Loc: north-eastern Cockburn Island
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4
Dist: 14,7 km
Start: 6:35 End: 9:50
The original forecast for today sounded good – north-easterly winds up to maximal ten knots, clouds, seas twenty centimeters, though cold with two degrees. What the update last night said, I read finally on my sat phone again after I talked to Peter in the early morning. Maybe it did not get fully into my mind, maybe I urgently wanted to keep going, as I took those increased headwinds around fifteen knots also yesterday all day. And that little bit of water coming from the sky – wet slush snow in the morning, dry in the afternoon. It is only water, I thought. I am well dressed, and cannot get more wet than always. I will go.
I already have the first snow shower before packing. Lovely, I think, packing a wet tent is not one of my favorite jobs, despite my waterproof gloves. The cold gets into the fingertips in no time. I manage to pack everything as usual, touching little wet stuff after I changed into my thin neoprene gloves under my pogies. I am wearing two pairs of socks today, instead of the one set with the sole heater which is also not successful to keep my feet warm longer than an hour after start. The double layer of socks also fail. I will have to try neoprene socks inside the dry suit next season.
I paddle along, fighting bravely the fifteen knots cold headwind and a few more thin snow slush showers. The seas are still flat-ish in the shelter of the island row.
When I cover the first gap in the islands, the water is noticeably more turbulent because of the northerly wind and maybe some current. I am glad to reach the next island, and this gap was only fivehdred meter. I get out of the boat once in an effort to warm my feet while walking a bit and to warm my hands while peeing on them. Unfortunately, the warming pleasure lasts only for a very short time, but the temptation is always there while doing my job.
I grit my teeth, have still cold feet and hands, and aim for the next island. I see already the other islands disappearing in some clouds, and expect the shower. But why just now, inside this one-and-a-half kilometer gap? The tine distance can be long when suddenly, the wind rises to twenty knots, whips up the sea very uncomfortably and slush snow hits your face almost horizontally that my visor can barely keep it off my eyes. But I need to focus on the island land in those lumpy criss cross seas! Argggh, it is a shitty combination, and I can only keep on paddling with around three kilometers per hour whilejumping up and down, and hope to be in the next island’s shelter very soon.
Finally, things calm out again, wind, water and snow, and I can realx for a while. I paddle along the shore, frozen to the bones, but thankfully only on my feet and hands. My head and body are well covered and working hard enough not to shiver. But I need functional hands at least, and land to try to warm-up. I climb the island’s gravel ridge to regain feeling in my feet while tucking my hands under my armpits, not much success. I pull my sat phone to call Peter for mental support, and he comforts me a little with telling me the week’s forecast sounds mellow. I ponder for maybe another ten minutes while walking up and down, but call it a day. Although the afternoon is supposed to be dry, it is cold and still fifteen knots hedwind. There will be better days.
Inside the tent, I get a little shock for a while when I reach to my neck – where is my favorite necklace? It cannot be lost, as I always take it off while putting I into the sidepocket of the tent. It must be still inside the mess of thrown-in bags – or inside my drysuit when icame of fwhile I wear it. Thankfully, I found it under some bags in the far corner. I forgot to put in on this morning – no wonder my lucky charm was missing and I got such ugle conditions!