Friday, 21 June 2013

June 21, end at Ucluelet. Calling it a day

June 21 - Show is over - I just bailed in Ucluelet around 1pm - too cold early on in the trip. You can't stop and be changing or putting tent up every time just to eat and drink. Also headwinds for 1st 7 days then when I did get a 40 knot NW I got too chilled, paddling in Lifa underwear and a light shell, so couldn't stop to eat and drink, as i was only just warm enough in the boat - well, not really warm enough. After a while I got so cold I could hardly hold onto my paddle and had to camp early to stave off hypothermia, wasting half a day of fine downwind runs. My fault for not having a dry suit, but who would have thought a NW would be so cold. Runs were fantastic, belting along at over 22 kph a couple of times.
Blisters and wounds under the blisters killing me and headwind forecast for next 3 days wasn't spelling breaking the record, so I bailed. Too hard of a gig to carry on just for the sake of carrying on

Thursday, 20 June 2013

June 20 contd and the Spot

The Spot is back - it has been spotty of late .... got some additional texts from Jerome a short while ago.

June 20th - part 2 - getting chilled - paddling in a 40 knot wind with 2m  seas in two Lifa long underwear tops and a light anorac (with no drysuit) is not smart and not being able to stop and warm without changing is a problem. Blisters very sensitive and infected. off the pace and sat,sun, mon headwinds - boat is sweet - understern never came out of the water in the downwind runs. My Plus 5 Asolo sleeping bag kept me warm enough 

Enjoy the longest day

June 20 Awesome runs, but had to stop and camp to warm up

The Epic 18 sea kayak Bob and Oscar lent me was a dream. On those big runs, gusting at 40 knots with 2m seas, I’d see a white cap (white horse) building. I couldn’t outrun the big ones and these would rise up above me and break over my head. I'd tuck my thighs under the cockpit, brace my Wing paddle into it, um, my Epic Wing paddle into it, duck my head down and disappear into the foam. Then I’d feel the hull release, slide down the face and the next thing I'd be shooting out of the foam pile like Superman, with the white water streaking off me, as the boat just took off down the face, the understern and featherlight pedals giving me full control. GPS reading over 22kph on some of the bigger ones. Awesome. Thanks for the sponsorship guys – Bob Putnam of Deep Cove Canoe and Kayak and the other guy, Oscar somebody of Epic Kayaks. Greg Barton might know him. 
Unfortunately I had to stop catching those awesome runs because the cold was making it too hard to hold onto the paddle - and I was INSIDE the boat, paddling. A potentially very dangerous situation

Hi All,
Jerome is fine - the SPOT has had problems - he will fiddle with it tonight - he is near Ucluelet. Just got a text update from him:

June 20 - I'm OK - SPOT faulty - I'm 5km NW of Ucluelet at the Wya Pt Indian reservation. Too cold to carry on paddling. To warm up I had to stop, get out, change into dry clothes, put the tent up and get into the sleeping bag. This is crazy - still half a day of runs left. On a warm day I would sit on the beach, eat, drink, dry out, warm up in the sun and in half an hour and be on my way.
I met Liam, a sea kayak guide on the beach. He is getting married here Saturday.


June 12 - 19

Here are the texts arranged from latest to oldest - the texts all had the same date (June 19) - some of the messages had a date typed in a lot did not and I did not get the text messages in the sequence that Jerome typed them it - they all just arrived randomly - and I am a van der Merwe so if some of this looks odd just suck it up :-)

June 19 – Started off today with a tent pole breaking from me trying to shake the wet sand out of the tent in a southerly this morning. Tent poles are awesome nowadays and never having broken a tent pole on any of my previous trips, I didn't have the nice little pole repair tube with me, so duct tape and sticks to the rescue, but had to cut the sleeve on my old tent to fit the repair. Forecast NW – it is blowing SE – exact headwind. Took off in a soaking rain storm this morning – was glad to be in the boat and not packing up when it hit. I think I have turned the corner for the better blister-wise, but it's hard to tell. Finally half a day of almost runs – certainly a tailwind even if it was just from the rear quarter - very welcome. I made good time to Blunden island opposite Vargas island – gorgeous campsite again – I love being out here.
June 18 – Sitting in the tent in the morning listening to the fairly heavy rain. Food stowed in the boat, where it should be overnight, but of course its not in the tent where I can eat it; clothes on the log outside to 'dry'. Where’s the north westerly tailwind - No NW – fresh southerly all day 5 to 6 km/h across Nootka sound - rain showers, cold, against the tide too even though it was going out!!  It was the same direction (against me) coming in! Stopped at Escalante - thinking of you all. Love you mom and Kelsey and kudos to Sean, Joe and Colin – left for Estevan point anyway – tide and wind diminished somewhat and I made bird island 5km N of Estevan pt lighthouse – NW finally forecast for tomorrow – 7th day and I haven’t caught a run yet unless you count some clapotis rounding Maquinna Pt. Sounds of the waves, loons, bald eagles, ravens – land of the wolf, bear and cougar.
June 17 – Left Catala island camp at 8:30am – 8km/h with the tide almost to Nootka island for 10km then the southerly came up and tide turned early and in the familiar situation – of paddling hard into wind, chop and current doing only 6km/h or less. Stopped after 25km at Calvin creek to wait it out and hopefully fresh southerly will die towards pm. Cold rain. Have had to put the tent up . Gloves the last 2 days have helped blisters which was good, but strong headtide to Maquinna point at Nootka, made progress hard. Again hard paddling at 6km/h – southerly headwind freshening – called it a day and decided to land for a few hours and slept in the hopes of the wind dying a little, but southerly still blowing.  Decided not to cross Nootka sound – just got the tent up before the rain shower – lying here eating my cheese like a lollipop. This june in particular is cold – have to put dry clothes on and tent up just to rest in the day – wind was a light headwind when I left
June 16 – Very tired from rounding Brooks yesterday – slept in and left Spring island around 10 ish – light southerly headwind all day and against the tide for most of it. Raining – good timing I’m in my tent just after dinner. Sardines and cheese tastes good. My VHF turned on in the bag and is very low on battery – safety first – this am David Pinel lent me a new one with fully charged battery – SPOT was wet inside yesterday – am and is a little corroded inside – I dried it out and put new alkaline batteries – no lithium – too cheap – so if the the SPOT fails I have a radio and am fine – late start very tired and blisters a little infected – light headwinds – had to work to do 6 to 7km/h – not going to get the record like this. With the tide and wind against me, I only did 30 km today and exhausted and sore at Catala island – Glad to end at 4pm – fingers swollen, red around the blisters sore to do anything – at least I got a forecast – light southerly headwind tomorrow again! Another headwind. Gorgeous coastline and campsite – I think a grey or a Humpback whale surfaced right behind me today. Enormous back and a tiny dorsal fin. Lots of cute sea otters.
June 15 - nothing on the radio last night on the south-east side of quatsino sound so not sure what today brings for Brooks. Paddled 5km to grassy point, quiet so went for the diagonal to Brooks – remained quiet so got to Brooks – first tide in my favor since Cape Scott  going around brooks then a very slight tailwind for the first time on the whole trip. Beautiful warm stop at Nordstrom Creek half way round Brooks – bear and wolf footprints – quiet to Spring Island, but a tough, long paddle as the tailwind that helped a lot but did not produce a run faded halfway. Stayed on Spring Island with Dave Pinel and crew – declined a beer so as not to lose my unassisted status – tough trip – kudos to all who went before. Llight headwinds forecast for next two days – is it too much to ask to get a couple of downwind legs on this trip. I haven’t caught a single run yet – sheesh! Camped on Spring Island with Dave Pinel and the crew from West Coast Expeditions
June 14 – Really hard day 45km only. Left at 4:45am to catch the outgoing tide, since I had battled against the incoming tide the day before, but it was also against me!! For 20km I ground on against it and into a slight headwind, then, because this was unsustainable, I stopped, slept, ate and rested for 3 hrs to catch the opposite tide, the incoming tide, but it too was against me all the way and the wind had freshened to a strong southerly headwind  – 2ft whitecaps it was all I could do to cross Quatsino Sound fighting the tide and wind doing 5km/h for an hour and a half of hard paddling. I arrived and took a much needed rest in the lee of a small island on the N end of Restless Bight  – knackered, chilled, sore. Saw a spot of sun at the end of the day. No tide in my favor this side of Cape Scott and no tailwind on the whole trip so far. Today was nasty
June 13 – 5:30am depart light headwind all the way to Cape Scott and on the other side after that – against a strong flood tide around Cape Scott and paddling through kelp beds to try and avoid it. Almost like paddling up a class II river, sneaking up eddies and ferry gliding to cross the current. Doing 6 to 7km/h – threw up twice – extremely sore stomach muscles from heavy boat – overcast with fine drizzle – chilled, sore inner elbow from leaning back to save stomach and paddling with my arms – no NW as promised 2 days ago – tired stopped early at 2pm-ish for some r&r as this is not sustainable.  Going to eat sleep lighten the boat – tomorrow is another day. Camped on the northernmost island of 2 little islands on the N end of San Josef Bay
June 12th 2013. START. Left Shoreline Drive, east of Port Hardy right on time at 4pm. By the time I had paddled the half hour up and around Dillon Point, the easterly, forecast the day before, never happened and instead I turned left into quite a fresh NE in my face for 2/3 of the day – bit of a wet ride as it was kicking up against the ebbing tide. This is where my Spot got water inside, as little whitecaps were breaking over the bows for most of the ride. The last hour and a half was quiet – gorgeous sunset – did about 42 km in 6 hours – quite an honest start – definitely not wafting down at 10 km/h!. Camped on a lovely gravel point just west of Shushartie

Spotty cell coverage, texts out of sequence

Morning all - I got a total of 44 text messages from Jerome last night!! - I will try to put them in sequence and post them later - they go all the way back to last wednesday.

Jerome: The first time I got cell service was at Blunden Island near Tofino, so had all these pent up posts to send. Unfortunately not all went as I sent them, so out of sequence and some only got sent a few days later. Poor Sam

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

June 17 Nootka Island, June 18 'Bird' Island

Hi Everyone,
As Jerome has gotten closer to civilization (he is close to Tofino) just off Vargas island I did get a couple of text messages from him him. One was for June 17 and the other for June 18. I have posted these:

June 18 - from Hesquiat Peninsula Provincial Park - Rain on the tent, want to eat, but food stashed in the waterproof hatches of the boat overnight - wet paddling clothes outside 'drying' in the rain - Where's the North Westerly that was forecast?
Thanks Sam. Jerome's comments after: Yea, there was supposed to be a NW forecast, but the sound of rain on the tent in the am didn't sound promising - aren't NW supposed to herald good weather? Thats what I thought in my previous life, anyway. I was camped on what I call a little 'Bird Island', half a mile off-shore and about 5 kms N of Estvan Pt lighthouse. Incredible bird life. I really felt like and intruder, but had probably saved a bunch of Oyster Catcher hatchlings from about 20 Bald Eagles, that took off upon my landing. Huge numbers of Brine shrimp jumping all over the place in the wet kelp along the shore

June 17 from Nootka Island.  This campsite had a really wild feeling to it and was just a steep gravel beach with a platform of shells and things where the rainforest met the shore. \I had just sent a text, that never arrived, saying how amazing this place was, this place of bear, wolf, eagle, raven and cougar, when, speaking of which - I suddenly saw a large wolf walking past at dinner time between me and the water, just 30m away, shy'ly trying to get past. Didn't hear a thing, with the waves breaking on the gravel beach. Then a heavy rain shower got me into the tent with my dinner - with smelly, open salami and cheese packets, not the thing to be doing in bear/wolf/cougar country, but there I was, had to eat. I tried not to spill any hot chocolate or gatorade, topping up my bottles for the morning and was as quick as I could, then got all the food out of the tent into the waterproof hatches of the boat. Somewhat relieved. Rain light now, very soothing on the tent. All quiet animal-wise.

Take care