Friday, July 21, 2017

Isle Valen: Here I am

After a marvelous day Monday I camped on Ship Island.  It was warm in the tent overnight and a bit damp caused by the fog rolling in after a day of glorious sunshine.  I woke at 5:30 and had a peek out of the tent to see what the day was doing.  Totally calm with lingering low laying fog.  Woohoo, a great day for a paddle to Isle Valen.

I was excited with the prospect of getting into Isle Valen Harbour so I didn't waste any time getting breakfast on the go, packing up and hitting the water.  Just on the left is the beach on Ship Island and in the distance, the dark horizon is Great Sandy Harbour, my first port of call for the day.

I crossed straight across the wide open mouth (1.5 kms wide) of Great Sandy Harbour with my next target down the coast of Little Chambers Island just before Davis Cove, here just 150 meters off of the coast.

I squeezed through the opening and into Davis Cove.  At Davis Cove the sun was working its magic and starting to burn the fog off of the land.  I thought it might turn out to be a bright day after an overcast start.

At Butts Hole, seriously, you couldn't make this up, the sun had won the battle over the fog but ...

... my optimism was dashed 40 minutes later at Ladder Cove Head where the fog was clearly winning.

And so it was for some six kms along the shore when Isle Valen came into view with the fog easing a little.  I intended to paddle to Benny Point at Deep Cove when the crossing to Isle Valen was only 2 kms but as I could see the island, I noted the compass reading and decided I may as well make the longer crossing directly.  What could go wrong?  If the fog got thicker and the island disappeared in the fog I'd just paddle trusting the compass.

The island creeps closer!

And, landfall.  Small wind waves were forming with some whitecaps coming from the south.  The island is 5.5 kms long end to end.  One km from the south end the coast bends to the southeast and there I realized it was going to get interesting.  There the fog was lurking again and I could really feel the wind that, while not strong by any means, was blowing at 15 knots, gusting a bit over.

With the long fetch to the south, it was whipping up 1 meter wind waves as I turned Dongle Head (my name, click to enlarge the track image below and you'll see why I so named it!).  Oh boy, out here by myself, I questioned my sanity.  But, I'd been out in that many times before (thank you St. Philips) and the Nordkapp was heavily loaded making her very stable but ...

... still knowing the entrance to the harbour was very narrow I had to concentrate on the conditions and keep a close watch for it.  I breathed a little easier 500 meters out when I got behind the Canary Islands, the sea quieted behind them and the entrance came into view, barely.

Yahoo!  I was here, goal realized.  I cruised easily into the harbour and snapped my first pic before paddling around the harbour that looked hemmed in everywhere by vertical rock walls.  Tim Hollett and company stopped here in 2007, if I remember the year correctly, and moved on citing a shortage of suitable camping ground.

I wasn't going to give up the ground gained so I couldn't be as choosy.  I found just enough level, man made ground barely 2 meters wide and settled in for a stay.

Here are the breadcrumbs from the day's paddle, a distance of 32 kms from Ship Island.

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