Day 214, Wednesday, 19.08.2009

Aussi Scotsman Ken Wilson greeting me at the beach

(Picture by Terry Bolland)

The upcoming dawn was such a relief! Eventually I could *see* the cliffs and their luckily still safe distance again, and my balancing skills on paddling were fully recovered in the big stuff. I didn’t feel much tiredness now, the light is simply waking you fully, but I wasn’t sleepy that night in my “survival mode” anyway.

I was even less tired in my paddling muscles, as I was more bracing than paddling that night. It felt more like a relief to get into the normal rhythm again, and I was happily plugging into the strong south-westerly.

I was at 90 km left (80 km down) at last night’s 7pm, and at this morning’s 7am I was almost down to 50 km, so I must have made almost 40 km during that horrible night, mostly getting (luckily) pushed  by the strong north-westerly into the right direction! Well, the original idea and forecast was to have moderate north-westerlies all day and night…but actually, I can’t complain, as luckily the wind today changed again from a strong south-westerly to a moderate north-westerly at around 10am! The seas went down as well, and leftover was a big rolling swell.

Those conditions made me paddling hard the last hours and averaging again 7 km/h, first to stay awake, second to arrive ambitiously in a decent time, and third to kick myself to have been that foolish to think I can paddle in complete darkness *and* in BIG stuff…but I somehow didn’t expect complete darkness nor too big waters. But I had both, and survived.

I was just wondering how anybody who is not able as I am to lie more or less stable and comfortable and on the backdeck would have survived that night without capsizing…even I was close and quite scared more than 20 times that night, when big breakers were crashing over me and you simply have to hear and feel when and where to brace into to foamy wet stuff. 

At 7.30am, I got a bit of a fright as I was just speeding up nicely a bit, as a huge humpback whale surfaced fully perpendicular to my bow, only 2 m away. One more stong stroke earlier, I would have surfed down his back! “Rutsch mir doch den Buckel runter” (slip down my humpback)…is what we say in Germany nicely for “kiss my ass”…

I did my last call to Terry at noon, telling him I’ll arrive 3.30pm sharp. I had 24 km left, and planned to average again 7km/ like the last two hours since the wind changed and the seas were flattening out again. My muscles were still working fine, but the sleep deprivation made me feeling a bit dizzy, a simple tiredness of the mind set in. I tried to overcome it by singing a simple tune out of the opera “Carmen” loud, again and again, with any kind of stupid text whatever was on my mind. My god, if someone would have recorded that…       da da da da        da da da da        da da da dadadadadadada               da da da da      da da da da      da da da dadadadadadada…..

Some humpback whales kept me entertained coming closer to Kalbarri, and especially one big performer, probably a young male trying to impress me, showed one backflip after the other, over the right fluke, over the left fluke, and again over the right fluke, left fluke…each backflip went along with a canonball-shot loud noise on crashing his tons-heavy body on the water.

me and the jumping humpback

(Picture by Terry Bolland)

I kept on paddling hard the last km, keeping my goal on my mind to arrive 3.30 pm sharp. I was at least able to have some good food in between, and to take off my cag and neoprene socks again. Balancing being overtired and dizzy in an empty boat is a different thing! I was slowly closing up to the cliffs for reaching Kalbarri.

I saw already on Google Earth and on a printout the Murchinson River mouth and how to enter it safely in kind of a dogleg. The pictures showed a clean gap between two lines of breakers on the beach and on the reef guarding the river mouth. Closing up to the shore, the surf along the coast looked more and more frightening with the big swell, crashing merciless on the reefy beach below the cliffs. But this was the way to go! Close outside the big surf to the left side, waiting to see the opening of the river mouth eventually showing up.

I was communicating with two persons about guiding me into Kalbarri on my arrival. One was Mac Holt, a member of the SES team, who were happy to come out in a boat and to guide me in. The other one was Phillip Hearps, who was happy to come out on his surfski to escort me in as well. 

SES rescue boat heading out through the lumpy river bar

(Picture by Terry Bolland)

So all I did the last hour was to keep my eyes at least that much open to eventually spot either of those boats! It was still 4 m swell, and not easy to see another boat out there. I reckoned the river mouth entry may be feeling a bit funny today, especially in my overtired stade, and really hoped to get some “guidance” in there. I came closer and closer, caring about the ugly crashing surf to my left – fuck, where are those guys?

At around 3pm I first time spotted both boats quite close together way to my right on top of a big swell wave. It didn’t take long and I noticed Phillip on the surfski spotted me as well and turned in towards me. The rescue boat kept on heading offshore…why did the four guys in there not notice Phil turning in??? And they wer “standing”, having a much better overlook over the swell than a kayking person…

About five minutes later, Phil reached me and I was quite happy about having local knowledge at my side to get into this tricky river bar. We were discussing the rescue boat, but I didn’t even feel like giving them a call…if four pairs of eyes, standing up, were not able to spot me and to follow Phil’s movements, then the can practise on rescueing the playful humpback out there…and we paddled the short way towards the river mouth.

two small dots (kayaks) trying to find the way into the river mouth

(Pictures by Terry Bolland)

It may be a bit “lumpy” today, Phils said, the swell is big and the tide was going out…I knew what “lumpy” can mean…it was actually the icing of the cake of the last two days! I decided I rather put my PFD on, and noticed Phil tightened his one up as well. Big, scary, confused bouncy waters between two lines of crashing breakers, but luckily nothing really breaking in the narrow line we were paddling. And I was thinking if Phil can stay upright on a surfski, then it would be quite emberassing if it would throw me…but getting in there my myself would have been a way more scary task. So we had to paddle hard speeding through this ugly water, but eventually reached quiet water safely.

(Pictures by Terry Bolland)

I couldn’t help but to do then the roll I didn’t have to do all days and night long, like a relief, and maybe a bit as a showoff after 170km and 32,5 hrs of paddling… 🙂

But ashore, I felt a bit like a Saturday’s night drunk, stumbling around more than walking straight. No sleep last night, and the physical and mental stress take it’s toll!

(Picture by Terry Bolland)

Terry was flashing a mirror frequently on the quiet river side to reassure us (actually, more me…) that we were on the right way, and that he was waiting on the first quiet beach. It was actually not only *him* waiting, but a small crowd of about 50 locals and tourist, standing on the beach and on the lookout on the cliff, applauding us on coming in safely! Quite an honorable, friendly reception party! Thanks, Kalbarri!

Ken Wilson, Terry Bolland and me

(Picture by Mac Holt)

Ken Wilson, a Scotsman owning the beautiful house just across the road, was hosting Paul Caffyn already 27 years ago, and was very happy to host me as well! Thanks, Ken! He is the only one who has hosted us both…

He used to play the bagpipes himself and piped Paul out and along the coast, but in these days a (by himself) hand carved “dummy” named Hamish standing upfront his house has to do the job. The piper starts to play a tune when people are passing and triggering the automatic light switch.

Out of Paul Caffyn’s book “The Dreamtime Voyage”, 1994: “The piper maintains a vigil to welcome the next solo kayaker who tearfully slices onto the calm waters of the river”. Did Paul already know it would be *me* coming in there next?

After about 15 min, the rescue team boat came in. I greeted them on the beach, telling them I’m also known as “The Stealth Paddler…” They actually felt quite embearassed to have missed me and to have lost Phil…

(Picture by Terry Bolland)

Already on the beach, I got invitations from the locals for a free visit at the hairdresser’s and for a massage…it will be a lovely Thursday!

But first I enjoyed a soak in Ken’s bath, and after a bit of food Terry organized I simply fell deeply asleep, horribly overtired.

Zuytdorp Cliffs Completed!

Text message form Freya via satellite phone:

27.42 114.09, Kalbarri. Tuesday 7:00 am to Wednesday 4:00 pm, 170km. I will talk later about it.

24 comments on “Day 214, Wednesday, 19.08.2009


Congratulations Freya !!!!!
You are so brave and Inspirational….
You just completed a massive milestone, goodluck for the rest of your journey.

Grum (SES)

So disapointed we missed your arival at kalbarri, not hard in that swell. Mac was shattered. Hopefully we won’t lose you on way out. Looking foward to it. Good luck!


Well done!!!
And at present over a month ahead of Paul Caffyns trip. Just rest when you need it.


Now you have done it…. how is a lake paddle going to look now?
Congratulations, After we met I had no reservations in my mind that you would do it.
Give yourself a little time to build up again mentaly and physically before you head off again.
Best wishes and good speed.

pascale der khatchadourian

hi Freya this is pascale ( from france) we met in restoration island with dave Glasheen! my god you did so well in 4 months! congratulations i send you a lot of god and strong energies and a lot of lavender essential oil to keep your body and musles healthy! good luck and kisses pascale

georges rousseau

Gut gemacht !
Ich war vor Jahren einmal dort und kann mich noch an rauen Wellengang erinnern bis Cervantes.
Bleib vorsichtig !

Grüsse aus Luxemburg

congrats from Tauranga via Kiel and Husum to Kalbarrii!!!!
2 cliff sects to go, you’ll make it , no doubts!


congrats from the Gove mob, there are a lot of Western Australians living in Gove NT who have been to this area. The general comment was it couldn’t be done in a “tinny” let alone by a “sheila” in a kayak.
Simply incredible


We’ve never met, yet you continue to inspire me more than anyone ever has. My thoughts and prayers are with you.



Freya: I’m a girl from Mallorca, and I use to read your blog every day, it’s incredible what you are doing, I also have a kayak and with my husband we make trips, but ours are of 20 km.
You’re very brave , it seems impossible for us this distance, Mallorca is much little and no woman has this courage as you.
Best regards from Palma de Mallorca, and sorry for my english, if you spoke spanish will be better for me, but in english is also ok.
I go on reading your blog. kisses from Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

Congrats on completing the cliffs and thanks for inspiring me. I just completed paddling the entire length of the Chesapeake Bay. This is a small accomplishment compared to what you have done, but a big adventure for me. It made me realize the difficulties you face every day – headwinds, finding suitable camping spots, equipment failure, etc.). I prayed God’s favor and blessing on you when I was paddling.



Yuo are amazing! powerfull whith lots of mental streghnth. Well done. Looking after you in Israel whith great appriciation.

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