Day 227, Tuesday, 01.09.2009

“Two Kids” – Tim and Levi Fitzhardinge


The night was pretty windy, and next morning Tim offered to take my gear down the coast that I had it a bit easier that day paddling into headwinds with an empty boat! He was just back from a business project on his “workhorse”, a 34m oilrigg supply and utility boat based in Exmouth, and had a few days off which he was happy to spend with the youngest son Levi and supporting me a bit. Thanks, Tim!


We agreed on a meeting some where 60 km down the coast at night again, either in Illawong, Gum Tree Bay or even Coolimba, depending on my progress into the headwinds. I was expecting him to drive back then, but when I saw him and Levi again first in Illawong he was there with his caravan and happy to spend two nights camping as a bit of a “weekend” holiday with a meaningful reason supporting me in this way! Nice idea! Thanks!


But Illawong was too early for me to stop, it was only 4 pm! Another 1 ½ hr down the coast would take me full 60 km for that day to Gum Tree Bay, a decent progress into quite ugly headwinds! But the water was flat, I was hugging the coast on a shallow sea weed reef and landings were as easy as it could be.


  no cliffs – seaweed!



The coastline was low beaches with 1,5 meters piles of seaweed, quite ugly and uninviting most of the time, but quiet and easy. Plenty of fisherman’s tin shacks built out of corrugated iron were decorating the coast, quite ugly buildings actually… 



Paddling the empty boat made quite a difference in my speed, about 1,5 to 2 km/ hr! Especially fighting the strong headwinds…I reckon by myself with a loaded boat I would have stopped already around 2pm, tired of plugging into the wind with my speed dropping well under 5 km/ hr.


But with the empty boat I was averaging all day between 5-6 km/hr, despite the strong headwinds! I would like a support crew every day…how easy Paul’s paddling trip was considering the boat weight and speed! The first and last time I was paddling an empty boat was along the Zytdorp Cliffs, and averaging 7 km/ hr in normal conditions with following winds but big seas was no problem!


Greg Bethune, my partner, will be luckily available off his business from the end of September, supporting me with a campervan driving along the tricky southern coast! This will make things much nicer and easier towards the end of the trip! I’m really looking forward to that time…four more weeks to go alone…



But this night it was Levi and Tim Fitzhardinge waiting at Gum Tree Bay with my gear, a cooked dinner and set up caravan to host me in the middle of nowhere. Levi loved to roast my marshmallows I luckily had in the boat on the small campfire later!


The night was stormy and rainy, and I was quite happy warm and dry inside the shaking caravan. I was even thinking I may need to take a day off tomorrow with that wind!


Text message from Freya via satellite phone:

29.47 114.57, Gum Tree Bay. 60 km, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm. Flat water with no surf, but headwinds all sorts.

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