Paddling in Nelson Lagoon

Tuesday 01.08.2018

This is it, finally today we get to do what I came here for: paddling. The forecast is not perfect, but gives us some opportunity to launch and hope that we will be able to get somewhere. We would really like to go to Port Moller on the other side of the lagoon, some 40km away. But the strong wind later in the afternoon might stop us. However, we also have a chance of continuing a little bit the following morning.

As Freya has been here before and knew some of the locals, she asked Mike The Walrus (according to his moustache) to come at 7.30am to give us, the bags, and kayaks a lift to the harbour. Seven thirty was soon gone with no sight of Mike, we retrieved the boats from the shed, squeezed them past many old machinery, and by 8am decided to carry them to the beach to launch from the village. I was a bit apprehensive as low tide was at 9am, and the last thing I wanted was to start the paddle with long haul to the water. Luckily a car suddenly appeared, and someone by the name of Chris, a fisherman from Kodiak, helped us to get the bags from the Inn to the water’s edge. Then he stood watching us packing. In the end he said he was exhausted just by watching our activity, and frankly, that was exactly how I felt, as I was really trying to pack fast so Freya didn’t need to wait for too long.

Finally we were off. For some reason Freya objected to going towards the harbour and its deep channel, and was taking us through the lagoon. I guess it was to stay in calm waters for the start. I have to get used to her boat after all. My worry at that moment was the wast area of green I remembered from the chart and the nearing of low water time. Yet, the start of the paddle was great, I got to show off my pink sun glasses, the grass on surrounding shores was green, what else one needs. Then we hit the shallows. Twice we had a chance to turn towards the deeper channel, and twice we chose to wade and pull the boats towards deeper water. But in the end, we had to give in, and after pulling one kayak together to get it over the dry, we finally started to head towards the deep channel still in the vicinity of the harbour.

By the time we reached it, the sun was gone, the wind got slightly stronger, yet all was good and we continued east. The boat Freya thought was waiting for us turned out to be pulling a net, and once we passed it we were free with no distractions.

Soon the wind picked up quite a bit and settled to be a solid headwind. I could not find my best position within the new set up in the cockpit, and most of the time, I have to admit, I gave in to arm power rather than letting my legs to do the hard work. Obviously Freya was in her element, and quite ahead of me. At some point she had enough of waiting and said she would put me on the tow, so we get there faster. Why not, it was quite interesting to experience the towing at the other end than usual. We settled into the rhythm and went past one, then second island until we reached land on the other side, just as Freya said, faster.

We were at Point Rozhnov, and there seemed to be little sense in continuing and struggling into the wind. If the forecast is true, there would be a better window the next morning.

The place seemed friendly, not too far to carry boats at high tide, a bit of gravel for tent, and some fresh water stream with dead mouse and fish in case we have to stay longer. I had the privilege to spent a nigh in my new home for the next few weeks, very nice and spacious.

Wednesday 02.08.2018

Trusting the forecast and not wanting to get stranded in the shallows again, we set the alarm for half past three in the morning to leave as soon as possible. It was dark when to got up, and raining when we were packing, just what one needs when trying to do it as fast as possible. So at 5.05am we left, fast for me, with some waiting time for Freya, seems like this will be a theme of this trip. The wind was calmish and we flew around Point Edward, then stopped for quick break and breakfast before starting to cross towards Port Moller. So here we are, roughing it, having most hated type of breakfast of all, cereals/porridge; at least I made it slightly more luxurious by having a cup of tea with it. I guess this makes me a true expedition kayaker, porridge by the boat.

After that we launched into the low to no visibility crossing towards Port Moller. At some point the wind settled at being from our side and tail, bringing the waves up a little. It took me a little bit to work out what will the boat, my legs, my paddle, me and my mind do at any one moment, then it was just fine, and I quite enjoyed the conditions. With one little downside, I couldn’t really see where we were going, and had to rely of Freya’s bow pointing, this meant for me to be constantly looking at it, and reacting to its every change in direction. So every time I enjoyed a slide down three waves, we turned more to the right. When the visibility really vanished, it seemed like we were going in huge circles, but if that was the way to Port Moller, I was happy to be circling. I am sure, if I looked at the GPS track now, there would be a straight line, but on the water it sometimes feels strange.

The good thing was, we were advancing quite fast, and soon only had two kilometres left towards the headland with the harbour behind.

As we approached the harbour, two figures could be seen on the wharf watching us, then following us around. It was Sacha, who we met few days ago in Cold Bay, and her husband. That was fun to come to the middle of nowhere, and having someone to greet us.

We were lucky, Port Moller is a fishing port and fish processing plant, and they appreciated us being out on the water and offered us rooms to stay and food to eat. As it looks, we will be here few days.

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