Kayaking the Southern Edge Part III

(follows on from Part II)

Day 6, Tuesday 11th April: Ketchem Bay to Anchorage Cove, Louisa Bay

The previous day had been long, but it was important to push on while the weather was favourable, in case it became necessary later to sit out bad weather.

Map Ketchem to Little Deadmans 500
Larger map here.

Compared with the previous day, the stretch from Ketchem Bay to Louisa Bay was not going to be challenging. But that’s not to say it would be easy. It was a 20 km paddle of four to five hours.

“Getting out from the beach was an effort. You had to paddle squarely into the waves and take a few over the boat.” Comments from paddlers.

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For a while everyone enjoyed the flat water, then the serious paddling resumed. The sick people were taking Stematil and some boats were being towed.

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Looking east towards the Ironbound Range

The landing at Anchorage Cove in Louisa Bay was not easy, but it went without incident.

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Mountain pinkberry growing on beach at Anchorage Cove

“At this point everyone was cold and tired. Nothing ever got dry. We hung the gear out but everything was dank all the time. Crocs were better than wet socks.”

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Ironbounds from Anchorage Cove

Day 7, Wednesday 12th April: Anchorage Cove to Little Deadman’s Cove

This was another shortish day, with a good tailwind.

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“When you paddle through foam it’s completely silent.”

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They landed on a rocky beach, covered in kelp and treacherously slippery. They had to haul the boats into the forest by rope, with everyone’s feet sliding on slimy rocks.

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Little Deadman’s Bay on the South Coast Track

Reg was concerned about the winds and decided they would need to wait a day before attempting the landing at South Cape Rivulet.

Day 8, Thursday 13th April: Little Deadman’s Cove

Some of the group walked east along the South Coast Track.

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Looking west towards Little Deadman’s from the South Coast Track

Turua Beach faced south and had 2 metre breaking waves. That made it clear how hard it would be to land on a beach that didn’t face east.

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Decisions

It didn’t look as if the swell profile would change, and that meant it was going to be very difficult landing at South Cape Rivulet. Reg had to make a call. Not willing to risk injury or damage to the boats, he was left without a choice.

They were going to have to do the last two legs of the journey in one go.

That would be a 49 km day.

Map Little Deadmans to Cockle Creek 500
Larger map here.

Now Reg had to decide whether the 49 km leg could be done the next day. He had done this distance on his previous trip, but that time he had had a smaller boat and a sail. To have a chance of doing it in the heavy SeaBears, they would need following seas and a tailwind.

“You’d never do it going into the weather.”

South Cape to South East Cape

On the phone the second night, Jenny warned Reg that another front was coming through. With responsibility for eleven others, Reg had to make conservative choices. He decided to wait for the front to pass. Again, he was hoping that after that the wind would moderate and swing to the south west.

They couldn’t leave the next day. They would have to spend a third night at Little Deadman’s. The news was met with some disappointment, moderated when the paddlers realised that this, the second evening, no longer had to be alcohol free.

Reg's tent was a fly
Reg slept in a teepee with no floor or mosquito net.

Tarps were important. Some nights guides slept in bivvy bags under them.

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Guides have to be proficient in “Tarpology”.

That night the front did come through and they ate dinner in a downpour.

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“There was no paddling the next day. We drank plenty.”

Day 9, Friday 14th April: Little Deadman’s Cove

“All over the country work colleagues, families and friends were following the team’s progress on a Spot Tracker. When the pins stopped moving for more than two nights Jenny Grundy’s phone started ringing.”

Team members spent the second day exploring the South Coast Track. Some headed east, partly on bush tracks with river crossings, partly on beaches. Others went west. A few, with energy to spare, spent a couple of hours walking up the Ironbounds.

The guides brought all the boats around to the stony beach near the camp to make it easier to pack in the morning.

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Day 10, Saturday 15th April: Little Deadman’s Cove to Cockle Creek

This was going to be a 49 km paddle, around South Cape and then around South East Cape.

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The team got up at 5am and were in the water by 6.30, just on daylight.

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Precipitous Bluff over Prion Beach
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South Cape and Soldier Bluff, with South East Cape in the distance
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Fluted Cliffs of South Cape
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South Cape

“On the right we could see lights and buildings on Maatsuyker Island.”

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South Cape

After eleven days everyone was fairly keen to get to the finish. The over-use injuries were starting to take their toll.

“Ocean paddling is very different from river and lake paddling. You are thrown around in different directions.  The “catch”, the point where the blade enters and grabs the water, is uneven. On a heaving ocean surface your stroke involves a lot of bracing and correction. The paddle gets moved around underwater and you have to hold it tightly.”

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South East Cape is the southernmost point of the mainland of Tasmania. It is around six kilometres further south than South West Cape. Tim helpfully pointed out that for ocean sailors South East Cape was considered one of the five great southern capes of the world. All the team knew was that it didn’t seem to be getting any closer.

But eventually they reached it.

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South East Cape

“Near the tips of the major capes, with waves rebounding from the shore, the seas became even more confused and difficult to negotiate.”

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They had discussed possibly landing at Mouldy Hole, a bay not far from Recherche Bay, but when they arrived it looked as if it was going to be another problematic landing on slippery rocks, so they rafted up, had a bite to eat and pressed on.

And then they were there.

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Recherche Bay looking towards Moonlight Ridge

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Now they had one more night camping at Cockle Creek.

“We had drunk all the wine but there was still whisky.”

The next day, Jenny and Reg’s dad brought the trailer from Hobart to Cockle Creek, the southernmost stretch of road in Australia.

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Reg’s boats had arrived, safely, in the east.

Thanks to these people for the images

Tom Keith, Martin Baker, Jim Sloan, Reg Grundy, Dave Cromarty, Tony Smith.

The Paddlers were:

Jeremy Baker, Martin Baker, Dave Cromarty, Neil Grant, Col Johnston, Jim Sloan, Tony Smith, Phil Steele, and Andrew van der Vliet.

Guides: Reg (Mark) Grundy, Tom Keith, Tim Warren of Roaring 40s Kayaking.

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