Report from Chris Cunningham:
Shortly after 7:00 am Australian time, Freya called me by satellite phone. Swell last night, her first on the Gulf of Carpentaria, was bigger than she expected, but not too bad. Wind Beaufort 4 or 5. She got some rest and drifted 10km overnight, fortunately in the right direction. Wind is easing this morning and she is underway. She is counting down kilometers and has 490 to go. I’m working on getting position fixes from her via her SPOT messenger.
The sleeping setup – I had still all those options I was playing with previously, but eventually I knew I would use only one setting – my main paddle across the back deck with it’s two floats. This was simply the best and most stable position. Everything else was surplus.
I strapped my epic paddle on a carved closed cell foam pad with a THULE strap – a simple and quick setup like you are strapping your kayak to a roof rack. You just need to be flexible enough to reach the strap underneath your hull! The Zölzer floats were that sticky to the paddle blade being strongly inflated that they actually didn’t needed to be secured to the paddle at all, but I did it most nights anyway.
The only thing which was a bit annoying was that if you use only one strapped on paddle with floats, the floats tend to turn the whole paddle and face up to the sky instead of facing down to the water all the time. If they were turned up the whole kayak starts to rock too much, still safely capsize resistant, but the floats down they touch the water on either side and the kayak doesn’t rock much.
So some times I simply kept my hands spread out to the float handles to keep them in position. A quite comfortable “cruzification” position. Or, after some time, I learnt to grab them half asleep and turn them back down again. As the paddle shaft is round, I didn’t see any other possibility to keep the floats in the facing down in position without damaging the paddle. Maybe next time (will there be a next time?) I’ll use a seperate *flat* stabilisation pole on which the floats are attached.
I may have glued previously the carved foam piece to the deck, that I didn’t have to take care of it’s getting blown away. But I had a second pieces as a backup…and a seond strap as well. But none of them got lost…
The first night I didn’t unroll my Thermarest on the PFD padding, just kept it as a neck roll. The next nights it was folded triple and strapped on top of the PFD – quite a comfortable bedding!
My (wet) day paddling clothes – lycra shorts and short sleeve fleece shirt – were covered at night by a long sleeve fleece shirt, my Kokatat overcag with hood and included spraydeck and a the long warm Kokatat surfskin pants plus neoprene socks. I took my TEVA sandals off for sleeping, or do you go to bed with shoes???
I may have missed some neopren gloves, and maybe an additional hooded fleece would have been nice. I added one more scarf around my head to keep me warm under the hood, and I could stick my hands in the fleece kangaroo pocket of the overcag, or kept them under the armpits to keep them, being wet, off the windchill. I was wet allover anyway, but still warm.
My legs stayed inside the cockpit, it was mostly too rough and windy to take them out comfortably. The neoprene spraydeck needed to be loose, but still in postion for warmth in the cockpit. Water was kept off by the spraydeck of the overcag.
But the secret was the third float – half inflated, I put it on my seat to lift my whole body. This way I had a soft padding for my maybe sore bum, and my back was not bent at all laying on the backdeck. I could even turn my body a bit sideways on the float to change position sometimes.
I was 90% warm, softly padded, stable floating, nice thoughts on my mind, so why not getting some good sleep?