Charles Rue from the Gove Surf Club paddled out on his ski to look for me – and found me!
The last night and day developed more promising than expected – I had 90 km to go when I set up “camp”, and this would have been too much for daylight’s paddle only. To land safely in darkness next night, not sure who or what or how many crocs were expecting me, I decided to rather stay another night out than to risk anything. Climbing the mountain (paddling the crossing…) is one thing, getting down (landing safely…) another…
I was not too uncomfortable sleeping, so I was quite relaxed to get hopefulle this night a good rest in after the last very rough one!
At midnight I noticed already a drift of 5 km into the right direction…why not paddling a bit on calmish seas? I took everything in, and started to paddle, but probably mor ein trance than in reality. No good feeling on th elong run, after an hour and 5 km only I deployed my floating camp again…to get good quality sleep until 5am. I noticed another 5 km drift…I was already down to 75 km left! Ok, only one hour paddling in the darkness NOW rather than before landing – and you’ll be there probably in last light, I reckoned!
Camp in, paddling started again at 5.15, and watching my GPS constantly, it seemed to work…the first half of the day was the current with me, then against me, and with me again…mixed with heavy rain and strong wind! But i was in good paddling spirits, knowing I would arrive tonight, and probably in daylight!!! I was calling Dave Winkworth as the easiest contact to tell people in Nhulunbuy surf club about my estimated arrival, and as reported below he was organizing everything! Thanks, Dave!
I actually spent the last hours singing loud, to keep me awake or out of relief? Probably both…
Land was in sight only 20 km before the landing, due to the heavy rain all day. The lights showed clear where the surf club would be – and eventually I saw two paddle blades coming up to me!!! I was happy and surprised, wondering since when they must have spotted me? Actually, Charles went out without having seen me, simply going for a good paddle as most nights, but hoping to find me somewhere in last light – a good omen, as I could have been much later arriving!
He was speeding in then on his ski, but waiting for me frequently…even falling off once in the rough sea, as a surfski is not really made for floating around only. He was probaly wondering why I was so slow and not surfing? Well, a 80-100 kg boat paddles simply different than a 15 kg ski…and I didn’t think I paddled not strongly on arrival!
I was actually wondering about surf, murky water, ski paddling with falling off chance and crocs and sharks…but if the locals do it…
Heading into Nhulunbuy towards the surf club – the camera was probably as blurry as my view that night 🙂
The “welcome party” at the surf club was quite big, but the party was not really set up for me…it was simply Friday night’s BBQ, and quite overwhelming after so many days out there by yourself! I must admit I’d rather have landed on a more quiet spot, and would never have gone in on high tide almost against the wall below the surf club…but Charles went in like that, and waited for me in the water surfing the small waves in.
Jumping out of the kayak and standing up was mostly a pain on my feet, as they developed some ugly sore spots on the little toes on the last day. I was strugglig a bit with balance, and noticed my little toes were simply numb and very painful after stripping my sandals. Helpful hands emptied my boat into my gear bags, as I could barely prevent some strong men lifting the whole loaded kayak – I’m sure it would break apart!!!
My boat got safely stored in the surf club, and Mandy Rue, Charles wife, was driving me to the William Gove house, a nice appartment complex owned and run by the local minig company.
I was getting some very short sat-phone ok-calls in and had a quick bite to eat on the food Mandy brought into my room before enjoying the looooooong hot shower!!! I had to carefully examine my sores – more about that tomorrow…
Thanks to Mandy and Charles taking care about me that night and the next days as well!
Report from Chris Cunningham:
I just got a satellite phone call from Freya (8:05 am Friday,
Australia Central Standard time). She got some sleep last night and is doing well. She picked up 10 km of good drift overnight and added another 10 km paddling at night. She will be landing at Nhulunbuy tonight (Friday) somewhere around 6 pm to 9 pm.
The Gove Surf Club and the town of Nhulunbuy is awaiting her arrival. Charles Rue has thoughtfully alerted local air and sea traffic of Freya’s progress so there are a lot of people keeping an eye out for her. She has a warm welcome awaiting her.
Freya also called David Winkworth and he reported:
Call from Freya 0840 EST. The little white kayak is 60 kms from Nhulunbuy and Freya estimates she will arrive at the surf club between 1900 and 2100hrs today. She is travelling OK.