Getting ready for the long paddle on a calm quiet morning. Quite a comfortable start off the “Tropic Paradise” ! Picture by Greg Bethune.
The forecast was allright as far as it could be forecasted,some stronger winds on Monday, but not too bad…
My rest on the boat could have been better, as I was not used to the engine running quietly all night, and I left my earplugs in my kayak…but it was a nice cozy bed with a great dinner last night! And maybe my mind was a bit busy with the crossing already to sleep deep and peacefully…Thanks again, Greg, for hosting me on the boat!
I had packed my kayak the afternoon before in the way I needed it for the crossing. I carried 24 liters of water for 10 days and food for 9-10 days handy in the cockpit and dayhatch. It was just fitting nicely behind the seat, in front of the footrest, in my under deck bag, and the rest went in the dayhatch.
Food was the usual stuff, JAMA muesli in the morning, nuts, crackers, cheese, tuna cans, dried mangos and pineapples, JAMA muesli bar and drink mix, Milky Bars and apples for lunch, pre-cooked Uncle Ben’s rice with extra tuna and mayonaise for dinner. But I tell you it’s simply easy to get sick of all those goodies…even a simple hot cooked dehy meal would be a change and a treat…and I managed to partially soak some food with seawater as well. Ziplocks aren’t just fully waterproof…But it was not too bad… :-))
On the backdeck there was my Kokatat PFD *securely* strapped as usual, making a nice pillow to rest on already on a normal day. I had my Thermarest pad rolled up in a bag strapped on the back deck, plus another bag with my Kokatat overcag and warm surfskin long pants plus neoprene socks.
Under the front deck bungees I stuffed three Zölzer paddle floats, plus the extra kayak sponsons Heinz Zölzer made for me.
I was heading out in good spirits, not scared at all about what would be ahead of me! Full of energy and motivation.
I was not 100% sure about the effect of the tidal stream, but guessed it must be similar to the strong currents on the east coast. What you gain one period, you lose on the next…but the tidal stream prediction said the current was generally stronger to the west. So combined with the south easterly trade winds, no worries…unless the winds weren’t too much southerlies!
I was chosing with this course to cross the Gulf off Jackson River a worse angle for the trade wind (258 degrees rather than about 280 degrees) and a longer distance (575 km rather than 520 km) than it could be from Jantz Point further south. But oh well, just to make it a bit harder… :-)) I was sure I would get enough rest, and what’s another day on the water…
Overall I may have underestimated a bit the conditions out there in the middle of the gulf, being lulled by the calm lee side here, but at the end it was nothing I couldn’t handle…
The crossing from Jantz Point would have taken 1or 1 1/2 days less, as the distance is simply shorter and the winds would have been not quartering but almost following. It is fact that once you have the winds quartering, the course must be even more quartering, to even out the effect of the wind drift. But my kayak felt good keeping course with the rudder on quartering winds, almost better than on following winds, as the rudder may be even bigger for such winds and a loaded boat.
The crossing of the Gulf of Carpenteria has been done by a solo kayak only by Andrew McAuley, who unluckily later disappeared on his solo crossing of the Tasman Sea. He crossed from Jantz Point in 6 1/2 days.
It has also been done by two guys in a double Klepper folding boat, assisted by a sail. The started from Thursday Island. So not many people to talk to about their experiences…I knew from their book the double kayak had some strong winds and rough seas as well, but I guessed I may simply pick a better weather window…
Report from Chris Cunningham:
Freya has begun her crossing of the Gulf of Carpentaria and called by satellite phone. All is well and the gulf is calm. During the crossing I’ll try to keep everyone up to date with Freya’s reports as we receive them.