NZ 4 – 23.11. Bluff – 12.12. Milford

23.11.2007 Fri, Day 30/ 21

 

Day off, bad weather.

Not much going on today…I made myself at home in my little hut, slept long, had a lovely shower, cared about my sandy gear, dried my tent, repaired some little issues, made a lot of phone calls top everybody.

Meri showed up at 11am, ready to drive into Invercargill. I joined her, and updated my blog alredy at least for three days.

At 3.30 pm, reporters from the Southland Times announced themselves, I think this time alerted by JKA…I did my publicity job, the 4th newspaper article on the trip! But who knows what it is good for…

And the end of the day was just relaxing, eating, sleeping early…

 

 

24.11.2007 Sat, Day 31/ 21

 

Day off, bad weather.

What to tell…I basically was sitting on the computer all Saturday updating the rest of the last paddling days, and put the new sent by Karitek skegbox in my kayak, plus some minor repairs on the boat. Some minor food shopping, eating, walking around, sleeping. Not much of an exciting day.

 

 

25.11.2007 Sun, Day 32/ 21

 

Day off, bad weather.

Sunday morning I got a lift  with Meri and Ian to Invercargill again, and food-shopped for the next 3-4 weeks…I will stuff the last corner with eadible things, who knows how long I’m stuck in Fjordland…no food drops planned. Maybe I have to fish at some point :-) )
Stanley Mulvany was so nice to give me a lift back, after we had a nice look around in the local museum. Thanks, Stanley!

The latest weather report seems like I can push on on Tuesday to Colac Bay (50 km) with some 3-4 headwinds, the tide is good late in the afternoon only…and to Port Craig on Wednesday (50 km, too), maybe only force 3 headwinds…
Thursday maybe a day off again, Friday and Saturday the wind changes to S SE, and all days the seas from SW are pretty low – what luck!

So if all goes well as forecasted, I’m hopefully around Puysegur Point on Friday or Saturday. And then it’s Fjord hopping with hopefully decent weather and seas!!!
But who can forcast the weather…Karel at least is very close to perfection! Thanks, Karel!

When I look out to Bluff harbour entrance it’s creating a pretty lovely tidal race on the right tide, beautiful waves, a fun playspot if you don’t want to go anywhere :-) )
Besides that it’s blowing like hell today, even in the “sheltered” bay here. On the way back from Invercargill we stopped for a look on the other side of the peninsula, and no whitecaps at all, just *white* sea! Good to be in a dry, civilized area…

 

 

26.11.2007 Mon, Day 33/ 21

 

Day off, bad weather.

I’ll give it a go tomorrow at 6am with the tide around to Bombay Rock, maybe with afternoon tide to Riverton or Colac Bay.

I had a walk yesterday afternoon around the Bluff Point when it was blowing pretty hard, and I noticed the outgoing tide was forming a rough race all up to the Lookout Point, but with a gap between the rough area and the rocks wide enough to paddle safely.

When I was reading Paul’s chapter in his book about that part, he was paddling actually against the tide, as he was crossing Bluff harbour on slack between ebbing and flooding again, and then kept on going…

I didn’t see the races developing to the other direction, but from what he was writing he was working them hard “uphill”…I’d rather go with the tide then around to Bombay Rock…and that was the plan for tomorrow, starting at 6am until the tide turns at 10.30am.

In the morning I visited Meri Leask again, and she connected me to a call to John Hawkleff, an experienced fisherman of the Fjordland area, who gave me even more tips about the Fjordland area. We agreed Meri would see me at night when the latest marine forecast came in about whether I would start tomorrow or not.

Another walk today took me up the Bluff hill to the hilltop and down to Lookout Point again, then uphill again on another track. I really enjoyed those lonely walks in native forest again, it reminded me to the long tramping trips with my little boy on the South Island 7 years ago…

Meri came at night, and she and Ian were happy to get up tomorrow morning early to pick me at 5.30am and to give me that short lift with all my gear to the beach…

I am not sleeping well when I do have to get up that early, especially when a tough paddle is planned, and was listening all night if the wind really eases down a bit as forcasted. Rain was still all night washing against my window, and I was happy to be still in a dry hut.

 

 

27.11.2007 Tue, Day 34/ 22

 

Riverton, 55 km. 1125 km.

Very tough day but satisfying (now…)  – but I had enough! :-) )

Meri and Ian Leask picked my at 5.30am, and we carried the kayak over from Bruce and Gloria’s house just across the road. Thanks for storing it in the backyard and garage!

Packing went fast, and I was on the water at 6am, waving Meri, Iand and Bruce good bye. It felt good to wave some good people good bye! They were all very helpful, thanks again!

The morning tide flushed me easily out of the Bluff harbour entrance, and I started turning west soon. The sheltered harbour became soon windy as forecasted around the rocks, and wind and swell against created lovely waters es expected…but there was still that quiet gap between the main stream (race) and the rocks, not really an eddy, as the stream was still strongly with me. But I didn’t at least had to paddle in the main tidal race area. But it felt like paddling against a wall of wind…there might have been force 4 further down at Oreti beach, but around that rocky shoreline it was funneling somehow harder. But the tide was stronger than the wind, and amazingly I made still good progress of about 6km/hr. Not too bad!

Means I arrived at my tidal lunch stop Bombay Rock in time at 10.30 am. Going more into the Mokomoko Inlet showed that in that shallow area the water was breaking in wide big surflines, nothing inviting to cut across, but I was sneaking close to the rocks again and caught only one big surfwave sideways I had to brace into. The water bacame soon quiet, and I landed on the first inviting beach at low tide whith the one and only farmhouse. I guessed I might walk up and knock at the door if there would be a place for a hot cuppa to warm up a bit.

Two dogs were barking loud as I approached, I waited for about 10 min with the dogs making that noise if someone would show up somewhere. Either the people didn’t care about the dogs barking or they weren’t at home, what I guessed, as I didn’t see any sign of life anywhere.

I decided this won’t be a good place to wait for the tide turning, as the end of the sandy beach was still under the high tide line with big boulders, and I paddled a short distance to the next remote one, which looked as if it would stay a bit longer sandy.

Walking up and down didn’t really warm me up, I had a bit of a rest in a sheltered hey stack of the farm, but I guessed at 1 pm better get going even with the tide still against you rather than freezing here and getting bored…

Passing the surfline again close to the rocks, and then I headed directly to Howells Point, still hoping I could make it to Colac Bay tonight with the help of the turning tide later.

The first two hours weren’t a good decision to start paddling already, as the tide across the bay was not extremely stopping me, but enough to make only about 2-2,5 km/hr…nothing really worth the effort. But I realized later it was good I started already…

Wind force 4-5 from west, swell 2,50 – 3,50 m from sw, and the tide still not with me…who wants to paddle that? At least I got warmer than waiting at the beach.

The swell was breaking frequently, and sitting on a 3m high swell with breaking crests on top is wet sometimes…I had to concentrate every second watching what the water was doing, and leant several times fully into the breaking wave not to get knocked over. I couldn’t tell I was uncomfortable, actually felt just right challenged, but when I *really* had to roll or bail out…who knows.

I shouldn’t have been out there, and I shouldn’t have cut across. But I did. I was underestimating the weaker tide not helping me too much later in the open beach compared to the stretch from Bluff to Bombay Rock.

My main concern was the “estimated arrival time” on the GPS, which showed the 100 m marks extremely slowly passing by the first two hours. My only motivation measurement to keep on going. When the tide turned, the “estimated arrival time” must get down from “midnight” to a decent arrival time at Howells Point! Actually I almost prayed “please, tide, help me, this is too slow otherwise to reach the other side still in decent light…” and turning to Oreti Beach was not the most inviting option either for a safe landing.

Looking at the rough stuff around me I thought a kayak is much more suitable to wriggle around those waves in slow speed than any bigger motorboat with higher speed would be happy to go…in fact there was no boat to be seen anywhere. And I was wondering if there would be a rescue boat or a helicopter coming, just in case. I’d rather paddled into the night than giving up.

Some sea birds struggled hard in the strong wind to do their circles around me as usual, one almost landed on my head!

Mental strengh and good balance to keep me going without big breaks is something I do have in such situations, and I usually feel pretty strong paddling into headwinds, but due to the windshelter of my open palm mitts I didn’t open my hands that frequently on paddling as usual, as it would be just more freezing, and my right wrist and shoulder started to really hurt. Don’t listen NOW to your body, you have to keep on going…I found out the water was warmer than the windchill, and sometimes just stucked my hands in the water for a kind of a warm up and relaxing. Or paddling with the right hand upside down gave some relief…at the end when the water became more quiet I paddled for a while with my hands only to relax my muscles, that felt good! But generally it was more stiff cramped muscles than a serious upcoming joint or tendonitis problem, I knew that.

When the tide turned the push was much less than expected, but at least the 100 m marks on the GPS turned faster, and the “estimated arrival time” showed a general increasing speed, cut down to arrival at 9 pm at the end. And it was that time when I slowly headed into the quiet waters of Riverton. I decided already way out there still heading generallya to Howells Point I will have to turn *right* to Riverton instead of *left* to Colac Bay. What a good feeling when the breaking swell was slowly getting behind me…I was pretty cold by that time then, some heavy rain and hail showers didn’t really add to my comfort feeling. No way of thinking about eating something or peeing on the way…

I got pushed more off by the wind from the south western part of Riverton to the eastern side of the town, guessing I will land then on the first remote beach on the east of the town. But soon when the water was more and more quiet I saw a lovely remote beach showing up close to Howells Point, and I turned left to head finally for that. Some smoking surflines to cross, but they turned out to be only 50 cm high on very shallow ground on low tide. Nothing could shock me anymore or prevent me from landing on that beach…

Happy I made it at 9 am almost in last light, I just had to haul the kayak again up to the hight tide mark on a shallow, long flat beach on low tide…where is my trolley???

A campsite on top of the narrow gravel was flat, but *very* close to the clearly to be seen wet high tide mark, but the other option to climb uphill on the grass wasn’t too inviting in fading light, too. Some frequent cars passing by to the Point, whose passengers enjoyed shouting at me when they spotted me down the beach made me deciding for the narrow gravel campsite. I just had to check at 3.45 am if the water was *really* still safe enough away…

I woke up at 4.30 am, by the sound of swapping water against rocks closeby, but obviously I didn’t get flooded at night as high tide was already over…no risk, no good campsite :-) )

 

 

28.11.2007 Wed, Day 35/ 23

 

Colac Bay, 15 km. 1140 km.

Short paddle to get a better start to the remote Fjordland area

I woke up pretty “stoned” this morning, my body told me I worked out hard yesterday!
Forecast for today wasn’t too bad, but Thursday wil be a rest day again anyway. And I won’t have made it across Te Waewae Bay today anyway… :-( ( I would have needed to land in Colac Bay for that yesterday, and even then I wonder what my body would have told me. It actually told me to sleep until 7.30am, and then slowly I made my decision. The decision after listening to the forecast was to keep on sleeping and to make the short jump to Colac Bay tonight with ebbing tide, to be in good starting position then for the quiet day on Friday to cross to Port Craig. Actually, the orignal plan was to get around Puysegur Point on Friday…but plans sometimes change!

I was just aslep again after breakfast, the rain was dopping nicely on my tent, as someone was calling my name outside! It were Jacqui and Tim Anderson with their son, scanning the beaches where I might have ended up last night!
They invited me to their house for a shower, internet and lunch, before I keep on going to Colac Bay tonight. How nice! Thanks to Jacqui and Tim!

…………………….

The short trip this afternoon to Colac Bay was kind of relaxing compared to the previous paddling day, but my shoulder and forearm muscles were still cramped and hurt. So I took it slow and easy in the afternoon sun, knowing there would be Tim already waiting for me to pick me up again to host me another day and nights! They were so nice to offer to me instead of staying in Colac Bay for a whole day off on windy Thursday to pick me up again and I could spend that time with them! Very, very much appreciated! Thanks!

We dared to leave the half empty kayak tied to the concrete landing on the beach, as unloading and carrying it to the next house was too much of a hazard. Tim didn’t have a roofrack. BUt no worries, the gear was “safe as gold” on NZ beaches!

Dinner proved to be a delicious salmon filet with fresh veggies, and some freshly baked brownies for desert. Not too bad for a lonely, exhausted traveller!

Next, new plan is to take the lower wind forecast (force 3 west…) Friday to get across Te Waewae Bay to Port Craig (50 km), probably having another day off then on Saturday before I might get to the Green Islets, maybe another day off before I could get around Puysegur…but as experienced, plans do change sometimes!

 

 

29.11.2007 Thu, Day 36/ 23

 

Day off, bad weather

I did another pool teaching session today! Jaqui and Tim Anderson with their son Pete, and Belinda and Stan Mulvany were joining me into the local Riverton Pool. Good I was able to do something useful on that windy, rainy day off!

It looks like there will be decent weather the next three days!! What means decent at this country in this time of the year…means headwinds around 15kn (force 3-4) “only” and swell under 3m with lighter seas on top…it really looks like I’ll make it into Fjordland in these conditions.
But after those three “decent” weather days there will be another three days (minimum…) of roughest headwinds again…but I will be around the corner by then! (hopefully…)
My body feels good and ready to go.

 

 

30.11.2007 Fri, Day 37/ 24

 

My first earthquake at 4.55am! About force 6…it’s a quiet morning to cross Te Waewae Bay

Rock’n Roll Beach behind Sandhill Point, 60 km. 1200 km.

Funny landing :-) ) not much swell but some easy surf out I hope…

The kayak plus gear was still where we left it, all in good order. I was happy to start the next leg to the remote Fjordland area! There was no raod access until I could reach Milford Sound.

Cutting across Te Waewae Bay heading to the only safe landing at Port Craig was going too fast even in the moderate force 3-4 headwinds. Instead of going a bit off the way to the right for Port Craig, I preferred to try a beach on the way to the left around Sandhill Point which looked ok to me on the map. The swell ws moderate, and I guessed I could dare an open beach landing, as I rather liked to gain an additional 10 km on that moderate day. The closer to Green Islets tomorrow, the better, as tomorrow the headwind was even predicted worse, force 4+.

Sandhill Point itself forced my to do a wide berth, it was pretty rough and choppy out there! Big swell was breaking with heavy splashes on the reefs. It was better to stay way, way off!

What looked so inviting on the map, proved to be a bitch of a beach! I named it Rock’n Roll Beach, as it was decorated instead of with nice flat sand with big steep boulders – at least on that stretch I eventually ended up on landing – and I had to roll several imes on both landing and launching next morning.

I was aiming for a little river mouth, and if I would have found that, my landing might have looked different. But it’s almost impossible to see it sitting out there on the big water going up and down, some big surflines in front of you. And the surf ALWAYS looks smaller than it is!

And some smaller NZ river mouth actually end up in nowhere, as they are trickling away before reaching the sea under a big pile of gravel or sand bar.

Coming in, I had to prove my left side roll was 100% working, as trying to get up on the right side was impossible at that moment. Obviously another big wave broke over me. I came up ok then, but got trashed again on the last dumping surf line with ending up in a body roll on to the steep boulder beach like on the East Coast! Shit happens…the easier flat river mouth was only 50 m to th left…

The same procedure then as on the East Coast steep gravel beach landing – cockpit flooded after jumping out, no pulling up the kayak on to the steep beach possible. I had to unload again the gear of the bow and the water and gear out of the cockpit, before I was able to drag the boat up.

My camp on top of the boulder beach was lovely in the sun, it was a wild, unspoiled beach. Not many people might have seen it!

Watching the surflines from the top, it looked much easier for launching tomorrow. I hoped to slide down the steep beach and just punch through the rest…

 


01.12.2007 Sat, Day 38/ 25

 

Green Islets, 40 km. 1240 km.

“God guarantees you a safe harbour, but not always a smooth passage.”

15hrs headwind and rough seas for 40km only…nobody said it’s gonna be easy! Green Islets are paradise – with sandflies and sandfleas…

Ready to go at 6.30 am, not a long day distance-wise. But it was some force 4 headwind announced, a bit less in the morning, increasing in the afternoon.

My digesting system was not working that early yet, after peeing as usual through the male pee zipper with my funnel and hose device I noticed I had to strip off again completely…and left the pee zipper open!

This was a BAD mistake I did not notice on eventually launching that morning…for sure it happened I had to roll in the third surfline! Few, but some ice cold water slowly ran down the tunnel of my sprayskirt, despite having the overskirt on the drysuit…and eventually found it’s way into my open pee zipper -not very nice! I had to start this tough day with some wet underwear already. – It was enough water to end up with wet feet , which helped to keep my feet freezing all day, too. :-( (.

On that roll I was not able to keep my head down in the breaking surf, it washed my body on the back deck and I got rolled sideways. Maybe I didn’t keep my paddle lenghwise for less resistance? Mistakes, mistakes…

Long Point forced me in a wide berth again, but still the water off the point was very choppy and confused. I had to seriously brace a few times.

I stayed way offshore all day. I couldn’t see any of the few other potential landing options before Green Islets, which are safe only when the swell is very low. And it was above moderate this morning, I ‘d say!

So I kept on slooging all day, covering the ridicoulous 40 km of distance in 15 hrs! My GPS told me on the first half of the day  the estimated arrival time at the sheltered Green Islets would be  ”midnight” – I was fighting constantly hard all day to improve that figure! Eventually the rainy windy day calmed down a slight bit, and I noticed my speed went up that much I luckkily could reach shelter right before dawn. Still heavy backchop to avid on a steep cliff section after Big River at about 6pm, and I was freezing like hell being wet and exhausted.

But eventually they came up – the paradise and heaven in the wild sea! Green Islets, a collection of reefs in various sizes. It wasn’t easy to find a safe way through them, and I could only guess where the “safe” landing spot was – for sure at the very deep end of the island maze! Actually it was only a strip of 10 m which was not a reef fringed beach! Looked alost as if men had made it to have at least a tiny bit of a possibility to land here! At least it was dead calm in there.

The beach itself was lovely in the last light, I put up my tent right in front of a huge arch.

But I had to suffer 1.000.000 sandflies in the last light, and 1.000 sandhoppers later at night jumping up the tent walls. It sounded as if it was raining all night! I even had to stuff up the tiny gap in the zipper end with a sock, these little beasts find their way in through any hole! Killing the sandflies after diving into the tent is already an unexciting chore with millions of black carcasses afterwards, but the sandhoppers are very juicy if you killed them – disgusting! This is when you start lving inside your tent only all night – changing, peeing, brushing teeth, cooking…nothing is fun outside any more!  And once you think you have successfully killed the last beast, the ones who are only unconscious lying on the tent floor start to get alive again, plus those ones hiding in the plies of your gear.

 

 

02.12.2007 Sun, Day 39/ 26

 

Chalky Island, 40km. 1280 km.

An almost relaxing paddle compared to yesterday through swell and backchop with less head winds to another paradise beach

headwinds…headwinds…at least moderate and seas are ok so far…daylight until 10pm but it’s nice to sometimes paddle not that long

My soaked inside drysuit legs didn’t get dry in the morning, although I turned it inside out at 6.30 am and put it out in the morning sun for a while. So I had to put on some wet gear again :-( (

Launching late at 9am was a releif to get rid of the sandflies. First time I launched with a bugnet on!

The paddle today was nothing compared to the stressfull slogging into all day’s headwind yesterday. Still headwinds, but way less. Long Reef and Windsor Point showed some impressive breaking swell on their outer reefs. I gave them a wide berth again. The Marshall Rocks were even worse! Impressive! Just stay wide off! Don’t even THINK about going inside any reef, even if it looks calm for 10 min. In the 11th minute there is suddenly no water any more besides the rock, as the surge of the eventually coming freak wave sucks it all away…still “If in Doubt – Stay Out!”

Rounding Puysegur Point was not really more spectacular, but a great relief going NORTH now! I saw the first and only fishing boat of that day, and some floating fishheads in the water indicated that there were men at work somewhere…But besides that the lighthouse on top of the Point was the only civilized sign around.

I continued my way through Balleny Reef and Gulches Head, which is the only offshore reef you can pass safely inside here. Still pretty choppy…

I paddled through the Eastern Passage to the inside of Chalky Island, as I hoped to find a sheltered campsite on the eastern side. There was a lovely beach, but it sems to get fully flooded on hight tide…so I  kept on searching!

I decided a steep sandy beach on the northern to be the place to land for the night. The dumper here carried a lot of sand, my kayak was fully covered with sandy mud once I landed upright on the back of a big wave on the steep beach. My helmet proved again to be a multi tool, this time to help me to wash my boat!

Lovely campsite on a lovely sandy beach! I walked a bit, following some  ugly smell…turning around a rock I disturbed a big male stinky seal in his late afternoon nap. He was probably as much scared as I was due to that sudden encounter!

The channel I was camping besides was called “Bad Passage” – it was a lovely place with plenty of reefs in the water! But probaly nothing to make big boats happy…

 

 

03.12.2007 Mon, Day 40/ 27

 

Landing Bay, 7 km. 1287 km.

Sorry, didn’t feel today like battling into 4 - 5 headwinds in 4m seas just cut across rough Western Passage to reef sheltered  Landing Bay

Hope I feel strong enough to punch through Luncheon Cove tomorrow in those headwinds with probably very choppy seas on that side

I had the hope to get to Dusky Sound today, bi

 

 

04.12.2007 Tue, Day 41/ 28

 

Luncheon Cove, 40 km. 1327 km.

Paddled into bit of darkness staying on a yacht with a lovely couple TTYL!

40km 14hrs no suitable pee-stop at all, dangerous playground out there. Pushed myself over the limit. Relaxing weather day off tomorrow. Comfy yacht!

 

 

05.12.2007 Wed, Day 42/ 28

 

Day off, bad weather.

Woke up at 10am with lovely coffee and freshly baked bread smell :) Dave and Jenny Todd are lovely! Good luck to end up on their 11m yacht!

Relaxing rainy stormy day on the yacht. Visited the “neighbor’s” DOC boat at night for an interesting chat.

 

 

06.12.2007 Thu, Day 43/ 29

 

Heading quietly through Acheron Passage to Breaksea Sound with some sightseeing.

Disappointment Cove, 35 km. 1362 km.

Touristic paddle in most stunning sunny scenery. What a country! Had a freezing river bath and laundry.

 

 

07.12.2007 Fri, Day 44/ 30

 

Pendulo Reach Doubtful Sound, 60 km. 1422 km.

Long day: quiet morning, lunchtime headwinds, sightseeing Doubtful Sound, fighting sandflies, noisy possums in jungle.

Out of Thompson Sound to maybe Caswell Sound today. Sandflies trap you inside the tent all the time.Good organisation important!

 

 

08.12.2007 Sat, Day 45/ 31

 

Neck Cove, 15 km. 1437 km.

Tired of battling into funneling headwinds against the tide in Thompson Sound. I didn’t go out to the open sea.

Made a windy, almost sandfly-free beachday and hope for tomorrow’s good forecast. Will start very early for a long day (hopefully…)

It seems like the summer arrived with sunny days but increasing winds during the day, too. We’ll see how to handle the easterlies.

 

 

09.12.2007 Sun, Day 46/ 32

 

YAAWN! 5am…but no ripple on the water (yet) stars are just about to fade…

Catsey Bay, 60km. 1495 km.

Easy start – hard headwind end (as usual..) but low seas. Paddled up the river into Catsey Bay lagoon, beautiful! But sandflies..

 

 

10.12.2007 Mon, Day 47/ 32

 

Day off, Bad weather.

No paddle today it’s blowing hard out there. Will explore the hinterland on a bushwalk and fight the psychoterror of the sandflies.

15hrs stormy rain trapped in the tent which is holding well! NZ has all kind of pleasures to offer… but could be worse. Hope to get going again tomorrow!

I had to move my tent before dawn – fully naked,in pouring rain and sandstorm…not to get anything more wet than necessary…no pictures :)

 

 

11.12.2007 Tue, Day 48/ 33

 

Southerland Sound, 20 km. 1515 km.

Rain all day & strong(est) headwinds all day. Seakayaker’s delight :) . Urgent drying pitstop in Milford tomorrow.

 

 

12.12.2007 Wed, Day 49/ 34

 

Milford Sound, 48 km. 1563 km.

“Paddle-on-Inn” all inconveniences forgotten going in here :)

Never had such a quick pit stop; everything washed, dried, cleaned, fed. Thanks Fiona Lee! Can go out in the bushes again tomorrow!

Despite the OK day today and everything is ready I decided to stay in Milford as minimum Fri&Sat are bad :( ( I will take a good rest…

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