Paddle Day 51 (51-58)
Kob Inn to Mbashee 37km (3hrs 28min)
Last night we were fortunate to be looked after by the Kob Inn. We even had our own rooms. Many thanks to everyone for making us so welcome. The food and views are perfect.
All too soon we had to get up and to be at the river for a 05h30 launch to catch the tail end of the SW wind. Heading out the river mouth was fun and quick with the tide spitting me out. I had a moment when I took a short cut and a wave suddenly jacked up on the reef but I managed to get around it in time.
“I’ve been drivin’ all night, my hands wet on the wheel” was the first song of the day and was that song that gets stuck in your head all day. Radar Love by Golden Earring in 1973! Great stuff!
For the first ¾ of the day I hugged the shore line to avoid the main current but had to be careful not to get too close and get crunched by a rouge wave, especially at the headlands. There was a gentle offshore wind which changed to the South and then SE which is onshore. At stages it got up quite a bit so I chose to I cut straight across the last few bays to avoid having to paddle into the wind to get out of the bay and into the next.
I did see a big fish today. It dash around me but it was just a Dolrado showing off his colours.
The final part of the day was crossing the Mbashee river mouth. The rains from last nights thunderstorm had turned the water muddy brown. The only positive thing here was it was heading North. The reason I am not a fan of this type of water is the big fish, you know the ones I am referring too, can’t see what’s going past and may want to use their other senses to check it out.
I made it ashore at the beach just past Shark Point and had not even been there for a minute when Lyle Puttergill and a helper came out of the bushes to welcome me. His son David had been chatting to me and had let his folks know I was coming. I was whisked into the house and given dry clothes, coffee and then breakfast of bacon and eggs. How’s that for being taken care of?
Warren and Chris arrived about an hour and a half later after a long morning on the road. We then moved up to the Haven Hotel who have kindly offered us the royal treatment for the next few days while we wait for the NE wind to change.
Paddle Day 52
Mbashee (The Haven hotel) to Hole in the Wall 30km (3hrs 30min)
After two nights at The Haven Hotel I was well rested and chomping at the bit to keep moving. We were well looked after and must have doubled in weight from the three daily meals. Many thanks to the staff and management/Grant for looking after us so well.
Today’s forecast indicated a head wind but wanting to get moving we decided to check the conditions at 4am and then every hour if required. At 4 am it was rather more comfortable in bed so at 4:30am I check again and made a call. Let’s paddle. We were on the beach just after 5am.
Chris had to drive back to the hotel to get my video camera cause sleepy head forgot to pack it. This was one of those paddles that having the camera with me was a must to get that all important picture at the end of the paddle.
The surf had jack up quite a bit and I had to play the waiting game while popping over white water looking for my gap. “Ye, Yes” was Warrens call over the radio and I did a short sprint to the back line. Great – no issues.
The sea today was in a very strange mood. I am still trying to work it out but I think there were two layers of current. The top one moving against me and a lower one with me. The top one moving faster and slightly towards the shore line. The top of the swells would peak and crumble a little bit but along a long length of the swell. I remember reading in the sailing instructions for this part of the coast that occasionally after a NE wind there can be strong currents setting inshore. It was quite frustrating having waves breaking on my out of nowhere. A some of the points the current against me was so strong I could only do 6km/hr according to my GPS. It felt like less when checking my position against the shore.
Eventually I came up to the famous “Hole in the Wall”. Unfortunately the sea was too rough to get very close or as I wanted, to paddle through the hole. I did some videoing and then paddled past and around the corner to the main beach. Again I arrived before the Land Rover and not knowing the lay of the surf I was far to hesitant and managed to let the last wave of the set break on me while trying to paddle backwards!!! It was a quick goof – hop back on and rode the next one to the beach. “He who hesitates is lost”….
While doing a video on the beach and was saying that the support vehicle was not there yet but when I looked up I saw my crew driving down the hill. They spent the morning following my progress on the tracker and likened it to one of those “Top Gear” races/challenges. Only I dare not do the “Looser” sign on the forehead as Jeremy Clarkson enjoys showing.
We are staying with Sue and Woggie Abraham’s from Cape Town in their fantastic “shack” on the hill overlooking the two beaches. Such an amazing spot! We had been here for less that 20min when the skottel was fired up and we were treated to a lovely fry up.
Tomorrow the wind should be in my favour so time to get some distance in.
Paddle Day 53
Hole in the Wall to The Kraal Backpackers/Mpande 42km (4hrs 20min)
After a very humid night and not much sleep I was eventually ready to get on the water at 7am. The wind was a light offshore so no help there. A short while after leaving I came across what very few people know of. The second “hole in the wall”. A little smaller and less dramatic but still very cool.
I did not have a mentally good day! Not sure if it was from the restless night or having to listen to political rubbish on SAFM. I did manage to change to listen to my music which did help a bit. Most of the day was into a small current but the last 5km it was a thumping 4km/hr against me. I had to paddle right next to the cliffs. It was quite tricky but it kept my mind off things and I was soon at the back line of my overnight spot.
It was a simple ride to the beach. Called the Land Rover crew and they were still a way off. I put my ski in the bushes and head up the hill to see if I could find The Kraal Backpackers. There it was at the top of the hill. Its a eco friendly place with no electricity. I like their set up very much. A simple system of rainwater/ growing their own veggies etc.
Dinner tonight is rump and potatoes which is going on the fire as I type this.
Tomorrow the plan is to head to Mboyti at 5am.
Paddle Day 54
Mpande to Mboyti 48km (4hrs 20min)
I only managed to leave a little after 5am after a night of rain and wind. There was a little bit of a wind which I was thankful for. Getting out through the surf was a little tricky and took a few hits on the way out.
I was lucky to find the counter current which was with me all day and the push from the tail wind made for a good day. Just before half way was Cape Hermes and Port St Johns. My favourite brown water was being pushed up the coast with me but crossing the mouth it was very muddy. I paddled as like I was tiptoeing. Trying not to make a noise or too much splashing. Silently I passed the mouth and then settled into my normal rhythm again.
Here is an extract from the Sailing Direction -”Sharks (in bold) are numerous both inside and outside the river, and should a boat be swamped in the breakers it could be extremely dangerous for the crew”.
The rest of the way I stayed quite close to the shore line but cut across the bays. A few times I had to head away to avoid the bigger swells that were breaking on the reefs. The last hour the favourable current dropped off a bit and I was now wanting to be on the beach to stretch my legs. I was getting cramps in my right foot and hamstring.
The approach to the beach was easy at the river mouth and I arrived without any problems only Warren was not there yet. I called him up and asked how far they were only to be told they were already there! They had good roads to travel on for a change and had already had breakfast.
A few moment later he came down onto the beach with a number of other people from the lodge. The others were the members/owners who, lucky for them, were able to cut short their AGM and come down to the beach to meet me. Thanks everyone. It is lekker to meet people at the end of the day.
We are staying at the Mboyti river Lodge. Awesome place and such a friendly bunch. I am struggling to get any good cellular signal to do upload my post so sorry if this is delayed.
Tomorrow I head early to Mtentu River Lodge.
Paddle Day 55
Mbotyi to Mtentu 42km (4hrs 20min)
Spending only a few hours at each destination before hitting the sack is becoming very frustrating. We are staying at some amazing places and meeting so many wonderful people only to be gone before sunrise the next day!
Mbotyi River Lodge is a cracker spot. One of those must visit places. Last night we arranged that the security would unlock the gate to the beach at 4am for us. A short walk across the river and down the beach just left of the mouth. One of the morning rituals is to check that both our radios are working. Oh dear Warrens radio’s battery was flat! There was no need for it this morning anyway as the surf was small and I did not even get my hair wet.
Around 8km I came across the first of three waterfalls that flow straight into the ocean. A little bit along I passed Cathedral Rocks. Bold chunks of cliff unattached to the main land with many arches erode through them. Quite a spectacular sight.
The rest of the days events were fairly nondescript. A light head wind at times. A few downpours and thankfully a slack current for most of the paddle.
The highlight of today must be my own special rainbow. I’ll take it as mother natures gesture of a good luck!
Making landfall at Mtentu River was, as always when coming ashore at a unknown place, a little nerve racking. The surf was dumping on the sand bar across the entrance. I took a while before I was happy with my wave choice and slipped into the river without a hitch.
I could see a few thatched structures on top of the North cliffs and guessed that must be the Mtentu River Lodge. I paddle a short distance up the river and took out next a bunch of old kayaks that I presumed must belong to the lodge. I followed a path till I eventually arrived at the lodge.
The lodge is a tented camp site with the tents on a wooden structure and under a thatched roof. Very cool. There was no one about so I started looking around and saw on the bar was a note saying “Dear guest, we are unfortunately closed till the 5th of Feb….” oh dear!
Never fear we had spoken to Bridgette, the owner, and soon I found the staff and was taken to our tent. I was a little worries about Warren and to get cell signal I had to head up “Signal hill” to call him. He eventually made it in almost 3hrs after me. His descriptions of the roads and mud from all the rain was the reason and boy was he glad to be driving in our Land Rover.
Tomorrow will be my last stretch of the Wild Coast as I head past Port Edward.
Monday, 21 January 2013
Richard has made it to the KZN South Coast. He beached at Glenmore. Unfortunatly he is not well and has been vomiting all day. He will update the paddle when feeling better!
A picture says a thousand words!
Paddle Day 56
Mtentu to Glenmore 35km (3hrs 15min)
With the forecast for a SW wind that was going to build later in the morning I opted for a later start. After a night rest at the rustic Mtentu river lodge we started going through our normal routine around 06h00 and by 07h30 I was on the river ready to leave.
I had been feeling very lethargic this morning. I even went back to bed for an extra half hour which is not normal. Paddling out the river mouth I stayed in the fast exiting water and in no time I was past the surf and ready to head north but something was just not right. I hardly had any strength to paddle. I could not figure it out and then all of a sudden I started throwing up.
Oh boy! Was today going to be a messy day. Do I turn back? I decided to push through and was sure I would get passed it. Unfortunately it did not get much better. I felt like I was paddling with lead arms. I had stomach cramps and strangely my eyes felt very sensitive to the light. Putting on my glasses help with that but the rest did not go away. By now there was nothing more to bring up except after taking sips of my juice.
The only positive was for the first time in a very long while I had a strong current in my favour and I managed to average just under 10km/hr with the current and wind pushing me.
When I got to Glenmore Warren had just arrived in Port Edward after playing in the muddy paths called roads in the last bit of the wild coast. The day before he drove 200km to my 45km!
He arrived a short while later and we headed to Umzumbe to stay in Justin Chadwick’s holiday home for the next few nights. Cheers Justin!
Paddle Day 57
Glenmore to Port Shepstone 38km (4hrs 20min)
The day before I took off to recover and to celebrate my birthday but knowing today was a paddle day we have left the celebrations to tonight as no paddling tomorrow.
It was back to our happy routine of 03h45 get up and get ready. We had to drive 45min to get back to Glenmore and were at the beach and ready by 05h30. I had neglected to charge my satellite tracker for a week so unfortunately the battery was flat! The forecast was for a light headwind and building. I was also hoping that the current from the last paddle would still be here but it was not and I could not find any favourable current at all. In fact for most of the day it must have been about 2km/hr against me!
The swell was just 2.1 m but with a 13 second period which translates to a rather sizeable wave that will hit the beach. I had to be careful today and was always watching for the big one that was breaking a little further out. I almost got collected by a nasty set about 30km into the paddle. A panic sprint back out to sea was all that I could do and it was JUST enough!!
A local paddle Mike Halliday came out and met me along the way. Great chatting Mike, thanks for the company. I do enjoy having company so if there are paddlers out there who perhaps don’t really enjoy WORK do come out for a chat.
I finally beached on the western side of the river at Ports Shepstone and paddle a little bit up the river to a take out spot. I sometime wonder about people! Here a chap was launching his ski boat and his car was up to its doors in the sea water. Maybe he is selling it tomorrow!
The South Coast Herald came down to take some pictures for the interview we did yesterday. Seems like we are getting a bit more exposure the closer we get to the end!
Paddle Day 58
Port Shepstone to Umzumbe 15km (1hr 35min)
OK so this was a very short one just to nip a little off tomorrows long paddle to Winklespruit which is now only 67km ?
It was also my first fun with the shore break. Oh I have still a lot to learn!
The worst bit was paddling with my booties full of coarse sea sand. Hey the wind has just turned to the SW so looking good for tomorrow!
Today I was thinking about the people behind the scenes that make a big difference to me and sometimes their recognition slips through the cracks. Take TourismZA. They have been behind this expedition since attempt #1. Mike, Andrea and Rory have spent countless hrs arranging accommodation, newsletters etc. Thanks team.
When ever I have required replacement goods or like now our passports, Send and Receive (www.sendreceive.co.za) have made sure I get it overnight wherever I am. Thumbs up Dion.
My personal assistant/driver/chef/butler/chief bottle washer Warren. How do you put up with me? Having spent time with my best mates father I now think I know him better than his sons do! “What goes on tour……..” ?
My brother in law, Kevin and a few good mates, Ralph, Dale and Tallon for looking after my passion, the DownWind Dash. Undoubtedly the best Down Wind in Cape Town. Almost 100 Surfski and SUP paddlers line the start every Wednesday evening.
And the one person that keeps me going – my very understanding and wonderful best friend and wife Judy who has supported me at every turn. Not too many more sleep till we meet again xxx