Tue 21/02-2012 Day 176

It hurts my kayak quite a bit to get dragged on the rocks...

Pos: here
Loc: Isla Chatham
Acc: tent
Dist: 57 km
Start: 7:40 End: 17:05

I took quite some time yesterday to check in the big inlet for the best campsite on the plenty of grassy areas – there are some with bushes grown in between, which certainly stay dry on high tide. But the grass is growing almost bushy, too. Then there are areas where you have those bushy grass spots as well, but they are looking younger and softer, and have dry grass in between – a good sign. Then there are areas with that yummy thick fat green grass on a high bank besides the river – the ground felt very dry and had dry old grass as well- at least after 24 hours not being flooded and a day with no rain.

This was where I chose my camp, but very high up and close to the bushy grass. I was very sure the water level wouldn’t rise up to there! And if a tad bit, I was camping on that thick layer of flattened out grass, which gave another 10 cm…but still, I got afloat at night!!!

It was new moon, and the night tide at the highest level. I knew that. Still I was sure about my spot! I woke at night at 1.30 am from the motor noise of a boat sounding so clean and close as if the boat was driving into my inlet – but even on high tide which was an hour later, no bigger boat than a kayak or a dinghy would be able to drive into that inlet over the bar! Maybe some robbers came with a dinghy up to me??? I tried to look outside, but it was pitch dark. Soon the motor noise disappeared, as the big boat driving for sure outside the inlet passed by…and I fell asleep again.

I woke again at 2.45 pm, from a new bedding feeling – did I book a hotel suite with a water bed this night???? I was had a water bed for years, so I knew very well how it feels…I was afloat on my Thermarest mattress!!! Oh shit…actually, oh pee, as it was my usual night’s wake up time for that matter! But as I was carefully poking next to me on the grassy ground, I hit grass mixed with water – a lot of water! What to do???

I took my headlamp out of my handy tent pocket and tried to check out the situation, without lifting myself too much not to make the deepest point of my body even deeper…I still felt warm and dry in my sleeping bag with my fluffy polar fleece liner, and the tent floor of my quite new Hilleberg Staika tent was holding up quite well! There was actually only soaking a little bit of water through, where heavy items were sitting on the tent floor – first of all my own butt! I am fortunately used to pack every night before I fall asleep *everything* into it’s dry bags, just in case I get flooded one day or have to leave camp quickly…so no precious gear was close to getting soaked. Only two bags had a bit of a small puddle underneath.

But the most precious unprotected gear was myself in my sleeping bag on my Thermarest pad! It was 2.45 am, and high tide was just over around 2.30 am…so I thought the best thing would be not to move, stay afloat, and wait until I’m sinking again… :-)) I was actually laughing quite a bit! I was not in real danger, it was not very wet inside my tent, my sleeping bag and pad made for a perfect floating island on top of the swimming tent floor! The heavy grass pad was probably supporting me and my tent as well a bit, but still , it was about 10-15 cm solid water under me!

I started soon to sink again – thank goodness! After half an hour, I felt I was grounded again, and used my towel to wipe the worst of water under my sleeping pad and under a few bags. But it was not too bad! There is nothing like a solid waterproof tent floor! Still, though it was more funny than ugly wet, I prefer not to have that experience again, and will check next time even more carefully where I put up my tent!

In the morning, I checked on my upturned kayak bow where I glued a few tiny spots with epoxy last night. The constant landings on rocky beaches took it’s toll, and I had a tiny bit of water in my bow compartment again yesterday. When I was touching the freshly glued spots, it felt very slippery! Was it not dry yet? No, it was frost! the whole upturned kayak hull had a tiny layer of ice, as well as my tent and the rest of the scenery! This is why I was a bit lazy getting up this morning in the cold…not only because I needed to catch up with that lost half hour sleep from my night’s swim!

I had to pack a soaking wet tent again – how I hate that!

My downhill run through the inlet outflow was quite speedy – 13,5 km/ h! 🙂 But I lightly hit a flooded rock and got turned unwanted a bit to the side…I’m not a white water paddler!!! But all good again afloat outside, but I noticed a good camp site was as well just round the corner…too late! And I don’t want to miss my inlet experiences, do I!

It was another dead calm and dry, but only little sunny day – I’m getting spoiled! But I think I deserve that, after my wet tough headwind efforts the other weeks! More of those days are to come…great! Around noon was a bit of a wind – southerly! Even the tidal current didn’t seem to turn all day – the kelp indicated all day it was with me! So I made good speed and easy headway.

But even the most beautiful scenery and easy water conditions are getting boring at some point…I wouldn’t mind to be at the open sea again one day! But no complaints…in this way I’m still staying well in schedule! Hope the weather holds, and may even get warmer the more north I’m coming! Already now, I’m paddling mostly with no gloves, and my hood is mostly down…ah, soon I’ll be at the equator and be sweating my ass off! :-))

A rocky landing!

I was understandably sick of inlet camping for tonight, and found a reasonably sized, reasonably flat, quite high rock to camp on. Still the evening breeze made my tent flutter again, but not too bad this time, as I was securing it a bit on the windy side. Still, you have to pad your sleeping pad at some corners to have a completely flat surface! I find it is reasonably possible to find camp spots for one mostly horizontal sleeping spot, but I am always envisioning how it may be if you are camping with two people here in Fjordland…then you can only sleep on top of each other!

Setting up "camp on the rocks"

My kayak is parked across two high rocks, laying on it’s side! Once my tent was up, there was not much space left to find the entrance without falling off! I’m always climbing rocks with the utmost care, I don’t want that sort of an accident …my strained butt nerve from jumping to a rock two days ago was enough. It’s almost gone now. Still, I’m feeling my body quite a bit, pulling off every day 50+ km…, but no rest until Puerto Eden! Three more days and 150 km left…but I’m not even sure where to stay there, if someone will be greeting and hosting me! Cristian Donoso gave me the names of two kayaking friends – Juan Vilo and Manual Maldonado, but I haven’t been in contact with them yet. But I’m sure I’ll find my hot shower somewhere…200 people, there must be some civilization! Though there is only boat access to this tiny village…

15 comments on “Tue 21/02-2012 Day 176

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Barbara G.

Wow, what an experience. Great that you could see it as funny! Again, a demonstration that staying calm must be one of your strengths. Just think how much a hotel room with a water bed would have cost you… and you’re getting it all for free in Fjordland! 🙂

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