Loc: behind Point Sweeney
Acc: Hilleberg Keron 4 tent
Dist: 43,1 km
Start: 04:55 End: 13:30
At midnight, a nasty wind comes up instead of all going down as expected. When I wake again at one o’clock, the wind is gone, but it is thick fog. Not my fancy for a night start. It rains until three o’clock with a calm breeze, and when I peep out of the tent door and have better vision, we start packing. Lilja has the crazy idea to ‘speed up’ her packing by not eating breakfast (she likes to cook it) and not doing number two in the morning. I cannot talk her out of it, although I know she performs not at her best when hungry. What the heck…we have time for breakfast! I have my regular grounded grain bowl with raisins and powdered milk. I will not let her go with that tomorrow.
It is low water in the morning, and on launching we have to wade out through sone soft ground, not nice, but there is no other option. I have to watch where we are paddling, at least until the gap between Tigvariak Island and the mainland we have to follow my waypoints not to get stuck in shoals. Additionally, the fog closes up again, and without GPS, we might have to walk through shallow areas. But I get us safely into the channel and soon we can aim straight to the next oil site. But this one is not really accessible from the land, and we stop only briefly for a pee. Meanwhile, the rain started again, and slowly but surely turns into slushy snow. Was there not a temperature of up to six degrees forecasted for today? The snow slush gets thicker and thicker, and we do not get warm again on hands and feet despite our overcags. Was that what was to be expected? I cannot tell I have ever paddled so many hours in snow slush. Pee stops are as brief as possible, and at some point I urge Lilja to have some snacks on the water.
The wind has thankfully started pushing around eight, mellow at first. Only when the coast trends north-east, waves are a little lumpier. Thankfully, Lilja likes it also and has no problems with the wind waves. Despite us paddling mostly close to the coast, I do not think a swim in this icy water would be anyone’s fancy. We are really gritting our teeth and paddle hard to stay warm-ish. At least the speed and distance paddled is good. We are even keen to reah the last oil site which is close to the coast and hope for a warm place at the end of the day. But it I not meant to be. Around one o’clock, Lilja’s left rudder line breaks right behind the pedal. No the I have not checked that spot in Barrow. Thankfully we are quite close to a landable coast and run in. But we are freezing like hell, I barely fix the line as a provisory and we are still keen to reach the oil site. But the length of the line proves too long, and Lilja does not manage to steer properly. I feel so cold everywhere that I do not think I like to try again to adjust the line, we better make camp and leave the oil site for tomorrow. We actually have everything we need, it would have been just nice to run into friendly people like Tommy at West Point again!
We find a camp spot just a few hundred meters from our repair site, and with frozen fingers and body, we just about manage to set the tent. We are still setting the pegs, when a roaring noise comes from the oil site. Two amphibious boats rush over the shallows, their engines sitting on their sterns like a propeller. No idea what they are up to, at least not for visiting us. My waving is not even responded and they show no sign of recognizing two orange Teletubbies on the beach. Their loss. We keep on setting up, happy to be warm and dry soon. The correct rudder line repair can wait until tonight or even tomorrow morning. The boats come back soon, but keep their distance. No problems, we do not need anything than friendly people. Tomorrow is another strong following wind day, and again – rain. Temperatures are supposed to become up to eight degrees – hope for no snow?