Weather update from Karel Vissel:
Thursday mrng: nw 4bft noon sw 1 to2bft aft ne 1 to 2bft seas 0.90to 1.50 mtr frm sw
Friday mrng: w 4bft noon nw 4 to 5bft aft w 3bft 2.60mtr frm sw
Satellite Text Messages Received from Freya:
46.36 168.21 Near Bluff. Interesting launch this morning took about half hr :). No new wreck at Waipapa Point but it looks like some days off before Fjordland
But the worst was the back surge for a lonely kayaker, the wash up the beach was quite high.
So where was the best spot and time to jump in? It took me a while, some cockpits full of water, some getting lost of the boat, some getting washed up and sitting sideways, some rolling of the kayay up the beach whilst trying to position it down enough – and eventually a long rest to recover my power…
I thought the tide is coming up, and might change the angle of the beach for the breakers somehow, so just wait a bit for higher tide, and try again…I *needed* to get off that beach at some point and to to Bluff today!!!
But as it would only get better on the afternoon, tide and winds, I was not really in a hurry.
I tried again at some point, and at least managed to stay afloat whilst getting washed up and down for about three times, turned around somehow, bracing into some dumpers before eventually braeking through the first dumper!
That was the key! The other braekers were no problem, and once I was free, I gave it a big reliefed shout I made it!!! Yes, these open beaches…they change their face easily.
Actually, being out there on your own just with a partner wouldn’t make it any easier for the last one…but it will be interesting to watch Justine’s video of that kind of launching while she is sitting safely launched out there waiting for Barry to punch through the launch on his own :-)) – or the other way round???
Having a support team on the beach to launch the last one makes it way less of a problem…but actually less exciting and less of a learning process, too!
And then the skeg again…launching rope attached as usual, but by no means I could pull it out…I fumbled around with the paddle on the rope to get a better angle to pull it out, but no chance…after a while i tried again, pulled as hard I ever could and guessed, if the loop breaks, I can’t help then…but it came off eventually and my already planned wet exit behind Waipapa Point to release it was luckily not necessary.
Seas were still rough approaching Waipapa Point, but with a good eye for the offshore reef breakers I made it safely through that notoriuos spot. I guess the tourists out there on the dry point hoped for another exciting crash…
I took a bearing from the GPS across Toetoes Bay, as the sky was grey, it was raining, and nothing of Bluff or the offshore islands was to be seen where I wanted to go.
At least the wind was dropping as forecasted, but the waves were pushing me into the bay that much I had to correct my course quite often. Good to have the GPS! And it told me my speed was increasing, too, as the tide turned in my favour, actually that much I would be reaching Bluff two hours before the tide was turning again to get me safely into the harbour!
I took my time, rested quite often, still making 3km/hr at the last hour without doing anything! Seas were fully quiet at the end, a relaxing final approach to Bluff.
The only rock-free little beach in Bluff was right before the huge big white tanks before the wharf, and at almost low tide there was still quite a bit of a stream going out the harbour! I ferryglided across the main stream, before I sneaked up close to the rocks approaching that little beach through the floating kelp and reefs.
I saw a lady waving and shouting at me at the harbour entrance, and guessed this must be Ainsli Lamb already, a contact adress Paul gave me to send a parcel down to Bluff.
But no! It was Meri Leask, "Good as Gold Meri" from Bluff Fishermen Radio! She knew already I was coming from the Heberley’s in Tory Channel, and from that chap bringing me water up to my tent at Tautuku Bay!
Out of her window she overlooked the whole harbour, saw me coming in, and although I was too shy to contact her already on the VHF channel 61, she welcomed me already on the beach! Thanks Meri, I felt already in good hands even before heading out to Fjordland, monitored by all fishermen around via your radio!
I told her I was actually expecting Ainsli with the parcel, and after a few phone calls she came down to Bluff with another lady to bring it to me. Thanks, Ainsli!
After checking the forecast for the next days it was clear I would have to stay some days in Bluff, and I was happy Meri helped me to find a little hut on the campsite for the next days.
But before driving out there, I was invited for a cuppa in her famous kitchen radio office, listening to her evening sched calls to all boats around in the area! She does a very important job for the safety of all boaters, especially in the remote Fjordland area. She knows exactly where everybody is for the night, and is the coordination center if a mayday call comes in.
She’ll monitor my progress in Fjordland, too, and even if my own little VHF won’t reach her in all corners of Fjordland, the VHF contact via a passing fishing boat would be possible to obtain.
My boat was stored at Bruce and Gloria’s house right across the road, and I "made camp" in my own little hut then for the next days, shower, heater and laundry included…