Day 84, Saturday, 11.04.2009

13.57 143.50 Stainer Island 55 km 7to16,5 no cyclone but a helicopter, and found PC’s teethmark in the tree where he clinged himself to the island 🙂

Useful rope for Paul???

(Note from Chris Cunningham: Paul Caffyn made camp on Stainer Island on April 6, 1982. The high winds of Cyclone Dominic kept him pinned down the following day as waves began to wash over the island. From his book “Dreamtime”: At 9:30 a.m., three hours before high tide, waves were already lapping over the top of the beach. I moved the tent and kayak to the centre of the islet and secured everything to a stunted casuarina tree. The only tree on the island, it was a mere four feet high.”)

The crossing of the wide Princess Charlotte Bay involved continuous island hopping, but I was used to that already…I felt quite safe and comfortable out there on “my” island for the night!


I was heading to Stainer Island, via Wharton Reef kept to the left, on a compass- and GPS bearing. No land in sight for a while…good mental training for my gulf crossing! But oh well, it’s not the first time I can’t see any land…but good to have a GPS (and a backup-machine, just in case this one failes…)


The lighthouses of Wharton, Eden and Fahey Reef were always about 8-10 km before approaching visible on the horizon, so there was still always a point to head for (or keep it left)



I passed the spit of the Grub Reef, and actually realized for the first time I was actually right paddling in the worldwide-famous Great Barrier Reef!!!…I took some time floating along the reef’s edge in about 1 m deep water to watch the corals underneath, and had a fish swarm of about 100 30 cm big fish sitting right beneath my kayak for a while! I just held the camera under water and took this nice shot.



At the edge of the sandbank of Grub Reef there was a prawn trawler anchored for the day again, and actually, the difference between my home in the German North Sea with its tidal Sandbänken and Krabbenkutter isn’t to big…just less rocky and no corals, turtles and crocs, but some seals…and wayyyyy more cold! The water between the sandbanks of the reefs is as warm as in a bathtub, not refreshing at all anymore.



Stainer Island had a lighthouse as well, obviously new, as it was neither marked on my GPS chart nor on my map. An Paul Caffyn 27 years ago obviously didn’t have it either, and no GPS…I’d rather paddle in our days! 🙂


Roundig just the Stainer Island reef edge with the lighthouse, I saw something blinking on the island – another boat? I didn’t give it a second thought, but after about 10 min I saw what it was – a helicopter just taking off without any noise to be heard downwind, twenty minutes before my arrival!!! They could have just waited a bit to say “hi”!!! If  I wouldn’t have seen them, I would probably have wondered about the fresh footprints and two just freshly thrown away beer cans on the sand…



I was wondering what they were doing there…probably counting bird’s nests or such, as this island was occupied by pelicans and quite smelly. But I wanted to stay on this one rather than on Pelican Island, to get a bit of Paul’s cyclone feeling, as he had to survive there for three days with a king tide almost flooding the whole island…


There was a single tree on the island with an eagle’s nest on top, underneath some prey bird carcasses scattered…and another fresh beer can. Nice bird watchers out of that helicopter…



I found an obvious turtle’s trace up the beach as well, and again, as on all other islands, dozens of thongs or flip flops. But still no croc signs…



3 comments on “Day 84, Saturday, 11.04.2009


Dear Freya,
I heard of your epic sojourn while I was on a sea kayak course (with the defence force at Jervis Bay). I will be keeping an eye on your trip now that I am a budding Sea Kayaker, ha. Stay safe and give it all ya got!


Janita K

Wow Freya…you are really closing in on the Cape. In a strange land, must feel kinda comforting to be in Pauls footsteps almost literally. Surreal experience to find that same scrawny tree!! How many cyclones has it lived through and what was it thinking when you came for a look?
Power on girl…stay tethered, keep eating eating eating and remember what I told you about protecting your skin. European skin is a thing of wonder to the average Australian…doesnt look like its been frizzled to the texture of one of those goannas you might see on the beach. So cover up and you’ll still look German when you finish instead of like one of us!!!

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