We did it! After 15 hours of paddling, 47nm (87km), we landed at Ulverstone, our starting point. As a matter of fact we didn't plan to finish the circumnavigation today. But when we realized at the end of the day (about 9pm) that we have 17km (9nm) left till Ulverstone, we decided to make out first and last night paddle on this trip.
What a great feeling it is to suddenly realize that we finished out first long and exciting expedition, which left us with tons of memories and experience.
We are going have some sleep now, and have lots and lots of rest in the nearest days.
At the moment, we would like to thank all the people who were following these updates for 30 days. This definitely made them part of our expedition!
Today we arrived to Weymouth. It was a relatively difficult day - West force 4. We covered 26nm (48km). Misha's hand was OK today, but still both of us are rather tired since we haven't had rest for quite a long time. Since there are only a couple of paddling days left, there is no point in making a long break right now. We need just to push forward to get to the finish point.
Most of the houses at Weymouth were closed but we finally found people living there and asked them if there was a place at Weymouth to stay overnight. Linda and Garry, whom we met in one of the houses gave us mattresses and blankets. Thus, thanks to hospitality of the Tasmanians, we have a shelter again.
Today, with a good back wind, we arrived to Waterhouse Island - 40nm (74km). We could probably move further but Misha received a heavy pain in one of his hands, probably because of long and intensive paddling during the day. This pain of inflamed tendon is very common among kayakers on long trips. Usually the recovery requires a long rest. We don't really have spare days for rest now, so we could only hope that it would be better tomorrow morning, with medication's help.
We were luckily not far from Waterhouse Island when this happened to Misha and saw a boat at some distance from us. We shouted trying to draw boater's attention, and they finally noticed us and approached our kayaks. We asked if there is any place where we can stay overnight, since our camping equipment was gone. And these kind people invited us to their place on the Waterhouse Island. There we were given beds and blankets and had a great meal with the place owners. Many warmest thanks to Clive and his wife for their endless hospitality.
Again, the forecast was wrong. Instead of "promised paradise" - relatively light back wind, we paddled for the whole day against N-NW-W force 4-6. Covered only 39km (21nm). In the evening the wind started calming down (of course!). We put a tent on a sandy beach, and then met some people who appeared to be living here not far from where we camped. They invited us to come to their home, and so we did. When we came back late in the evening, we found out that the wind changed direction and got rather strong, and that there is no tent on the beach. Yes, our tent, with both sleeping bags, mattresses and a drybag has gone with the wind. Alon jumped into the kayak and tried to look for it in the sea but found nothing. We went to sleep on the beach with all our warm things on us.
Well in this case we can only admit that we were lucky that out documents haven't gone either.
The forecast predicts rain tomorrow evening. It would be nice to find some place to sleep then.
We are at Binalog Bay. We started paddling in the morning against 4-5 force wind. The forecast said that it is going to be a 5-6 head wind for the whole day. So we thought to stop in Scamander for shopping and then paddle a relatively short distance further to the next town, since you cannot paddle for a long time against 5-6 force wind. So we landed at Scamander, relaxed and had a big meal. And then we noticed that the wind started to calm down. But we were so full that we had no chance to cover a long distance now, even with a calmed wind.
So the result is 48km (26nm). But what a lovely chicken we had...
When we went out into the sea this morning, it looked like a lake. We enjoyed the radio playing in Alon's PFD, enjoyed the weather, until after 2 hours of paddling the wind started changing to northerly and picking up gradually. The forecast for today predicted back winds (S-SW10-20). Northerly change was said to come tomorrow. It was absolutely unexpected for us, and when the wind was about force 6 we started looking for a place to land, and it took us quite a long time to find one. It was a lonely beach with a couple sitting on it. They were about to leave the place when we arrived. We asked them if there are any facilities around where we can wash ourselves and have some food, and we discovered that there is a sanatorium here, next to the beach, with showers, washing machines and a restaurant. We were lucky to have all these luxuries here after paddling hard for the last hours. Today we did only 35km (19nm).
We are at Bicheno, 55km (30mn). Because of the SW-W force 6-7 wind, we had to come into all the bays on our way, using them as a shield to protect us from the wind. The mountains were also a good shield for us, we felt it especially when the mountains were getting lower - the wind was immediately picking up then. Another fact about the winds here is that they are getting very strong right after changing their direction.
And last but not the least... The strange animal that we saw yesterday appeared to be brush-tail opossum. Now we know for sure where we are.
Today was a relatively short day. 54km (30nm). We felt OK to paddle another couple of miles but there was no place for landing further on, so we decided to stop here.
Today we were lucky to paddle with a penguin for a couple of minutes. Penguin appeared to be a small and a very sweet fluffy bird. It was working so hard swimming along with us.
We have already seen many kangaroos, and today we saw some animals with long tails and mole-like faces, climbing trees just like monkeys. We also keep seeing albatrosses. The animal world here is so different from what we know, so rich and extremely beautiful.
Today we had a relatively short crossing to Maria Island and paddled all in all 25nm (46km) against force 5-6 wind. The crossing itself was only 10nm but it took us about 4 hours until we finished it, because of head winds. We are tired and can hardly sit - our backs are aching after the last two days of intensive paddling.
Today we arrived to Fortesque Bay on Tasman Peninsula. 76km (41nm)! Lack of wind makes much difference :). It was 12 hours of paddling without getting out of a kayak, since we had a crossing followed by an area with no place for landing.
Cape Pillar that we passed on our way appeared to be one of the most beautiful places that we have ever seen: big and small pipe-like rocks, some of them look like a Babylon tower, others are spread next to the shore, surrounded by water. The place is absolutely uninhabited. Its loneliness and solemn beauty of the rocks was just amazing.
Today we planned to make a crossing to Tasman Peninsula but the forcast that we received in the morning reported of SW Gale (force 7-8) winds for today. Since we originally planned to cross about 40km (22nm), we decided to stay on Bruny Island for another day and do the crossing tomorrow, with calmer seas. The only paddling that we did today was 14km (7.5nm) north Bruny Island, just to make the tomorrow crossing a little bit shorter.
This place in the Moorina Bay, where we camped tonight, is known due to the fact that there are penguins here that one could see at night. Hope we'll have a chance to see some of them.
We are in Cookville. The forecast for today is NW force 6, while we have a 40 km crossing to NE, Tasman Peninsula. We decided to have a day rest, wash our clothes, have a hot shower and some good food. We arrived to caravan site and got homely hospitality: dinner, hot tea and a chat. Thanks a lot to Jennie from Cookville and Michael from Cockle Creek for their kind and warm welcome during the past two days!
The South West and South coasts were both amazing and scary. We had no proper weather forecasts for the whole paddle. We failed to listen to the radio broadcasts both on AM and FM bands. We hoped to connect fishing boats by VHF radio, but it seems that no one monitors VHF channels except probably for the big harbors. We encountered very high seas and strong winds. One day we were almost blown from our kayaks by force 9 (44 knots!) wind that hit us. Another day a huge 6 meter wave broke on us, causing some damage to the equipment. Alon almost dislocate his shoulders. Misha's paddle was kicked out of his hands. The paddle leash was ripped on both ends. He was lucky to swim to his kayak and make a reentry and roll with the spare paddle.
Slowly we got used to the very high seas here. We felt OK in 5 meters wind waves while getting to the South West Cape. Alon even attempted to film us approaching the Cape. A few days we paddled with force 7 tail winds and 3-4 meters waves, which excited us at the beginning but became quite regular nowadays.
Right now we're out off the dangerous areas. The East coast is much calmer than the West coast but we expect strong head winds here much more frequently.
Today we arrived to Cookville on Bruny Island. It's less exciting paddling here than at the SW part, and we now start thinking more about the finish point.
People are very warm here. Both yesterday and today we were invited to have a meal (we didn't refused). Yesterday we had wallabies (small kangaroos) burgers - it wasn't bad at all. Ironically, today we saw wallabies for the first time here. Up to now we had seen dolphins, right next to our kayaks. We saw huge albatrosses. They usually come and follow us when the sea picks up.
Tomorrow, we plan to cross to the Tasman Island. The weather forecast reports of NW wind that could pick up to 30kt, which makes the crossing problematic. So we'll see what the seas are like tomorrow, and in the worst case we'll stay on Bruny Island and make the crossing the day after tomorrow.
The SW coast that is well-known for its rough and challenging seas, is behind us. And we have to admit that all that is said about this coast appeared to be true. During these 6 days (one of which we stayed at the shore), we have experienced the kind of sea that we've never been through before. We happened to be in the sea when the wind picked up to force 9. We learned what it looks like when a 6m wave breaks on you. Another thing that was amazing indeed about this coast was weather changes. The seas and especially the wind could pick up in less than an hour to the extents that make paddling almost impossible. We'll write in details about everything that we had experienced on our way, the valuable lessons that the sea had taught us.
Today, with the sea 4m and 6-7 force back wind we covered 62km (33nm) and passed South East Cape. 6-7 force winds are very common here, and we already got used to paddle in these conditions. It's OK until the wind picks up to force 8 or 9. Then one has to be very careful just to keep balance in a kayak :).
Going around SW cape
This day the wind picked to force 9 close to the end of our paddle!
Update from William Cooper:
There has been no contact with Michael and Alon since they left Strahan.
Today an e-mail arrived from some Mr. William Cooper that says as follows: "message from two intrepid kayakers, leaving port davey west coast of tasmania & heading south. one day behind scedule due to weather but all`s well"... A short but rather important update if one takes into account the truely "SW-coastal sea" described in the recent Tasmanian weather reports.
According to the reports, there were Gale winds on SW coast for the last few days with the sea up to 5m. Therefore it's really good to hear that everything is OK. This also explains the delay in Michael and Alon's schedule.
The weather forecasts for the coming days are much calmer, that will eventually enable Michael and Alon to get to the inhabited area and be in touch in a couple of days.
A day off... due to thick bush, we weren't able to explore too deep into land though.
But it was nice to have a break.
Today a 6 meter wave broke on us. We could see it coming, looming above us, leaving us no possibility to escape, maybe try and prepare our bodies to the blow. We were berried under for a long time. Misha's paddle leash ripped and the he had to let go of the paddle so swimming was inevitable. Alon managed some how.
After Misha re-entered his kayak we collected our stuff. We lost some maps, one sandal but nothing essential.
Today Alon and Michael left the bay of Strahan after 4 days of rest and stormy weather. As they mentioned before, the SW coast is 162nm (300km) of uninhabited area, and there is almost no chance that they would have any means of communication in the nearest 7-9 days.
The forecast for the few nearest days is 2-3m sea and force 4-5 winds (mostly head or side winds) which makes their paddling possible.
Thus, with there warmest greetings to everyone who is following these updates, they hope to be in touch as soon as they can.
Last day in Strahan.
Today is our third day staying at Strahan. The seas are getting higher from day to day and tomorrow are going reach 8 m according to the forecast. The wind should also pick up and reach 50 knots as per the forecast. Being here, in the Strahan bay, we could hear the sound of waves raging a couple of kilometers away from us, out in the sea.
So we have nothing left but to have a lot of rest. Our shoulders, backs and hands get recovered meanwhile. We have plenty of time to explore Strahan surroundings and hope that tomorrow will be our last day staying here as the seas are going to calm down.
Another day waiting...
We're happy to be in Strahan after pretty exhausting 7 days. The entrance to Macquarie harbor (Strahan bay) revealed very strong tide currents. Usually there are no tidal currents on the west coast so we were a quite surprised.
The last 2 days we pushed hard, because we knew the sea is going to get rough. We wanted to get to a safe harbor in case we're stuck for a few days. Right now it seems like we will stay here for at least 1-2 days. The forecasts predict very high seas and gale winds (35 knots). It would be too dangerous to paddle now. All the fishermen stay in the harbor as well.
This is also a good chance to have a rest. We've got hands full of blisters, the other side of them are burnt of the sun. Misha's lips are cracking. Our shoulders and backs are aching. Alon can sometimes hardly walk (well he needed that very rarely in the last days :-) ). But it should get better after resting.
The sea here is simply exciting. The north coast experiences more or less the same type of waves as the Mediterranean: the same "wind waves" + currents on the NW/NE. However the west coast is completely different. Firstly, huge long swells. They are much different than what we were used to in Israel. They are long and lazy but they have tremendous power. You don't really want to get into surf with this pile of water. Up to now we have experienced up to 4 meters swells, sometimes getting up to 6, we guess. But this is not as scary if you don't need to land. Unfortunately at the end of the day we do need it. :-) This is where the troubles come. We have to look very carefully for the right landing places. Sometimes we paddle very long distances to get to a protected landing spot. Another situation when you must be aware of the swells are the rocky beaches and reefs. The reflecting waves can make the paddling very messy.
In a few days, when the seas calm down a little, we will continue to the SWcoast. This is about 300 km uninhabited area experinecing one of the roughest seas.
What a day! The sea 4m. Wind F5 (mainly back wind). We covered 67km (37nm). 11 hours of paddling without getting out of the kayak (had two breaks in the sea). But finally we are at Strahan.
Like yesterday, we had these dumpy beaches along our way, one of the reasons for not having landed during the day.
Another long day - 64km (35nm). The last 40 km we covered without getting out of the kayak. That is because we were passing continuous dumpy beaches where it is impossible to land because the surf over there is huge + strong offshore currents that might prevent us from getting to the land.
Both of us are pretty much exhausted. Tomorrow we plan to reach Strahan where we would probably stay for rest.
The sea was not very high these days but it is going to pick up in a day or two, the same about the wind. This is another good reason for having rest the day after tomorrow.
We are at Temma, covered 53km (29mn). Today we had a chance to learn what it is like when the wind waves and sea swell move in opposite directions. We set off in the morning with the East wind and therefore had no breaking waves at the shore. However when landing at the end of the day, we realized that the West sea swell that we had this day, and didn't really feel it in the sea, brings pretty big breaking waves at the shore. This was completely new for us since in Israel we don't usually have this combination (wind waves vs. sea swell) but mostly wind waves.
Up to now we luckily managed to avoid surf at landing.
Even in the most abandoned places, we come across fisherman who help us mainly with weather forecasts.
Today we started at 12:00am due the sand bars (had to wait for the high water) and covered 26nm (48km). The first hours (while paddling on the North coast) were quite calm. Even the race that we had on our way - we passed it at slack (the peak of either high and low water).
But then came the encounter with the Tasmanian West coast: head wind force 5 with 3m waves reflecting from the rocky part of the coast. We were 2 km deep into the sea and still had these waves. We had to also be really careful about the reef that we passed on our way unaware of it, with 3-4 m waves breaking against the reef.
Only after the rocky cost was over a mile behind us, the sea wend down to 1.5 m and afterwards we found a safe place for landing in the North part of the Ann Bay.
The West coast is mostly uninhabited. And you can feel it right away. No more civilization for the next few days. The only sounds that you hear are the sounds of nature.
Today was a relatively short day. We started with 3m breaking waves but were really lucky since the sea calmed down during the day.
We made 26.5nm (49km) and stopped at Robbins Island.
We planned to cross the Walker Channel (which could only be crossed at high water) but had to stop at some point and even carried our kayaks for some 150 meters. Tomorrow we'll start relatively late in order to cross the channel with the high water.
It was a long long day. We covered 37nm(67km) with the East back wind force 5-6. The sea was 1m in the beginning but got to 3m in the afternoon which made the last hours of paddling rather tough.
It's good now to relax at the Stanley restaurant. Both of us couldn't get asleep for a long time last night. So now the only thing we could think of is to go to bed.
We started in the afternoon at Ulverstone (not at Devenport as planned) and paddled for 3 hours, 12nm (21km) until it got dark. The sea was absolutely calm. Looks like a good start.
Arrived to Devenport in the afternoon on a ferry and then got by car to Ulverstone. Here we start.