Paddle Day 27:
Struis Baai to Arniston 28km (2hr 50min)
Today was a nice and short day with a side swell and wind but neither of much strength. Going around Arniston point I chose to go around the reef instead of taking the short cut through themiddle. If in doubt go around! I paddled up to the caves to get some great video footage but the GoPro kept on switching itself off after a few second…… Doh! I forgot to put the SD card into it last night. Idiot! Still having issues with my VHF radio. Something to do with the external microphone and speaker I guess. All in all a fine day on the water
Paddle Day 28:
Arniston to Cape Infanta 71km (7hrs 21min)
After 3 days of waiting for the strong Easterly winds to stop it was finally go time. On hurdle that I have is the Overberg weapons Test Centre and a patch of water they have laid claim too and is restricted. A no go area 10km long extending 5km out to sea! After contacting them the told me in no uncertain terms that if I proceed my life could be in danger. A little later in the conversation I asked if they would be doing any testing before 07h00 as I would be past their restricted waters. The head of security said just call me when you leave the area and that was that. I then arranged Mark to follow my tracker and then let Warren know when to call Test Centre.
On the water I made good time and was well passed their special waters before anything untoward happened. The first 20km I paddled quite close to the coast and was the planned route from there on was also supposed to be close to the coast but feeling relaxed and wanting to reduce the days distance I started heading straight towards Cape Infanta headland. I eventually ended up about 4km offshore and it saved my 4km.
Today was the first time I got too hot while on the water. My wetsuit top was doing its job but too well. I had to keep splash water over my head and inside the top to try and cool down. Tomorrow I must wear another top which will be the first time since starting. No I am not superstitious! Today was also the first time I listening to the radio. Not a bad option as I was getting a bit bored of my music.
Just before Cape Infanta Beetle Bailey and Warren arrived in a ski boat to give me some encouragement. By this time I was grumpy and wanted out so it was just what the doctor ordered, especially the ice cold cola as my juice was almost finished and well warm by now. They motored around getting some video footage and a while later a Nature Conservation boat pulled them over checking that they were not fishing in the reserve.
After rounding Cape Infanta there was still 8km to get to the village and my take out point. Oh Boy! Those last kilometres took ages to pass but pass they did and I got out at the slipway. Beet and Warren had gone up the Breede river to return the boat to it’s mooring and a while later Warren arrived to pick me up with the Land Rover.
That evening we spent the night at Mud Lark on the banks of the river. Many thanks to Tim and Hillary for putting looking after us. It is frustrating especially after long days that I don’t get much time to spend with our host and then are gone by 4am.
Paddle Day 28:
Cape Infanta to Jongensfontein 42km (5hr 10min)
Last night we had a braai with Beetle at his spot on the Breede river and I managed to convince him to join me for at least a bit of today’s paddle. I am not sure how keen he was at getting up so early but he’s not one to disappoint. My plan for the day was to get to Stillbaai but I changed that along the way.
We were on the water a few minutes after 5am and already there was a light SE wind blowing. Not ideal for a long paddle. We paddled and chatted for about 15km when Beetle said his farewells and turned to have a downwind back to Cape Infanta leaving me to carry onto Jongensfontein into a building head wind.
The chop slowly got steeper and steeper and eventually my ski was lifting up over the chop and banging down on the other side. Bang, Bang,Bang…. Not what I signed up for! Well there was nothing I could do but “carry on regardless”. I again cut across the bay to reduce the distance and at the furthest point I was just over 6km off shore. My average speed started to drop and was now below 9km/hr.
Rounding the point before Jongensfontein the wind seemed to follow me and was still bang on the nose and was gusting up to 20km/hr with white caps everywhere. I had a brief chat to a spear fisherman on his RIB circling his two mates in the water. He said they were not having much luck but were actually in a competition. I got the hint and went on my way.
Coming into Jongensfontein was pretty straight forward with Warren talked me in around the reef and breakers into a little gully in the rocks that the local surfers had cleared as their launch spot. It was good to be back on terra firma and able stretch the legs which were at the point of cramping.
The winds for the rest of the week are not looking very favourable and tonight we are being looked after by www.stillbay-river-lodge.com
Paddle Day 29:
Jongensfontein to Still Bay 12km (1hr 20min)
Today was a short hop to Still Bay to set up the next 3 days of paddling making them 30km each. the only problem I have at the moment is the forecast is for strong Easterly winds for a week!!! Oh dear me! I will be at the harbour before sunrise and hopefully there may be a small period of light winds to push to the next stops. Hold thumbs!
The River Lodge have kindly let us stay for another night or who know what we would have done! Sitting at the moment in the Lodge watching Man United vs Man City with Warren. Warrens team not having much luck at 2-0 down!
Paddle Day 30:
Stilbaai to Yzservarkpunt to Gouritsmond 43km (4hr 40min)
Sunrise today was on my right hand side. This might have started happening a few paddling days ago but this was the first clear sky sunrise for a while. Leaving Stilbaai to
day was wonderful. The wind had finally given me a break and the sunrise put me in a good space for the rest of the day.
Plan “A” was to get out at Yzservarkpunt Lighthouse in a tiny rocky bay that had a wee gap in the rocks to get out. Not a place to be if there is any sort of swell running. Today’s swell was just under 2m which was not too bad. Again I cut across the bay and ended up next to the coast a few km before the lighthouse alongside a private 22 house resort. Yip I counted them!
It was here I saw my second whale of the day but this one was having a ball. It was slamming its flukes onto the surface making one heck of a racket. At first I thought it was a speed boat ramping over the swell and banging down on the other side. I am amazed at how long it’s flukes are! Then it or maybe another kept slamming its tail down on the surface. A lekker show and distraction for me!
Arriving at the lighthouse I shelved plan “A” and initiated plan Bravo!….. Rodger Rodger!!! LOL The wind had not increased all that much and I could see the weather system over the shore had stalled which meant that for the time being not much was going to change so Gouritsmond was going to be my next goal.
The rest of the way I paddled only 100m off the coast line which is nice as I can measure my progress as I pass a house or rocky outcrop compared to cutting across a bay when all you see for hours is the point in the far distance which never seem to get any closer!
My first contact with Warren was only at the outskirts of town due to the lack of cell reception on the water. Arriving at the main beach was straight forward after rounding the point and then being guided in by what the locals must have thought was a mad man running along the beach waving his hands madly about.
A good day in the office for me.
What did you do today???
Paddle Day 31:
Goritzmond to Vleesbaai 11km (1hr 5min)
Last night we managed to get a spot at the local camp site thanks to Samantha at the gate. With a short hop to Vleesbaai we did not have to get up early so we had a good old “braai” and a few glasses of red wine for dinner. Waking up at 05h30 and the tent was flapping in the wind! Oh dear!
We took a quick drive to the beach to access the condition and I decided to go as it was such a short day it did not really matter if the wind was blowing hard. The one worry was the surf , which was quite meaty and with the low tide it was crunching on a sand bank.
When we eventually got our coffee fix, everything packed up and then back to the beach the surf looked even bigger. We took a long walk towards the river mouth and I found a spot that I was happy to try and launch from. According to my GPS I waited 11min before taking a gap and heading out luckily without any issues.
As I got closer to Vleesbaai and started to turn more left the sea flattened out and it became a lovely morning on the water. Rounding the last point with some high cliffs I saw a fisherman waving his hands about frantically and whistling at me. I understood what he meant but surly his line could not be this far off shore! I think he could be the WP casting champ because a second later his line hit me in the chest. With a quick flick I pushed it over my head and carried on as if nothing happened. I suppose I was lucky that it didn’t catch on anything which could have made things a bit tricky.
The last bit along the shore I paddled over huge schools of fish and a small school of dolphins frolicking about.
Vleesbaai is an interesting spot. Basically a gated community with only public access to the shop or the church. Non residents can walk to the beach. There are three home owners ass and three business entities that run the place and together they manage their own municipality chores etc.
Don’t dare park your car outside someone’s house near the beach if you want to fetch a lonely paddler!!!! lol
Tomorrow we go towards Mossel Bay.
Paddle Day 32:
Vleesbaai to Mossel Bay 30km (3hrs11min)
Yesterday afternoon I was spoilt. Judy, my wife, had driven up from Cape Town and will spend the next 10 days with us so I have been smiling a lot. This also means that our meals will go many levels better than canned food.
Leaving Vleesbaai was a little tricky as the swell had increased and the low tide had exposed the rocks. Most of the paddle was into a 10km/hr head wind and a swell from the right side. I cut across the bay to the next point. I had a brief chat on the VHF radio to Warren from the parking lot at Pinnacle Point Golf Estate. The estate looks impressive even from the sea.
Rounding the point and turning into the bay I had to keep a little ways off to go around a reef off the Point Hotel. The hotel had offered us accommodation for our stay but when I arrived at the beach the Ruan Knobel, local paddler and lifeguard, whisked us off to their house and were given a hearty breakfast. We stayed with the Knobels for two nights. We did however get treated to a cappuccino on the balcony of the Point Hotel. The next day was a weather/rest day so we took the opportunity to do a bit of shopping admin and ended up watching the James Bond movie, Skyfall, in the Garden route mall.
I felt a little claustrophobic in the mall with thousands of shoppers buzzing about the place! Can’t wait to be back on the water tomorrow!
Paddle Day 33:
Mossel Bay – Herolds Bay – Victoria Bay 45km (4hr 15min)
Back into the paddling routine we got up at 03h45 to be on the water by 05h00. Four locals including Ruan, in double paddleyaks, joined me for a while across Mossel Bay. NSRI station 15 with their new craft came along to support this small flotilla. It was a misty morning and visibility was down to about 2km so with no reference points I had to keep a check on my GPS heading. A light localised NW wind started to give a bit of assistance. After about 8km the first paddleyak turned back. The other carried on for 20km and then got a lift home with the NSRI. Many thanks to all for the company and support.
Once on my own I started to catch a few lumps and quickly came to the entrance of Herolds Bay and had a radio chat to Warren. I was feeling good and decided to carry on to Victoria Bay another 18km along. Warren and Judy had been chatting to the lifeguards who gave them some boiling water for a morning cup of cofffee on the beach. They also managed to spot me with their binoculars from their tower which made Judy a bit more relaxed. She said that tracking my progress from her PC at work/home is very different from actually watching me disappear out to sea and then waiting at the other side for me to reappear.
From Herolds Bay the coast line curves left to Wilderness and there are no landing spots cause the land meets the sea with high cliffs. After rounding Rooiklip point I passed two fishermen fishing from at least 50m above the sea. A brief chat in sign language indicated that they had were not having much luck. I am still not sure how they got to that ledge but I am sure they had similar thoughts about where I was.
Vic Bay was a welcome sight especially seeing that the surf was small. We all remember the race from here to Sedgefield when the surf was rather unplayable. After arriving the lifeguards came over for a chat. They had been advised by the Herolds Bay crew that I was coming and to keep an eye out for me. It’s nice to know that people care ? Thanks guys.
Out Victoria Bay accommodation had unfortunately fallen through so we scrambled around to find something. The local camp site was also full but we managed to get a spot at Carmil caravan site but OUCH! They certainly know how to charge especially for a non profit Christian camp. No wonder they are only half full.
We will stay here for two nights as tomorrow is another weather day with strong Easteries forecast.
Next leg on Monday towards Buffels Bay 46km
Paddle Day 34:
Victoria Bay to Buffels Bay 43km (3hrs 45min)
After a day wondering around George we had to get back into the usual routine of getting up at 03h45, striking camp, the all important cuppa java and then heading to the beach. Once there its time to attach all the electronic devices to the surf ski and life jacket. I suppose being this time of the year and having to tip toe around broken beer bottles in the parking area is par for the course!
Launching at Vic Bay took a few minutes while waiting for the sets to pass and then a quick sprint to get passed the impact zone. Luckily I got it right and did not get my hair wet.
The trip was a good one with some lumps pushing me in the right direction and then the last hour the wind increased from behind which always makes me smile. I saw a lot of dolphins but they seemed to be a in hunting mode and ignored all my attempts to attract them!
Coming into Buffels the surf was impressive in size especially on the outer point. Not wanting to have too much excitement I kept well away from the surf zone and paddle into the beach without issues.
Paddle Day 35:
Buffels Bay to Knysna 8km (50min)
Alastair Fraser and Judy joined me for today’s paddle in a double ski. We left Buffels at 06h00 to get to the heads just before high tide. There was a slight head wind but the swell had dropped toless than 2m and it was a quick fun paddle to the heads. At the heads another paddler, Darren, came out to welcome me to Knysna.
It is a special feeling to paddle through the heads. The first time I came into the heads was on a yacht late one evening with a fair swell running. That was quite exciting (read fear!!!) compared to today which was beautifully calm and flat.
Later in the morning I did a radio interview on Knysna FM and had a quick chat to a couple planning on paddling/sailing up the West Coast to the Mediterranean. It great to meet others who like to live life in a similar way.
Plan for tomorrow is to head towards Plett