Paddling into False Entrance, Dulverton Bay
I was not too much in a hurry launching this morning, as I had “only” 40 km to go to Dulverton Bay. But I was underway as usual at 7.30.
As Terry took all my camping gear in his car, heading for Dulverton Bay, It was the very first time on this trip I was paddling an empty boat!!! It makes the hell of a difference in effort and speed if you have to move 80-100kg plus myself through the water, or about 30 kg only! But I was aware it will make a difference in stability, too…
The forecast was not clear for that day, moderate easterlies, but swinging then towards moderate north-westerlies…or so. Three different sources gave three different forecasts. But what a diference can it make on 40 km “only”?
I paddled out of the entrance of South Passage, carefully avoiding the breakers to the left between Monkey Rock and the shore. I knew there would be quite some big ocean swell out there, nothing I haven’t paddled before, but I still felt I got thrown from a one star weekend paddling session in Shark Bay towards a seven star exposed open ocean paddle!
The swell was really still BIG, easily 4 meters, and coming from south west, with me going south east! It has been up to 8 meters the last days…The seas on top were whitecapping 2 meters, created by a fresh south easterly. The sound of my empty boat jumping through those waves was horrible hollow! I was hoping the fresh south easterly was swinging around soon to the north as forecasted, and I was thinking I could as well have lauched two hours later with the 40km “only” to go…
There was no chance to “hide” behind the cliffs for a bit of wind shelter, as I directly preferred to go out from South Passage about 4-5 km to sea to avoid the ugly high backwashing chop. And I felt much better rather NOT seeing the big stuff breaking on the BIG cliffs, and kept my eye on the water around me rather than on the trashing cliffs in the distance. This tactic eases your mind at least a little…NOT seeing the dangerous side…
I kept on plugging into the big swell and seas, actually enjoying a bit this difference in paddling compared to the last easy days! But I noticed my speed was not great, after getting nicely blown with the south easterly and washed with the tide out of South Passage with almost 10km, it was a different sort of game out here! It even felt like my empty boat got rather blown easier backwards than making the plugging into the wind less of an effort! When I stopped paddling, my GPS showed me still 3-4 km -north-west-wards! So no wonder my average speed on this leg was only 5km, which I considered quite disappointed very slow for paddling an empty boat the first time!
The wind changed over the day – towards a fresh south-westerly. I had it on my beam side then, still no help and rather breaking than pushing. And – the unevitable for me happened – I eventually got sea sick…throwing up heavily at noon, but instantly felt better after that! Luckily I didn’t feel dizzy or such. But I noticed it was quite a difference paddling and balancing the empty boat compared to paddling the last 9000 km all days fully loaded!
Some whales kept me entertained on that paddle way offshore, luckily no sharks were in sight.
I was closing up to the coast again nearing Crayfish Bay, but my destination was the next one – Dulverton Bay. I felt a bit nervous about landing there, as it may be quite some breakers in there, and coming closer, all I could see was a long line of crashing seas on the beach!
I knew which corner was supposed to be the sheltered one, and I was quite happy to soon make out Terry’s car with my old kayak on the roof on the beach. Exactly the spot I would have picked if I would be alone! Still some big breakers were crashing on that corner, but the distance to the shore was less than on the other sied of the beach where there were about 6-8 lines of breakers. This sheltered corner pointed to the north west may have one or two dumpers, and they seemed to be not too big today!
When I paddled closer, a set of three of four big ones came just through, and I didn’t even had to wait on paddling quickly in towards shore on their backside. Terry was already on the spot to help me getting out of the boat, as the quieter, but still foamy water behind the dumper was right on the bottom of a wide flat reef platform with ugly holes to walk on. Actually, when I climbed out, the next dumper threw my boat upside down, but Terry held it safely on the bow toggle. I stumbled towards the sandy beach, and eventually we both dragged my boat over the flat reef out of the water. Nothing serious happened on the landing, but it was nice to have someone helping to rescue the kayak!
Terry was already a bit worried about me coming in that late at 4pm after 40 km “only”, he couldn’t feel the ugly all day’s headwinds in his sheltered bay! A scheduled sat-phone call may have eased his mind a bit…we definitively planned that for the next two days!
We set up camp directly on the beach, there was nobody else around in this bay.
I was packing my food supplies and checking the different weather forecasts again for the next two days paddling along the cliffs. I set out from Denham to meet Terry as the forecast showed light northerlies from Tuesday on fro the next four days, but the latest forecasts showed all different things. Generally, a nice to fresh following wind was supposed to ease over night, and Wednesday maybe some light sw headwinds. Swell moderate 1-2 m. Nothing to worry about.
Karel Vissel, my “weather man”, sent about 4 updated forecasts for Tue/ Wed himself on my sat-phone, each of them different as well…I couldn’t really tell sometimes which was the most recent one! I just remember there was one saying something about quite strong following winds towards midnight,…but most others said moderate winds only. I basically said to myself I have to take what I get…it can’t be that bad.
Text message from Freya via satellite phone:
26.23 113.18, Dulverton Bay. 40km, 7:30 am to 4:00 pm.
BIG swell, seasick 🙁 , fresh headwinds, good landing.