Day 157, Tuesday, 23.06.2009

Yes, I made it yesterday to Cape Leveque/ Kooljaman through BIG spring tides in a 85 km leg. I’ll write about details later.

I’m in a dry climated room right now to heal my sore skin, it really doesn’t look and felt good the last days paddling.

I’ve got internet access here, and will upload my trip report of the last 23 days through the Kimberlays day by day. Luckily it’s mostly pre-written already…

I won’t *paddle* down to Broome right now, healing my skin has priority. Greg Bethune picked me up at the Cape, and we may drive down to Broome soon to swap kayaks and to do organisation things.

Terry Bolland from , epic dealer in Perth, is on his way up to Broome from Perth with my new kayak on the roof! Thanks to Terry doing that job! See you soon! And thanks to Jacqui Williams/ epic kayaks Australia, to organize the transport.

The new kayak, the expedition version of th epic 18x sport with a solid lay-up and other new details, was planned to be used by me right off the start, but problems in epic’s Chines factory delayed the launch quite a bit. I’m now very much looking forward to get it!


I’ll continue to paddle for sure where I’ve stopped! It may take some days. Going non-stop through the Kimberlays took it’s toll on my skin, sorry, and organizing things will take some time. When I’ll be passing Broome then later, I may not even stop for a whole day!

So Broome-people, if you like to get in contact with me, please do it NOW the next days!


The plan was to head to High Island today, and to cross King Sound on slack ebb tide next morning.

I had made a note on my map that the 10 km crossing of King Sound was best made at ebb slack tide…I don’t know when I was writing that, talking to whom, but I was mulling over that note all day, comparing what I saw and experienced on this day’s paddle.


Low tide was just when I was planning to leave at 6am. The flood tide would be with me until I would be landing on High Island around lunch time.

The paddle down the Goose Channel past Gibbing Island to the right and heading for the north western top of Hidden Island was easy with moderate tidal drift.


I could avoid to be drawn into a fat tidal race at the edge of Hidden Island. I was probably simply too close, and was pulling in last second around a corner of a fat rock through the “chicken run”. The water was really streaming around one cliffy corner like a river rapid! But going through the race would have just been fun, as it was rough and fast into the right direction, but there were not too high waves going.


The flood tidal drift was actually not simply going south as I noted, but south-east which I realized over that day. This made me being too close again to the reef area of Shirley and Tryer Island, and I was again admiring a fat confused tidal race going south east through the island’s gaps. I noticed too late that the area appearing to be flat after the race for sure still had a strong current to south east, and I was drawn into it as fast I couldn’t react to paddle away.

Ok, change of plans, go *with* the stream and get flooded downstream through Shirley and Tryer Islans! My GPS noted an “escape” through the two Tryer Islands. It was then a quiet beautiful mangrovy channel. No crocs…

I reckon I would get confused without my GPS in those strong tidal streams, getting washed and pulled around mostly unintentionally around different island corners…



Free of that funny tidal area, I could head across the last 8 km to High Island. I was spotting a beautiful sandy beach already from the far distance, but was eager to pull around the corner to a deep bay I found on my map.

There was no way I could reach the northern spit or even the beach close to the northern spit in a direct line, so I had to let go again and getting flooded a bit more to the north eastern edge of the island. Then I was able to hard work my way up north in the eddy line! Eventually I was on the beach, some tough going the last ½ hr!



There I was mulling over slack water times and tidal stream directions again. It was only 12.30 and fully high tide. I knew the tidal steam would continue to flow south for another 1 1/2 hr before it would turn north.

The crossing of King Sound with it’s waters streaming at 10 knots in and out was only to be done at slack water, either ebb or flood slack.

But it was not only about the crossing, I reckoned…there was the Meda Passage up to Swan Island to consider as well, if I wouldn’t want to stop already on the Roe Islands after the crossing.


I didn’t have a tidal stream atlas for that area (although I probably should have…) and I only noted “north going ebb, south going flood” on my map plus that I don’t know where it came from information “Crossing of King Sound best to be done on ebb slack”, but common sense after the experience of today told me the water was going north-west through Meda Passage on the ebb.


So I either could stay on High Island and do the crossing and the final distance to Cape Leveque tomorrow on high slack water, which would be even one hour later, or NOW, right NOW!


I was not sitting long at the beach and kept on thinking, but the decision was made: I won’t stay on High Island, I would go NOW and cross one of the biggest tidal area on earth with 12 m tidal range!

See how far I would get that day. I at least wanted to reach East Roe island, 10 km across!



I was working my way up the eddy line to the northern tip of the island. It was going easy, with about 8 km/h. Then the tide played it’s own game and flushed me through the first km with about 13 km/h! I almost didn’t need to paddle…

The water was confused, lots of whirlpools, tide rips and races, but in general the surface of the water was not too rough in terms of wave hights. The first 3-4 km were like that, FAT tidal stream action luckily into the right direction, but amazingly I didn’t lose any degree on my bearing so far!

After about 1/3 of the crossing of King Sound was done in a speed I was never expecting, it started to slow down to 3-4 km/h! The hell knows what kind of game the tide was playing there…luckily this spooky game lasted only for tough 1,5 gained km, and then I was speeding along again!


I then slowly started to lose degree after degree in my original bearing, but I knew the tide would turn soon and give me my original bearing back, more or less, sooner or later…I was actually happy not to lose more degrees. No chance again to point the bow upstream and to compensate the potential lost degrees, then I would get my speed down to 0, or even go backwards!


I reached East Roe Island pretty quick, and as I started on high tide, but the


(To be continued later!)


Text message from Freya via satellite phone:

16.23 122.57 Kooljaman. 85km, 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Great tidal run! Landing at lowest tide sucks 🙁

It will take some rest days to heal my skin.

15 comments on “Day 157, Tuesday, 23.06.2009


Ouch! Nasty rash there, Freya, hope it’s healing well during your break. Are there any sheep stations near Broome? Maybe you can get a small, well-tanned sheepskin to add to your kit — they are wonderful for cushioning and soothing the skin even when wet, better than any fancy synthetic. Even if it didn’t work out in the cockpit, keeping it under you while you sleep in camp would help the air circulate onto your skin and the natural lanolin in the wool helps protect from moisture.

We have really been enjoying your well-written updates and new photos — every day more of my friends are following the blog and your adventures.

Enjoy your break — the new qajaq and gear look great and I’ll bet you are itching to get back on the water. Oops, maybe “itching” isn’t the best word — let’s have no more itching! Let’s say you are yearning to paddle again! And all of us will be paddling with you, in spirit!

Jimmie Meehan

Geeze…what a trip…I am inspired …think I will get down my dusty kayak and go out to a near by lake for a little paddle….I told my wife how she could do a long paddle and….go….in the boat….something we, or I , had wondered about….she is not up to it….go girl go…take care and keep the slippery side down.

Moin Freya,

that looks like injections from very big moscitos. And before you start again, lets have a view by a doctor.

With best wishes to your health



Ditto on all comments. I have a feeling you’re getting your new boat this stop (136 miles one way, but not freeways). Thanks to all who are helping now. Your trip and comments are usefull for alot of kayakers. The word of your website is getting out here in the Seattle area. May the tides be with you Blake


Hello Freya from Newfoundland,

Just checking in again on your progress girl. It is amazing. Keep well, and when you’re tired of warm (albeit crazy) waters, you must come back to Newfoundland!


Congratulations on your extraordinary feat, I am following your progress with great interest being a paddler myself I undestand the effort of your acievements. Keep healthy and the best top you.
Sending you all my best vibes, Frank.

Gerold Bueschen

Hallo Freya,

zur Abwechslung auf Deutsch. Ich freue mich, dass Deine Reise so gut verläuft. Hier mit zu lesen ist spannend und vielleicht bekommt man sogar eine Ahnung von dem, was Du erlebst. Ich wünsche Dir weiterhin alles, alles Gute und paß auch weiterhin gut auf Dich auf!


hi freya.well done an epic paddle even if you were to quit today i have some experience of big tides from the severn estuary uk now living goolwa sa near coorong best wishes phil


Well done Freya on a fantastic effort. There has been some debate on exactly where the half way point is, guess you have actually passed it, but we global followers had planned a symbolic halfway toast when you pass through Broome. Maybe we should take your rest time to raise our champagne glasses, so that you can join in too!


Take care of that skin. I’m guessing that the sun and the salt are taking their toll. No one has mentioned it but keep loads of sun screen on. That’s probably been over stated somewhere. Just don’t want to see you all fried and unable to continue at some point.

Your drive and adventurous spirit are amazing! We’re all pulling for ya!


Inge Hartley

Hello, Freya, so glad you have made it so far and that you can cope with the big tides. Very proud of you. Love and best wishes, Inge:)


Hi Freya,

Congratulations!!! Very impressive, 157 days so far. Lucky me I am doing 6 days around the Whitsundays next week with my 18 year old daughter and 20 year old son. Both don’t paddle much. What a treat for them to join me. All the best for the rest of your trip.


Gidday Freya,

I only very recently found out about your amazing journey and I have enjoyed reading through all the old posts. I have now caught up with you (albeit with far less effort and far more comfort) and it only took me 2 days rather than 157.

I am somewhat jealous of you and would love to go on a similar adventure. Alas I do not have the drive or tenacity that you are demonstrating. You’ve got some guts girl !

In any case, whilst kayaking on Lake Burley Griffen in Canberra does have it’s dangers (very very cold water and deadly blue green algae) ;-), I doubt it would prepare me for the dangers you face.

Good luck with the remaining trip. I look forward to reading all about it.

Hi Freya,

Congratulations on your crossing – 85km nonstop in a fully loaded boat with an average 7km/hr – extraordinary!

Well done and I’m looking forward to joining everyone in raising a glass to you as you reach Broome.

All the best, Peter

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