SA Map with kayak route

SA Coastline Solo Kayak – FINISHED!

Paddle Day 70

Sodwana to Ponta du Ouro, Mozambique 85km (6hrs 30min)

I woke up at 04h00 this morning to hear the trees moving. That’s a good thing if the wind was in the right direction. It was the last morning to go through the daily routine of who get to use the bathroom first. Coffee, rusks, more coffee and load up the Land Rover.

Parking at the beach I was still not sure of the wind direction but once I had climbed to the top of the dune I managed a smile as it was looking positive. No white horses but the wind was in the right direction and if it was blowing this early it should start to blow harder as the day passed.

Not wanting a repeat of yesterday I took five litres of liquids with me. In all the excitement of the last morning I was about to get going when I realised that I had left my gloves in the Land Rover. Warren the kind bloke he is ran back to to fetch them for me while I studied the surf.

At 06h15 I headed out and just managed not to make a mess of the surf. I actually cut over the end of the reef which made the impact zone shorter but it could have gone pair shape. Anyway a miss is as good as a mile and I turned left and headed up the coast.

I ended up paddling much of the way with a rain cloud just off to my right and the wind would gust a bit and then fade off. Eventually this cloud headed off and the real SW wind started to fill through.

The wind against the current meant some good lumps and bumps to ride but not always giving me the best speed. I moved in and out trying to find a compromise.

There was a distinct point between the two which was defined by a line of jelly fish, not just a few but hundreds of them. Quite a spectacular site! I also almost had a head on collision with a rather large turtle. I think we both got a fright as I sped passed with only inches to spare.

By now I was making good progress but never the less it would still be a long day on the water. Approaching Kosi bay I passed on the inside of a reef and I spotted a few of my friends cruising about and decided to stay clear of them.

The final stretch

Once I passed Kosi I only had 6km to go to Ponta d’ Oura and 4km to the South African border. I was thinking about what I should be thinking about especially as this was my last hour of the trip. Should I be savouring the moment? Having just paddled 3300km I decided that I had savoured enough already and I though about all the people I had met along the way and their kindness. I thought of my family and how relieved they will be that it’s over. I was ready for it….. the anti-climax…

All I required was a hug from Warren and firm hand shake with a “well done son”. That is exactly how it happened.

DONE and DUSTED! I completed the entire SA Coastline in a kayak! What an adventure.

I hope we have done something worthy enough to raised awareness for children born with cleft lips and paletes with Operation Smile.

Richard Kohler sets record first person to kayak SA Coastline

Paddling Update: Jan – 07 Feb 2013 (day 66-69)

Paddle Day 66 

Richard Kohler solo kayak SA Coastline

Nhlabane to Mapelane 36km (4hrs 20min)

Driving to the beach this morning I checked up on the weather forecast and was a little shocked to see it had changed a lot. It had changed to headwinds from early morning! Not what I wanted to see.

Anyway the surf and shore break was small enough not to cause any issues. Craig joined me again and we headed off at a good good pace just more than 10km/hr. The sea was glassy and the wind had not yet shown itself but on the horizon was one of those classic black clouds that stretch from left to right and slowly moves closer and threatened to block out the sun.

Visibility off a kayak

The first hour was a pleasure and I spent much of it admiring the coast line which is covered in Cascadia trees. The Richard Bay Minerals (RBM) mine that eats up the coastal sand dune, takes out the fancy metals and then builds the dunes back up and plants the trees again is quite an interesting operation. I am not up to speed on the environmental aspects but to the novice eye the reconstructed dunes looks pretty good covered it vegetation/ trees etc. It was just before the main RBM mine that things started to change

St. Lucia

The NE wind started to puff which retarded our progress somewhat. Craig managed to lose most of his juice and was starting to struggle a bit. We were nearing the stop over point on my first attempt where I broke my spare ski in half. At this point I could see the outline of the Jolly Rubino wreck which meant we were making some progress. It was around here at the 20km mark that Craig said he was not feeling well and that he was going to turn around and paddle back to Nhlabane. I tried to convince him that it was only 15km to the end but hammering into the wind was not doing him any favours. He headed off after asking me to call his office and get someone to fetch him. I said I would as soon as I had reception. That only happened just before Mapelane.

It took me quite a while to reach the wreck as the wind had increased and the current had started playing dirty. I was only managing to move forward at 6-7km/hr and trying to stay close to the back line I had to be on my A game not to be smashed by the rouge waves. I think trying to stay away from these waves kept me busy and before long I was outside the reef at Mapelane.

Having had a look at the reef on one of our off days I knew where to come in and slipped to the beach without a hitch. Mapelane is about 3km south of St Lucia but I chose it for the safer launching site but the drive in is a long and slow route through the forest. About an hours drive from the N2.

We are staying in a tented camp curtsy of Brent Gonzales. A very very nice spot but you got to keep an eye on the monkeys and mozzies! The buck walk around without fear. The chap next door has seen two leopards already this year!

Richard Kohler Route map

Paddle Day 67

Maphelane to St Lucia 4km (30min)

Just did this short leg to set up the St Lucia to Cape Vidal and to eliminate the need to take on the jungle drive into Maphelane.

We returned to Richards Bay to wait for a weather window and ended up sitting around for another 4 days. We moved on to St Lucia on the morning of the 12th and spent the day taking in the sights, spending the evening at the St Lucia Safari Lodge. Oh boy, to have aircon again. What a pleasure! The owner, Dennis, arranged a boat cruise on the estuary . We got to see lots of hippos, a nesting crock and the Giant Kingfisher.St Lucia Safari Lodge

Craig came up from Richards Bay later that evening to join the next days paddle.

Paddle Day 68

St Lucia to Cape Vidal 32km (3hrs 20min)

So it was back into the early morning routine to make the most distance in with the light head winds before the NE wind kick in and slow the progress. The surf was a reasonable size and carehad to be taken not to get taken out in the impact zone or these hollow waves could do some damage. I took a swim when I hit my blade on the side of the ski and it spun in my grip before entering the water. A silly swim but I had to then gather all my bits and pieces. My GPS clip has corroded to the extent that nothing but gravity hold it in place. My video camera is clipped on to the rudder cable by a cord and is pulled back on board like a fish.

jelly fish

I spend about five minutes popping over foamies waiting for a gap in the surf and when it appeared it was still a long sprint to get to beyond the back line. So close to the end and the last thing I want to do is have admin issues in the surf.

a pod of dolphins

pod of dolphins of SA Coast

The highlight of the day was having a few dolphins come and greet us. One of the few times that they have been sociable with me? Maybe they don’t like my black stripe?


My newly repaired VHF radio got a dunking in the surf and started acting up straight away. They are supposed to be 100% waterproof and designed to float etc. I think that the water integrity might have been compromised during the repair. So we are now down to one hand held unit and the vehicles unit. The new one I had to purchase does not charge so this will have to go back to the shop. Frustrating!

Having paddled into Cape Vidal before makes things a lot simpler. Paddle past the reef. Catch a wave and then duck behind the reef for protection. It was quite a odd sight to see a fisherman standing on the end of the reef but you can’t see the reef so I thought, at first, he was on a stand up paddle board. It is something I have learned – to get a proper idea of where to come in you must paddle almost passed, where you think it is best, to get the best perspective. When you are tired and just want to get to shore this is when mistakes creep into the equation.

Waiting on the beach with Warren was my 1st cousin, Jimmy and his wife Nancy. They were on holiday from the UK and drove up from Durban to meet me. It was the first time I had ever met them. How odd and great to meet them while on my adventure and here on this empty beach.

Last night we stayed at the Buya Futhi B&B in St Lucia. A three day weather window was forecast to arrive the day after so it gave us a chance to jump through hoops to get some admin issues sorted out.

Buya Futhi

We also now needed to stay in St Lucia for another day and Dennis had said that we are welcome any time to stay with them so we took him up on his kind offer.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park

The iSimangaliso Wetland Park was listed as South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in December 1999 in recognition of its superlative natural beauty and unique global values.

The 332 000 hectare Park contains three major lake systems, eight interlinking ecosystems, 700 year old fishing traditions, most of South Africa’s remaining swamp forests, Africa’s largest estuarine system, 526 bird species and 25 000 year-old coastal dunes – among the highest in the world. The name iSimangaliso means miracle and wonder, which aptly describes this unique place.

Paddle Day 69

Cape Vidal to Sodwana 69km (6hrs 20 min)

Having arrived in this part of the world I am now classified as an EVENT! I even have a permit to prove this. So we are now a canoe event within iSimangoliso Wetland Park. How cool is that???

It is a 35km drive to Cape Vidal and a speed limit of 40km. It did not really matter time wise as the wind was supposed to start increasing after 08h00, I say supposed to as it never got to it’s forecast strength. The wind was from behind but such a small amount that I was moving at the same speed as the wind. This is not a good thing as the cooling effect of the wind is now zero and it was a hot hot day with so clouds to shelter me from the sun.

I don’t remember too much of the day. My music player froze on me before the start so I had no music to help my mind which was getting cooked under my cap. I think I might have splashed my self with water every five strokes. Oh boy it was a tough day.

Just before getting to Sodwana I saw a purple Rapala bobbing in the water. It took me three attempts to pick it up. I was now very knackered and my right buttock had cramped up into a big knot. No amount of stretching could make it better. It was a bit like sitting on a big marble. Not lekker!!

I took three litres of my coke and water mix and another litre of water. I finished it all four litres before the finish.

Coming ashore at Sodwana is fairly similar to Cape Vidal but the surf was a little bit bigger. I was great to see some more friend to greet me. Ken & Romey Finlay are here for a 50th birthday and were on the beach with Warren.

We stayed the evening with Corel Divers in one of their en suite twin bed bungalows. I felt absolutely shattered from the days paddle. The thought of doing 85km the next day did not instil any comfort. Was the knot in my buttock going to break me tomorrow. I stayed with Corel Divers on the first attempt so many thanks for the continued support. Must go back and do some diving one day

It’s great when people actually try to make things as smooth as possible as opposed to making things as difficult as possible as we have experienced for the first time recently




Paddling Update 25 Jan – 07 Feb 2013 (day 59-65)

Paddle Day 59 (59-65)

Umzumbe to Scottburgh to Winklespruit 69km (5hrs 10min)

The day started off with an easy launch and very little wind. Hugging the shore line us much as possible and keeping away from the breakers on the points. The wind only started to build just before the two hour mark. It increased to a steady 15kt SW and as the time passed so the wind chop got better and better to ride.

My second waterproof VHF radio has now given up the ghost so today coms with Warren had to be with the cell phones which is not ideal because I have to stop paddling and balance while communicating. Hope to be able to get them repaired in Durban.

The past 3 days of paddling I have seen turtles so I know I am moving into more tropical waters plus I have to keep myself away from the shark net buoys. Most of the time I am well inside them keeping out of the current but sometimes they sneak up on me especially when going downwind.
I had a brief stop at Scottburgh beach to meet up with Billy & Tracy Harker and Colin Simpkins who is hosting us until I paddle again. I managed to get a fishing line caught on my rudder coming into the beach so I had to back paddle to get it off. The fisherman was pretty chilled about it especially considering they were taking part in a competition.

From Scottburgh the pace was a little quicker than normal. This tends to happen when paddling with others around as I am not wanting them to have to wait for me all the time. The 23km to Winklespruit was a great downwind with rather too much sea life jumping about. We all got knocked by these long skinny fish with pointy noses jumping out the water. Some are more than a foot long. On the plus side my life jacket now had a fresh fishy smell which I think is better than before!

Coming in to Winklespruit the surf was small but I almost made a meal of it when I decided to back off the wave and then try chase it in. I did not manage to back off soon enough and ended up burying the nose, flipping the ski backwards, a short trip in the white water (I am sure I was off the ski at the time) and when the wave was passed I was somehow still upright but facing out to sea. Must have looked good from the shore!

Gary from the local SLC was there to greet us and he arranged two flask of coffee. Now that’s good hospitality I say!

Winklespruit was the end point on my first attempt so I have now paddle solo around the entire SA.
BUT not uninterrupted. 12 more paddling days and I should be in Mozambique ?

Paddle Day 60

Winkelspruit to Umhlanga 49km (4hrs 5min)

After a few days being looked after by the Simpkins family it was time to get back on the water. Did you know Copper can cook! Yip he does a fine job too. Lol. The forecast indicated a fading SW wind. Our on the water time was arranged for 06h00 as we had to drive 40km drive to get to Winklespruit.

Paul and Gary from Winklespruit SLC joined me for the leg to Durban. Just as I got passed the surf zone the clip for my GPS broke. It had rusted right through! Managed to find a spot for it under the straps of the juice bags but it is too far forward for me to reach it so I will have to MacGyver it later (the agents say it will take 10 days to get a replacement).

The conditions were just perfect. The lumps and bumps all going in the right direction and our average speed was getting close to 13km/hr which for me is styling. We passed one little Johnny that was thrashing about but he soon disappeared when it realised we were there.

Since the conditions were so lekker I decided to carry on to Umhlanga and paddled on from the harbour breakwater on my own. Paul and Gary went in at Marine. Another gear problem is the new VHF radio. It works for about 10min and then emits a high pitch noise and all the buttons stop working and the screen flashes! So today’s coms with Warren we were relying on the trackers and cell phones.

BUT for some reason the Satellite tracker was not getting its signal out and the cellular trackers battery had finally said no more. I will get a new battery while in Durban. The Satellite unit started giving a position once I got to the beach but I am still not sure what’s up with it.

My other gear failures have been these so called waterproof ear phones and pouches. All my pouches have either got holes ripped in them (design issues) or leak just enough to destroy any electronics. I have lost an mp3 player already. I now have had to place every piece of electronics into a condom before putting into the bags and this has been the best way to keep them dry. (to all those where we have stayed, the used ones in the dustbin are not what you think!!!)

On Sunday, out of frustration, I did a Google search for waterproof earphones in Durban and saw a product called Dri-Dock. I emailed them asking if they believe in their product and how do I get my hands on them. Well before I had completed the paddle they had contacted Warren and a short while after my paddle I was sitting having coffee with Peter and Carla. They brought along some samples of their range which seem to be of a much better quality than I have been using.

To cut a long story short they gave me the samples to test on the remainder of the trip. How cool is that. Check them out

In the afternoon I went to the Shark Tank medical centre for physio treatment with Jaco. I have been suffering with my left shoulder and neck so this was his target area. Welcome to a world of pain! Shew! I am glad I am not paddle tomorrow so the repair job can recover. (it feels a whole bunch better already)

While I was in getting myself panel beaten Warren read in the paper that the previous morning at Winklespruit at 05h50 a fisherman at was shot four times. Aren’t we glad that the wind was not ideal for paddling that day! Hectic!

We are staying with Billy and Tracey Harker while in Durban and should be heading off on Thursday when the NE winds start to ease off.

Paddle Day 62

Umhlanga to Zinkwazi with a 10min break at Tinley Manor 62km (6hrs 20min)

After a few days staying with the Harker’s and loving their aircon’s much to the displeasure of my man Warren, I decided for a late start in the hope the the forecast was going to deliver said SW 15kt winds. On the water at 08h00 at “Grannies pool” Umhlanga. The first hour reminded me of my ocean crossing days. I was paddling in a rain squall for ages. I could have had dozen washes if on a yacht. I love paddling in the rain today. It cooled things down a bit and the drops hitting the sea reminds me of the “Matrix” I felt like Neo and could read the movement of the sea so much better in the rain. Ha good start.


What all the rain did was send all the river down in flood. Every river was pumping muddy water out to sea and for the rest of the day that was pretty much the state of the water.

I wanted to put in a 90km day and push all the way to Amatikula but the wind that came and went was from the SE and was more of a pain than help. Until I passed Salt rock I had a strong head current which eased off the further north I went.

Warren and I chatted at most places along the way with our repaired VHF radios thanks to Imtec/RadioHolland who only charged for parts! Have to say it is great to have these coms working again. At Tinley Manor I opted to stop and stretch the legs for a few minutes. A good call and I was feeling rejuvenated for the next leg to Zinkwazi.

Well, this next leg had a fair bit of action. More action that I care for but all’s well that ends well.
The first thing was a Manta/Skate about two meters in diameter leaped well over six feet into the air. His wings curled up like two torpedo tubes. Splash it landed and it was all over! Very cool to see but what was it trying to escape from?

About half an hour later I was mock charged by a little man in a grey suit. It came from slightly behind on my right side and turned away, next to my paddle as I lifted it out of the water, so abruptly that I was splashed all over. Now that’s not cool! See my black stripe works! Could have been a brown one too!

Other sea life spotted today were dolphins and turtles.

Coming into Zinkwazi was simple enough but I had to stay clear of the river mouth that was in flood. I beached on the north side and then had to ferry glide across the river to get to Warren and the Land Rover. Then off to find a place to stay!

We were also lucky to be offered a last minute place to stay called Avalon B&B. Thank you Sue for making the contact and Lee our host for allowing us to stay. We will be here for less than 12 hours which means an early start tomorrow.

Paddle Day 63

Zinkwazi to Mtunzini 48km (3hrs 50min)

Last night we went down to the ski boat club for dinner but unfortunately the kitchen was closed so to make our trip worth while we stayed for a cold refreshment. All of a sudden the heavens opened and the rain did not stop till later the following morning. I had to have a little chuckle to myself at the local boys drinking their capt & cokes. I was wearing my sarong and T-shirt and clearly my dress code was not to their liking by the looks of disapproval. I can only imagine their conversation about these two old men, especially the one wearing a skirt!! love it!

Back at the B&B we had to settled for baked beans on bread for dinner. Never underestimate this age old meal! The following morning we woke just before 4am and I was still feeling tired from the previous day so I made an executive decision to get one more hours sleep. It was a good call and by the time I got up I was feeling rested. Having forgotten to hang up my wet paddling kit soon enough it was still wet when I put it on. Not a great start to the morning routine.

I paddled off the beach at 06h00 from the river mouth and used the outgoing flow to help push me beyond the surf zone. Straight away I could feel that the current was in my favour and I was paddling in the brown water from the river at I moved north.

The biggest issue I have for today was crossing the Tugela River mouth. (it is 502km long and the biggest river in KZN) The area around the mouth is well known for its nasty big fish and after all of the rain it was flowing full and strong. The water was such a rich brown colour that I could not see my paddle when in the water. After about an hour of paddling in this water I started to forget about these things. The wind from behind also started to increase and I was starting to make good progress with an improving downwind.

After passing the Amatikulu river mouth where I had injured my back on the previous attempt I spotted the Land rover stick out of the trees. I called “ Whiskey Delta” up on the radio and had a short chat. The swells and wind chop had increased and Warren never actually managed to spot me as I paddled passed. Quite a thing especially with all my high visibility gear.

As I approached Mtunzini I could see two vehicles on the beach and what looked like a line of rocks angling across the beach. I tried to call on the radio but got no reply. It was only when I was a few hundred metres away did I realize the the rocks were actually the bank of a river in flood. It was the Siyaya river and it had not broken its mouth in 13years and we were the first to see it.

Waiting on the beach with Warren was Isabella, our host from Nkawu Cottage. Isabella managed to save a turtle that had been washed out of the river and it was put into Umlazi lagoon. It such a shame that we only get to spend a few hours at these wonderful places but I had a great night sleep in a cool room. I LOVE AIRCON! Poor Warren does not fancy aircon and always gives me stick when I put it on in the Land Rover.

Paddle Day 64

Mtunzini to Richard Bay 41km (4hr 15min)

I thought that the rain was over but it just poured all night. The gate to the reserve only opens at 05h00 so a 06h00 launch was the order of the morning. A quick photo shoot with Isabella before we set off to meet Craig Webster at the reserve gate. Once on the beach the surf was not looking so friendly but a well timed dash to the back line made it look easy. The water was still dark brown from the river that was still gushing into the sea. I think I am over this brown water now!

Craig paddled a straight line across to the first point just past the Umlalazi river mouth and I followed the shore line. There was not too much in it other than I guess I had less of a head current on the inside. I moved off a bit to join Craig and a little while later a tail wind started to give a bit of assistance and the runs started to become easier to catch but our average was slowing down. Classic case of being in a adverse current with a tail wind. We headed closer for the shore into less of a current. We stopped alongside the light house for a few minutes and then again for me to take another great picture of a rainbow. See album 61 to the Finish

Richard Kohler in Durban

As we got closer to “New Mouth” the surf started to break a long way out to sea and this forced us back into the current but with less than 10km to go now it was not too much of a worry. As we started to pass New Mouth we met Leon and Jacques on their single surf ski’s. From here it was a quick hop passed the harbour wall and into the the yacht basin and on to the Zululand Kayak Club. Along the way the a large bunch of novice paddlers taking part in the clubs training program joined us for the final kilometre.

After a quick interview with the local press and a nice shower I was treated to a local refreshment. Milk stout in a pint glass topped up with cola. Sounds odd but its right up my alley!

Richard Kohler in the zululand Fever newspapers

Unfortunately the forecast is looking bleak for quite a while so we will be sitting in Richard Bay. Only 5 paddle days to go!

Paddle Day 65

Richards Bay to Nhlabane 25km (3hrs 11min)

The weather and sea have not been playing along and I am getting frustrated waiting in the bustling city of Richard Bay! The forecast for today showed a small gap in the late morning. Sitting around waiting for this change somehow makes me a little nervous! Similar to the butterflies before a big race. Who know why but the second I get on the water I find myself in my happy place and no more butterflies.

I had to split day 65 into two days of paddling. A 25km today to Nhlabane and then a 36km to Mapelane on Friday morning.

Craig our host joined me again and we set off from the ZKC and paddled out of the harbour just after midday. As we left we could feel the wind that was supposed to swing to SW was in fact coming from the NE. Straight into us. Bugger!

Well not much to do but try and get into a rhythm, stay close to the shore and watch out for any rouge waves. A one point Craig was sitting tail slip and I hit a bigger wave causing me to slow down and rocked up and down. The nose of his ski went under my tail which slammed down on his boat and knocked him into the drink. I am glad that my ski is well made and no damage was inflicted.

As the afternoon moved on the wind increased and it started to rain again. As you know I like the rain which cooled everything down from the 34 degrees when we started. Always look for the positive!

It was quite frustrating at times especially when the boat stops after bashing into a few waves in a row and then have to work a bit to get the boat going again only to have it happen a few minutes later. Yes, I know a lot of it is in how you steer over the swell and chop but sometimes it just gets you.

In last 5km the rain and wind stopped and the clouds moved off. The sea flattened out and it was back to a decent pace. It really is a beautiful coast line even with the rehabilitation after the mining. I am looking forward to the next few days.

Landing at the beach was straight forward. Take the gap between the sets and don’t get caught in the shore break. I must be improving because that’s just what I did.

On the drive back to Richard Bay I got a message reminding me that in 7 days it will be Valentines day and would I be home in time. I guess I have been away from home for much too long that my loving wife would ask such a question. Maybe Judy was hoping that being at sea every day has soften my brain. Maybe a little!


Paddling Update: Day 62-65

Paddle Day 62

Umhlanga to Zinkwazi with a 10min break at Tinley Manor 62km (6hrs 20min)

After a few days staying with the Harker’s and loving their aircon’s much to the displeasure of my man Warren, I decided for a late start in the hope the the forecast was going to deliver said SW 15kt winds. On the water at 08h00 at “Grannies pool” Umhlanga. The first hour reminded me of my ocean crossing days. I was paddling in a rain squall for ages. I could have had dozen washes if on a yacht. I love paddling in the rain today. It cooled things down a bit and

Paddle Day 64

Mtunzini to Richard Bay 41km (4hr 15min)

I thought that the rain was over but it just poured all night. The gate to the reserve only opens at 05h00 so a 06h00 launch was the order of the morning. A quick photo shoot with Isabella before we set off to meet Craig Webster at the reserve gate. Once on the beach the surf was not looking so friendly but a well timed dash to the back line made it look easy. The water was still dark brown from the river that was still gushing into the sea. I think I am over this brown water now!

Craig paddled a straight line across to the first point just past the Umlalazi river mouth and I followed the shore line. There was not too much in it other than I guess I had less of a head current on the inside. I moved off a bit to join Craig and a little while later a tail wind started to give a bit of assistance and the runs started to become easier to catch but our average was slowing down. Classic case of being in a adverse current with a tail wind. We headed closer for the shore into less of a current. We stopped alongside the light house for a few minutes and then again for me to take another great picture of a rainbow. See album 61 to the Finish

As we got closer to “New Mouth” the surf started to break a long way out to sea and this forced us back into the current but with less than 10km to go now it was not too much of a worry. As we started to pass New Mouth we met Leon and Jacques on their single surf ski’s. From here it was a quick hop passed the harbour wall and into the the yacht basin and on to the Zululand Kayak Club. Along the way the a large bunch of novice paddlers taking part in the clubs training program joined us for the final kilometre.

After a quick interview with the local press and a nice shower I was treated to a local refreshment. Milk stout in a pint glass topped up with cola. Sounds odd but its right up my alley!

Unfortunately the forecast is looking bleak for quite a while so we will be sitting in Richard Bay. Only 5 paddle days to go!

Paddle Day 65

Richards Bay to Nhlabane 25km (3hrs 11min)

The weather and sea have not been playing along and I am getting frustrated waiting in the bustling city of Richard Bay! The forecast for today showed a small gap in the late morning. Sitting around waiting for this change somehow makes me a little nervous! Similar to the butterflies before a big race. Who know why but the second I get on the water I find myself in my happy place and no more butterflies.

I had to split day 65 into two days of paddling. A 25km today to Nhlabane and then a 36km to Mapelane on Friday morning.

Craig our host joined me again and we set off from the ZKC and paddled out of the harbour just after midday. As we left we could feel the wind that was supposed to swing to SW was in fact coming from the NE. Straight into us. Bugger!

Well not much to do but try and get into a rhythm, stay close to the shore and watch out for any rouge waves. A one point Craig was sitting tail slip and I hit a bigger wave causing me to slow down and rocked up and down. The nose of his ski went under my tail which slammed down on his boat and knocked him into the drink. I am glad that my ski is well made and no damage was inflicted.

As the afternoon moved on the wind increased and it started to rain again. As you know I like the rain which cooled everything down from the 34 degrees when we started. Always look for the positive!

It was quite frustrating at times especially when the boat stops after bashing into a few waves in a row and then have to work a bit to get the boat going again only to have it happen a few minutes later. Yes, I know a lot of it is in how you steer over the swell and chop but sometimes it just gets you.

In last 5km the rain and wind stopped and the clouds moved off. The sea flattened out and it was back to a decent pace. It really is a beautiful coast line even with the rehabilitation after the mining. I am looking forward to the next few days.

Landing at the beach was straight forward. Take the gap between the sets and don’t get caught in the shore break. I must be improving because that’s just what I did.

On the drive back to Richard Bay I got a message reminding me that in 7 days it will be Valentines day and would I be home in time. I guess I have been away from home for much too long that my loving wife would ask such a question. Maybe Judy was hoping that being at sea every day has soften my brain. Maybe a little!


Jumping fish

Paddling Update 15 Jan – 24 Jan 2013 (day 51-58)

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!

East Coast Radio – Radio Interview

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 ( 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

richard kohler rainbow

Paddling Update: Day 46-49

Paddle Day 46

Port Alfred to Hamburg 68km (6hrs 10min)

We had a two day weather break in Port Alfred (PA) due to strong easterly winds and were lucky enough to be looked after by Rick and Jo-Anne Bretts. Yay, no more getting wet in our tents and it rained for most of the time while in PA. I was a bit of a hermit for the stay and relaxed at home and make good friends with the coffee machine which had a good workout. Warren and I stayed up late on New Years Eve but I didn’t make it and was in dream land before 21h00.

We managed to get in two newspaper interviews while in PA and hope to post the stories as soon as they are published, scanned and sent to us.

On Thursday morning at 04h30 we gathered at a little slipway at the Kowie River. It was quite a large gathering. Our hosts Rick and Jo-Anne came down to see us off. Reporter Dave was there to get some pics for the paper. A local doubles team who wanted to paddle the first 15km with me and then Craig Webster with whom I stayed with in Richards Bay a year ago while on my first attempt. Craig had just driven up the day before from Cape Town after completing the Cape Point Challenge and a short holiday on the West Coast.

Leaving the river mouth was different to when I arrived – not a wave in sight this time. The south westerly wind was already pushing us up the coast and the wind chop was building. As the conditions got better the singles started to pull away from the double ski. The wind chop was short and small making it difficult for the double to make much use of it. After a while I stopped for them to catch up and as they were only going a short distance thanked them for the company but we would keep going.

The conditions only got better but the forecast was for 5.5m swells to arrive by the afternoon and the winds to be gusting over 40 knots so we needed to be off the water before any of this happened. Every now and then a set of big swells would pass under us and pound the shore but for most of the time the conditions were fine. Some time into the paddle Craig had to hop off his craft for a call of nature.

Along the way Warren made contact a few times as he followed us up the coast and each time he had a visual as we were paddle close to the back line to stay out of the current. The downwind conditions just got better and better and it was almost sad to have to round the point at Hamburg and head to shore. The big swell and wind had not arrived yet so we no issue getting out at Hamburg.

The forecast shows big swell until Sunday morning so we have a 3 day weather rest before heading to East London. We are staying at a secret spot on the coast halfway between PA and Hamburg. Just a few houses. Friends have a holiday house here but it is full of people so could not offer us room but were telling their neighbours, Gus and Viv Laverge, about my trip. The Laverge’s were not going to be at home for this time and offered their house to us.

How amazing is that! Thank you Gus and Viv. Look forward to meeting you one day.

Their spot is stunning and has a cracker view of the river mouth and sea. The forecast buster came as predicted and boy did it get messy. The ocean turned itself on its head and the wind whipped up the sand which got into everything. After just a few hours there were mini sand dunes inside the house as the wind pushed the sand through any gaps under the doors.

Yesterday we spent some time on the beach at low tide looking for oysters that have been washed up from the big waves. We only found two. Our time here had been very relaxing going from one meal to the next. Sian’s and her mom, Lindy, have been keeping out bellies full and making sure I get all the healthy leafy stuff into my system. Yay. Unfortunately Lloyd has been down with some sort of flu which I hope does not jump host.

Our stay here has been wonderful.

The next paddling day is Sunday mid morning from Hamburg towards East London.


A school friend, Kevin Weaving, made contact with me after hearing about my trip. I had not seen him since school days. He has now become one of our biggest fan/supporter offering help and advice at every turn. He is also the provider of my “Multitrack” tracking device. ( User = smile pass =1234 ) We made arrangements to connect when I got into Plettenberg Bay as his family would be camping at the Keurbooms River for the holidays. He was also going to lend us his camping 80l fridge for the rest of our trip.

I met him and his wife at the beach when he came to see me in and after chatting for awhile, almost off handedly, said that their tent/camp site had burnt down last night and everything went up in smoke in seconds. Fridge and all! How devastating! Dodgy Christmas lights were the cause.

A few days later called to say that their fellow campers had done a collection so that they could at least replace the tent and handed him an envelope full of money.

He then said to me he would rather have this money go to our cause and would we please note it as a “Donation from the Keurboom campers”

How amazing is that?

Thank you to all the campers and to you Kevin.

7 January 2013


Yesterday Richard managed to paddle from Hamburg to East London although suffering from his recurring back injury.

Today’s reports indicate that he is mobile but struggling and will be receiving medical treatment later.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Today’s Daily Despatch

Daily Dispatch Richard Kohler

Paddle Day 47

Hamburg to East London 54km (4hrs 10min)

I knew there was a problem when I could not bend enough to put my booties on!

The conditions leaving Hamburg were good. A very light tail wind which started to increase. The following sea started to increase in size and I was starting to enjoy the paddle although I still had some pain from the lower back. I had taken a smartie pill before leaving and it must have kicked in.

About two hours later the wind and sea suddenly stood on its head. Making matters worse was the strong head current which pushed the swell up and was causing two out of three crests to break. As Everywhere the sea was looking nasty and more so the further out. I stayed close to the shore as I dared.

At Kidds beach, Warren told me that two single ski’s had gone out to meet me and paddle the rest of the way. I waited for a bit trying to find them but with the sea the way it was I did not want to wallow around for too long. I never did see them on the water.

The next land mark was Cove Rock. At this point in the PE to EL Challenge you know its almost over but still a bit to go. As I passed the rock the sea changed instantly. No longer were the swells steep and breaking but had become fun again. I suspect it is all due to the currents. As I got a glimpse of the harbour breakwater I saw a whole bunch of paddlers heading out to meet me. It’s always a fine sight. From there it was a quick dash around the breakwater and onto Orient beach.

A photographer for the Daily Dispatch was there so we had the photo shoot thing. The following day it was the front page picture. That evening there was a braai with a question and answer session at Border Canoe Club. What a lekker bunch of paddlers

The next morning my lower back was not happy! I struggled to get out of bed and movement was difficult so I had to take some time for physio treatment and rest.

We stayed with the Thompson’s family for the two nights and thanks to their son’s who gave up their rooms for us. It was refreshing to see how these youngsters spend their days. Lifesaving – surfing- fishing – paddling – skateboarding etc and everything within 5 minutes of their home. Brendon had arranged our breakfasts with their Wimpy up the road so this was where we spend our mornings. Breakfast, cappuccino and wifi. What more did we need besides a new lower back!

Paddle Day 48

East London to Cinsta East 31km (2hrs 30min)

Regarding my lower back the consensus is inflammation from spending so much time paddling and especially in the bigger downwind conditions as you tend to steer a lot by leaning the ski one way or another and put extra pressure on the joints. I had a few physio sessions with Gerda and I was soon mobile and ready to have a test paddle.

The forecast indicated that at 11am the wind was going to change to a SW and increase to 20 knots.

At 11am I put in at Orient Beach and met up with Ian Boyd who had paddled from Nahoon to join me for the leg back to Nahoon. We made our way out to sea a bit and soon started catching some lovely runs. In the words of a good mate, Ralph, they were “lollies or taxis”. Easy to catch and can ride them for a long time without much cost in effort. Right up my ally!

From Nahoon it was passed Three Sisters and to Gonubie. I had a chat with Warren here. Well it was a one sided chat. He could not make out what I was saying. Something wrong with his VHF radio. More on that later.

A little while later as I was passing Glen Gariff I saw a snake on the water. I paddled a little closer to get a better look but as I did so it tried to swim closer to me. Oh no! I could see the Daily despatch headline. Solo paddler taken by Puffadder – At SEA. I am not sure if it was a puffadder but I am sure it was a land snake. Must had been washed out to sea down one of the rivers.

Coming into Cinsta East looked more difficult than it was. I called Warren to get his advise but he had not made it to the beach in time. I paddled along the back line looking for the best place to get in through the surf and eventually found it on the West side of the river mouth. As I came ashore Warren made it to the beach and was trying to spot me on the water. He kept on telling me he could not see me and he could not understand me when I tried to say I was already ashore. We were at opposite ends of the beach! Quite funny now!

My lower back stood up well to the paddle which is a great relief.

We are lucky enough to be staying in Shane and Joy Roach’s holiday house in Cinsta East. We feel like kings here. The house is on the top of the dune tucked away amongst the trees. The views are spectacular especially from the hot tub ?

I am planning to get to the Kei mouth tomorrow morning early before the predicted swell builds to 3m plus. After that there is unfortunately a nasty Easterly forecast to blow hard for five days so we may be stuck for a while. We may travel back to Cinsta East and wait it out here. Could think of worse places to be!


arriving in Eastern Cape


Paddle Day 49

Cinsta East to Kei Mouth 31km (2hrs 36min)

It was lekker to be back on the water before sunrise again. Even though it was overcast and I never saw the sun until later in the day there was enough light to get through the surf without issues. Just behind the breakers I was greeted by a few dolphins. Good start for the day don’t you think. The visibility was very good today and I could see the light of the Kei River lighthouse from the start.

Oh, by the way, how was the traffic for you today! ?

The first place of interest to me was Haga Haga 15km along. The last time I was here was 1985 for a family Christmas holiday . I remember this date because it was when I first heard “Walk of Life” by Dire Straights on the wireless. Great memories I tell you!

A short while after Haga Haga the wind and seas got up. I headed closer to the shore to get out of any current hoping the sea would be more forgiving. It was a good call. I saw a rather big splash ten metres or so on my right side which made me turn left and start my sprint training again.

Approaching Morgan Bay there are some stunning cliffs reminding me why the next 10 days are along the “Wild Coast”. The surf at Morgan Bay was as I only know it – big and messy. Passing the Kei Light house at the next point I stayed close to the rocks and managed to get some great waves to ride around the corner and to the river mouth. The plan was to beach at the north side of the river but as I approached all I could see was lots of big surf so I opted to take out on a tiny beach before the mouth. I had to paddle up and down a bit to get my timing of the waves correct before heading in. Got it right so no issues.

Friday is going to be big swell and strong S to SE winds turning to very strong East winds till Sunday evening and the dropping off. So we have to sit tight for a while and then attempt it on Monday morning.

As in the classic movie Top Gun – Today was “Hop 50”!

Kei Mouth to Kob Inn 40km (3hrs 30min)

For the next few day up to Port St Johns we have been joined by Chris Bordeaux from East London. He is going to be our “guide” and is a mine of information on the Wild Coast having spent much of his spare time up and down this coast line.

Today was a late start due to the drive from Cinsta East and also the wind was only going to change later in the morning. The wind did change early and only really got going much later in the day. Leaving was a quick paddle out through virtually no surf and then headed left and passed inside the rocks just off the mouth. Here the water was muddy brown and just after low tide. I am not very comfortable paddling in this type of water but there is not much I can do and there are so many river from now on that I must just get used to it.

For the most part I paddled just behind the breakers to keep out of the strong current. I averaged 11.5km/hr so I was still in a head current. Normally in today’s conditions I would average maybe 13km/hr.

Many years ago I did a group hike from Kob Inn to Morgan Bay over 5 days. It was fun to see places I had been to and to recognising them from the sea. From here on it will all be new. The wind increased to over 30km/hr and was starting to get messy

As I was approaching Kob Inn I tried to call Warren on the radio to find out which was going to be my best option for landing but I got no response. I then called him up on his cell phone and was told that they were still half an hour away. So I was on my own and eventually made a call to beach well before the river mouth where the surf looked the smallest. I made it in without any problem but then had to walk 500m to get to the river before paddling up stream to the ski boat launch site.

Warren and Chris arrived and hour later! It sounds like the roads have taken a bit of a beating and it was slow going. They saw a bakkie lose its back wheel and drum assembly. The bakkie ended up on its side in the ditch. Very glad we have the right vehicle for these roads. Thank you Land Rover!

Tomorrow I will head for the Bashee river and by the sounds of it I will get there before my crew again. Maybe there will be more oysters while I wait for them ?


Arriving in St Francis Bay

Paddling Update day 36-45

Paddling Day 36-45

Paddle Day 36

Knysna to Plettenberg Bay 44km (3hrs 45min)

After a wonderful day in Knysna we were on the go again. Leaving the lagoon and heading out through the heads I was accompanied by Alastair and Judy in a double, Paul Dugmore and Trevor Niksch in singles. Thanks for the company. It is always appreciated. The wind had already started to puff from the SW which meant a downwind ? After going out of the heads and saying my farewells I turned left and paddled parallel to the coast. I kept within 1km to 1.5km of the shore for the rest of the leg.


I am not sure if I was still too close but it was a very bumpy ride with a swell coming from the front, a swell from the SW and their respective reflection waves off the cliffs. I started to make good progress slipping down some swells with peak speeds around 30km/hr. I increased my average speed to almost 11.5km/hr until reaching Robberg. After going around it and into the bay the wind and sea flattened out and I could have been paddling on a pond. I paddled in at central beach next to the Beacon Isle hotel.

A good friend Wayne Craig had made arrangement with the local NSRI and paddlers to come out to greet me but I mixed up my departure time and arrived almost and hour sooner than anticipated. Never the less it was great to see and chat to everyone at the beach a little while later.

After a quick shower at the NSRI base we were whisked off to Off the Hook restaurant for fabulous breakfast and two cappuccino’s. Caffeine fix sorted we followed Wayne to the local radio station, MC 90.3 FM, for an interview with Sue van der Gaast. I am starting to enjoy these radio chats. It’s a lot of fun.

Tonight we have been treated by Owen Johnston from Tamodi Lodge and Stables. What a stunning place!!! Will post some pictures to make you all very jealous ? Would love to chill out for a whole day here but we must march on!!


Tomorrows plan is to head towards Storms River mouth 53km.

Paddle Day 37


We had delicious pizza’s for supper on Wednesday evening which Wayne and Louise Craig bought to Tamodi lodge. Thursday was one of the mornings I really battled to get out of bed. The view, feather soft duvet and the luxurious surroundings at Tamodi lodge was not conducive to the 03h45 wakeup. I had breakfast in bed and eventually dragged my body out of there.

While setting up the electronics for my paddle, I tweaked something in my lower back, but decided to paddle anyway and see if I could “paddle through it”. I launched at Central beach at the usual 05h00 and set of with no wind or swell to speak of. For the first hour, I was the only person on that stretch of ocean to appreciate the stunning sunrise until the peace as shattered by the fishing boats! An hour and 45 minutes into my paddle, I was approaching Nature’s Valley and decided that I was in too much pain and I was getting out . I paddled for 5 minutes towards the beach while having a serous debate with myself and then decided to HTFU and push on to the end of the planned day, Storms River.

plettenberg-bay beacon island resort

I passed a number of fishing boats, one with the gunwales full of punters holding fishing rods, looking very unhappy with no “stywe lyne” in sight and a few with green gills! I started moving closer to the coast as I wanted to see the Otter trail huts. The view of Bloukrans gouge and bridge from this end, was also spectacular. My speed over the ground started to improve and by the time I reached Storms river I was averaging 10km/h again. The last 5 km to Storms river was challenging and I had to dig deep. Paddling into Storms river was very special and there cannot be many people who have done that. Then while having a coffe on the deck a group of 20 tourists came paddling across the river!!! Oh well can’t have every moment to myself.

We battled to find accommodation and eventually Owen, the head park ranger, helped us out and provided us with a beautiful camp site. Robert, the very friendly manager of the shop also helped out by supplying us with some wood and ice. Storms river is packed to the rafters with tourists from all over the world.

Tomorrow is going to be another challenge as I am not sure my back is going to hold up and the wind may be hard in my face. I am paddling to Skuitbaai and unfortunately we have not managed to secure a spot to rest our heads for the night and I am not sure if Warren will be able to reach me as it is a private gated resort. He will have to sweet-talk the security.

Paddle Day 38

Storms River to Eersterivier 31km (3hr 30min)

Yeterday was a pleasant day at Storms River. We stayed at the campsite and I relaxed, giving my back a well deserved rest. I eventually had to dig into my pharmaceuticals for the first time in order to try to alleviate the pain. A little massage from Judy also helped. The wind picked up steadily during the day from the East which was not encouraging for the next day’s paddle, but the forecast indicated a small area of calm early in the morning before picking up again. While we were preparing for supper, I received a phone call from Richard Arderne informing me that Frans Loots happened to read my blog on facebook and offered us accommodation at Oubos, which is right next to Eesterivier. I am still amazed at the amount of compassion and kindness that people have shown me on this trip – total strangers to good friends.


This morning I woke to a still and calm morning. Because the park gate only opens at seven, I did not have to strike camp (left to Judy who slept in) and I was able to be on the water by 4:40. The first two hours of the paddle was a normal day at the office except for a slight head current due to last nights winds. I remained quite close to the coast and my back was behaving itself in the lumpy conditions. The last hour and a half was into an increasing headwind making my progress painfully slow. The houses at my destination just did not seem to get any closer, but as all things do, I eventually made it to the end. I was shown two exit options by my shore team, which now included our host, Franz Loots. I turned both options down and opted for a more sheltered point further up the coast. As I was getting closer to this point, I saw another surfski paddler, paddling out to meet me, only to be disappointed when he turned left and headed away from me. I almost overshot my exit point until my shore crew pointed this out to me and guided me behind the reef and safely to the beach. After getting changed and about to head off to our host’s house, I realised that the paddler I had seen, was Heinrich Schloms. His wife was a little concerned as she had lost sight of him, but awhile later he came into view and all was well again. Maybe I will be able to convince him to paddle to Oysterbay with me tomorrow if he can paddle at my slow pace.

For lunch we sneaked inland with our hostess, Tanya Loots, who kept us entertained with her infectious laugh and sense of humour. Tonight we will braai with the “Loots of Trouble” clan before setting out for Day 39 to Oysterbay.

Day 39

Eersterivier to Oyster Bay 43km (4hrs 20min)

It was tough to leave the Loots family after such a lekker stay but I have to keep moving. Launching from the beach straight forward and the swells was small. The first section of the paddle I stayed very close to shore trying to find some favourable. When I got to the main bay that I cut across I paddled up to a chokka fishing boat. They were all fishing on the other side and as I paddled around the boat the got quite a fright. Some of them expressed their surprise with some colourful words. At least I had some fun!

In the middle of the bay I counted 35 boats all anchored in a group. They use massive light bulbs above the deck to attract the chokka. The holiday houses along the shore have to draw their curtains at night cause the light is so bright! The rest of the paddle was characterised by more boats and then some more.



Coming into Oyster Bay was straight forward (normally a big tricky surf line) with a well chosen exit point by Warren. We had been invited to camp on the lawn at the Oyster Bay beach lodge by the owners Nic and Stephanie. Being in season time the lodge was full hence the need to camp but not actually having a lawn we set up our tents on their balcony.


The lodge has the most a relaxing atmosphere ever which is just my style. We spent the rest of the day chilling and chatting to the other guests. Nic looked after our every need from the breakfast fry to dinner and even breakfast the next morning.

Paddle Day 40

Oyster Bay to St Francis 34km (3hrs 20min)

The paddlers from St Francis came to Oyster Bay to keep me company today. It was a later start than normal allowing time for everyone to drive here. There was no wind or swell to worry about so we paddled right along the shore passing the spot where our wonderful national power company is planning to build another nuclear power station. So sad!



In this bay a school of dolphins joined us on their way to St Francis Bay for what seems like their daily run (Have seen them do this for 3 days in a row now). Going around Cape St Francis light house, (the oldest light house in the country so I was told but Google gives title to the Green Point lighthouse) the NSRI came out to greet us. Thanks for the support. We popped into the main beach and picked up another bunch of paddlers swelling our number to almost twenty. We proceeded around Shark Point and along the shore and past the harbour At Bruce’s Beauties we caught a little wave or two for fun. It was around here that Etienne Buys, our host for the next few days, arrived in his ski boat. I quickly hopped on the boats wash for the rest of the way to the Krom River mouth. Paddling into St Francis canals is quite something with the impressive homes along the banks and then you see the devastation caused by the recent fire. A very very sad sight indeed! We got out at the St Francis “marina/slipway”.


The St Francis paddlers have certainly upped the anti in terms of welcoming me in. Thanks everyone and especially Richard Arderne for making the arrangements.

Paddle Day 41

St Francis to Sardinia Bay 63km (5hrs 43min)

Yesterday afternoon we went for drinks with Ralph Teulings and family in Cape St Francis. Ralph has just completed racing in the Cape Point Challenge and was now officially on holiday! Well so he thought. The weather forecasts for the following few days indicated that the 25th, would be a good day to get my next paddle in which was meant to be to Jeffreys Bay however I managed to twisted Ralphs rubber arm and he agreed join me. Now that I had company I suggested that instead of doing a short paddle lets do a big one and cross the bay in one go. It would mean that at some point we would be as far as 15km from land!!

So on Christmas morning (MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE) while the children were still dreaming of their presents we got on the water and paddled out of the Krom River and into the bay. The wind had already started to blow from the West and as the day progressed so did the winds strength. What a great downwind paddle.

It did get a little tricky at some stages with the wind swell running against the current creating steep waves. Every now and then I would get swamped by the breaking crest of a wave but all in all it was a great paddle. Even in these conditions I would not have been comfortable being on my own so far offshore. The two of us have paddle together for the past 12 years and know how to keep a eye on each other. Sometimes we would end up on the same wave and “Tulips” would curse out loud saying something about having the whole @#$* ocean to paddle on ? Getting “T” boned by your mate out here would not be cool!

Coming into Sardinia Bay I was a little apprehensive. The last time I paddled in here the surf was huge and today it looked equally tricky. I knew we had to go around a reef before turning to the beach but I did not know how much shelter the reef offered. I had tried to chat to Warren on the radio but he could not see us and the wind noise over his radio was to loud for me to hear what he was saying so my eyes on the beach were of now help. After rounding the reef it was immediately apparent that all was well and the surf was not going to be an issue.

My 2013 Dusi partner and brother in law, Kevin Goodspeed, will be pleased to hear that I have been doing some extra Dusi training. We had to carry our boats up and over a large sand dune to get to the Land Rover. Even though I had to stop and rest twice but I am still claiming it as training!!!

We got back to our host around 2pm and to our surprise they had waited for us to get home before starting their Christmas lunch. We have been so spoilt. They have taken us in as if we were family. A place at the table for each meal.- been fishing on the boat at sea, with great success- trip up the river and there were even Christmas gifts for us. We are staying in a little cottage next to the main house. Not sure I want to leave.

We then had Christmas dinner with Ralphs family which meant more lekker food. I am sure I ate for 10 people today. We played some fun games around opening of gifts. By the time we got home I was asleep on my feet.

Tomorrow I will take part in the annual paddle race around the canals. Hopefully I can create some more awareness from it. After that we will head to PE with the hope of paddling into PE on the 28th.

Come on Port Elizabeth:- Can you beat St Francis’s welcome!

27 December 2012

Today was a rest day… well not quite!

We stayed another day in St Francis in order to take part in the Rezco Investec St Francis Surfski 14km Challenge – Sporty Anderson Memorial paddle.


It was my honour to paddle doubles with our hosts son, Danie Buys, a very talented young paddler. I sat in the back and Danie steered his first race on the sea. You could see us from a long way away from my poor timing. Never the less I enjoyed this day of competitive paddling.

Well what a special day it ended up being for me. We managed to take the lead at the first mark and then kept it for the rest of the race. Clearly all due to the power house in the front seat and not the old fart in the back. At prize giving I was called up and presented with a cash donation from the event. A few of the winners also came over and gave their cash prize to me as well. How awesome is that!!

To round it off, our medals were presented by Joan Anderson, my cousin, who I now have just met for the first time.

What a great few days we have had in St Francis and a big thank you to all the friendly and helpful people we met.

We now moved on up the coast and will paddle from Sardinia Bay to Summer Strand tomorrow starting at 8am. Anyone joining me?

Paddle Day 42

Sardinia Bay to Summer Strand (PE) 28km (2hrs and change)

Gavin McNish and Kay van Oosten in a double and Rob Welsh in a single joined me today. On the water at 08h00. Getting out was no problem and we sneaked along the inside of the reef. The Westerly had not faded as predicted so were had a really pleasant downwind all the way to Cape Receife. At Cape Receife we met up with Richard Mangold, Luck McNish, Craig Seale, Fanta Gous and Brendon Bosh for the last leg to Summer Strand.

Rob and I had some fun sneaking inside the reef at the point and then we all surfed the waves down the coast. I managed to get some great video footage of this and the image attached is a screen shot of it.

Tomorrows plan is to cut across the bay to Sundays River.

Paddle Day 43

Summerstrand to Sundays River 34km (3hrs 20min)

Today’s paddle was straight forward. Head across the bay following the GPS heading. There was not a lot happening out in the middle of Nelson Mandela Bay. I did see some dolphins playing around St Croy Is. I passed two ship out on anchor waiting for their turn at Gouga harbour. On the MSC one the crew were busy chipping and painting high up on the stern. From their shouting and laughter I must have provided some light relief.

Coming ashore at the river mouth could have been tricky, especially as it was spring low tide when I got there, but by staying out of the fast flowing river mouth itself it worked out fine. The only problem was I had to portage the boat 400m to the Land Rover. Will put that down as Dusi training.

Tomorrow is a big day to Boknes. Seven hrs on the water.

Paddle Day 44

Sundays River to Cannon Rocks (Boknes) 69km (6hrs 30min)

Yesterday evening Warrens son, Paul, arrived at Sundays River from Johannesburg. He will be joining us for a few days to spend some time with his Dad.

We camped on the banks of the river and again our budget took another hit for a 6m x 6m patch of grass. It did however come with a bunch of fishermen/campers for neighbours who got louder and louder as the dop flowed. At 3am they did quieten down when the one guy found out one of the other guys tried to muscle in on his girlfriend etc…. I am sure it would have been amusing if I was not paddling the next day.

Today was the first paddling day that did not start with a cup of coffee. Maybe that was why I was a little grumpy! Leaving the river mouth was tricky and I had to take a few foamies on the chest before finding my gap in the waves.

This section of the coast line is all sand dunes. They have to be the most spectacular sand dunes in the whole country but unfortunately they don’t give a sense of progress as they all look the same. There is one spot just before Woody Cape, 41km into the day, where they turn into a 5km stretch of cliffs. These cliffs are both loved and hated by the paddlers competing in the PE to EL Surfski Challenge as you can see them from miles away and they never seem to get closer but when you pass them you know you are almost there.

The visibility was good and I could see Bird Island clearly. Just as I was heading around the northern point of the bay I came across my first real fin, a small hammerhead and then something a bit bigger heading away from me, or was that me heading the other way :-).

Coming into Cannon Rocks was quite tricky. The tide was low and the swell running at 2.7m but my spotters gave me the best line and we avoided any drama. Once ashore I was told that one of the trackers had not been working which seemed to cause a few followers a little consternation. I have to admit that I am absolutely bushed and a little stiff.

We have set up camp on Fred Cresswell’s lawn for tonight. Tomorrow the plan is Cannon Rocks to Port Alfred 37km.

Paddle Day 45

Cannon Rocks to Port Alfred 38km (3hrs 20min)

Yesterday we pitched out tents at Fred Cresswell’s holiday house in Bushmans River. I spent a bit of the afternoon sleeping on the lawn under their ski boat trying to keep out of the sun. It’s been rather hot lately and I am not a fan of the heat. Fred made arrangements for other paddlers to paddle along for the leg into Port Alfred. Some would leave with us from Cannon Rocks and other would meet us off Kenton.

That evening it started to rain and we can say with confidence that our tents offer less protection that an upturned colander! The forecast indicated a good downwind and the swell similar to the day before. Well when we got to Cannon Rocks the swell was pretty big. That was while looking down from the sand dune. From the waters edge it was a lot bigger! We entered the water with confidence and waited just before the impact zone popping over the foamies waiting for the lull.

Right that’s the last wave of the set, lets go! Fred and myself got the jump on the other two, Nick Rocky and Marc Notje, and were looking good for a few moments until the early arrival of the next set. I had miss timed it badly. The first wave broke a foot in front of us. The foamie then reared up and swallowed us hole and then, after what seemed like forever, it spat us out. Fred lost contact with his boat which washed up onto the rocks! I managed to hold onto mine and then did the same for the next four waves. All my accessories had come adrift from my ski and were dangling from their safety lines. What a mess. I had to clip everything back in place before remounting.

Again I had to sit and ride over the foamies waiting for a gap in the surf . Eventually I managed to get out to the dead ocean. As I reached the back line I head Warren on the radio telling me Fred’s ski was damaged and he would not be going any further. The three of us turn for Port Alfred and started to ride the wind chop and swell. It was turning into the last great downwind of 2012.

Marc was going to get out at Kenton but was having too much fun. We called his wife and made new arrangements. As we reached Kenton a few other paddlers came into view and one of them was Fred! He went home and got his old ski and then had another go at getting through the surf at Kenton, which all agreed was bigger. A double and single ski made it out with Fred but unfortunately another single got smashed at Kenton. The double and single left us after short while and headed back to the beach. It was great to see you out there even if only for a short while.

The swells were now getting bigger and the wind stronger. Having come in and out of Port Alfred a number of times before I decided that I would go up the river mouth and not try the beach. I wanted to avoid any more surf time. I made contact with Warren and asked if there were any waves breaking across the entrance. Nope nothing breaking!

I headed off first and as I started to near the entrance a monster set started looming behind me. I was confident that they would not break. I had been told so. I backed off the first wave just in time as it crashed across the entrance! WHAT!!! CRAP! Now I am in trouble!

The river was still flowing out strongly and if you take a swim here you would most certainly be in big trouble. The next wave broke behind me . By this time I sprinting for the A team but it soon overtook me. Somehow I managed to stay upright and then managed to duck behind the breakwater before the next wave. I also got hit by this wave but only from the water coming over the breakwater and onto my head!

But what had happened to the other guys.

They had managed to hang back and let the set go past before paddling in. They had thought I had been eaten by that set. When we were back together there was a lot of post nervous laughter! I took the video camera out to get the footage of the river and our arrival but when I viewed it later it was quite shaky! Wonder why!

That’s enough excitement for 2012. See you all next year.

NSRI Mossel Bay

Paddling Update: DAY 27-35

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

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



Paddling Update day 25-26

Shark Cage Diving

How does Richard confront his fear of the Great White Shark especially since he will have to paddle across “Shark Alley”, Dyer Island tomorrow.

shark-cage-diving-dec-12 (1)

He goes shark cage-diving!!!

Thank you to Marine Dynamics shark tours who gave Richard and Warren an opportunity of a lifetime to see these creature up close and personal on their cage-diving boat, Slashfin.

“What an experience! Such a professional group of people and so knowledgeable. We saw more than ten different Great White Sharks. I cannot believe how many sharks there are out here. Strangely enough, I am far more at ease after my time with the Marine Dynamics team” said Richard.

Marine Dynamics also gave Richard an escort when he paddled from Kleinbaai to Die Dam via “Shark Alley.”

Paddle Day 25:

Kleinbaai to Die Dam 45km 4hrs 15min

Last night we stayed in the Marine Dynamics cottages so we could roll out of bed and down the road to the slipway. Zzzzzz Zzzzzz Zzzzzz was the cell phone alarm clock as it vibrated around the bedside table at 04h15. Not sure why I bother setting the thing as I am always already awake.

45 minutes later I was paddling backwards away from the slipway. Done this way to avoid damage to the rudder! The maddening SE winds of the past week had finally disappeared and was replaced by very calm conditions but this came with fog that got thicker as the morning progressed.

Marine Dynamics put their 8 meter RIB, Calypso, and a 3 meter RIB on the water all to look after me as I paddled pass “Shark Alley” which lies between Dyer Island and Pearly Beach. The fog eventually got so thick that the visibility was down to 10 meters (I am sure what ever was under the water could see me no problem). I had to back out of one channel through the kelp to take the one next to the island which is a wider and safer option for the boats. I was amazed when I saw the GPS tracks going so close to the Island, I never even saw it!!!

My compass had blown off my boat while driving to Gaansbaai into the South East wind and I only noticed this just before launching which left no time to reattach it. Not having the compass left me very disorientated when the fog was its thickest. At one point I was heading 90 degrees off course and had to be redirected by Calypso. After that I swapped positions and chose to followed them instead.

The first time I saw land was a glimpse of Quoin Point peeping through the fog. It was about here that Calypso with Michelle and Oliver on board had to turn back for Kleinbaai. Dickie in the small RIB carried on the rest of the way. By the time I turned to head towards Die Dam the Westerly had started to blow and increased in strength rapidly.

Beaching at die Dam was relatively simple, I just had to avoid a few blinders and beach in 2 inch surf. Being a small RIB it joined me on the beach and in a few minutes it was on the trailer and towed off with Wilfred behind the wheel of his Landy 90.

Camping tonight at Die Dam and tomorrows plan is a 05h30 start to go around Cape Agulhas and to Struisbaai. Paul Moxley and Bryan Allott are driving up from Cape Town in the wee hours tomorrow to join me around the most Southern point of Africa.

Paddle Day 26:

Die Dam to Struisbaai (Cape Agulhas) 40km 4h36min

At 5am this morning I got a text message, “My GPS says I be there at 05h11”. Paul Moxley had left Cape Town early this morning to join me for the days paddle. I like it when people step out of their routine and do something different. He said later on the water that he could have come up with 100 reasons not do do it, but he didn’t because paddling around Agulhas is special.

We set off a little after five thirty and paddling out onto a calm sea and no wind. The swell had dropped down to 2 meters and having some company made the choice to cut across the bay to Agulhas easy. Our pace was a very comfortable and the conditions just got better as the morning progressed. 

The highlight of today has to be that I have just paddled around the southern most point of the African continent, Cape Agulhas! Having sailed past many times I know how rough Agulhas can be, but today it was perfect.

By my calculations, which are dubious at the best of times, I have paddled 1/3rd of the distance around the country! How lekker is that?

Paul treated Warren and I to a fish and chips brunch from the local caravan vendor in the harbour. He also put us up for the next few days on his farm near Die Mond in a big old Cape Dutch farm house. Braai time tonight!

Tomorrows plan it to paddle to Arniston. Wednesday looks like a non paddling day with strong head winds. We will make it up with a radio interview in the morning at Radio Overberg 98.4fm in Bredasdorp.

4 December 2012

At 08h30 today our Land Rover was the most southerly Land Rover on the African continent. In fact of any type of vehicle!!!!

5 December 2012

We were privileged to spend some time on air with Alan Rosenmeyer of  Radio Overberg on his Actuality and Marketing Show, daily from 08h00 to 09h00. What a lot of fun. I will share the podcast when we get it. Thanks Alan & Pof.


Paddling Update day 20-24

Paddle Day 20

Melkboss to Witsands 57 km 

Today I was on the water just after 5am. The swell had picked up and the tide was low so it took a little bit of timing and paddling over white water before making it to the back line. The day’s plan was quite simple “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line” so I headed straight across Table Bay with Robben Island to my right. The water was once again in that oily state but this would change later. The bay shoreline was covered in the morning haze which only got worse as the city and traffic woke up. For some reason the VHF coms with Warren was not working. I found out later the external microphone and talk piece was faulty and had remained stuck on transmit which ran the battery down. We then changed to cell phone coms but I had left the Land Rover phone on silent so Warren had no idea I was calling. I then called Mark who managed to relay messages to Warren’s own number which I had not yet programmed into my phone.

Teething problems like these were good to sort out in my own backyard in calm conditions.I stopped a few times to try my GoPro camera which I mounted onto a short pole so I can video myself. It is quite tricky staying upright but I think the footage came out just fine. I will post it when I get the time to do some editing.

Rounding Karbonkelberg was when things started to get a bit bumpy. There was still a 3m swell running so I opted out of taking the straight line between the rocks. Ya, I must be getting soft in my old age or maybe just like making it to the end of the day in one piece!

From here a NW wind started to blow and I got my first taste of a downwind and a broad smile was showing all the way to Slangkop Lighthouse only to disappear when I approached the point off Witsand / crayfish factory. The surf was pounding onto the point and my heart sank thinking this was going to be a tricky landing. As I rounded the point I could see that there was a clear path to the slipway with no surf at all. Pop! Smile back on!

It would have been wonderful to paddle more distance, especially with the tail wind, but there is no safe landing spots in a big SW swell before Cape Point. All in all I was happy with the day.

Paddle Day 21

Witsands around Cape Point to Buffels Bay 33km

The forecast was spot on. No wind in the early morning and then it would switch from a SE to a Westerly. The swell had flattened out. In fact it was so calm that South West reef was not breaking and rounding the point I am sure I could have touched the rocks.

Bianca Beavitt joined me for the paddle and we made a very comfortable average speed of 10km/hr. I stopped a few times to take more video of the paddle and on the False Bay side I paddled into the “cave” and got well up to the pebble beach under the cave. The water was crystal clear and I could see the bottom at least 12m down.

The last stretch to Buffels Bay the wind had switched West which gave a light head wind.All along today’s route the VHF coms with Warren were working perfectly and once he even called up to query if all was OK because I had stopped off Cape Point to do some videoing and he was above me at the lighthouse. I felt like a schoolboy being busted doing something naughty! ? He told me later that he had become a bit of a tourist attraction at the lighthouse as the bus loads of punters were asking him all sorts of questions about us below.

After rounding the point I took the opportunity of paddling to the cave in the cliffs below lighthouse and then made my way to Buffels Bay. Just after leaving the cave the Westerly wind started to pick up, which was very good for tomorrow’s False Bay crossing to Hanklip as it cannot be done in a SE wind.

Paddle Day 22

False Bay crossing to Hangklip 40km

Our earliest wake up call so far at 03h45 to pick up our safety duck and crew at Big Bay lifesaving club and then we had a long drive passed Simonstown to Millers point to launch the duck.

We were eventually on the water at 06h30 and the wind had started to puff. The forecast suggested a NW but for much of the paddle it blew from the North and even felt, at times, NE.For much of the paddle the North wind chop was side on and the remaining sea swell from the SW was coming from the other side which left the sea being quite lumpy, but there was always a little bump to ride, helping to keep the average speed up.

It was fantastic to have my good mate “Beetle” Bailey along for the paddle. This was his Cape Point Challenge training paddle! It had been a while since we had chatted so for the first hour I caught up on all the local news and we even joked about the big fish in this part of the world. Then a pod of seal hurriedly came porpoising past us and I turned to Beet and said: “I don’t like seeing this! It’s often a sign that something may be chasing them.”

Shortly afterwards the safety boat drew alongside and Derrick told us that there was a pod of Killer whales coming our way. Mmmmmmm this could be tricky. What to do? First thing was to make sure Beetle was between myself and them – lol

What magnificent creatures. They sped past us only a few boat lengths away. Not even giving us a second glance. I am sure they had those seals in their sights. We guessed that there were about fifteen Orca’s in the pod and I also spotted a juvenile. I believe the males are the ones with the bigger dorsal fins. When they are about to break the surface the fins look like submarine periscopes cutting through the water. Definitely the highlight of the trip so far!

The deal with the safety boat was that if they saw something that was of concern they were to come along side me ASAP. I mentioned this to Beet and he agreed that that was a cunning plan. A while later the rubber duck came motoring towards us and without saying a word Beetle and I paddled close to each other in anticipation of the next thing in the water, only to be told that we were now half way!

In comparison the rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The last hour the wind and swells lined up a lot better and we were treated to some great downwind conditions until we passed the Hangklip lighthouse and turned into Masbaai for a short upwind to the slipway where Warren was waiting with the Land Rover and boat trailer.

Paddle Day 23

Hangklip to Hermanus 43km 4hrs 45min

Last night we stayed at the legendary Hangklip Hotel and were met by chef Eugene who coincidently was born with a cleft palate. At this stage the wind was howling around the mountain and the sea was covered in spray. The forecasts indicated that the wind would start subsiding the following day by 11am and then switch to SW in the late afternoon. The day’s plan was to go paddle to the slipway at Hawston, a manageable 30km.

We did not stay in the hotel bungalows but in a private two bedroom holiday house. What a great little place it was with a cool collection of vinyl records plus two turn tables. It’s such a pity we don’t get to spend much time at each spot to really make the most of what they each have to offer.

It was Warren’s first dinner duty and he served up a gourmet creamy cheese, spring onion and tuna pasta with a glass of red wine. It sure hit the spot. Knowing I did not have to be up at 04h30 I hit the sack after 10h00. As I am in a routine, I was awake by then anyway, only to hear the wind was still giving its all.

Later we decided to drive to Bettys Bay to look at the slipway in case the wind did not slack off and I wanted to use this as a get out point. Then it was to a coffee shop to wait for the wind to do its thing which it started to do around 11h30.

Back to Hangklip and onto the water by 12h15. Leaving Masbaai had a few interesting moments as I had to avoid the big swells breaking on the outer reefs. Once I rounded the point I headed towards Bettys Bay. Along the rocky shoreline the sea got very lumpy with the bounce-back and progress was a little slow. I also think I was fighting a bit of head current.

There were lots of penguins around and the water had these dark spot all over it. Some spots as wide as 50m. After going over one of them I realised that these were schools of bait fish. Now I know when you have little fish you get bigger ones eating them and then bigger ones eating the big ones etc….. you get where I am going with this…. I do not like paddling over bait fish!!!

I was surprised not to see any fishing boats taking advantage. Maybe they were all out looking for perlemoen!!!

Most of the time I try to paddle along the shoreline which offers the quickest option to get off the water if there are any issues. The evening before, Warren and I study the coastline and decide on possible exit points for myself and the positions that he must go to, to follow me. Yesterday he managed to keep me in his sights for most of the day, thanks to the coastal road being slightly elevated.

Before I got to Hawston I decided to push on to Hermanus while the going was good. After advising Warren, he told me Louise Fick from the Kleinmond tourism Bureau had tracked him down at the Kleinmond slipway and had given him a Cape Whale Coast Cap and Kogelberg Biopshere Guardian T-shirt for me. Nice one, thanks Louise!

Another surprise was Kevin Weaving (GPS Tracking South Africa (SA) Fleet Management [my backup GSM tracker]). He is a schoolmate of mine whom I have not seen since school days and he joined Warren at the Hawston slipway and followed us the rest of the way to Hermanus. It was lekker to catch up with him at the harbour after the paddle.

All in all it was a good day on the water. Saturday is Judy’s Birthday and Sunday the swell is over 6m so I will take these as rest days and then plan to get passed Gaansbaai on Monday.

Paddle Day 24

Hermanus around Danger point to Kleinbaai 43km

Last night we were fortunate to stay in the Windsor Hotel in Hermanus.

A lovely place overlooking the bay and I could see the conditions by glancing out of the window.

Kevin Weaving from GPS Tracking South Africa has been our shadow for the past few days has escorted Warren from view point to view point making his life a lot easier. It is wonderful meeting people like Kevin. There are good people out there ?

I was on the water at 06h00 from the new harbour. I had the option to paddle straight across the bay which would have been about 10km shorter but I am sticking to my safety rule of following the shore line unless I have company. The first leg was towards the main beach was a great way to start the day. Swells and wind from behind ?

Paddling behind the breakers following the beach to Gaansbaai also turned out to be a good leg. With a little bit of a following bump caused by the swell reflection off the cliffs at Hermanus. The swell was still running at 3.5m and a couple of times I had to make haste to get seawards to avoid being dumped by the occasional rouge wave. In the end I stayed a fair way off the back line.

Once I was on the Gaansbaai side of the bay and heading into the swells towards Danger Point my progress slowed significantly. I was treated to some common dolphins and a whale near the point. As I approached the point I was feeling quite confident as the sea felt calm. I could see the swell breaking on the reefs off the point but how bad could it be!

Danger Point – I now understand how it got it’s name!

The further off the point I got the bigger the swell seemed to get. There was a swell running in from straight ahead and one from my left. When the two met and peaked the crest would crumble into a massive rolling ball of white water big enough to break my boat. This appeared to be happening all around me and at random! GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

I had to paddle almost 2km SW, straight out to sea, to get beyond the reefs before I could think about turning the corner. It was a very long, lonely and nervous 2km’s. Up and down keeping a weary eye out for the breaking crests. Eventually I started to turn only to see another reef, which I later discovered was the Birkenhead reef [see foot note]. I made a line to go around it. At the last minute I decided I had had enough and sneaked on the inside and started to make the most of the tail wind and following sea to Kleinbaai. This leg was covered with blue bottles and at times i had to just drift to get passed them so my paddle would not pick them up and fling them onto me.

Approaching Kleinbaai I was very glad to have the assistance of the harbour master to guide me in. In fact I almost came in too soon and would certainly have been banged up in the surf and kelp. It is a tricky entrance with the big swell running and every now and then a wave would break right across the main channel. In the end I came in without any issues.

Arriving at the slipway I was surprised to get a round of applause. A group of people who had been tracking my progress come down to see me paddle in. Here I met the resident marine biologist team from Marine Dynamics Shark Tours, Michelle, Oliver and Alison. Michelle quietly asked if I had seem any of the Great Whites Sharks today. To which I said NO! “Oh!” she said, “well I can tell you they saw you”…….mmmmmm

The local press were also there and once the pictures and interview were done we were invited up to the Great White House for a cupa java. Ah! A big cappuccino, comfy chair and a lekker long chat. Marine Dynamics have agreed to escort me through shark alley (YAY) when I head off next. But not before they put us inside a cage, under water, and get a Great White Shark to swim past!!!! I may be coming face to face with my biggest fear.

Good or bad thing? I will let you know……..

[HMS Birkenhead, also referred to as HM Troopship Birkenhead or steam frigate Birkenhead, was one of the first iron-hulled ships built for the Royal Navy. She was designed as a frigate, but was converted to a troopship before being commissioned.

On 26 February 1852, while transporting troops primarily of the 74th Regiment of Foot to Algoa Bay, she was wrecked at Danger Point near Gansbaai on the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. There were not enough serviceable lifeboats for all the passengers, and the soldiers famously stood firm, thereby allowing the women and children to board the boats safely. Only 193 of the 643 people onboard survived, and the soldiers’ chivalry gave rise to the “women and children first” protocol when abandoning ship, while the “Birkenhead drill” of Rudyard Kipling’s poem came to describe courage in face of hopeless circumstances]