other option was to paddle 25-30km to Stony Point, which was west of Smithton, and this would be too far into the headwind.
I noticed a small shack on North Point in Half Moon Bay and thought that there would at least be some flat ground to camp there. I had a look at the shack and it consisted of 1 room - about 4m x 2m. It had a bunk, table and chair and it was unlocked. It seemed like a shelter for fishermen. There was a bit of a stink around it and I noticed hundreds of burrows in the bushes. I wasn't sure if they belonged to mutton birds or penguins.
At 8.30pm I got into my sleeping bag, inside my bivvy bag (to keep any mozzies off me) and dozed off. I was awoken at approximately 9.30pm by a squawking sound and I got up to investigate it. There were penguins everywhere. There were lots in their burrows and others trying to get into burrows - but getting 'thrown out'. It was funny watching them waddle into a hole and then you would hear a bit of squawking and it would come out again and try another one. Some of them just decided to lie down in the grass on the dunes. As long as their heads were hidden in the grass they thought that they were hidden - like tiny ostriches.
Rocky Cape to North Point - 34km (693km)
Day 19 - 19 November 1999
Start point - North Point
After a noisy night with the penguins I woke up for the 5.55am weather report but was still too tired to actually remember what they said. It sounded really windy outside and I had visions of more n/w headwinds and was dreading another day of it. I had previously looked at the tide charts and my calculations told me that I should have the tidal current with me until approximately midday.
I wanted to head to Stony Point which is in Robbins Passage (between Robbins Island and the coast). This is a tricky area because if you get stuck on sand bars at low tide you may have to drag the kayak for hundreds of metres to find water again. My father was planning to meet me at Stony Point later that day, otherwise I would have headed to the north of Robbins Island to avoid the sand flats.
To my surprise when I emerged from the shack I realised that the wind was blowing directly on-shore. It had turned n/e overnight - just like the guys in the newsagent suggested.
At 7.25am I headed out through a 2 foot surf and then continued towards North Point. I could have put my sail up and gone fast but I remembered that there are some reefs there so I kept a good lookout. As I approached North Point I could see a line in the water stretching across in front of me. It looked like the water had two different levels and as I reached it - it did. I paddled over a shallow reef and realised that I was going with a strong current and I really sped around the point.
Once I was well clear of the fast moving choppy water on the point I put both of my sails up. I put the bigger one at the front and the smaller one behind me. I did this because it pulls the kayak along rather than pushing it. With the big one behind me the kayak squirms along - snaking from side to side. It is only good having the bigger sail behind me when the wind is directly behind me so the wind doesn't push the back of the kayak - trying to make the back overtake the front.
With both sails up I was screaming along, zigzagging to get the best runs on the swells and keep on the face of a wave. I initially couldn't tell where the gap was to go through so I just kept heading west. I eventually saw a gap that seemed to be the entrance to Robbins Passage.
By 10am I reached the eastern end of Robbins Passage and as the water became shallower I realised that the water had already started heading back out to the east. This was a real surprise because I had obviously got my calculations wrong. High tide for Smithton was 9am that day and this was a bit after that because it was further west and the current wasn't supposed to change direction for about 3 hours after the tidal time change.
I was still able to make progress against the current due to the fresh breeze and the aid of my sails. As the water became shallower I passed over weed and rocks and I realised that the current was flowing really fast. If I stopped paddling and just sailed I went backwards even though I was moving through the water quickly.
At times I would be paddling on the spot even though I was flying along on the runs. I moved back out into the deeper water of the channel and seemed to make better progress. I reached the breakwater at Stony Point at 10.20am. It was sheltered on the western side of the breakwater and there was a pebbly/sands boat ramp. I pulled the kayak up as carefully as I could to limit the damage.
I went for a walk and found out that I was actually at a 'proper' camping ground. There was fresh water, toilets and picnic shelters. The caretaker had a big pot on a fire and he used it to fill up a camp shower. It was really nice to get the dried salt layer off me. Even though it was only early in the day it wouldn't have been possible to paddle again until late afternoon due to the current flow - and I was waiting to see dad anyway.
I spent the afternoon listening to the cricket and watching the changing shape of Robbins Passage as the water level dropped. Dad turned up at 8.30pm and I topped up on a few supplies.
North Point to Stony Point - 30km (723km)
Day 20 - 20 November 1999
Start point - Stony Point, Montagu
I tried to work out high tide for Woolnorth Point and estimated it at 10am - ish. I wanted to get an early start to try and get around Woolnorth Pt before the tidal direction changed. I thought it would be about 30km to the point and then another 35-40km down to Green Point. Dad was going to drive down there because that was the first spot down the west coast that the road reached the coast (except for on the Woolnorth property). My father drove to visit me each weekend during my trip.
I got ready quickly and hit the water at 6.30am. There was still a strong n/e wind and I could see that the current was flowing quickly to the west as well. As soon as I paddled out into the current I was swept quickly to the west. I put up my sail as soon as I made it into the main channel, and I took off like a rocket. It was very hard to stay in the channel because I didn't know where it was and I couldn't see any channel markers. I had a set back when I paddled into a small bay to the south of Montagu Island. I couldn't tell where to go because there were sandbars in every direction. I headed n/e struggling back against the current and wind and eventually found the channel closer to Robbins Island. I probably wasted 30 minutes with this mistake.
I continued along in the passage and as I reached the s/w corner of Robbins Island four runabouts flew past me without a lifejacket or a brain cell between them. As I neared the western end of Robbins Passage I realised that I was paddling against the current - even though it shouldn't have changed for hours. I hoped that as the tide was flooding it just came around the top of Robbins Island and flowed in the western end of Robbins Passage as well as the eastern end.
I hoped that there would be enough water to paddle to the south of Kangaroo Island to save some distance but all I could see was a huge expanse of sand flats. I had to paddle 10km to the north, into the wind staying in the channel before I could head to the west. I was almost level with the southern end of Hunter Island before I headed directly west. I could see the point off in the distance and it was quite a while before I realised that the point that I was heading for was the northern end of Trefoil Island. From a distance it blended in with Woolnorth Point and it was a huge relief when I realised that I didn't have to paddle around it.
The strong n/e wind continued as I approached Woolnorth Point. I had the marine chart for this area on the deck of the kayak but in the rough conditions it was hard to look at it closely. I could see some rocks just to the east of the point (on the chart) so I tried to give the point a wide berth.
I managed to sneak around some small rocky islands (Harbour Islets). I had my small sail up in front which was moving me along well in the choppy water. The closer I got to Woolnorth Point the rougher it became. When I reached the point it was very rough and the waves were moving in all directions. It was tricky with the sail up but it helped get me around and out of the challenging sections. I was very lucky that the current was still flowing to the west around the point.
Once I had made it around the point (9.40am) the water was calm and the wind was blowing offshore. I had been very lucky to make it around paddling with the current because it would have been a nightmare if the current had been going east against the wind. The choppy waves would have been a lot bigger. I would have just stopped on the eastern side of the point and waited for the flow to change.
It was always a big moment when I had a 90 degree change on the direction of my compass and I was really quite nervous about the west coast. As I paddled from Woolnorth Point towards Cape Grim the current seamed to be flowing to the n/e, so either it had just turned or it was a strange flow pattern just around the point.
It was still very windy but the water was very clear and the coastline was spectacular as I approached the Doughboys. They really did look like 2 big lumps of dough resting on the water.
I stopped on a small beach just to the north of them for a stretch and to have some muesli bars and chocolate. From this point there were good views of Trefoil Island also. When I continued I saw the runabouts that had passed me in Robbins Passage. They were all near the Doughboys with divers in the water. They were going to have horrible conditions when they headed back against the wind around Woolnorth Point to get to Montagu.
As I hugged the coastline down to Cape Grim I passed 4 fishing boats that were sheltering from the strong nor-easterlies. All of the crews were below deck and I didn't see anyone as I passed them. When I rounded Cape Grim I tried to follow the coastline but it was impossible to paddle against the gale force wind. I started off heading for the beach in the middle of the bay - although the wind was blowing me out. I was ferry gliding across the wind as I crossed each bay.
The coastline was very interesting and the offshore winds and low swell allowed me to paddle in close to explore. I had some sheltered conditions for a while as I paddled past Flat Topped Bluff down to Bluff Point (Flat Topped Bluff was very impressive). After Bluff Point I encountered the gale force offshore winds again and I initially paddled at 45 degrees into the wind until I was able to paddle side-on to the wind and make it to the point at the southern end of the bay - without getting blown out to sea.
Once I was south of Studland Bay the coastline became more interesting with lots of rocky outcrops and channels to paddle through and sheltered beaches behind them. Well, they were sheltered with an offshore wind and small swells.
When I reached the beach to the north of Mt Cameron West (Two Mile Beach) I was feeling really stuffed and it was a great relief to be able to put my sail up with very strong crosswind conditions. I made good time down Two mile beach and then down towards Green Point. As I got closer I could see dad come down from the car park and I sailed right up onto the beach in 1-2 foot waves (at 2.35pm). It was a real bonus to get offshore winds to be able to land at Marrawah with virtually no surf - especially as it is renowned for its big surf.
We carried the kayak to the top of the beach and then set up tents on the grass next to the car park. Dad had bought some steak, potatoes, and baked beans for tea and he set up his trangia on the wooden picnic table with the potatoes boiling away. He left them to continue putting up his tent while I sat down on the grass, sheltering behind his car cooking the steak. I suddenly heard a loud bang and I looked up to see dad's trangia engulfed in fire with the picnic table burning.
I moved the flaming trangia off the table with the pot holder and then put the fire out on the picnic table out with water from dad's supply. Dad looked at the table and realised that he had left a lighter on the table a few inches from the trangia and the strong wind had fanned the trangia so much that the flames came out and started burning the table and exploded the lighter. The exploding lighter blew a hole in the side of the trangia leaving a 3 inch round hole. The fire on the picnic table had left a black burnt circle on the table and it was quite funny because next to that one there was a black burnt hole all the way through 2 inches of wood where someone had suffered the same fate.
I had been having trouble with some of my pump/battery wires due to exposure to salt water and we swapped a few wires with new ones. Dad then noticed that there was a crack in the rudder where it had been bent in the swells and been bent back again. I gave Penguin Fibreglass a call and arranged to get a couple of spares and dad drove to Penguin and picked them up. It took about 3-4 hours of driving but I wouldn't like to head off down the west coast with a rudder that might not last the trip.
Stony Point to Green Point (Marrawah) - 76km (799km)
Day 21 - 21 November 1999
Start point - Green Point
I got up at 6.30am and found out that dad had got back at 1am with the replacement rudder. We had a relaxing breakfast and then wandered down to the kayak to change the rudder over. It was then that we realised that there needed to be another hole drilled in the replacement rudder. The one on the kayak had a hole on one side for a cord to tie to, to pull the rudder up and another hole on the other side for another cord to pull it down again.
We just stood there shell shocked for a while trying to think of a way to get another hole drilled in the replacement rudder. It was too early to go door-knocking houses at 7.30am on a Sunday morning to borrow a drill, and the nearest service station consisted only of pumps and a shop (no garage).
We talked it over for a while and eventually realised that the existing hole was wide enough to have both cords tied to it. When the cord lengths were adjusted correctly the rudder worked well enough.
At approximately 10.30am I headed off with very strong n/e to e/n/e winds. As I paddled out towards Green Point I was just going out to see how bad the conditions were. Even though the conditions were quite bad I didn't want to get trapped at Marrawah because the weather was going to turn s/w that could mean big waves coming around Green Point. I could only guess this because I didn't have any experience in this area.
I continued south hugging the coastline with the wind blowing very strongly offshore. It was incredibly unpleasant but I ideally wanted to find somewhere to camp that would give me some shelter from these strong winds and would also give me shelter from a big s/w swell if it turned that way tomorrow.
I stayed close to the beach as I paddled across Slaves Bay where there were a few old shacks that looked unoccupied. I really wanted to at least make it to the mouth of the Arthur River and paddle in there to camp. I followed the rocky coastline closely for the next 4km south of Slaves Bay and I found shelter in behind rocks at West Point. There was an old shack there and I hoped that there was somewhere flat and sheltered to camp. I walked up to the West Point lookout that used to have a lighthouse on it. I could see big surf down the length of Mawson Bay, which stretched for over 10km to the south.
I initially just pulled in there for a rest but after a scout around I decided to stay there. I had only paddled about 15km and I was disappointed to have to stop so soon but at least I wouldn't get trapped at Green Point and I had a good shelter from the waves from the rocks that were about 100m off shore. The Arthur River was a further 20km away and I really didn't want to spend another 3 or so hours in that weather.
During this trip my definition of a successful day was when I got off the beach unscathed, made some forward progress, and got back onto the beach without damaging the kayak (especially in these conditions with such a rocky coastline). It was really hard to stay motivated on this trip. The main thing that affected all aspects of my paddling was the wind speed and direction. On a calm day or when there were following winds, you have to take advantage of it because you don't know how long it will last, and when you may have a whole week of headwinds and huge swells. So no matter how good or bad you feel you have to keep going.
I was still feeling sore from yesterdays paddle of 76km. So far I hadn't had 2 day of over 50 km in a row but I had paddled for 21 days without a day off. I put the tent up on the dunes and spent the afternoon and night sheltering inside, in strong winds and torrential rain. I tried to drink as much water as I could because I was feeling dehydrated.. It was really lucky that I had snow pegs with me to keep the tent up when it was on the sand.
As I paddled along by myself and as I lay in my tent I had lots of time to think I found that I was obsessed with completing this trip. At times I couldn't wait for the trip to finish and other times I didn't want it to end. I wouldn't be able to handle it if I had to stop - without finishing.
I spent the rest of my time in the tent studying the maps working out some possible destinations for the next day - weather permitting.
Green Point to West Point - 15km (814km)
Day 22 - 22 November 1999
West Point - No paddle - strong s/w wind
The night had been miserable. It seemed like it had rained all night. I listened to the weather forecast and they said there would be gale force s/w winds. I didn't feel like paddling and this seemed like a good enough excuse.
When I eventually poked my head out of the tent, I found out that the wind had turned s/w and it was very strong. I got dressed and walked up to the lookout. I could see big waves and lots of white foam on the water everywhere. It didn't take very long at all to decide that there was no point paddling today. I could have paddled all day and maybe only made 10km and I would have to land back on the beach in huge surf.
The hardest thing about deciding to have a day off is the question of "what conditions will be good enough to start off again?" - I am sure that you can even find an excuse to not paddle in glassy calm water. You could tell yourself that it is calm now, but what if the wind comes up suddenly."
I decided to make up some rules for myself. I would paddle again in the following conditions:
1. South-westerly, westerly, or south-easterly wind less than gale force OR
2. I would paddle in gale force (or anything less) if the direction was n/w, northerly or n/e.
If I got a day of northerly winds I was determined to make the most of it and cover more than 100km.
I wandered around and explored for a while. There were 3 shacks close by. The closest one was made of football sized stones. The other 2 were made of scrappy pieces of tin. Four-wheel drive cars had caused a lot of erosion around these shacks and there were deep ruts and smelly mud on the tracks leading to them.
It was the final day of the cricket test match between Australia and Pakistan at Bellerive. Australia needed to get a couple of hundred to win with 4 or 5 wickets in hand and Langer and Gilchrist were in. The cricket was really exciting but I didn't feel like lying around in the tent all day.
After listening to the cricket for 40 mins. I decided to walk the 11km back up to Marrawah and give dad a phone call to let him know where I was and also get a few snacks. I followed the gravel road back out to the main road, listening to the cricket as I walked. About 5km from Marrawah it started to rain strongly again so I started to run between shelters.
After 1hr 45mins of walking, I reached the Marrawah Tavern. I went inside and there was no one there except the publican and a big log fire. I dried off and had a good feed and a couple of beers as we watched the cricket. Australia had a great win as I sat and watched that day. It made me a bit homesick to watch Bellerive Oval while I was 'stuck' up the west coast. I went up to the shop to get a snack. Meanwhile the publican had found me a lift back to West Point - with 'Snow'. The rest of the afternoon was miserable but at least I had some snacks, and I was warm and dry in the tent.
Day 23 - 23 November 1999
Start point - West Point
I woke up at 2am'ish with stomach cramps and the urge to puke my guts up. I curled up in the foetal possie to relieve the pressure a bit. I would have gone outside for a spew if the weather wasn't so bad. Instead I lay there and suffered and tried to sleep. The 5.55am weather report forecast strong westerlies with a s/w front coming through later - sometime.
I decided that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life at West Point so I packed up and hit the water by 7.30am. I took about 50 minutes to reach Bluff Hill Point. I had to dodge some big waves breaking on reefs and rocks here.
After a bit of a rest and some breakfast I continued towards Arthur River. It was still early so I passed it and continued to Sundown Point. I had a fair bit of water in the cockpit (but not high enough to be emptied by the electric pump). It is also hard for the electric pump to work well when the kayak is tipping up and down in the swells.
I approached the beach cautiously and had to dodge a few reefs and rocks in knee-deep water - but made it unscathed. I emptied out the water and had a good drink and a muesli bar. I negotiated the waves and reef again and continued on my way.
The next target was Couta Rocks. From out 1km or so it looked big and nasty in closer so I kept going. I had another 8km to reach Temma Harbour.
As I approached Temma Harbour I could see big waves (about 5m) breaking on exposed rocks. I looked at the map and I could see a reef running parallel to the coast for almost 1km prior to reaching Temma. I wanted to try and get in behind it to shelter from the strong westerly wind and large s/w swells. I managed to dodge some rocks and got in behind the reef and it was relatively protected.
I got to within 100m of the entrance to Temma Harbour while I was still inside the reef but to continue into the bay I had to paddle back out through a gap in the reef - through 1-2m breaking waves. I stopped on a sheltered beach before I got to the gap in the reef and walked up onto the point to look into Temma. The sun had just come out and it looked quite pretty. After watching the waves for a few minutes I managed to sneak through the gap in the reef and got into Temma Harbour.
The harbour was deserted. There was one boat up on a slip but there were no boats in the water. There were about 20 houses/shacks around the bay but I couldn't see any people anywhere. I was keeping an eye out for an external tap on a water tank. Most people had the tank feeding straight into the house - probably to prevent anyone taking their water from outside.
I set up my tent in the s/e corner of the bay with a nice view over the water. I eventually found a man living in one of the houses and he gave me some fresh water to top up my supplies. As I lay in my tent that evening a fishing boat returned to the harbour and moored on the northern side of the bay.
My plans for tomorrow were to get as close to Granville Harbour as possible to make it possible to reach Strahan the following day. Granville Harbour was 80km away. The guy I spoke to at Temma told me that the weather would be bad (s/w) on Friday so I could avoid that if I got to Strahan in 2 more days.
West Point to Temma - 38km (852km)
Day 24 - 24 November 1999
Start point - Temma harbour
As I packed the kayak it was overcast and there was a light westerly wind. I was on the water at 7.25am. I had an uneventful paddle down to Sandy Cape (23km). I could see the cape for about 2 1/2 hours before I got there. I had some sunshine on the way and light winds. It looked as though the southern end of the beach (Venables Corner) was quite sheltered but I didn't bother to go in close to the beach.
I rounded the lighthouse at Sandy Cape and shortly after the westerly picked up a bit so I put the small sail up front. I was nervous having the sail up when I had 5m westerly swells rolling in at me.
I cruised along for about 45 mins with the wind not filling the sail adequately. I looked out to the west and I could see a BIG black cloud coming - quickly. The wind increased slowly but it kept increasing until it was fairly strong and I was zipping along making good progress - increasing my speed from 7km/h to 10-12km/h.
I kept the sail up until the end of the sandy beach (12km north of Conical Rocks Point). The wind died for 1/2 hr or so and then picked up again as a w/n/w breeze. I put up the bigger sail as I got closer to Conical Rocks Point. I could see huge amounts of whitewater breaking near Pieman Head and Conical Rocks.
I gave the Conical Rocks a very wide berth and saw some 5-8m swells roll through and break over the rocks and reefs. Once I was around them I put the small sail up as well and was zipping along in the breeze with both sails up. I got my digital phone out about 5km south of Conical Rocks and got a good signal. I called mum and dad and they were surprised to hear from me.
As I got to within a few kilometres from Granville Harbour I could see big waves breaking on reefs. Eventually I stopped directly out off the centre of Granville Hbr and watched to try and pick an angle to approach safely. I eventually saw that the waves that broke on the southern point were slightly smaller and headed towards the n/e corner. There was also a big wave every 3-5 mins that rolled through breaking across starting at the centre of the bay and heading n/e also. If that wave came through at the same time as the one on the southern point it created a wave that broke across the whole bay.
I managed to paddle in after the big set and then headed towards the more sheltered southern side. As I paddled further into the bay all that I could see was a rocky shoreline around the whole bay. From the waterline there was about 20m of rocks to cross before the pebbles and dunes. I paddled around the outside of the bay and I eventually found a narrow (2m) passage through the rock that looked like it was man made.
The tide was very low and even though I made it into this passage I had to drag the kayak along 15m of rocky bottom. I hit dry land at 5.30pm and was stuffed after a continuous 10 hours in the kayak but I was really happy that I was now within 60km of Strahan - which should be possible unless I get strong s/w conditions.
Temma to Granville Harbour - 83km (935km)
Day 25 - 25 November 1999
Start point - Granville Harbour
I packed up and left Granville at 7.10am. There was a light n-n/e wind and I put my small sail up but it was debatable whether it was helping for the first 2 hours to Trial Harbour. There were big swells rolling into Trial Harbour and there looked like there was good surf as well. I continued with both sails up in spells and I took down the bigger sail when a big black cloud came through - changing the wind to westerly for a while and dumping heavy rain on me.
From the time I first got a view of the Cape Sorell lighthouse in the mist it took forever to noticeably get closer to it. I caught some great runs with my small sail up, as I turned s/e to head in towards the Macquarie Heads. I sailed into the harbour, which was lucky because there was a strong current flowing out.
I pulled the sails down and when I had to head northerly in towards Strahan and I had to paddle the last 15km into a strong wind and against a current. It was a brilliant feeling to land on the beach near the caravan park at Strahan at 2.30pm. My Dad arrived in Strahan and we had a relaxing walk around the town and had a nice pizza for tea.
Granville Harbour to Strahan - 60km (995km)
Day 26 - 26 November 1999
No paddle - strong s/w wind
I listened to the weather forecast and it confirmed what I could see. There were strong s/w winds. It would be very hard going if I left today.
Dad and I went for a drive up to Trial Harbour, and looked at a small museum that is set up in a house there. It was really interesting and had a lot of info about the mining history and the shipwrecks. As I stood on the beach I was relieved that I didn't try and land the previous day. There were lots of reefs and big surf that was breaking everywhere.
We continued up to Granville Harbour next and I showed dad the tricky access gap to the water and the waves breaking across the entrance. Later for tea we made the mistake of buying fish and chips from the nearby takeaway. The fish was dripping with oil and tasted disgusting. I ate the chips and fed the piece of flake to a seagull. It was hilarious watching 1 seagull eat a large piece of flake as though it was his/her last meal.
It was a cold frosty night and I was glad to have my extra down sleeping bag liner to add to my synthetic sleeping bag.
Day 27 - 27 November 1999
Start point - Strahan
When I woke up the wind was still coming from the s/w but it was a bit lighter. My plan was to have a leisurely start and just paddle out to Macquarie Heads and camp there somewhere. This would enable me to get a good start further down the west coast the following day. I paddled out towards the heads, following the channel this time instead of struggling with the bottom drag that slows you down as you paddle over the sand bars. I ended up stopping on a beach next to a rock breakwater near the channel and Bonnet Island. There was a cleared area that must have been used by fishermen.
Strahan to Macquarie Heads - 22km (1017km)
Day 28 - 28 November 1999
Start point - Macquarie Heads
I woke up at 5.30am and started packing. I listened for the weather at 6.30am but I got the nsw weather report. The abc Tasmanian radio guide gave an fm station listed for Strahan but this picked up a NSW ABC broadcast rather than the Tasmanian one. I figured that only the am stations (936 and 711) could pick up the Tasmanian broadcast. I ended up phoning the 1900 969940 for the boating weather forecast at $1000 a minute. As far as the weather looked it was perfect. There were no clouds or wind.
I paddled off at 7.35am and noticed that the strong flow of the water out of the harbour had refilled the harbour with clean water (rather than the dirty King River water and tannin stained water of the Gordon River). Previously you could only see a couple of feet down through the brown water but now you could see down about 10 metres - like a swimming pool.
I took a while to get out to Cape Sorell because I was getting photos and paddling amongst the rocks. I couldn't believe it was so calm. I rounded Cape Sorell and on the southern side there was a 1-2m swell, which is tiny for this area. It was calm enough that I could have landed on any of the beaches that I passed. There were plenty of beaches down this section and I stopped on the beach north of Gorge Point.
This bay and the beach is a beautiful area. It had a creek at the southern end and a few reefs. The sand was clean and there was no smelly seaweed. The water was very clear... it was just paradise. I could have camped there for weeks and not got sick of it. There was supposed to be an old shack somewhere behind the dunes here. A man lived there for a few years surviving with fishing and getting fresh water from the creek at the southern end of the beach. I had a look around for a while but I kept hearing rustling sounds in the bushes and I just knew there would be tiger snakes everywhere.
After half an hour I continued - plodding down the coast. It was just before I stopped at Gorge Point - approximately 10.30-11am that a s/ s.s.w wind came up. When I reached Birthday Bay after 40km I was stuffed and ready to stop because the headwind was getting stronger. I wanted to at least get off the Cape Sorell map and on to Spero. It was always exciting to move on to a new map. To get to the new map I needed to get past Varna Bay. I spotted a fishing boat at the southern end of Varna Bay and I paddled to it. I said hello and they told me that Point Hibbs was a good sheltered spot. For the next 2 hours I slogged into the wind and made it to a beach just opposite Hibbs Pyramid at 5.40pm (just n/e of Sanctuary Bay).
There were steep dunes with thick scrub behind them. I found a flat spot on the beach (above high water mark) and got the tent out. To my horror I found about 3 litres of water in the front hatch. I rolled the kayak over to check for holes but couldn't find any. I concluded that the bulkhead seals were leaking due to the metho leak into the hatch that 'ate away' the sikaflex. I got my spare tube of sikaflex out. I had bad memories of the last time that I used one of the small 'toothpaste roll up tube' of sikaflex.
While I was rolling the tube up to get the sikaflex out the tube split again - just like last time. I had to try and spread it around the bulkhead with my finger and I ended up with sikaflex everywhere. After an hour of scrubbing with soap, sand and metho I managed to get most of it off me. By 8pm I had the tent up (on the beach) and had dried it out after it got soaked in the hatch. I cooked up a meal and got into the tent and it was a relief after the last 2 hours of frustrations.
If I didn't have to do some repairs to the bulkhead I would have liked to spend some more time looking around for a campsite, rather than camping on the beach. Point Hibbs and the pyramid looked really interesting and it would have been good to explore them further.
The options for the next day were:
Wanderer River 20km (Christmas Cove)
Mainwaring River 38km
Low Rocky Point 56km
Nye Bay 73km
Today's paddle was - Macquarie Heads to Point Hibbs - 60km (1077km)
Day 29 - 29 November 1999
Start point - Point Hibbs
I got up in time to listen to the 5.55am weather report and climbed up to the top of the sand dunes. The reception wasn't good enough to pick up 936 or 711am and the fm stations didn't have the 5.55am weather. While I was on the top of the dunes trying to pick up the weather forecast I noticed the brilliant view of Hibbs Pyramid in the morning sunlight and got a few photos. The lack of weather forecast didn't worry me too much though. I checked my watch with the barometer and the pressure was high and steady.
I started paddling at 7.30am and there was only a light s/w breeze and as I rounded Point Hibbs I decided to head for some rocks out in the water - way off into the distance. As I checked the map I was assuming that they were Montgomery Rocks near High Rocky Point. They were about 23km away and it took around 3 hours to get down level with the rocks.
Once I was level with High Rocky Point I stayed 1-2 km offshore heading for the next prominent set of rocks, which were marked on the map as Acacia Rocks. I had to keep a good lookout for reefs because there were a few times that I would suddenly see a wave breaking in a spot that had looked totally flat for the last 10 minutes. Another occasion I happened to look behind me and a wave broke in the spot that I had been 30 seconds ago and I hadn't noticed any reefs below me.
Shortly after Acacia Rocks I was cruising along on automatic pilot and I happened to see the top of a boat that seemed to be behind a line of rocks. As I got closer I noticed a passage to get in behind some rocks into a large sheltered area where the fishing boat was anchored. I paddled over to it but I couldn't see anyone around. There wasn't a dinghy on the boat anywhere so I thought that they might have gone ashore somewhere.
I kept paddling a bit further and found the mouth of a river and I assumed that I was at the mouth of the Mainwaring River - and the boat was moored in Mainwaring Inlet. I paddled up the river for a few kilometres to see if there was a campsite as I fought off the mozzies that were swarming around me. If I wasn't bracing my legs under the sides of the cockpit one of the mozzies would have been big enough to carry me away.
I didn't find anyone up the river so I paddled back out to the sheltered bay and stopped for a feed and stretch. I paddled over to the fishing boat again and just as I got next to the boat a man appeared from inside and he almost had a heart attack with surprise as he saw me next to the boat. We had a chat for a while and then he offered to let me use his satellite phone but instead I asked if he could just call my home later. He said he would ring when later that day.
The fisherman was telling me about some good sheltered spots but a good spot for a fishing boat doesn't necessarily mean there is a sheltered beach for a kayak to land.
I continued to Low Rocky Point and I was hoping to land on the northern side somewhere. The trip report from the 1979 circumnavigation said that they landed on a pebbly beach just on the northern side of Low Rocky Point. I cautiously paddled in close to the rocks and found a few places that I could land - if I had someone else to help lift the kayak over the rocks. If I tried it by myself I would have damaged it. I decided to keep paddling round to the southern side of Low Rocky Point for a look.
As I paddled around Low Rocky Point there were big swells breaking on rocks and I had to keep a good lookout for waves appearing from nowhere. I had the next map handy but the problem was that the coastline from Low Rocky Point for the 10km into the corner where the coastline heads south again wasn't on the Port Davey Map - it was on an inland map (Olga) that I didn't have.
After I had rounded LRP I was tossing up between aiming at the first bay to the south, which was Nye Bay or paddling along the coast directly east from LRP to find somewhere. I decided on the latter even though I could see big breaking waves in some areas along the coast.
As I was paddling along I realised that the big breaking waves were breaking on a reef and it was fairly sheltered behind it. There had been lots of pebbly beaches and the first sand beach that I came to was behind this reef that I was heading to. I paddled through a gap and there was a nice deep cove to paddle into. The water was deep right up to the beach and very clean. It would have been great for spending a day off there.
I landed there and struggled to pull the kayak up a very steep coarse sandy beach. The grains of sand were big and it was very tiring to walk on. Once I had got the kayak up the slope of the beach that was about a 30-degree slope I had a swim to wash of the dried salt. Just after I got out I was drying off and saw a splash in the water and saw a shark cruising around in the kept. It wasn't very big - maybe 4 feet, but it was only about 10 metres from me.
I set up my tent and as I was getting into it I realised I was set up in between a bull ant's nest and a jack jumper's nest. I got into the tent carefully trying to keep the ants out and I thought that I had but shortly after I was inside I felt an incredible burning on my right upper arm and as I felt my arm the jack jumper bit my left hand as well. The sky was clear as I went to bed and I kept the front flap of the tent open so I could see the sunrise.
Point Hibbs to Low Rocky Point - 64km (1141km)
Day 30 - 30 November 1999
Start point - Low Rocky Point
It was a beautifully clear morning as I watched the sunrise and I carefully packed up the tent - trying not to pack any ants. I was hoping to get past Mulcahy Bay and have a look at Wreck Bay and maybe get into Port Davey - probably into Spain Bay.
I hit the water at 6.40am and even with the sun down low I felt like I was getting sunburnt due to the accumulated sunburn from the last few sunny days. I covered my face and hands with zinc cream and I was wearing my hat with the flap down the back. I had it on sideways with the flap covering the left side of my face to shield my eyes from the low sun. I didn't have any sunglasses and my eyes were really hurting.
I initially headed for Elliott Point, which was just to the south of Nye Bay. Off Nye Bay a fisherman told me that there was a current running to the north around Elliott Point. There was a light ne - nw breeze that strengthened slightly and I put both sails up. I almost had a disaster just off Mulcahy Bay when I almost paddled onto a big reef. I suddenly saw the water suck back leaving a big reef exposed rock as a 3-4 metre wave broke in front of me.
My view of the rocks was blocked by my sail and I saw it just in time. I managed to turn the kayak enough to paddle around the rocks and head directly into the next breaking wave. I was lucky that it only just broke on the top of the swell and I snuck over it and around the reef.
As I paddled past Wreck Bay I wanted to stop and have a look at the wreck - Svenor, but I was making really good time. I decided that if I could make it to the north head of Port Davey by midday I might continue past Port Davey and either stop near Mutton Bird Island or get around South West Cape and into Ketchem Bay.
I reached the north head of Port Davey at 12.30pm but this was close enough so I continued. I was still making good time with 2 sails up. I spoke to a fisherman out off the entrance to Port Davey and he called a boat down near s/w cape. The wind was blowing strong westerly down there.
It was still a bright sunny day without any clouds and I kept my face and the backs of my hands covered with zinc cream. At roughly 2pm I was trying to brush the dried salt off my face and managed to get some into my eyes. My eyes started to burn. It hurt them regardless of keeping them open or shut. It was slightly better when I put my hat with the flap on the back on backwards. For the next 2 hours I paddled with the black cotton flap of my hat over my eyes to shield them from the glare and salt.
I didn't have any sunglasses and I think that my eyes were already burnt due to the glare from the water and the salt was the last straw. I also found out that whenever I got the zinc cream near my eyes or nose my eyes would water for about 15 minutes and sting as well. It seemed as though my body was reacting to the zinc cream.
I was really suffering. Both eyes were stinging with salt and were burnt as well and would water uncontrollably if I got zinc cream near them. I tried to get all the zinc cream off my hands and face to prevent this.
While I was paddling along with my hat over my eyes I had to take my sails down because it was affecting my balance and I didn't want to risk coming out of the kayak. I was almost at south west cape before my eyes had recovered enough to uncover my eyes.
I rounded s/w cape in calm conditions and watched a seal playing in the small swells on the cape. The weather was so calm I could have touched the kelp on the cape. After rounding the cape at 4.30 - 5pm I decided to head into New Harbour instead of Ketchem for a change of scenery. I had been to Ketchem before and I was told that New Harbour was really nice and there was a creek at the eastern end of the beach.
Due to the fact that I had gone well past my planned finish point I didn't have my south coast map handy so after rounding s/w cape I was relying on my memory. I headed for the next point, which I now know to be Telopea Point. After that I could see into Ketchem Bay to the north. After that I thought that I had to head around a headland and paddle north up into New Harbour.
The mistake I made was that after Telopea Point I headed towards Cox Bluff to the east instead of New Harbour Point to the n/e. I ended up paddling around Cox Bluff and all the way (7km) up into Cox Bight. I surfed a few of the 3 foot waves into the beach and I was totally stuffed as I pulled the kayak up the beach - landing at 8.30pm. I had a quick swim to wash the rest of the salt off.
I had been told that I could land at New Harbour without getting wet, even in bad conditions and I was a bit surprised to see that there was a decent surf coming into the beach. However, I really believed that I was in New Harbour and even though there was a headland in the centre of this beach that wasn't marked on the map, I still thought I was there. As I put my tent up and cooked a meal in the fading light I was really too tired to care. There was a nice fresh water creek and a campsite in the n/e corner of the bay, which was all I cared about. I think I had fallen asleep before I lay down.
Low Rocky Point to Cox Bight - 115km (1256km)
Day 31 - 1 December 1999
Start point - Cox Bight
I got up at 7am after lying in the tent stretching to assess my body for any injuries. I found that my eyes were very sensitive to the daylight and I had to shield my eyes. I could tell that the low sun in the first few hours would be a problem for me so I decided to wait until 10am before setting off.
I went for a walk up the south coast track a bit to get some fresh water and then had a swim and body surf. There was a strong n/w wind and when I finally left at 10am I had a quick ride out of the bay. I still thought that I was leaving New Harbour until I rounded the next point and saw an island in the bay. I looked at the map and it all clicked. I realised why it took so long to paddle into the beach last night (the bay was 7km long instead of 1.5km). The island that I could see was Louisa Island and I was really happy about my silly mistake.
I continued to make good time along the south coast past Havelock Bluff, which is the large cliff at the southern end of the Ironbound Range. I stayed close to the shore and explored a bit. I hadn't been able to get this close before. I decided to stop at Deadmans Cove for a break because I had read so much about it in the Maatsuyker trip reports. The kayak also felt sluggish and I thought that there could be some water in it. As I approached the cove I had great views of Precipitous Bluff as it loomed over the coastline.
I reached Deadmans Cove and found that it was very sheltered by some rocks further out but the shoreline in the cove was rocky. It would have been fine with other people to help lift the kayak out but I had to lift the kayak one end at a time - resting it on the rocks. Once it was clear of the water I opened my rear hatch and found that there was a lot of water in it. I hadn't had this problem before and I just thought that I might not have put the hatch cover on properly, so I just sponged it dry. There was also water in the front hatch.
I went for a walk around the cove and found a great campsite and it was an amazing feeling to wash the salt off my face in the cool, fresh water of the creek that flowed out into the bay.
I left Deadmans Cove and put sail up as I crossed Prion Bay and I got a few more photos of 'PB'. I thought that I would be able to make it to Cockle Creek fairly easily today but as I reached Rocky Boat Inlet the wind suddenly turned savagely to the south. It was very strong and it was hard to hold onto my paddle. It had only been about an hour since I left Deadmans Cove but I could notice that the kayak felt sluggish again and I decided that now the wind had turned and I couldn't sail I would struggle to get to Cockle Creek with a kayak full of water.
I briefly considered landing in Rocky Boat Inlet but with the wind blowing directly from the south the waves would be picking up in there. I just kept heading east - hoping I could make it around to South Cape Rivulet but I noticed a beach appear around a point that looked sheltered. It was Surprise Bay. As I got closer to the beach I found out that it wasn't sheltered at all and there were 6 foot spilling waves rolling into the beach. The kayak was a bit hard to control with the extra water in it as caught waves into the beach. I pulled the kayak up the steep beach and confirmed my suspicions - there was heaps of water in the back hatch again.
I turned the kayak over and had a close inspection and I couldn't see any cracks or holes. I just sat down and thought for a while. I was getting quite stressed because there was a strong southerly wind and the waves were getting bigger in front of me and I couldn't find the leak in my kayak.
I briefly considered leaving the kayak and just walking out. I went for a walk and found a good campsite on the hill at the eastern end of the beach and I got my gear out to set up camp but I changed my mind and decided to try and find the leak again.
I totally emptied the kayak of all gear and got my texta out and circled every mark on the kayak that could possible take in water and I covered them all with some 'repair putty stuff' (technical term). I waited for it to dry and then packed the kayak again. It was now 6.40pm. I had spent 4 hours at Surprise Bay sorting out this problem. I checked the map and established that it was 18km to South Cape Rivulet. I really needed to leave Surprise Bay because if it continued to blow southerly I would be trapped there by huge waves by morning.
I decided to leave and I paddled hard as I was focused to paddle the 18km and make it to S.Cape rivulet before dark. The kayak felt good and I didn't notice the sluggish feeling that I had before with the leak. Just after rounding South Cape and then Soldier Bluff there were hundreds of gannets and possibly 100 albatrosses soaring in the evening breeze in South Cape Bay. They were absolutely beautiful and just when I thought that it couldn't get any better I was greeted by a pod of 20 or so dolphins. They followed me for about 15 minutes as I headed towards South Cape Rivulet. They played around the kayak and darted back and forth under me. They were amazing.
I surfed the waves in to South Cape Rivulet at 8.40pm and it was getting quite dark. I paddled up the creek and around to land in the lagoon area. There was a school group there with some teachers and parents and it was good to talk to people again and some of the parents were fascinated by the trip. I stayed up talking until 10pm and then went down and lay on the beach for an hour just looking up at the stars. It was brilliant because there was no moon up and there were so many more stars visible that you see from town areas.
Cox Bight to South Cape Rivulet - 60km (1316km)
Day 32 - 2 December 1999
Start point - South Cape Rivulet
I left at 7.40am and had a very uneventful paddle around S.E. Cape in the n/w winds. By the time I had reached Whale Head the wind had dropped further. I talked to a few ab. divers along this shoreline. I landed at Cockle Creek at 11.10am and mum and dad were very surprised to hear from me when I phoned them because I had only 4 1/2 days to get from Strahan to Cockle Creek.
There was another school group at Cockle Creek and I had a game of cricket with them later that day. Mum and Dad decided to drive down that evening and I had a feast of chicken and salad that evening and I got some more sunglasses and some eye drops to relieve the pain in my eyes. After the problems of 2 days ago I hadn't been able to focus my eyes since. They were both blurry - with my right eye worse than the left. If I just looked with my right eye I couldn't read my maps. This was scary because I had always had good eyesight.
South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek - 26km (1342km)
Day 33 - 3rd December 1999
Start point - Cockle Creek
I left Cockle Creek at 7.30am and headed towards Actaeon Island before I aimed for the crossing to Cape Bruny. There was a light northerly as I paddled across the exposed section towards Bruny Island. There were dark clouds and some fog as I headed towards Bruny. It was an impressive coastline and there were lots of little passages and sea caves as I paddled around the southern end of Bruny.
As I approached the Friars I spoke to a fisherman and he told me that the front had just reached s/w cape and wouldn't be far away - with gale force westerlies.
I continued along because I should be sheltered as I headed up the eastern side of south bruny. I saw a couple of big commercial fishing boats pulling in stripy trumpeter as quick as they got the lines back in the water. A bit further north the torrential rain started and I stopped for a rest on a small beach near Arched Island.
After resting for about 30 mins I headed off again in the rain and strong westerlies. I put a sail up and zipped along quickly up the coast. Just before I reached Penguin Island I found a few sea caves that ran parallel to the coast - with an entry and a cave for about 20m and then exiting out again. One of them could fit a runabout through and the second one could just fit a kayak through - with a low exit hole that almost disappeared as the swell rose.
It was only a short distance to get to Penguin Island, which is joined to the coast by some low rocks. It may be possible to get through the gap with a high tide ???
Once I had rounded Penguin Island I had to struggle against a strong headwind for about half an hour to make it to the first beach at the southern end of Adventure Bay. I didn't know where to camp and I was relieved to find a caravan park, a phone and a small shop there. I had a hot shower and I found that a guy from work was looking after the caravan park for the weekend. He invited me to have tea with him and his brother who was there as well. It was great. We had crayfish for entrée and curried sausages and mashed potato for main and then apple pie and cream for desert. Sensational!
I lay in my tent that night with a full belly but I was nervous about the next paddle. The next leg would be the most exposed part of the trip. I was hoping to make it across the 30km stretch from Adventure Bay to Cape Raoul - across Storm Bay (not called Storm bay for nothing). However if the wind wasn't favourable I would just paddle up the coastline of Bruny Island towards Betsy Is. and Clifton and then paddle back down to Nubeena.
Cockle Creek to Adventure Bay - 73km (1415km)
Day 34 - 4th December 1999
Start point - Adventure Bay (south end), Bruny Island
I got up at 6am and wandered over to the toilet block. As I walked back outside one duck and 15 ducklings blocked the doorway. All of them were cute and fluffy and looked identical. They were all making 'feed me' squeaking noises. I managed to get around them and they all followed me for the next 1/2 hour. They would stop if I got out of view but as soon as they saw me they quickly waddled over to me.
The plan for the day was to at least make it across to the Tasman Peninsula. I hoped to at least get to Nubeena - if there was a strong easterly and I was struggling. With a bit more luck I thought that I might get to Safety Cove near Port Arthur. I also worked out the distance to Fortescue Bay. It was around 80km and with good following conditions I could make it there. That would have worked out well because my dad wasn't expecting me to get to Pirates Bay before Sunday and they were going out on Saturday evening.
I started paddling at 7.40am and reached Penguin Island, which was the last land before I paddled the 30 km stretch across to Cape Raoul. As I started paddling across Storm Bay there was a light northerly. I needed to head ENE to get to Cape Raoul. I couldn't see any of the Peninsula for about an hour because there was a light fog on the water but by 8.30am it had cleared. The wind eventually swung around slightly to the n/w, which enabled me to get a sail up. I was navigating by compass because I could see land but I wasn't sure which land it was.
Gradually the sight of Cape Raoul was unmistakable. It is an incredible jagged section of coastline. It also took forever to reach because it is another big piece of rock without man-made features on it to get a sense of the scale. At least I knew that it was 30km across and that I normally average about 7-8km/h without a tailwind so I should be close after 4 hours.
I continued plugging along with my front sail up and a light crosswind until midday when Cape Raoul was looming large in front of me. This was still a bit deceptive because I still didn't reach it for another half an hour. I stopped just before it to get a few snaps. Once I had passed it the wind dropped from the north and I sat in the kayak in calm water (except for the 2-3m rolling swell that was coming from the s/w).
I checked the map again to work out my options. I was only 12km from Safety Cove, which meant I would be there by 2pm (leaving another 7 hours daylight available). I then checked the distance to Cape Pillar and Fortescue Bay. There was 17km to Cape Pillar and then another 14 to Fortescue Bay. That shouldn't take more than another 5 hours so I decided to go for it.
Not long after that decision a light s/w sea breeze came up so I was able to cruise across towards Cape Pillar/Tasman Island with a sail up and get more photos as I approached it. It was just as impressive as Cape Raoul. As I got closer to Tasman Island the swell size increased a bit and I took the sail down so I could concentrate. As I was down in the troughs between waves I couldn't see Cape Pillar - the swells blocked out the view.
I made good progress and paddled through Tasman Passage (between Tasman Island and Cape Pillar) at 2.20pm. I stopped for a rest and had a drink and a couple of muesli bars. I paddled over to the old haulage way and landing area on Tasman Island. I would have loved to get on there but the swells were too big.
I continued around Cape Pillar and had a good look around Cathedral Rock, which is just to the north of Cape Pillar. I had a quick look at the seal colony also on the cape. I thought that it would be nice to paddle around the shore of Munro Bight and if the water was calm I might get a view of the Nord - which was an old steam ship that sank in 40-50m of water and is a popular but challenging dive site.
This plan changed when the wind picked up slightly from the s/e and I had following conditions again. I thought that I had better make the most of this and headed for Cape Hauy.
As I approached Cape Hauy I lined up the gap so I could head through past the Candlestick and Totem Pole - getting photos as I approached. I had my rear sail up only and this enabled me to get photos without needing to paddle or have anything in front of me.
As I entered the narrow gap the wind funnelled through strongly and I flew through getting a few quick snaps. I emerged out the other side in the shelter of Cape Hauy. I had made good progress from Cape Pillar and it was only 4pm. I checked the map and realised that I could see the final point that I had to round before I reached Pirates Bay - my start and finish point. I could either paddle 5 km into Fortescue bay and camp there and finish tomorrow or continue with the tailwind and finish tonight. There was really only one option.
I put both sails up and paddled like a man possessed towards Pirates Bay. I had already covered over 80km today but I felt good and powered up past the landmarks of Waterfall Bay, Devils Kitchen, Tasman Arch and finally the blowhole.
I had finished the final 18km's in 1 3/4 hrs and landed at Pirates Bay just before 6pm. I had saved a celebratory bottle of Coke that I had bought on Bruny Is. and I savoured it as I stood on the beach.
I paddled around the point and then headed south towards the boat ramp and jetty that I had started from 34 days earlier. There were plenty of people around but no one knew that I had just paddled around Tasmania.
I walked around for half an hour looking for a phone - unsuccessfully. This was the only problem with finishing today - no one knew that I was going to finish and I couldn't find a phone to let anyone know. I was fairly depressed when I realised that I would probably have to camp another night. There was nowhere to camp near the blowhole area so I reluctantly got back into the kayak and headed further north up towards the narrow neck area. It felt like I was continuing on my second lap
As I reached the Eaglehawk Neck I surfed a 2 foot wave up onto the beach and then struggled to drag the kayak up the beach for the final time. I found a fairly flat spot for my tent and then got changed. I could see what I thought was a pub further up the beach and I wandered up there and used their phone. I was out of cash, except for a bit of loose change, so I couldn't even have a celebratory drink. I left a message on dad's message bank - knowing that mum & dad were out for the night as they had gone to see a play at Huonville. I wasn't sure when he would get the message and if he would come tonight or wait until morning.
Day 34 paddle - Adventure Bay to Pirates Bay - 102km (1517km)
Total 1517km in 34 days - the average was 44.62 km per day over the whole trip - including short paddling days and no paddling days due to bad weather.
The average of the days that I paddled (taking out the 2 days I didn't paddle due to bad weather - 1517km in 32 paddling days - average = 47.41 km.
While I waited at Eaglehawk Neck I sat on the beach until midnight. I had left messages for my parents to let them know that I had finished but I knew that they were out for the evening. They weren't expecting me to finish until the next day. There weren't any good places to camp so I just slept in my bivvy bag on the beach. I couldn't be bothered putting my tent up and there were lots of 'no camping' signs up. I woke up at 5.30am and lay there and eventually had the sun shining in through the mesh section of my bivvy bag. Shortly after I also had a big wet dog's nose up against the mesh. I decided to get up and I had a good stretch. I walked up to the shop and got a newspaper and then spent the morning lying on the beach and finishing writing up my log book & relaxing until dad arrived at 10am.
After not driving my car for almost 5 weeks the speed of car travel seemed overwhelming. I had only been used to travelling at 5-10km/h and now life was moving too fast. It was nice to arrive home and relax. I really appreciated having easy access to water, electricity and a bed. I left the big clean up until the next day.
|DAY||DATE||FROM 'WHERE' TO 'WHERE'||DIST KM'S||PROGRESSIVE DISTANCE KM'S|
|1||1 Nov 1999||Pirates Bay to Lagoon Bay||25||25|
|2||2 Nov 1999||Lagoon Bay to Darlington||44||69|
|3.Nov 1999||Darlington to Passage Beach||36||105|
|4 Nov 1999||Passage Beach to Friendly Beaches||38||143|
|5 Nov 1999||Friendly Beaches to Bicheno||30||173|
|6 Nov 1999||Bicheno to Long Point (Seymour)||16||189|
|7 Nov 1999||Long Point to St Helens||78||267|
|8 Nov 1999||St Helens to Eddystone Point||40||307|
|9 Nov 1999||Eddystone Point to Tomahawk||88||395|
|10 Nov 1999||Tomahawk to Waterhouse Point||13||408|
|11 Nov 1999||Waterhouse Point to Bridport||37||445|
|12 Nov 1999||Bridport to Bakers Beach||82||527|
|13 Nov 1999||Bakers Beach to Port Sorell||10||537|
|14 Nov 1999||Port Sorell to East Devonport (almost)||16||553|
|15 Nov 1999||East Devonport to Turners Beach||23||576|
|16 Nov 1999||Turners Beach to Somerset||41||617|
|17 Nov 1999||Somerset to Rocky Cape||42||659|
|18 Nov 1999||Rocky Cape to North Point||34||693|
|19 Nov 1999||North Point to Stony Point||30||723|
|20 Nov 1999||Stony Point to Green Point (Marrawah)||76||799|
|21 Nov 1999||Green Point to West Point||15||814|
|22 Nov 1999||No paddle - strong s/w wind||0||814|
|23 Nov 1999||West Point to Temma||38||852|
|24 Nov 1999||Temma to Granville Hbr||83||935|
|25 Nov 1999||Granville Hbr to Strahan||60||995|
|26 Nov 1999||No paddle - strong s/w wind||0||995|
|27 Nov 1999||Strahan to Macquarie Heads||22||1017|
|28 Nov 1999||Macquarie Heads to Point Hibbs||60||1077|
|29 Nov 1999||Point Hibbs to Low Rocky Point||64||1141|
|30 Nov 1999||Low Rocky Point to Cox Bight||115||1256|
|1 Dec 1999||Cox Bight to South Cape Rivulet||60||1316|
|2 Dec 1999||South Cape Rivulet to Cockle Creek||26||1342|
|3 Dec 1999||Cockle Creek to Adventure Bay||73||1415|
|4 Dec 1999||Adventure Bay to Pirates Bay||102||1517|
Kayak - Greenlander, manufactured by Penguin Fibreglass, Tas.
medium blade stealth paddle, by Max Kayaks, QLD, with break down 'smart shaft'
small blade stealth paddle, by Max Kayaks, QLD, with break down 'smart shaft'
paddle bag - to carry the spare break down paddle on rear deck
green sail - purchased from Penguin Fibreglass, modified by Peter Johnston P/L Hobart
blue sail - made at Peter Johnston P/L Hobart
inflatable paddle float
Billabong wetsuit shorts
Billabong wetsuit top
aqua lung 5mm wetsuit booties
yellow Macpac paddle top
epirb in chest pocket of paddle top
battery charger for pump battery
Nokia digital phone - connected to Telstra
spare phone battery and 240v charger
buoyancy vest with whistle attached
waterproof map holder
neoprene spray deck
Macpac windstopper cap
hat with long back flap
sunglasses with head strap
Magellan Colortrak GPS
Petzl duo headtorch
mini 2 x aa Maglite
Sangean '909' radio 4 x aa
Sony radio walkman 1 x aa
Minolta weathermatic camera and 10 x 25 exp films
spare camera batteries
camera cleaning gear
1:100,000 maps for all coastline (Storm Bay, Prosser, Nugent (land tenure series covering Prosser and Maria Island), Break o'day, Georges Bay, Swan Island, Flinders Island (land tenure series), Cape Portland, Pipers (land tenure series to cover St Patricks and Ninth Island), Tamar, Forth, Inglis, Hellyer, Table Cape, Welcome, Nelson Bay, Pieman, Cape Sorell, Spero, Port Davey, Old River, South Cape, South Coast walks map, D'entrecasteaux, Derwent
1:500,000 visitors map of Tasmania
marine charts for ne and nw tips of Tasmania
1999 tide tables
book - Ben Elton 'Blast from the past'
book - 100 walks in Tasmania - Tyrone Thomas
book - Why men don't listen and women can't read maps
toothpaste and toothbrush
sandshoes - later swapped for slip-on blundstone boots
2 x 5 metre spectra ropes
toilet paper and plastic spade
Repair stuff including-
2 sets of 5 minute araldite tubes
knead it fibreglass repair x 2
fibreglass repair kit and extra glass
2 lengths of bungy cord and shock cord
leatherman tool and swiss army knife
Macpac Minaret tent and 10 regular pegs and 10 large snow(sand) pegs
synthetic sleeping bag
Macpac down inner sleeping bag
thermarest sleeping mat