Day 171, Tuesday, 07.07.2009

 

Shady camp in Broome, Cable Beach

 

I woke at 5 in the morning, and started my blog updates as long as I am in cell phone range for posting.

I had to wait anyway until the shops will be open in Broome for checking in town if there are new inner tubes for my trolley wheels available, or even whole new wheels, if necessary.

 

 

At 8am I stopped typing, and packed my valuables for the about 2 km walk along the beach back to the carpark from where I hoped to get a lift into town.

 

I was passing an obviously local guy who was renting out umbrellas, deckchairs and beach supplies and asked him about the best shop in town to get my issue fixed. He named me two, and at least I knew where I wanted to go now!

 

The only issue was to find a lift, as obviously that early in the morning everybody was heading to the beach instead of going back. The local bus was just leaving station in front of my nose, and after asking about 20 people for a lift I got sick of it and asked the one and only waiting taxi driver how much he’d charge. 15 $, ok, no time to leave and I would be there in no time.

 

The local bike and tyre shop was luckily well sorted, and the guy could help me with two new inner tubes for 20 $. Plus another 15 $ for the quick taxi back, makes 50 spent this morning plus two ice creams for the mental support. But I was done within two hours!

 

 

People fishing off the beautiful cliffs at Broome headland

 

 

I was walking back to my campsite, packed in the pre-lunchtime heat and was on the water at 11 am, high tide. I was planning only a short crossing to Cape Villaret with 45 km, as the day was already almost half around after I even did some urgent phone calls and emails right after launching on the water. I expected paddling into the night, arriving between 9 and 10pm. But it was full moon and bright light at night. But this also meant spring tides…

 

I assumed like north of Broome the ebbing tide is going south and would give me and my heavy boat a bit of a push. But bugger, nothing about pushing around Broome headland and about 10 km into Roebuck Bay….whatever game the tide was playing there, it was pushing me, but backwards!

 

It may have been about half an hour where I noticed a bit of a flow south and even some temporary following wind, but this nice situation lasted until the tide was turning at about 5pm and it was going again into the direction I was used to, flooding north, ebbing south.

And it was flooding until 11 pm, heavily on spring tides against me with about 2-3 km/h. Bugger…but it at least motivated me to “paddle” a bit hard, as I didn’t want to spend all night on the water!

 

It was a magnificent sunset on one side and full moonrise on the other side anyway, with a circular, almost rainbow colour halo all over the horizon. Violet-red on the moon side, orange-red on the sun side. Beautiful!

 

 

 

I have checked and tightened the screw holding my rudder the afternoon before. 

The new rudder started banging, and I was thinking my “service crew” must simply have kept it a bit too lose.

I had never to check the rudder on the old boat before! It was always like it was to be! So what is wrong with this new one, the same model?

 

The rudder started to bang up and down again that night, especially when I was just floating around and having no pressure on the foot pedals, a clear sign the screw was about to be too lose again.

I was urgently hoping it would hold up the last left 17,5 km of my crossing, as who wants to jump in the water at night to check and fix a broken rudder, being just by yourself?

 

But eventually I *had to*, as the whole rudder piece was coming off the screw, floating around lose in the water and was barely held anymore only by the up hauling string. No way of paddling like that, dragging the rudder stern piece behind me.

.

I put on my PFD before jumping into the not really cold water, but it was a bit frightening at night, as who knows where the next sea snakes and sharks would be waiting???

 

I hoped that I simply had to unscrew the little stern service hatch and to screw the rudder piece on again, but I couldn’t open the hatch from my position floating in the water!

 

I was hoping then if I would be climbing on the stern facing backwards I would have a better angle of attack, and my body was a bit out of the dark scary water as well.

 

But besides sinking the heavy stern half a meter with my weight, the torch in my mouth, I was not successful on opening the service hatch in this way either. The fine sand of the last beach must have made it stuck, or I was simply too weak…

 

 

So no fitting the screw back into the rudder piece, but only fixing the free floating stern piece to the hull with a piece of bungee I luckily had handy in my cockpit bags.

 

This was working all right – after riding backwards to the cockpit, turning around to sit normal, finding the bungee, turning facing backwards again, riding towards the end with a half meter sunken stern and the torch in my mouth, finding the floating rudder piece, attaching the bungee through the rudder extracting loop and on the toggle.

Guys, who says that playing and balancing with the boat after a day’s paddling session is a useless skill…it helps you in such situations and gives you confidence!! I was not tending to be capsized on this acrobatic session, though having some seas going. But the heavy load was helpful as well.

 

The rudder stern piece was eventually kind of back in place, but useless… 

 

Later I thought maybe I should have left the secondary rudder stuck out like a skeg, but I wonder if the bungee with the whole stern piece would have stayed in place then.

 

 

I thought I could paddle the boat simply without rudder and secondary skeg-like rudder, but this was no easy game in this almost 90 degrees but flooding against me current and headwind!

 

I was fighting for 5 long km with wide sweep strokes on the right side only, trying to keep the boat straight and not going out to sea.

I was making only about 2,5-3 km speed in this way.

I tried to edge additionally, locking the knee and leaning sideways, but this boat is a straight runner with very little to no rocker, designed to work with a rudder and not made for edging to turn around easily, with a load of 80 kg of gear.

 

 

I am really not easy to be worn out, but this way of paddling did. I lost the rudder at 17,5 km left on the night’s crossing, paddled for almost two hours with heavy long right sweep strokes only, and eventually felt like coming to the end of my body power.

*Willpower* was still there, as it was *ME, MYSELF* who chose to be a “test pilot”!!!

It won’t be much of a problem for the boat manufacturer to fix this issue before putting the new rudder and boat on the market! B

ut someone has to find out *first* that there may be a problem…my job…dangerous maybe on such a trip like I do…

I had already to deal with quite some other “teething troubles” on this trip, but not all of them were and will be posted here.

I was luckily “surviving” and fixing them all, working together and giving feedback to the manufacturer who has the chance in this way to make eventually a “bomb proof” boat for the public.

 

 

I had to be creative now with a new idea, or I would be paddling until lunchtime next day and end up with a heavy tendonitis or such on the right side…

 

I remembered I was already creative on retro-fitting my rudder-and skeg-free Greenland rolling kayak on “racing” in the Greenlandic National Championships!

I was using my spare Greenland paddle stuck under the front deck bungees, dragging it on the stern section behind me like an outrigger stern rudder.

I just remembered that it was working alright, but the missing feather of a Greenland paddle was making it not as effective as it could have been with the right blade angle!

 

So doing the same with my spare wing paddle, would have at least the right angle, as it was adjustable. For sure a wing blade is not really designed as to be used as a stern rudder, as usually wing blades go with rudder boats!

But It was working well, and my existing deck bungees *behind* my seat kept the blade nicely in the water in the right angle!

 

 

At least I was able now to *paddle* in a normal balanced style again, and not like a disabled person, on one side only…slow still with barely 2,5-3 km/hrs, as the flooding spring tide current, headwind, heavy boat and me being worn out quite a bit was not making a sprint out of the remaining 12,5 km. Some very brief powernaps flooded me backwards on each, not much fun overall.

 

But I eventually landed after that paddling slog easily at almost high tide at midnight in bright moonlight on a beautiful beach with jagged cliffs around, after 13 hrs for 45 km…physically fully worn out and a tad bit demoralized.

 

The sand was again like in Broome a fine white powder, sticking to everything like flour, especially to my silicone-covered tent. So sweeping the tent outside and inside for half an hour, before there was not much of a sand shower anymore on using it.

 

I crashed at 1.30 am, wondering how I would feel next day… 

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