Matt's Trip Report Pages
- Tony's trips new link: http://tonywatton.net.au/
- Kayak around Maria Island - day trip
- Kayak Circumnavigation of Bruny Island
- Precipitous Bluff - kayak & walk, 3 days, March 20...
- Precipitous Bluff - kayak & walk Jan 2008
- Matthew Watton, Tasmania Circumnavigation attempt ...
- Matthew Watton - solo Tasmania Circumnavigation #1...
- Matthew Watton - solo Tasmania Circumnavigation #2...
- Matthew Watton - solo Tasmania Circumnavigation #3...
- Steve Dineen's solo kayak circumnavigation Tasmania
- Federation Peak
- Farmhouse Creek Track - Judds Cavern
- Port Welshpool to Hogan Island & return
- Port Davey Track walk
- Huonville to Hobart kayak paddle
- John Brewster and Earle de Blonville - First ever ...
Precipitous Bluff - kayak & walk Jan 2008
Precipitous Bluff, kayak & walk - January 2008
The plan - paddle to Prion Beach, paddle up lagoon to climb Precipitous Bluff and camp at the summit - and then return to Cockle Creek.
Kayak - Mirage 580
3 Jan 2008 - Thursday
I had been closely monitoring the weather forecasts, waiting for settled weather and there was now a high pressure system over Tasmania and only a 1-2 metre swell on the south coast - which is about as low as it gets. I packed up my kayak gear and walking gear, loaded it all into my car and drove to Cockle Creek - the southern most part of Tasmania that you can drive to.
When I arrived at 8pm, I set up my tent in the National Park camping area, unloaded the kayak and packed as much gear as I could with the aim of leaving early the next morning.
4 Jan 2008 - Friday
I woke up at 5am, had a snack for breakfast, parked my car outside the Parks office and headed off at 6am. The sky was clear and there was a very light n/e wind. I made fast progress to Whale Head. From Whale Head you really know that you are in an exposed but beautiful area. There are only a few sheltered places to land and you need to be very conscious of the weather forecast of wind direction/strength and swell size and direction. I use a satellite phone to get detailed forecasts and also listen to the local ABC radio for forecasts by the weather bureau.
Usually when you paddle past Whale Head there are big surging swells, steep waves, lots of foamy broken water and the smell of kelp due to the deep water colliding with a 16 metre deep reef extending out from the head. On this occasion the swells were quite small and I could paddle close to Whale Head so I was encouraged that I would be able to land on Prion Beach without major carnage.
I continued to South-East Cape and then across South Cape Bay, paddling directly from point to shorten the distance, safe enough while the weather was settled. Further along the south coast I could see that the swell/wave height was low at Granite Beach and then Surprise Bay so I was still confident about landing at Prion Beach.
I reached Point Cecil on the western side of Rocky Boat Inlet. There are a few exposed rocks here and some reefs between them. If it is safe enough to paddle between these rocks then it is another sign that the swell at Prion Beach will be low enough to land. I headed in towards Prion Beach, trying to spot the entrance to the lagoon. I spotted the darker water of the lagoon staining the sea water at the eastern end of the beach. I continued towards the beach, avoiding sand bars where the waves were bigger. I stopped and watched for a few minutes. My plan was to paddle in after the bigger waves of the set went through.
After I saw 3 bigger waves I paddled as hard as I could behind the next one and caught a 1 metre wave, which broke and turned me to the left. I braced on the wave and surfed sideways until the wave lost power and I straightened up again. I paddled to the eastern end of the beach, close to the shore, to the river mouth/lagoon entry. There was dark tannin-stained water flowing quickly out of the lagoon. It took a bit of effort to paddle against the current but I could still make progress.
On the way up the river I noticed that it was quite shallow opposite Milford Creek. Walkers could cross here in waist deep water and avoid the boat crossings and the slow track along the dunes to the east of the boat crossing.
I stopped at the boat crossing on both sides to see if anyone was around but didn't find anyone. I was very happy with my progress, to get from Cockle Creek to the camp at Prion Beach in under 5 hours. The calm weather certainly helped. I left the campsite as a s/e sea breeze was building. I was able to sail all the way up the eastern side of the lagoon to the camp at the base of the climb.
I kept an eye out for the orange buoy hanging from the tree at the lagoon camp but I didn't see it. I went past the camp by accident and put the sail down and headed back close to the shore. I found the creek next to the camp and landed on the southern side of the creek. Someone had removed all of the markings that were hanging on the tree at the edge of the lagoon at the campsite. I assumed this was done by Parks & Wildlife. They probably do this because they consider these markings as rubbish but they are important to prevent people getting lost or not finding the camp or the track up PB. [I replaced the marker buoy before I left the area]
It was now only midday and there was fine weather. It was beautiful sitting at the edge of the lagoon in the warm sun. I lay back and had a nap in the afternoon and later packed my backpack for the walk up Precipitous Bluff. Later on I walked from the camp to the base of the ridge. This only takes about 10 minutes. I replaced a few missing tapes in this section and checked that they were visible from both directions. I had a good drink from the cool, clear creek at the base of the ridge.
I would have had time to walk up PB that afternoon but I wasn't in a rush for time. I set up a small tent (Macpac Microlight) in the lagoon camp.
The gear that I packed to take up PB for the overnight walk was:
Macpac amp light 45 pack (45 litre)
goretex rain coat
Mountain Designs 2 pole bivvy bag
thermarest sleeping mat
3 season sleeping tapered bag
thermal sleeping bag liner
polar fleece jacket
map & compass
'flagging tape' (bright orange track marking tape - to replace track tapes that are old, faded, broken or missing)
3 x 1 litre water bottles
olympus mju795 waterproof camera
gaiters (not necessary on this walk up & back to summit)
walking poles (also not practical on the climb up & back due to tight scrub - the poles really get in the way)
toilet paper/trowel/antiseptic hand gel
5 Jan 2008 - Saturday
I didn't get up too early because I only had to go up the mountain (not up & back) because I was planning to camp on the summit. I started the walk with 2 litres of water and a 600ml coke (to celebrate with) at 8.45am. The weather was ok with only a few clouds and a mild temperature. I walked at a moderate pace to the base of the ridge and was already finding the walking poles useless because the scrub was too close and tight to swing the poles.
The track is initially quite steep until you get up onto a ridge and turn left. The track then heads steadily uphill to the base of the cliffs. I replaced a few more tapes on the way up where trees had fallen across the track, hiding the old track. It seemed to take a long time to get to the base of the cliffs, but I wasn't going hard because I had plenty of time.
Upon reaching the cliffs you turn left and follow the track to the north. Within a couple of minutes there is a steep gully where there is sometimes water flowing down. On this occasion it was dry. About 15 minutes further there was a pool of water against the cliffs. It was only a foot wide and 6 inches deep. I re-filled my water bottles. I continued for a further 30 minutes, making sure that I didn't go up the false lead gully like I did last time. I marked the track clearly past this false lead so people didn't waste half an hour going up the wrong gully. So many people have gone up there by accident that there is a clear track there now. I hoped that the extra tapes there would let the vegetation re-grow over the false lead track.
The walking poles were really annoying me because it was still far to 'scrubby' to use the poles so I took them apart and managed to get them in my pack. I climbed up the ascent gully that has some stone stairs in the top half of it, leading to the flat top. At the top of this gully the track goes to the right (although there are rough tracks to the left where people have been exploring). Within a few minutes along the track to the south there is a cleared area on the right with scrub behind it.
A track continues past here to the s/e - this heads down off the mountain towards eventually to the east. From this cleared area on the top, near the scrub at the back of the area there is a track that heads south. This goes towards a gully that separates the southern 'lump' of PB and the northern 'lump'. As you cross the gully, you enter some tight scrub but appear again shortly. From here you head diagonally up following small cairns. The track isn't directly south, it has a few zig-zags to climb up to the summit and you need to pay attention, especially when you are in fog or clouds.
Fortunately for me I had perfectly clear skies and the views from the summit were beautiful. I wrote in the logbook that is in a metal box at the summit. A few metres to the south of the summit rocks I found enough space to lay out my bivvy bag on some mossy grass. I pegged it down in case of strong wind. I spent the afternoon and evening taking photos and watching the lovely sunset. I crawled into my bivvy bag and found it very comfortable. I liked this bivvy bag because it had a pole over my head to keep the bag off my face. The 'no pole' type are a bit too 'enclosed', but ok in an emergency.
I fell asleep with just the fly screen zipped up on the bag so I could look up at the stars.
6 Jan 2008 - Sunday
Around 2am I woke up to strong, buffeting wind. I zipped up the main outer layer of the bag and dozed off again. I woke a few more times and listened to the strong wind blowing over me. At 5am I poked my head out of the bag to check the weather and found that I was surrounded in thick mist/fog and could only see about 5 metres. I had gone to sleep within a few metres of a 400 metre cliff and now all I could see was light fluffy-ness. The cliff edge didn't look scary any more.
It wasn't cold but it was very windy. I crouched behind rocks packing up carefully to prevent any gear blowing over the edge. Before walking back down the hill, I got my map, compass and gps out. I concentrated very hard to find the cairns and was happy to reach the gully that headed down to the west off the top of the mountain.
At the base of this gully I was just under the cloud level and could see the strong westerly wind across the lagoon below. I tried to move quickly along the base of the cliffs. I stopped and the tiny pool of water to re-fill my bottles again and then headed down into the forest again.
After a while heading downhill the track turned left a bit and the tapes became less frequent. I reached an area where I couldn't find the next tape and started having doubts. I considered that I may have wandered off the correct track and be following a track to a sinkhole/cave. I stopped and had a look at the map, compass and gps. I got my UTM grid reference with my gps and checked that on the map. It indicated that I was off the track by about 300 metres. I trusted the gps but I knew that the track marked on the map was just an approximate route. I still had some doubts whether I was on the correct track.
I started to retrace my path back uphill and found the old blue tapes that I had been following. It took about 30 minutes to get back uphill to reach a point where I was sure that I was on the correct track. I had a good look around down hill in various angles from that point and eventually continued down the track I had taken before. I got back down to the point where I had checked the gps before and then continued downhill about 30 metres past the last tape I could see (which is a long way in dense scrub when you don't think you are on a track). I found another old faded tape, then a big gap and then another old tape. Gradually the tapes became more regular again. I stopped, left my pack and went back putting a few more tapes in the gaps.
I was glad to be on the correct path but annoyed that I had wasted an hour or so. I continued down the ridge until it turned right down the steeper bit with scrambly limestone rocks at the top of it. A short scramble down the steep bit and I was on the flat again. I filled up my bottles in the creek and walked the 10 minutes to the camp and my kayak. The wind was now very strong from the west and a rain squall was approaching. I packed my kayak as quickly as I could, knowing that this strong wind would be increasing the size of the swell at Prion Beach and if I didn't leave Prion Beach while the swell was still low I could be trapped in the lagoon until the swell drops again.
I headed south down the lagoon and saw a walker coming towards me along the side. He looked miserable in the heavy rain, trudging along the edge of the lagoon. I stopped for a chat for a few minutes and described the route to the top.
I sailed the kayak down towards the beach and stopped to talk to some walkers at the eastern end of Prion Beach. I explained my plans to them. The plans were:
- get out through the surf and struggle into the gale force wind for 10km to the shelter of Deadmans Cove;
- get out through the surf and head with the wind to Rocky Boat Inlet (5km) where there could be big surf in the bay;
- get out through the surf and head with the wind to South Cape Rivulet (25km) moderate surf that could get big enough to prevent me from leaving;
- get out through the surf and head with the wind all the way back to Cockle Creek (46km) - dangerous in the very strong wind;
- stay at the campsite at the boat crossing - Prion Beach - until the strong wind passes and the swells reduce again - who knows how long that could take!
By the time I had explained these options to the couple of walkers I realised that the wind was even stronger and the sea was covered with breaking swells and gusts of wind were carrying clouds of spray.
After explaining the situation to the walkers I decided that the smartest option was to go back and camp at the 'boat crossing' camp at Prion Beach. I had the whole campsite to myself and I walked around in circles for about half an hour trying to pick a good site, without being too greedy, knowing that a lot of walkers would be coming through each day as well.
During the afternoon (of wild weather) I started to clear an old track that runs from the n/w corner of the camp, running north along the base of the small hill behind the camp. The track heads north for a 5 minute walk to a board across the slow flowing creek. This point is far enough up the creek to be fresh water, although it did have lots of suspended dirt in it.
7 Jan 2008 - Monday
I spent the day relaxing at the camp and helping people with their boat crossings. I also cleared the fallen trees off the path to the creek and marked it with orange tapes.
8 Jan 2008 - Tuesday
I had a sleep in while listening to the radio. I eventually got up at 10.30am. I decided to paddle around the New River Lagoon and up the New River. I unloaded the kayak except for a bit of food, water and camera. I headed up the western side of the lagoon. The first 2-3km's up the western side of the lagoon were very shallow but it was deeper near the first point that stuck out. On the northern side of this point there was a pebbly beach on the northern side of it. I didn't look in the bush but there was probably enough gaps between the trees to stick up a tent.
The lagoon is about 7km long from north to south and 2km wide at its widest point, but there are many shallow areas where the water is less than knee deep - even out in the middle of the lagoon. I paddled into the New River. It was initially about 50m wide but quickly narrowed to about 15-20m. There was an S-bend in the river after 1.5km then a wide pool after another 1km. This pool was really interesting with a rocky island in it and a log perched on top of it - probably stranded during a recent flood.
Within 500m the river continued to narrow to the extent that any tree that fell, blocked the width of the river. I dragged the kayak over a few trees and made it 1km north of the round pool area. At this spot there was a little sandy area on the right (heading up river) where a creek joined the river. Beyond here the river was choked by fallen trees. I stopped for a drink and hoped to look around on the bank but the vegetation was dense.
9 Jan 2008 - Wednesday
I got up at 6am, hoping to be able to head back to Cockle Creek. I packed my kayak carefully to be slightly back heavy - so the bow of the kayak gets up over the waves more easily when heading into the surf. I headed down the river to the beach. When I got to the beach the surf didn't look too big so I headed straight out, angling right to stay away from the rocks. I headed out through a few waves. They were about 1 metre close to shore and I punched through a few broken waves. There was a brief respite and then a set of 2m waves came through. I reversed a bit and so that they were smaller, but they still knocked me back. After that set I paddled out hard, hoping for a gap. I got over a couple of waves before they broke and then I saw a really big wave looming up. I could see that it was going to break just before it got to me. All I could do it go hard into it.
About 3 metres of broken wave hit me really hard, spearing the kayak backwards and under the wave. I was tumbled over and over and torn from the kayak. I was held under water for what felt like ages. I can remember feeling relieved that I had a buoyancy vest on to help me get back to the surface. I finally popped up and saw the kayak about 50 metres away and the rudder was hanging off, only attached by the cables.
I still had hold of my paddle and started to swim towards the kayak. A few more big waves passed by. I was hoping that the kayak wouldn't be washed up onto the beach because there would be more chance of damage. I kept swimming to the kayak which must have stopped in a deeper area where the waves weren't breaking as much. The cockpit was full of water and I swam the kayak the short distance to the beach. I emptied it out and dragged it clear of the water. The rudder was broken along its front edge, where the metal rod runs down through it. When the wave forced the kayak backwards it turned the rudder sideways with great force, snapping the rudder where the 'rod' holds it to the kayak. I then realised that my cap (with the flap down the back) had been washed off.
I paced around for about 10 minutes thinking what the hell will I do now and keeping a lookout for my cap in the boiling surf. I undid the rudder cables and had a look at the rudder. After a while I remembered that I had 'kneed it' repair putty and I could try and repair it with that. I got my repair stuff out, cleaned the rudder off, dried it and filled the gaps with the repair putty.
I left the rudder for a couple of hours to get hard while I wandered around the beach, studying the waves, looking for some magical gap to get out more easily. It is amazing how much smaller the waves look when you are watching from the beach and there are no people, kayaks or other objects (that you can compare the size of) out in the surf.
By 11am I decided to have another go. I was nervous but I had thought I was being pathetic, just standing on the beach watching the surf and I would never make it out unless I gave it a good try. I got in and paddled out about 30 metres, still in the shore break waves of about 1 metre. I stayed in one place, bouncing over the waves as I watched for some gap in the surf. A wave came through that wasn't particularly big and I went through/over it and for some reason I tipped over. I tried to roll up but my roll didn't work. I popped up and pulled the kayak up the beach. I realised that I didn't really have my heart in that attempt and I was still feeling traumatised from being hammered in the surf last time.
After emptying the water out I paddled the kayak back up into the river. I stopped at the closest point to the stairs that leave the eastern end of the beach and climbed up them to get a different perspective of the waves. I sat and watched for about 15 mins and it looked like the far eastern end of Prion Beach, next to the rocks, had the smallest surf. The main problem with this area was that if I came out the kayak could be washed in by a wave and smashed on the rocks.
I decided to have another go and paddled back out. This time I my paddle was attached to the kayak by a short cord so I wouldn't have to swim with the paddle if I came out again.
I left the river and positioned myself just out of the river mouth and right about 20 metres to give me that distance away from the cliffs. I then spotted some barely submerged rocks near me so I went a bit further right (west). I went out about 100 metres from the shore to an area that was about 50 metres inside where the main waves were breaking. I stayed here for about 5 minutes, bouncing over some waves and having to break through others - about 1m high.
I started to edge out, a bit at a time, to see how close I could get to the breaking waves, in case a gap opened for me to sprint out. Before I knew it I was out in the main break and a big wave, 2-3 metres, was looming up in front. I gave it everything to punch through it and made it. It is a relief to hit the wave and break through to the back instead of it hitting me and sucking me backwards down the wave and then be crushed by it.
Another similar wave was behind that one and I went hard again and hit it and was elated to break through it. I was airborne and landed with a huge thump over the back. Looking ahead I couldn't see any waves peaking up in front so I gave it everything and was screaming "GO, GO, GO, GO, COME ON, COME ON" urging myself on with every stroke UNTIL...
Another wave was picking up about 50 metres away and it was bigger than the previous ones and breaking a lot further out. I knew I was stuffed and it was going to hurt. All I could do was keep going as hard as I could to hit it with some momentum. I hit it just after the top of the wave was breaking and it was very steep and tipped the kayak back, end over end. I was under water, torn from the kayak (again) and tumbled over and over. Eventually it let me surface and I saw the kayak about 20 metres away and about 50 metres from the rocks/cliff. The wave that hit me must have been the big one of the set because there was a bit of a lull. I swam towards my kayak. Some smaller waves came through but the waves didn't move the kayak far because it was heavy with a cockpit full of water - probably a few hundred kilograms.
I reached the kayak and found the paddle still attached and the rudder smashed again, hanging only by the cables. A bigger wave was approaching and I thought that if I could hold onto the side of the kayak the wave might take us both in to the beach. I held onto the deckline cord which is about 5mm thick and quite hard cord. The wave hit and I hung on tight but the wave was too powerful and it was torn from my hands. It didn't go far and I swam to it again. I hung on harder as the next wave hit and it was torn out of my hands again. This time I felt my skin tearing on my right hand.
After the wave passed and I surfaced again, I looked at my hand and the cord had torn the skin away from a few fingers and a section of my thumb, in pieces of about 1cm wide, with skin and flesh flapping open. It stung in the water but I just clenched my right fist and didn't look at it. I swam to the kayak again. I was still about 200 metres from the shore because this time I had got a lot further out before being hammered. More waves hit and I just pushed the kayak in a direction away from the cliff and let it go and swam holding my hand closed. It was bleeding a fair bit. I rolled over and kicked on my back with my hand clenched out of the water.
Each wave took me closer and after about 5 minutes I was just out off the river mouth. The problem here was that the water was flowing out and stopping me from getting to the beach. The kayak had also stopped here, being held out by the current. I turned and swam with the kayak, parallel to the beach to get out of the main flow. I could tell when I was clear of it because the lagoon/river water was dark tannin stained and easy to see. I then made it to the beach and dragged the kayak up into the river and pulled it up.
I sat on the beach, putting pressure on the cuts for at least half an hour. They sort of stopped bleeding so I started to paddle the kayak (without the rudder) back up to the campsite. I dragged the kayak up the beach. A few walkers were there and they were curious to see a kayak in the lagoon. I told them the story and then set up my camp again. I got comfortable and did another rudder repair, trying to make it stronger than the previous repair. After it had gone hard I also taped around the repair.
I got another weather forecast with my satellite phone and the swell was supposed to be lower the next day. I was hopeful but it was due to get big again the day after that so I had to be successful tomorrow.
I considered my options if I couldn't get out tomorrow. The swell would then be too big for probably 5 days because it was forecast to have strong wind for 2 days and it takes about 3 days to drop down enough to be able to leave. I didn't have enough food for another 5 days so I decided that if tomorrow wasn't successful I would walk out. This would take all of Thursday and Friday, reaching the car late Friday night. I could then drive home, get more food and an undamaged rudder and walk back in to Prion Beach when the swell would be low enough to be able to paddle out. This wouldn't be ideal but it was possible that the swell would be too big at Prion Beach for many weeks. There were no guarantees that it would drop to 1m any time soon. When the swell is 2-3m there are about 20 lines of broken waves all the time and it doesn't give you any chance to make it out.
10 Jan 2008 - Thursday
I had a restless night because I was nervous about trying to get out through the surf again. Around 4am I heard a roaring sound and I couldn't tell if it was wind or the surf. I poked my head out of the tent and found that it wasn't particularly windy. Besides the roar it also sounded like there was water flowing fast. I started to get really concerned that there had been really big waves and the lagoon was flooding with sea water and my kayak could get washed away. I rushed down to the kayak. As I reached the beach everything looked in order. The lagoon water was at its normal level. There was no wind at all and I think that the sound of the surf was just standing out really clearly with no other sound. I felt relieved again but I still pulled the kayak up onto the dunes in case.
I returned to the tent and dozed for an hour. I got up at 5 am and was ready to leave by 6.15am. I didn't fit the rudder this time and intended to try and get out through the surf without using it. If I got out I would paddle well clear of the waves and get into the water and swim to the back and attach it. This is quite easy with the Mirage kayaks. I also had quick release shackles so I would just have to slide the metal rod down into the rudder and attach the quick release shackles. This wouldn't be pleasant but better than breaking the repair again. I thought the rudder would handle normal forward paddling ok. It was in danger of breaking if the kayak was speared backwards though. If the wind got strong on the 46km back to Cockle Creek I wanted the rudder on to make it easier to control.
I packed everything, leaving the rudder until last. I then wondered where I would put it so that I could get to it from the water. I ended up putting it inside the cockpit, beyond the rudder pedals. I could get into the water, tip the kayak upside down and, with my head inside the cockpit, reach forward to get the rudder, tip the kayak back up and fit it on, get back in and pump out any water in the cockpit.
So, that was the plan. I nervously headed down the river towards the mouth. I was relieved that the cuts on my hand were not stopping me from holding the paddle securely.
As I approached the surf, it looked slightly better than the carnage of yesterday. I thought I should get out near the mouth and study it for a while but when I got there it looked ok. I went out about 50 metres and bounced over a few waves, waiting to see the big waves of the set. A couple of moderate waves came through and I crept forward a bit more and a broken wave of 4-5 foot hit me. I made it through alright and then went hard. I was excited that there was nothing in front of me but I had felt that relief yesterday just before the last carnage. I kept giving it everything until I was a few hundred metres past the last broken wave - just to be sure, and let out a huge cheer - of excitement and relief.
I continued out thinking about fitting the rudder but before I knew it I was at the first point, which is just out from Rocky Boat Inlet. The swell was low enough to safely go in there so I headed in. There were a few swells in Rocky Boat Inlet but it was ok. I approached the rocky shore and got out about a metre from the rocks and lifted the front of the kayak up onto the line of kelp on the rocks - to protect the kayak. I then pulled it up onto the kelp.
I fitted the rudder and put lots of sunscreen on because I had lost my paddling cap in the surf the previous day. I headed back out again with my repaired rudder working normally. Now that I had escaped Prion Beach without further problems, I was out off the south coast in fine weather and no wind and the scenery was magnificent. I was keen to get back to Cockle Creek so I aimed to paddle the shortest distance - from point to point.
I headed towards the impressive dolerite 'organ pipe' cliffs of South Cape. From here there is a 10km stretch directly across South Cape Bay to South-East Cape. To follow the shore around South Cape Bay is 15km take the shortest route to S/E Cape. It is a risk to go straight across because it leaves you 5km offshore at the furthest point. The weather seemed settled and I couldn't see any nasty clouds to the south so I continued straight across. I turned on my gps to watch my speed to try and paddle 10km/h for the hour - not easy in a heavy sea kayak.
I paddled hard across the bay in still conditions. I passed lots of fishing buoys in a line that either had a net below them of it was just because the boat dropped cray pots in a line as they motored along. I made it to the foamy waves at South-East Cape in 65 minutes from South Cape and I was very relieved because each point that I passed brought me closer to the safety of Cockle Creek.
I aimed for Whale Head which isn't as far south a S/E Cape but is rougher due to the reef out from it. As I approached Whale Head, the effect of the shallower water caused big rolling swells. I gave it a bit of space as I rounded it. I was on the home stretch with about 13km to go. Halfway along this section I noticed some dolphins on my right. I stopped for a look and some more surface only metres away on my left. I continued paddling with them next to me for a few minutes and then they had gone as quickly as the arrived. I saw them pop up again hundreds of metres away.
As I turned left for the final 3km in towards Cockle Creek there were still no clouds and virtually no wind. The water was so clear I could see the bottom all the way to the beach. I landed feeling happy, relieved and exhausted. I had paddled the 46km quite hard with no stops to get back before any strong winds arrived. I pulled the kayak up and went back in for a swim to clean off.
I then packed up and had a leisurely drive back home. It felt really strange that in half a day I had gone from being stuck half-way along the south coast with a damaged kayak to a hot shower at home.