Satellite text message from Freya 10/26/07: (Updated by Freya 27.10.07)
S41.12 E174.18 Okukari Bay near entrance of Tory Channel. Started paddling 7.40 am, smoking catabatic SW following winds off French Pass/ Admirality Bay, pretty rough stuff! Tide was turnig to follow at 8.30am that day.
Not much "real" surfing, as the boat is heavy and I wanted to save energy for the day. On passing an oil platform halfway to Clay point, the workers on deck probably guessed what is that crazy lonely kayaker doing out there…
Around Clay Point the same strong smoking gusty wind was still up, but now 90 degrees from the right…I ducked down low, and kept on paddling…good to be flexible. But it doesn’t take much to capsize a kayak or to get rolled around even a couple of times :-)) – almost feels like a propwash of an helicopter !
I happily put in a brief relaxing food and pee stop, once getting off the catabatic mountain winds on the next channel entrance.
Now the wind was a friendly following WNW up to Cape Jackson, a pleasant paddle with good progress in sunny conditions! Even the view of two snow capped mountains came up to the right, and I just felt like being in the Icelandic fjords, paddling way offshore from point to point. Just Greg wasn’t with me…I took my heavy PFD off, felt just great and enjoyed digging in deep.
Cape Jackson was well known for a heavy tidal race around the point, but the tide was still with me, sneaking in close to the rocks was no problem then, I just got washed through in a good speed! This was the time I started to turn my GPS on, to check what the speed was doing, actually a good device to have in tidal areas!
Conditions, time and weather were still good, so I left the last possibility to pull in somewhere into Queen Charlotte sound for the night, hoping to at least reach Tory Channel or even Fighting Bay, if conditions stayed ok.
But for sure they didn’t…although there was not much wind left I still made good progress towars Cape Koamaru, but for sure the tide turned around the Cape and I was sneeking along close to the rocks to avoid the biggest tidal stream against me more offshore.
Some bigger rocks close to shore left the decision open how to go against upstream, in between or around…both options proved to be hard work! I just kept on paddling double speed for some minutes, actually the smalles gaps for sure turned out to be the fastest streaming areas. But the longer way around the rocks against the stream wasn’t tempting either!
And then some bad weather came in…actually predictable, after the following wind all morning there was a lull for about two hrs, and then the wind turned to the forcasted southerly. At least after Rununder Point the tide was with me again, but wind against tide created some choppy stuff, and I was hiding behind most bigger rocks, now getting flooded through again. At some point I should have better already put on my helmet, just in case…being alone out there…
Reaching smoother waters of Tory Channel entrance, I sneeked around the corner of Okukari Bay where I expected to hopefull have a good landing. That bay looked really inviting to me after that long time on the water!
Well, I must admit after I kept on going around Cape Koamaru I would have loved to reach Fighting (girl’s) Bay, as Paul Caffyn aimed for that on his trip 30 years ago and couldn’t reach it :-)), but to reach that bay in time before nightfall I should have started earlier and should have had that on my mind the whole day. But weather and tide didn’t allow me after going around the Cape Koamaru, and I was happy to be just safe in Tory Channel. No, I’m NOT competitive… :-)))
A big interisland ferry boat just came out the channel when I came off behind a huge rock gap, pretty impressive!
In Okukari Bay I think I made the right choice on landing on th beach to the right! Landing on a remote corner to the left where a lovely meadow seemed to be just waiting for me I climbed uphill to the biggest of the three houses to ask for allowance to camp.
Joe Heberly, the owner of the two impressive fishing boats moored in the bay and patron of the whole "Hebeley Clan" living in that bay, invited me to stay in the sheering shed, which was very welcome on that windy wet night after 12 hrs of paddling! He drove me downhill to the beach again in one of those funny working vehicles called "rhinos" reminding me to fast running golf carts with a gas engine.
He showed me around in the shed, a luxury accomodation compared to a wet and windy tentsite!
I was just about to paddle my kayak closer to the shed, as the cart came down again, this time with Heather, his wife, and an upgraded invitation to a stay in their big luxury house! How could I say no…a hot shower, warm bed and some company was more than welcome at that time!
I first hosed myself down outside in my saltcrusted drysuit, then I enjoyed some less cold water with way less clothes inside…what a life! A call to Bevan that I’m fine, the regular sat-phone update for the rest of the world, and a great dinner with some good talk finished up that exciting day.
A big thanks to Heather and Joe Heberly hosting me two nights in Okukari Bay!
The Heberly family clan owns a fishig fleet and some land with 2000 sheep, operated already some previous generations in that bay and obviously well prepared for the future! Two sons and some grandchildren live in the other houses, at high sheering season assisted by some workers helping out. An obviously fullfilling life!