For the crossing of Dundas Strait I was very much tempted to „take it as it comes“ – means not to care about the tides and launching simply on first daylight as usual. I’m not too good on shifting my biorhythm, rather push a bit well rested against tide or wind than getting not enough sleep.
My digestion called that night before falling asleep (what it usually does in the morning…), was that a sign I should better launch sometimes at night? I checked my notes again and checked the tide, and decided it seems to be a calm night anyway, better follow what should be done…
I reckon it was good that I did…the tide which came in later was quite a high one, and accordingly strong.
So I was launching about two hours before low tide, plus a bit earlier, as I was starting a bit more away from the Strait from this island I was spending the night on.
This was a start at 3.30 am for me…my mental alarm clock was working well, but kept me from at least some hours deep sleep, too…I think I was napping a bit, but had not really good sleep. A naughty bird was making noise all night, as I was obviously camping under *his* tree. He decided to give it a good amount of white smelly bird’s shit on my tent for that…
About a third moon was out, light was sufficient to see enough. It was no wind at all, and the sea was easy. Launching over the reef from the island was no problem. I could make out the end of Alcaro Bay as a dark strip of low land. Coming nearer, I had to turn a bit more to the right to clear the jutting reef rocks on the end of Cape Don. But I could hear and see enough to keep away enough to stay safe and not to hit anything.
The tide pushed me amazingly *out* across Alcaro Bay, and I was already doubting I was calculating the trip right, as it should be against me the first two hours of the crossing.
But as soon I was clearing the lighthouse reef after about an hour of paddling and I was in the “real” Dundas Strait, I noticed I was right. A strong tidal stream pushed me to the north.
The sea was still calm, and there was nothing to notice about a tidal race off the Cape. I had to care about another “No.2”, and was easily balancing straddling the cockpit of my kayak with no outrigger…no problems.
A fat shark or whatever fish was bumping again later into my stern, good I had the paddle in my hands! It gave me the hell of a frightening and I even had to brace a bit.
I started with a bearing of 219 degrees for Cape Keith, but was heading quite a bit more south to work against the tidal push to the north. It was not enough, degree after degree got lost to 214 eventually. At around 5.30-6am the tide should change and stream south, and I expected a good push in that direction as well. But the wind lifted accordingly from the south east, and was stronger than the tidal push. So I lost even more degrees to the north down to 211, as when I wanted to turn into the wind more south, I was making very little progress. But better progress in a dogleg than no progress going straight to Cape Keith, I reckoned.
So I was more heading to Soldier Point, which shouldn’t bother me too much, I guessed…
But the tidal action across Soldier Point was one of the biggest I ever experienced – huge standing pressure waves, actually a pleasure to paddle, as the direction of the stream was clearly with me then and I was making about 10km per hour. But nothing for the faint-hearted…well, I put my PFD on. ..
Passing Napier Bay the tidal race eased quite a bit, but the stream was still with me. The quartering wind still pushed me into the bay, and I headed to Cape Keith on eventually 200 degrees. Quite a curve…but again, it was no solution to turn more into the wind to stay straight, I wouldn’t make much progress.
Cape Keith was full of mangroves, and had a reef with some small reef breakers. I slipped over the breakers into the reef, quite close to croc’s paradise…beautiful to see the water flapping between the trees. Turning more around the Cape, the mangrove forest was getting a bit lighter with some beaches behind a fringe of mangroves, but this was no place to stop.
The Cape itself had some beautiful rocks, but the tidal race happened obviously outside my safe paddling course in the reef at high tide.
I was thinking I had really timed it fully right…what a lucky girl I am! I was going with the full flooding tide and already landed at 1.30 pm.
Camp Point was a nice bay in the mangrove forest with some dunes and beaches, plus a small river outlet. A beautiful place, actually! But crocy…but no other chance to land.
I picked the stretch of beach with the clearest sand dune to the left of the river outlet, and landed through a low surf on high tide. The sand was quite soft from the water, and I was thinking how it may be next morning on low tide?
I was checking as usual the beach, to the right first, where the river outlet was. A beautiful sand spit hide an even more beautiful crystal clear river lagoon, and I could have easily paddled into the river on high tide.
I was checking on croc slides on the sand spit, but only some fallen trees were scattered around, and an old dark long black log was lying on the bottom of the crystal clear lagoon.
I was already tempted to go for a dip in this beautiful calm water, as the “log” was floating up and deployed a friendly smirking croc’s face…as soon as he spotted me he decided to leave with a splash to swim deeper into the river’s mouth.
So far for the dark logs lying on crystal clear lagoon water…it left me with some goose bubbles on my skin for a while…and I planned to go skinny dipping rather on the surfy side.
But there was something worrying me way more than the shy, but quite big 3 m croc which would probably *not* come later out of his river mouth waslking around rhe spit to look for me camping around the corner
It were the big amount of water buffalo tracks all across the sand spit and to the other side of the beach of my planned campsite as well. They left deep, big footprints…you could put my camera 4 times into one……they must be quite some big animals!! I haven’t seen any so far, and didn’t know how they would react. Later some locals told me they are quite inquisitive and nasty…
I was calling a friend for advise, and he gave me the idea for “just in case” have my gas stove handy to light up – no animals like fire…quite a good idea, actually, for any animals…but luckily no buffalo showed up that long afternoon and during the night.
I eventually went for a short dip in the clear low surf, just checking on the small reef shark patrolling in the low water. It was so refreshing beautiful water, as the whole campsite was actually a nature’s paradise. But there is always the “snake” in the paradise…
I found a big turtle slide mark up the beach to the right, plus an abandoned turtle’s nest with quite some empty egg shells. Nice!
Some other fresh animal’s trail looking like a small cat or tiger or so I couldn’t put anywhere…quite some wildlife around here!
But my afternoon and night was quiet. I was putting my tent up very close to the branches of a fallen tree, and blocked the remaining side with my kayak. I left my tent windows open, had a long stick and my paddle handy to chase off beasts, plus the camp stove with the lighter. This should do…
I was calculating an early launch at 5.30 to make the best out of the tide, but as the tide was quite easy yesterday after rounding Cape Keith, I preferred an early launch in daylight at 6.45 am to 7am, to be able to see all possible wildlife…50 km planned for the day along the coast, so it should be ok.
Text message from Freya via satellite phone:
11.36 131.25 Camp Point, 65 km. 3:30 am to 1:30 pm. A most exciting paddle with strong tides and wind. Camp with a 3-meter croc and plenty of water buffalo marks.