matty's tasmanian adventures - index
Kayak Circumnavigation of Tasmania
- 26 Days
Feb/March 2007 - solo paddle - Matthew Watton
This trip is the fastest kayak circumnavigation of Tasmania - not sail assisted (also faster than any sail assisted laps). It included going around Tasman Peninsula not cutting through Dunalley canal. 26 days.
Wednesday 7 Feb 2007 - Packing day at Cockle Creek
I had been steadily packing my gear for the last 2 days and by 11pm on 6/2/07 I was pretty satisfied that I had the main bits. I printed off a the maps from computer versions so I wouldn't ruin my originals.
I needed to get a good nights sleep but my mind was racing as I tried to think of anything I hadn't packed.
I watched a bit of tv & went to bed at 2am 7/2. I told dad I would be at his house at 7.30 -8am ish. Mum was in Victoria on a bus tour holiday. She called to wish me a safe trip at 7.30am. Dad had the dog-minding duties so Topsy came with us to Cockle Creek. We reached Cockle Creek at 11am and I started the unpleasant packing process. I was ready at 1.20pm but by that time there was a strong s/w wind blowing straight across the valley & out of Recherche Bay. It was just like the Maatsuyker Canoe Club trip where we tried for 3 days to get around to the south coast but were blown backwards each time.
I was blown out of Recherche Bay quickly with the s/w wind a my back but I had to turn south soon & I found the wind was getting stronger when I turned to s/w as I got my first view of Whale Head the wind was right in my face & unpleasant. I had put my warm paddle top on but it was over my wet top.
The 7km section to Whale Head took forever. There were big swells rolling around Whale Head. Realistically I thought that the wind was too strong to continue but I was hoping it would weaken as I continued to s/e cape. IT DIDN'T.
I struggled to the eastern side of s/e cape and it was horrendous with waves breaking in all directions and bouncing back off the cliffs.
The wind now seemed to be strong westerly. There was no way I could continue to south cape rivulet. The wind was only allowing me to move at 3-4 km/h and it would take me another 2-3 hrs to get there so I made the annoying decision to turn around and have another go at it tomorrow.
I turned the kayak around in 4 metre swells off south east cape. The distance back to Cockle Creek was twice the distance of continuing to South Cape Rivulet but heading back with the wind would be a lot faster. The trip back was very fast as I surfed down lots of swells. The Mirage 580 can feel a bit unsettled if you keep letting the waves wash past you but it feels great when you put in a bit of effort to catch waves and it surfs easily down the face of the wave.
When I turned to the south back into Recherche Bay I had the strong headwind again. I reached the camp at 4.45pm and unpacked. Within 2 hrs the wind had dropped a lot but was forecast to be strong again tomorrow.
As I lay back in the tent (Macpac Minaret - 2 person tent) I could still feel the rocking of the water - the after effects of being out in the rough stuff.
Thursday 8 Feb 2007 - Day 1 - Cockle Creek
I had a restless night and woke up regularly, probably because I was anxious about the struggle into the wind again and the big swells of the south coast and possible surf landings. At 4am I was woken by the sound of something knocking over metal objects. I got up to check my gear and discovered that there was no wind outside. I quickly packed up my gear inside the tent and moved it outside. As I stood up outside the tent ready to pull it down there was another strong gust of wind as it returned and then started to rain. I got back into the tent and dozed off again. I woke up again at 8.30am and packed quickly as the wind was light again. I was angry that I had fallen asleep again and wasted 2-3 hours.
I finally left at 9.25am. The wind was a bit less than the previous day. I reached Whale Head at 11.15am and the swell was still big. At South-East Cape the swell was big and messy, rebounding in all directions. I then aimed for South Cape which is a 10km stretch across the bay. The wind was gradually easing and by the time I was off Rocky Boat Inlet the wind was quite settled but the swells were still big. I had a look into Rocky Boat Inlet but every time I snuck in towards the mouth of the bay some huge swells rolled through and broke across the whole width of the bay. I watched for 15 minutes and then gave up.
I continued around the next point where I had a view into the eastern end of Prion Beach. For the next 30 minutes I paddled in and then got very scared as swells peaked up behind me and I had to quickly paddle backwards - just breaking through the top of 3-5m breaking waves. The reason I was doing this was that in between the big swells I was sure that I could get into the beach in the eastern corner where New River Lagoon came out. I had done this before to climb Precipitous Bluff but sadly it was too risky this time.
The wind turned to a light southerly sea breeze and I continued along to the western end of Prion Beach and then Deadmans Bay and Little Deadmans Bay (aka Deadmans Cove). I landed in on the northern side of the bay where there was a small patch of sandy gravel (at low tide). I set up my tent just above this area. This isn't the main Deadmans Cove camp but there was no-one else here as they were all at the fire at the main camp. A group from Tas Expeditions were there. They were on their rest day. I had met both of their guides - Nick & Leon - on different occasions as I walked the South Coast Track.
I chatted to their group for and hour and then went to ring my dad to let him know where I was. My Globalstar satellite phone wouldn't get a signal. Even when I was standing out in an open place with the aerial up it wouldn't get a signal. After standing there for about 45 mins it briefly connected and I called but was cut off after 30 seconds. I waited for another 30 minutes, holding the Globalstar phone up in the air but I had no luck. I was very annoyed. What is the point of a satellite phone when it won't do what it is supposed to do?
As I walked back from the open button grass plain into the bush I suddenly saw a Quoll on the track in front of me. At the time it looked like the bigger of the 2 Quolls that are found in Tasmania. Since finishing the trip and checking my Dave Watts 'Tasmanian Mammals' guide book I found that it was the Spotted-Tailed Quoll. This is bigger than the other Quoll which is the Eastern Quoll. The Spotted-Tailed Quoll is 400-600mm long whereas the Eastern Quoll is up to 350mm long.
The Spotted-Tailed Quoll in front of me just stood there and so did I. My head torch was on but I avoided shining it right at the Quoll. I could see that it was sniffing at me to 'work me out'. It then walked up to me and started sniffing my leg. I was excited at seeing the beautiful native animal but hoped that it didn't decide that I was edible. My smelly king gee trousers mustn't have been good enough for it so it wandered off slowly down the track in front of me. It didn't seem at all concerned that I was there. I walked along slowly a few metres behind and it eventually left the track up a narrow 'animal path' away from the track. It then appeared back on the track in front of me and walked along the main walking track and disappeared into the bush near my tent.
Cockle Creek to Deadmans Cove: 48km
Friday 9 Feb 2007 - Day 2 - Deadmans Cove
I had a good sleep and woke at 5.50am to listen to the forecast but I fell asleep straight away and missed the forecast. I woke up again at 7.45am and left at 8.50am. As I left Deadmans Cove it was sunny and there was virtually no wind as I headed along the rocky coastline towards Louisa Bay.
I wanted to paddle into the Louisa River but I hadn't done this before so I approached the river mouth with caution. There were a few sand bars but there was hardly any swell and only 1-2 foot waves in the river mouth. I paddled up into the river about 200m. There were some rocky areas in the river but I avoided them and landed for a stretch and some food.
There was a huge amount of fishing rubbish on the banks of the Louisa River. There were buoys, ropes and lots of rubbish which consisted of plastic containers and aerosol cans. After a good drink and a few snacks to try and get some energy back I headed out of the river mouth again into the small waves.
I aimed to go between Louisa Island and the coast. In this area there is a shallow neck of sand that can be dry at very low tides and have up to a couple of feet of water over it. In the most shallow point the waves meet from both sides and crash together. On this occasion the tide was low and I became stuck briefly.
After leaving the river, I plodded across Louisa Bay and then even slower across Cox Bight. In Cox Bight I saw a plane doing landing & take-off circuits on the western beach of the bight. Around the next point was New Harbour. The conditions were still calm and sunny and very pleasant. I then headed for Ketchem Island and paddled between the island and the shore.
There is a beautiful little beach on the northern side of Ketchem Island that is sheltered from the swells. I chose to continue the short distance to the western end of Ketchem Bay. Here there is a nice creek and good campsite. As I approached the beach, with a 2-3 foot wave, I could see a few campers on the beach. I paddled in on a wave and dragged the kayak up. I spent the afternoon relaxing. I had a short swim in the cold south-coast water and charged some of my batteries with my solar panel. I found that my satellite phone was still having trouble getting a signal.
Deadmans Cove to Ketchem Bay: 38km
Saturday 10 Feb 2007 - Day 3 - Ketchem Bay
I got up at 5.30am for the big day. I was always a bit nervous prior to rounding south-west cape. I left at 6.45am and was woken right up by a 3 foot wave in my face. It made me alert as I approached the cape. The conditions were really calm and overcast as I approached s/w cape. Just east of the cape I spotted about 50 dolphins to my right and thousands of mutton birds resting on the water ahead. The mutton birds (shearwater) took off when I got closer and I found myself in a cloud of birds as they darted all around. Just off the end of the cape there were also a few shy albatross - probably from Mewstone Rock nearby.
As I rounded the cape and started paddling north it started to drizzle and was misty with no wind. There were seals on the rocks between the cape and McKays Gulch. I was still fresh so I didn't bother going into McKays Gulch. This faces to the north-west and would be quite sheltered from southerly or s/w wind but exposed to n/w wind.
I cruised up the coast in the calm conditions and spotted an aluminium dinghy in Window Pane Bay. There was a diver (commercial) in the water diving for abalone. I said 'hello' as I passed but didn't stop to chat. Window Pane Bay has a beautiful sandy beach. The is sheltered from northerly winds but would have huge surf with southerly wind.
Around the next point is Island Bay. This is very rocky with lots of small islands. There are a couple of small pebbly 'beaches' in Island Bay. It would be a beautiful place for diving and there were more commercial divers here.
After leaving Island Bay I aimed for the southern end of Mutton Bird Island and then changed course to the south head of Port Davey and then aimed for the north head of Port Davey. I was making good time in the light conditions. When I was near Wreck Bay a light southerly wind built up. This was very handy because I was feeling tired and I started to pick up some small waves. I kept riding the waves past Mulcahy Bay and decided to aim for Nye Bay - where the Giblin River meets the coast.
I passed another abalone diver at a reef just off Nye Bay. As I turned into the southern end of Nye Bay I had to paddle a bit wide of the mouth to avoid a reef. Once I was behind the reef I was in calm water and I cruised up the river. After a short distance the river turns left. I stopped here on the southern side - on a small grassy patch right next to the river.
As I lay in my tent that night I heard a very disturbing news story. There was a report that a faint radio distress call had been heard in New Zealand. A search was conducted and a plane spotted an upturned kayak off Milford Sound and a helicopter was being sent for a closer inspection. I suddenly felt sick in the stomach because that is just where Andrew McAuley would have been after crossing the Tasman Sea from Tasmania. I couldn't sleep because I kept listening for the news each hour for updates.
A thousand thoughts were going through my head. Had Andrew become separated from the kayak or was he inside the upturned kayak. I hoped that he was inside with the hatch cover protecting him. In Andrew's testing, if the kayak turned over he would have to brace himself to hold his bottom into the seat so that he didn't fall down into the canopy because that would prevent it 'self-righting'.
I stayed awake most of the night, listening to ABC news each hour for updates and hoping they would find him alive.
Ketchem Bay to Nye Bay/Giblin River: 82km
Sunday 11 Feb 2007 - Day 4 - Nye Bay
At 9am I phoned Jeff Jennings to ask if he had any more information about Andrew. Jeff said that he had heard that Andrew's kayak was found to have the hatch open between the cockpit to the rear of the kayak and it was full of water but still floating.
I left Nye Bay feeling very emotional about this situation. I couldn't help imagining what it was like for Andrew and how along he must have felt. That was making me more upset as I was also felling quite alone where I was.
From Nye Bay I aimed directly for Low Rocky Point, 18km away. As I reached Low Rocky Point 2 and a bit hours later I took the short cut through a gap between the rocks off the point. This area can be very treacherous and it would generally be wise to go around it but the temptation of the short cut was too much for me. On this occasion I didn't come unstuck but it is shallow through this gap and the waves become steep and often break and you are surrounded by green and white foamy water and the strong smell of kelp. The danger of these passages really get your adrenalin pumping.
There are a few places that give me a similar feeling:
The passage between Courts Rock and
Courts Island at s/w Bruny Island;
The passage immediately at the end of South West Cape;
Paddling between Acacia Rocks & Mainwaring Inlet;
The entry to the Wanderer River/Hartwell Cove;
Paddling around the n/w corner of Hibbs Point in a big swell - due to the reefs:
The entry to Granville Harbour;
Conical Rock Harbour;
The entry to Pieman River - DON'T DO THIS UNLESS THE CONDITIONS ARE DEAD FLAT AND THE FORECAST IS CALM FOR THE NEXT DAY AND THERE IS NO RAIN EXPECTED
The passage between Bare Rock and Venables Corner at Sandy Cape;
The reef on the northern side of Temma Harbour;
The entry to Couta Rocks - you can't see the right path clearly until to get in closer;
Arthur River - far worse than the entry to the Pieman River due to more rocks;
Paddling between the Doughboys and the Cape Grim area;
Woolnorth Point area due to strong currents and reefs;
As I headed north from Low Rocky Point in a light n/e wind I followed the shore very closely and made a note of many possible landing points that I hadn't previously seen. I kept paddling at a steady pace and passed High Rocky Point. After another 5km I reached the entry to Hartwell Cove and the Wanderer River aka Christmas Cove. I first paddled into Hartwell Cove which is a beautiful sheltered cove. I left after 30 mins and headed into Christmas Cove and approached the Wanderer River mouth. There was about a 2-3 foot breaking wave at the beach and it was tempting to catch the wave straight into the river at the right-hand end of the beach. I recalled that previous paddles had holed their kayak on rocks here so I approached cautiously.
I caught a wave in to the beach about 20 metres from the river mouth. I walked to the mouth and found that there were lots of submerged rocks in the entry to the river mouth. I walked my kayak along the shore and pulled it carefully into the river. It was beautiful in the Wanderer River. I found a small creek after about 100m on the left. I stopped and had a swim. It would have been nice to camp here to give me time to paddle up the river for a few kilometres.
I explored for an hour or so and then left to head for Hibbs Point. As I was leaving I could feel the sea breeze from the south east. I had about 20km to get to the northern side of Hibbs Point to the place I normally camp at Sanctuary Bay or Meerim Beach. I made great time with the sea breeze behind me and I put in a big effort to catch runs. I would have averaged over 10km/h and reached Hibbs Point quickly. I was welcomed to the s/w corner of Hibbs Point by the 'barking' of the resident seals.
With the wind still behind me I decided to continue past Hibbs Point. I wasn't sure where I would stop but the sea conditions weren't rough so I kept going. I reached about 2km north of Hibbs Point and the wind dropped out and then turned back to the east. Now that I didn't have the wind assistance I decided to stop at the next possible spot. I aimed for the northern end of Hibbs Bay and then continued for 2km more and found a crescent bay (un-named but it is about 6.5km north of Hibbs Point). I paddled around the bay from the southern side. It looked promising from a distance. I could see lots of beaches but as I got closer the shore was blocked by rocks.
Finally on the northern side of the bay there was a very small beach. This beach also had rocks on it but there was a gap just wide enough for a kayak to fit in. The beach was very gravely and steep. In a big southerly swell it would surge up the beach and be nasty - but in this easterly weather it was fine.
I struggled to pull the kayak up the steep beach and found a nice flat grassy open area. As walked onto the 'grass' I realised that the grass was in fact small green prickles. I also shared the spot with lots of jack jumper ants and bullants. I put down my tarp under the tent to protect it from being torn on the prickles. I then spent over an hour trying to get a phone signal on my globalstar satellite phone. I hate globalstar!
Nye Bay to small cove 6.5km nth of Hibbs Point - 81km
Monday 12 Feb 2007 - Day 5 - 6km nth of Hibbs Point
I woke up early and headed off with the expectation that I would reach Macquarie Harbour today. I had sore hands - not so much from blisters but from the effort it takes to try and accelerate a fully loaded sea kayak to catch swells.
As I paddled up towards Varna Bay there were lots of reefs all the way. I stayed well out to avoid them. I remained well out past Gorge Point and Spero Bay. At Spero Bay in headed in amongst the rocks. It was a beautiful spot but the conditions were calm due to the easterly weather. In westerly weather it would be a bit interesting.
From Spero Point I aimed for the lighthouse at Cape Sorell. A very light southerly sea breeze picked up. I eventually rounded Cape Sorell which was a great feeling of relief. It was also the first stepping stone over. As I entered Hells Gates I was a bit too far to the north and ended up in shallow water. This wasn't all bad as there were waves here to catch into the harbour. I went straight to the boat ramp that is 2.5km from the Hells Gates islands - on the left shore as I paddled in. I was very happy to land. It was a successful start to the trip to get from Cockle Creek to Macquarie Harbour in 5 days - especially as your fitness improves each week and this was the first week.
I had told my father that I would be arriving and he turned up at the heads after a while. We went into Strahan for tea and had fish & chips.
I made a list of re-supply items to buy at Strahan:
small tube of sun cream
1 weeks worth of food bars for lunches & breakfast
6 x 1.5 litre water bottles
goulburn valley fruit cups
another weeks worth of night meals (packet pasta)
Hibbs Point to Macquarie Harbour camp ground: 50km
Tuesday 13 Feb 2007 - Day 6 - Macquarie Harbour
I bought my re-supply items and headed back out to the heads. I packed the kayak again and headed off at 12.45pm saying goodbye to my dad. The water was pretty calm as I left the harbour so I was surprised when I felt water wash against my hip inside the kayak - while I had my spray deck on. I looked down to the left side of my kayak and was shocked to see that there was a hole in the side where the bolt and washer that held the seat in place had pulled through the fibreglass - leaving a round 4cm sized hole.
I turned around and went back to the boat ramp. I called my father to let him know that I had come back to fix the kayak. He returned after a few minutes. We pulled the kayak back to the camp site and took the seat out of the kayak. I spent the afternoon repairing the fibreglass where the seat bolt goes through and used larger washers as well. By this time it was too late to start paddling to get to Trial Harbour 35km away in a n/e headwind.
Wednesday 14 Feb 2007 - Day 7 - Macquarie Harbour
I woke at 5am and had some quick breakfast. I packed and left at 6.45am. It was calm as I paddled across Ocean Beach towards Trial Harbour. I saw some albatrosses resting in the water while there was no wind. I also saw a seal feeding - swimming around in circles.
I made good progress for the 35km to Trial Harbour and continued on for the next 20km to Granville Harbour. I met a couple from Queensland and had a chat while I was having lunch. The march flies were very active and persistent.
I headed off again for the next 15km to Conical Rocks Harbour. I saw a few local people checking cray pots. I landed in the sheltered sandy cove and was frustrated that the march flies were very active here as well. Some of the march flies had green eyes and some had red eyes. I lay in the water for a while to avoid them. I put up my tent straight away and lay in there to hide from the flies. I went for a short walk and came across a 2 guys on a 4 wheeled motor bike. I found out that the passenger had was from Canada and had sent my father an email for information about Tasmania about 12 months ago. He was in Tasmania for '10 days on the Island' art festival. It was an amazing coincidence and we found it quite amusing.
Macquarie Harbour to Conical Rocks Harbour: 70km
Thursday 15 Feb 2007 - Day 8 - Conical Rocks Harbour
I got up at 6am to try and get away before the march flies were active. As I headed north from Conical Rocks towards Sandy Cape it was quite misty around the mouth of the Pieman River. There is a very long 30km section of white sandy beach. The tranquillity was spoiled by a few 4 wheel motor bikes screaming along the beach. I cruised along in calm weather.
As I turned the corner around the northern side of Sandy Cape the north east wind picked up to be about 20-25 knot headwind. I landed in the corner of the bay and was immediately attacked by the march flies again. I decided to have a go at paddling into the wind but it continued to build and after 60 minutes and 3km, I turned back.
I landed and wandered around looking for a campsite but couldn't find anywhere sheltered from the strong wind for my tent. I ended up using my bivvy bag instead to avoid having the wind snap the tent poles.
I set my alarm for 4am to try and get some distance under my belt before any wind picked up but it didn't reduce at all during the night.
Conical Rocks Harbour to Sandy Cape: 45km
Friday 16 Feb 2007 - Day 9 - Sandy Cape
After getting up at 4am and finding the wind still strong, I went back to bed until 7am when I heard a car nearby. I looked out of my bivvy and saw an old Suzuki Sierra hooning on the beach and then heading up the track into the dunes. I decided to go for a walk (while the wind was too strong to paddle) and follow the car tracks. I followed the car tracks to the southern side of Sandy Cape and found a guy checking a cray pot that was marked in an 'interesting' manner. I continued walking down the track and found a hut with Parks & Wildlife staff there. I had a brief chat (after waking them up). He obviously had no interest in talking while he was still hoping to be asleep - so I left him in peace.
On the way back I found a shell pile in the dunes that was about 10 metres high. On the side exposed to the wind it was exposed and you could see a cross-section of the shells. As I returned to my bivvy bag I found a guy with a bike who was riding down the coast to the Pieman River where he was going to get a boat back up to Corinna.
The march flies were making my life miserable and the wind was still very strong from the north. It was also about 30 deg C. At about midday I heard the roar of a plane and looked up to see an F/A 18 Hornet fly over the headland at only a few hundred metres above the ground. I could feel the vibrations from the plane and it made an incredible noise. It roared off into the distance to the north as quickly as it appeared.
I finally decided to leave at 12.30pm. The wind was still very strong from the north-east but I couldn't take any more of the march flies. The sea was very rough and there were 2-3m waves rolling into the Sandy Cape beach as I moved away from the sheltered corner. In n/e wind I would normally try and stay close to the shore to shelter from the wind as much as I could but with the large waves I had to stay about 1km out. Even at this distance out I had to avoid breaking waves when I paddled over sand banks and was nearly caught out. The offshore wind was blowing the tops off the waves and sending huge clouds of spray high up and well behind the wave.
I had a big challenge ahead of me. There was 10km of beach before I reached the rocky shoreline where I could shelter in some rocky coves. I just plugged away steadily - just doing enough to keep the kayak moving. I had regular drinks to help me keep up the effort.
It was a massive relief to reach the rocky section and then I just took it one bay at a time, hugging the shore. I headed into Temma Harbour and pulled up at the end of the bay. It was beautiful to have a swim and relax. There were a few cray fishermen there doing some maintenance to their boats. I was very happy when one of them gave me a freshly cooked crayfish for tea.
Sandy Cape to Temma Harbour: 26km
Saturday 17 Feb 2007 - Day 10 - Temma Harbour
I woke up at 6am and it was forecast for strong n/e wind again. I was tempted to just lie in the tent all day but I managed to get up. I thought that even if I only managed to go 10km it would be something.
Again I just took it one bay at a time as I struggled into the wind. I headed for the shelter of Couta Rocks 8km away - entering through the sheltered passage from Rebecca Point (ok for kayaks but not for boats). I stopped for a stretch.
I left after my break and headed for Bluff Hill Point (23km away) where I had a break at 1pm. This is a beautiful spot and there are sheltered landing spots behind the rocks. After an hour break I left and found that the wind had turned into a sea breeze from the n/w at about 15 knots.
I plugged away up to West Point and then crossed to Greens Point then turned into Marrawah Beach. I was mobbed by curious kids and other onlookers. I dragged the kayak up to the camp/car park area and then got a life up to the shop. I then went to the pub for a meal and walked back down the hill, feeling very happy.
Temma to Marrawah: 50km (following the shore)
Sunday 18 Feb 2007 - Day 11 - Marrawah
I woke up and found there was a very strong northerly wind. I could see white caps on the waves coming from the north. The forecast was for the wind to remain like this for the day. I decided that I would have to have stay where I was. It was a sunny day so I washed all of my clothes and hung them out to dry. I charged all of my batteries with my solar panel. During the morning I walked up to the shop to get a couple of salad rolls to have for lunch and tea.
About 7pm there was a thunder storm with torrential downpour. The storm passed and I was left with that fresh 'just rained' smell.
Monday 19 Feb 2007 - Day 12 - Marrawah (still)
I woke at 5.50am and started at 7.25am. I was greeted with a few waves in my face as left Marrawah beach. There was a light southerly wind that helped me towards Woolnorth Point - the north-west corner of Tasmania - 33km away.
As I approached the Doughboys and Cape Grim there were big rolling swells from the south-west. I had to be very careful at I approached Woolnorth Point because there were many reefs with breaking waves. I let out a loud cheer as I rounded Woolnorth Point - finishing the West Coast. I rounded the point by catching a wave between some rocks and the point itself.
On the eastern side of Woolnorth Point the water was calm and the conditions were very pleasant. I tried to be clever and take the short cut and go to the south of Kangaroo Island to save 3.5km. You can only paddle to the south of Kangaroo Island at high tide and even then you may have to pull the kayak for a while. This is what happened to me. I ran out of water and had to drag the kayak for about 200 metres to the next channel.
Once I reached the channel again I was paddling against the current - through Robbins Passage. It was sunny and the water was very warm. There were big stingrays everywhere in the clear shallow water. I stopped at Stony Point which is at the eastern end of the passage. It was good to have another stretch after 60km from Marrawah. I had a chat to some people about to take out 2 Hobie Mirage pedal kayaks.
I left Stony Point at 3.50pm to head to North Point (near Stanley). I was feeling weary but just kept plugging away across the 27km gap to North Point. There was only a few km's to Half Moon Bay where I had camped before. I caught a wave into the beach where there is a little hut. I had camped here before and enjoyed it because it was near a penguin colony. That night I heard them arriving at about 9.30pm. I heard them 'talking to each other' through the night. They are beautiful creatures.
Marrawah to Half Moon Bay: 91km
Tuesday 20 Feb 2007 - Day 13 - Half Moon Bay
I woke up feeling a bit sore and tired after my 90km day yesterday. As I was moving my kayak down to the waters edge, using my trolley as I did every day, a golden retriever appeared running around on the beach. The dog was in heaven to have so much beach to run around on.
I headed towards the Nut at Stanley and saw lots of seals on rocks near the Nut. There was quite a strong current here. I had a 20km gap across a big bay to Rocky Cape against a north-east wind. I plodded along at 6-7km/h. Upon reaching Rocky Cape I stopped for a rest. When I left I was happy to find that the wind had reduced on the eastern side. I cruised along to Boat Harbour, following the shore closely to have something to look at. My father was planning to meet me at Boat Harbour and as I approached the beach I could see him on the grass nearby.
That evening we had a meal at the Cafe and set up the tent near the beach, where lots of campervans had turned up. The temperature was very warm during the night.
Half Moon Bay to Boat Harbour: 42km
Wednesday 21 Feb 2007 - Day 14 - Boat Harbour
I packed up quickly and had some breakfast. There was a strong north-east wind that I would have to paddle into and I wasn't looking forward to it. I had very slow going towards Table Cape. There were large rolling swells. I stopped at Somerset for a break after 26km. After my break I continued to Burnie where I stopped again. I wanted to find a cork or bung to put in my pump outlet. This outlet didn't have one-way valve and let water into it.
After walking around town for about 2 hours without success, I ended up using an old thong that was on the beach. I cut it into pieces to use for a bung. It worked perfectly. The wind was quite calm as I cruised to Penguin and then on to Ulverstone. I landed at West Ulverstone at 7.30pm and pulled my kayak up. I set up my tent on the beach. It was another warm night and there were a few swimmers there. I was just on the western side of the Leven River mouth. There was a strong current coming out of the river mouth with the tide falling. I could see some swimmers that were out in the water very close to the line of current from the river.
I watched for a few minutes until I saw that they were being taken out to sea. I quickly dragged my kayak back into the water (still wearing my dry 'night clothes'). I paddled out to the swimmers and they were totally unaware that they were in a current. They could swim ok but they were quickly being taken further out. I helped them to get out of the current flow and they returned to the beach.
That was the last thing that I felt like after a long day in the kayak.
Boat Harbour to Ulverstone: 59km
Thursday 22 Feb 2007 - Day 15 - Ulverstone
I got up and packed quickly because I wasn't supposed to be camping where I was. I left at 7am and cruised along close to the shore. I stopped briefly at the mouth of the Forth River. The tide was falling. I continued towards Devonport, stopping at the Mersey Bluff Beach for some breakfast for 45 minutes.
I continue towards Port Sorell with a light sea breeze from the north. I could see a large thunder storm to the south that appeared to be coming towards me. From Point Sorell to West Head I paddled very hard because I didn't want to be out in the water in lightning. By the time I rounded West Head I realised that it wasn't getting any closer so I relaxed again. I landed at Greens Beach and found the shop nearby for tea.
I waited until dark and put my tent up on the beach.
Ulverstone to Greens Beach: 56km
Friday 23 Feb 2007 - Day 16 - Greens Beach
After a restless night's sleep I got up at 6am. I headed along Greens Beach to the east and then found that I was in a shallow rocky area. I had to head north to get around it and then cross the mouth of the Tamar towards Low Head. There was a strong flow out of the river.
After rounding Low Head I followed the shore closely to try and shelter from a moderate south-east wind. I stayed close to the shore until I reached the bay off Beechford, where I 'straight-lined' to Stony Head. In the afternoon the wind turned to the north-east at about 15 knots. I just plugged away at 6-7km/h. I continued to West Sandy Point, East Sandy Point and into the river at Bridport. I pulled the kayak up and camped behind the police station in vacant land. I wandered up to the shops for tea feeling buggered after a hard day.
Greens Beach to Bridport: 71km
Saturday 24 Feb 2007 - Day 17 - Bridport
I got up at 5.15am and packed quickly because it was spitting with rain and I didn't want to pack away with a wet tent. I started paddling at 6.30am. The tide was falling and there was a current heading out of the Brid River.
I cruised slowly for the 25km to Croppys Point with a light northerly wind that was partly a head wind. Through Waterhouse Passage my kayak felt very heavy and I started to think that the rear hatch was full of water. I stopped at the eastern end of the passage and checked the hatches. They were all fine. I guessed that I was just paddling against the current and that I didn't have breakfast and was feeling weak.
I had a break for about 45 mins and had some food bars. I left Waterhouse Point at midday to head straight across the bay for the 23km to Petal Point. I continued for about 4km and a strong easterly headwind came up. There was no way I could have continued for 19km against this wind so I turned right to head back to the shore to follow it around the bay.
I stopped at Tomahawk and had some toasted sandwiches at the shop. I left at 3pm to continue following the shore around Ringarooma Bay. Instead of the 23km across the bay I would have 32km around it.
I plodded along for the first 1½ hrs in the strong easterly wind. There was a fair bit of surf at the mouth of the Ringarooma River so I didn't go into the river. I checked my gps and it said that I had 9km to go to Petal Point, so I had a big drink and headed off again feeling renewed motivation. I struggled along to Petal Point and caught a 2 foot wave into the beach on the southern side of Petal Point. I put up my tent just up the track on the headland.
I was too tired to cook a meal. I just lay down in the tent and went to sleep.
Bridport to Petal Point: 66km
Sunday 25 Feb 2007 - Day 18 - Petal Point
My alarm went off at 5.45am. I found that I couldn't clench my fist on my left hand. I had a weak grip in both hands. I was concerned by this. I had another short nap and got up at 6.30am. I packed slowly due to feeling sore and tired. I left at 8am. The sky was clear and there was a light easterly wind. I cruised to Cape Portland and found that the tide was going out and as a result the current was travelling to the east around the Cape.
I sped around the point at 14km/h with the current. I sped around each point but I returned to 8-9km/h between them. By the time I reached Little Musselroe Bay the current was a lot slower and I thought that by Big Musselroe Point I would be against the current.
I followed Big Musselroe Beach closely because offshore the westerly current would be stronger. This beach is spectacular because it is very steep as the strong currents flow past it and the waves wash up the beach.
I reached the entry into the river at the eastern end of Big Musselroe Bay. I paddled up against a strong current and stopped next to the boat launching spot. A motor boat stopped here. I asked them if there was a shop here. They said no but one of them had a shack nearby and offered to make me some sandwiches. This really hit the spot and gave me a renewed burst of energy.
As I left Big Musselroe Bay there was a n/e sea breeze. I cruised along to the south-east towards Eddystone Point, at one point passing about 10 people walking along the beach. I stopped on the northern side of the point near a shack. I landed at 4pm had a swim to relax. I charged up my batteries with my solar panel and sat watching the wallabies.
I cooked up a meal and went to bed. During the night I had strong stomach pain followed by the runs and vomiting. I sat up for most of the night feeling terrible because I wouldn't have made it out of my sleeping bag and tent in time. I finally went back to bed at 3am feeling drained.
Petal Point to Eddystone Point: 60km
Monday 26 Feb 2007 - Day 19 - Eddystone Point
I woke up at 6am feeling flat and lethargic. My hands and wrists were very sore again and my fingers were numb. I had to massage my fingers to get the feeling back into them (I later found out it was a carpal tunnel issue). I packed slowly and left at 8am. The water was glassy and clear as I cruised slowly down to Ansons Bay. I saw a big school of fish below me in about 10m deep water.
At 10am there was a light easterly wind. It wasn't affecting me but I was very tired and couldn't stop yawning. I felt very flat and had no energy. It took me 6 hours to get to St Helens Point. I had a rest on the south side near Beer Barrel Point where I caught a nice 3 foot wave to the beach. I had some lunch and a big drink to recharge the batteries.
I didn't really want to continue but I headed off again, following the shore so I could stop if I found somewhere to camp. Eventually I started to feel better. I headed for Scamander and landed at 6.15pm. I had a hamburger at the shop for tea.
Eddystone Point to Scamander: 62km
Tuesday 27 Feb 2007 - Day 20 - Scamander
I left Scamander early because I had set up my tent where there was no camping - on the foreshore near the shop. I was drizzling as I packed up and I was eaten by the mozzies. I left the lagoon at Scamander through 3-4 foot messy surf and turned south. There was a south-east headwind hugging the coast closely. I was amazed at how many houses had survived the recent bushfires. The whole coast and hills were burnt severely but most of the houses had survived even though all around was devastated.
I found an injured penguin swimming off Four Mile Creek. Its body seems bloated and it couldn't dive. It appeared to have injuries to its feet. It swam away and I was unable to catch it to help it. Rather than cause it far more stress by chasing it I left it. I knew that it wouldn't live too long.
Just south of Four Mile Creek there was a new steep boat ramp at Burial Point on the map. An aluminium boat was working in the bay and came over to the ramp. I stopped there for a rest. They said that the place was 'White Sands' and it was a private ramp and the public had to pay $10 to launch boats from there. They had been fishing for Moorwong that is sold to China.
After a good rest and feed, I continued along the rocky shore to Long Point, Seymour. I stopped at a bay on the northern side. I discovered that my video camera was on a manual exposure setting and everything was white. I remembered that I had fiddled with the settings while I was filming the sunset at Eddystone Point.
After leaving Long Point, the sky got very dark and misty rain set in. I followed the shore closely - plodding at 6km/h into the southerly wind. I paddled across the next to Diamond Island and stopped at Waubs Bay. Dad was here to catch up with me again. He helped me pull the kayak up the beach. That afternoon I bought more food from the shops and we had fish and chips for tea. I slept in Dad's car while I charged some batteries.
Our night was interrupted by some drunks that turned up at 2am.
Scamander to Bicheno: 53km
Wednesday 28 Feb 2007 - Day 21 - Bicheno
I got up at 6am and left Bicheno at 7.30am but as I paddled through the gulch I realised that the conditions were terrible. There had been strong easterly winds blowing all night. I stopped next to a sailing catamaran 'Amazing Grace'. They were staying in Bicheno due to the wind.
I could see big rolling swells at the southern end of the Gulch. It looked nasty outside the sheltered water of the Gulch. I landed the kayak on a pebbly shore near the boat ramp. My kayak felt a little nose-heavy with my new supplies in the boat. I moved all of my water bottles from inside the front of the cockpit to the rear hatch to change the balance of the kayak further to the back to make it easier to go over waves and so I didn't nose dive as much when catching waves.
I waited until 8.20am, hoping that the conditions would calm down again. They didn't!
I ventured out of the Gulch. The swells were about 3-4m and were going in all directions as they bounced off the rocky shoreline. It was chaotic. The waves were big and steep as I headed south. I headed to the south-east to get further out so that the waves would be coming from a more consistent direction.
Once I passed Cape Lodi after 8km I was paddling past beaches instead of a rocky shore. There were less rebounding waves but they were still very big. I shouldn't have been surprised because there had been easterly wind for most of the last 20 days since I started.
Travelling south off the beaches became easier. The waves and wind was coming directly from the left and not head on. In the strong winds there were lots of gannets, mutton birds and albatrosses around. It didn't seem to take long to reach the southern end of Friendly Beaches. I regularly had to brace as I was hit by breaking waves from my left.
As I reached the cliffs of Freycinet it became very messy and there were still big waves. In challenging conditions my normal practice is to go as hard as I can to get through the bad patch quickly. This only works when the hard patch is a few hundred metres. I was feeling buggered and I wanted a break but I had to get to a sheltered spot.
I headed for to get to the inside of the biggest rock of 'The Nuggets' - which were a group of 4 small islands/big rocks just off the cliffs. There were waves breaking all around the Nuggets but it was sheltered on the s/w side of the biggest of the rocks. I composed myself there for about 5 minutes. I had lots of water in the cockpit that had been sloshing around and I pumped it out. Water in the cockpit makes the kayak unstable and heavier.
After a good drink I continued towards Wineglass Bay. There were still big rolling swells heading into the bay and I stayed along the northern shore of the bay because it was sheltered from the wind. I decided to stop at the northern end of the beach because it was closest and I wanted to stop as soon as possible.
I stopped a few hundred metres out from the beach. The waves were breaking a long way out and I watched the waves for a while. It didn't look too bad from out here. While I was watching a big set came through and I had to paddle backwards to just sneak over the breaking waves.
After the last big wave I decided to sprint for the beach, hoping to get in before the next big waves. In hindsight I should have turned around and gone down to the southern end of Wineglass Bay. I kept heading for the beach. I paused for another wave to break and then tried to paddle hard to follow it in but another wave quickly caught up to me. It became very steep and I realised that there was a sandbar ahead of me causing the waves to peak up and dump.
I was turned sideways on the wave and braced as it dumped on me. The wave rolled me over and I suddenly realised that I had my video camera in a housing on a pole on the front deck. I was worried that it would snap off as I was being rolled over. Before I knew it I had rolled back up again and the camera was still there.
I was washed up on the beach and had to jump out quickly to stop the kayak being sucked out into the dumping surf again. It must have looked crazy to the tourists that had walked down to the beach from the lookout. I looked back out at the waves for a while and most of them were 4-6 foot dumping waves on the sandbar.
It was a huge relief to have survived the very testing day.
Bicheno to Wineglass Bay: a very testing 37km
Thursday 1 March 2007 - Day 22 - Wineglass Bay
I was pleased that in the morning the wind had reduced a bit but it was from the south-east. I plodded until I went through Schouten Passage and headed straight across towards the coast. I couldn't see the coast of Tasmania in the fog and mist but I just kept paddling west.
About half way across it cleared a bit. I headed for Little Swanport and caught some waves into Little Swanport. I stopped on the southern shore of Little Swanport and cooked up my meal in an old hut. I set up my tent on grass near the hut and had a good nights sleep.
Wineglass Bay to Little Swanport: 48km
Friday 2 March 2007 - Day 23 - Little Swanport
I packed quickly in the morning because there it was drizzling. I left Little Swanport at 7.30am. There was only a few k's of visibility in the mist and a south-east headwind again. As I was plodding into the headwind a very loud helicopter flew over me. It was flying under the low clouds only a few hundred metres off the water.
I crossed the bay out from Orford and headed for Spring Beach. I stopped there for lunch and had a chat with a bunch of tourists from a tour group. There were people from UK, Canada, France, Holland, Ireland and Taiwan and some other people I didn't meet. After a good lunch break I continued to Earlham. I stopped halfway down the beach and set up my tent in a paddock among the sheep.
Little Swanport to Earlham: 50km
Saturday 3 March - Day 24 - Earlham
I got up at 5am and packed in the dark. I left at 6.10am still before dawn. THERE WAS A TAIL WIND ... yay ... woo hoo! I was excited and charged down the coast to Hellfire Bluff. I was chasing the wind swells and catching lots of the 2-3 foot wind waves. There was low cloud and I couldn't see far into the distance. I crossed Marion Bay quickly and then saw that I was off course. I had been going towards the entry to Blackman Bay. I turned further left to go towards Visscher Island still with a tailwind. I had my phone handy and called my parents to give them an estimate of my ETA to Pirates Bay.
There were Albatrosses and Gannets everywhere and even a few big ugly brown birds that I think were Southern Giant Petrels. I was also excited to see lots of flying fish (well gliding really). One flew across my bow and other flew out in front of me. There were thousands of birds around Visscher Island also.
Along the next section of coast there were still good runs but it was lumpier because of the rebounding waves from the cliffs. As I approached Pirates Bay the tailwind eased. As I approached the jetty I could see my father standing on it and my mother was nearby on the beach with their dog. The sun was out and the conditions were beautiful. I arrived at 11.20am - 47km in the first 5 hours was alright in a fully loaded sea kayak.
I relaxed and had some breakfast/lunch with them. I left again at 12.45pm. The wind was from the north-east. It was very lumpy as I left Pirates Bay. As I paddled past the tourists near the Blowhole they must have thought I was mental paddling in the big, messy conditions.
I caught more good runs as I headed down to Cape Hauy. I tried to go through the normal gap where the Totem Pole is but the sea was way too rough.
I had to go around the outside of Cape Hauy for the first time and then caught some great runs down to Cape Pillar. There were very strong gusts at Cape Pillar. I entered the passage and there were good swells rolling through the passage as well. I stuck to the northern side of the passage.
I followed the shore closely. There were strong downdrafts next to the cliffs and gusts in all directions. Near Black Head a thunderstorm hit. I got as close to the cliffs as I could, hoping that the lightning wouldn't hit me. I was being pelted by hail and it hurt. It passed after 10 minutes. I continued to the southern end of Safety Cove. I noticed that the wind turned from the north-east to north-west at 7.30pm. If only it had stayed easterly for one more day and I could finish from here. After all it had been easterly for over 3 weeks. I had 101km to go if I took an easterly wind across Storm Bay and went around the the south end of Bruny Island.
Earlham to Safety Cove: 87km
Sunday 4 March 2007 - Day 25 - Safety Cove
It was my birthday and I would have loved to have one more day of easterly wind to finish the trip. It didn't happen.
I got up at 6am, hoping the wind wouldn't still be from the n/w. When I got up I found that it was either west or north-west. I knew that once I got to Cape Raoul either direction would be a nightmare to get across Storm Bay.
I packed very slowly because I was hoping that the wind would ease or change direction. Neither happened.
I left Safety Cove at 8.30am. The wind was still strong and there were big lumpy seas as I passed Crescent Bay and headed to Cape Raoul. I struggled across to the shelter of Cape Raoul and hugged the shelter of the cliffs as I paddled south to the tip. Just at the tip there was a seal colony. A large catamaran rounded Cape Raoul as I got there. They went right over to the seal colony for photos - scaring the seals to rush to the water. Obviously they haven't had 'the talk' from Parks & Wildlife.
I poked the kayak around the impressive cliffs of Cape Raoul. From there it is 30km to the west to get to Cape Queen Elizabeth at the northern end of Adventure Bay. That would be too hard directly into the westerly. I decided to head to the n/w to go around the northern end of Bruny Island and down the D'Entrecasteaux Channel.
I started heading to the n/w which was still close to Tasman Peninsula to 3km south of Wedge Island. There were a few times when the wind changed a bit to n/w or northerly so I turned to go straight across Storm Bay but it quickly changed back from n/w to westerly so I changed again to head to the northern end of Bruny Island.
This happened a few times as I zig zagged to the n/w across Storm Bay to the northern end of Bruny Island. On the crossing of Storm Bay I saw a few seals, albatrosses and millions of mutton birds. The conditions calmed a lot when I reached the northern end of Bruny and I continued down the Channel to Kettering.
I stopped at Roaring 40's Ocean Kayaking business and they let me put my tent up on the grass next to the water and use their shower. After cleaning off I went to the pub nearby for a meal. The meal must have been a bit too much for my stomach after camping food and at about 10pm I was up again with an 'stomach issues'.
Safety Cove to Kettering: 70km
Monday 5 March 2007 - Day 26 - Kettering
After my night of 'stomach issues' I was probably dehydrated which wasn't the best start to my last day. I had about 72km to go and there would be a south-westerly headwind all day. I just hoped that it would be light and let me make easy progress into it.
I got up at 5.30am and started paddling at 6.30am. The morning was cold but it was initially calm. I didn't have any breakfast or a drink because I didn't want to have any more problems.
As I paddled down the Channel near Middleton the south-west wind was picking up. By the time I reached Gordon after about 17km the wind was quite strong. I knew that just around the corner from Gordon I would have a strong headwind and a big area of open water.
Normally I would go straight towards Partridge Island and then towards Southport Lagoon but these were directly into the strong wind. I would have to take the really long way around and head across to the west to Port Esperance (the port where Dover is).
As I left Gordon I was bracing myself for pain. I was faced with a headwind of white-caps. I could either go back to Gordon or try and continue into the wind. I really wanted to finish today so I kept going.
I just kept plugging away into the wind. It took everything to keep the kayak moving forwards. A few k's before Port Esperance I could see some fish farms so I aimed for them because it was sheltered on the down-wind side. I rested there for about 10 minutes, watching the fish jumping.
After a rest I continued to the coast a few k's north of Port Esperance. I reached the shore again and found sheltered to rest again. After a good drink I headed south across the entrance to Port Esperance. The open water at the Port entry was very rough and I sheltered on the southern side.
I checked the gps and found that I still had 35km to go. I was only going at roughly 5km/h into the strong wind bits so I had a long day ahead of me.
It didn't get any easier for the next 7 hours. I hugged the shore and just did enough to keep the kayak moving, creeping past Southport, Southport Lagoon and then across the final open 10km to Cockle Creek. I landed just before 7pm after a horrible 10½ hours into the wind.
It was great to see Dad there with my car. I was cold and exhausted. I got into dry clothes and unpacked the kayak. It was heaven to get into the car with the heater on. I had taken 4 days off my previous best time for 'the lap'. I was happy with the 26 days, but even happier that it was over.
Kettering to Cockle Creek: 74km (following the shore closely)
|DAY||FROM ... TO ...||DISTANCE|
|0 - 7/2/07||Packing day & 'test paddle' at Cockle Creek||32km test|
|1 - 8/2/07||Cockle Creek to Deadmans Cove||early headwind that eased||48km|
|2 - 9/2/07||Deadmans Cove to Ketchem Bay||pretty calm||38km|
|3 - 10/2/07||Ketchem Bay to Nye Bay||s/e||82km|
|4 - 11/2/07||Nye Bay to Jones Creek Bay - 3km nth of Hibbs Lagoon||81km|
|5 - 12/2/07||'Jones Creek Bay' to Macquarie Harbour||50km|
|6 - 13/2/07||Macquarie Harbour repair day||-|
|7 - 14/2/07||Macquarie Harbour to Conical Rocks Harbour||70km|
|8 - 15/2/07||Conical Rocks Harbour to Sandy Cape||45km|
|9 - 16/2/07||Sandy Cape to Temma Harbour||26km|
|10 - 17/2/07||Temma Harbour to Marrawah||50km|
|11 - 18/2/07||Marrawah - bad weather day||strong northerly wind||-|
|12 - 19/2/07||Marrawah to North Point (n/w of Stanley)||91km|
|13 - 20/2/07||North Point to Boat Harbour||42km|
|14 - 21/2/07||Boat Harbour to Ulverstone||59km|
|15 - 22/2/07||Ulverstone to Greens Beach||56km|
|16 - 23/2/07||Greens Beach to Bridport||71km|
|17 - 24/2/07||Bridport to Petal Point||66km|
|18 - 25/2/07||Petal Point to Eddystone Point||60km|
|19 - 26/2/07||Eddystone Point to Scamander||62km|
|20 -27/2/07||Scamander to Bicheno||53km|
|21 - 28/2/07||Bicheno to Wineglass Bay||37km|
|22 - 1/3/07||Wineglass Bay to Little Swanport||48km|
|23 - 2/3/07||Little Swanport to Earlham||50km|
|24 - 3/3/07||Earlham to Safety Cove||87km|
|25 - 4/3/07||Safety Cove to Kettering||70km|
|26 - 5/3/07||Kettering to Cockle Creek||74km|