Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 14 - numb nuts, teeth and bergs: a spontaneous paddlathon! Part II

On a small island, pop. 3 dogs, outside Saattut, I decided to go for Uummannaq.  The conditions were really good.  Too good.  Leaving that island I paddled to the next to call Jane and tell her my plans.  An iceberg calved about one kilometre away just as I had finished my call and was about to get into the kayak.  It made for a bit of a nerve-wracking time as the surge continued with quite some power behind it.  The kayak lifted up and was pushed over the low outcrop of the island pulling at my arms as my lower body was immersed in water, only to leave me standing high and dry on the rock as the kayak was pulled in the opposite direction as the sea retreated.  With no sign of the water abating I decided to go for it, timing my "wet entry" and paddling off the rock as the surge retreated.  All flustered, I paddled on to the only island before Uummannaq.

There was a lone dog on this last island before Uummannaq and I contemplated stopping as the wind was picking up and I had another five hours ahead of me with no opportunities to go into land of any kind.  I turned my back on the dog to make some soup while I thought about my next more.

Sipping my lukewarm soup I suddenly felt a nudge on the back of my legs and turned to see at least twelve dogs who proceeded to try and crawl into and onto the kayak looking for food - they could smell the empty chocolate wrappers I had in my deckbag.  That was it .. I couldn't stay here!  I performed a very difficult peeing manouvre as I didn't want to strip out of my drysuit entirely with all these dogs around.  Turning my back on the pack I made quite a picture peeing out of the suit - there is no fly zip on this model!  I then turned to shoo the dogs away from the boat just as they started to battle for dominance over their new found prize.

I jumped into the kayak and then began the next leg of a very loooong paddle!  I reached Uummannaq island after 4+ hours and then realized that if I wanted to camp within walking distance of the town I would have to paddle even further!  It took ages.  On the way I encountered angry gulls that spent the next twenty minutes dive bombing the boat.  Leaving their area - do they really need so much space? - I rounded yet another point and battled into the teeth of wind and waves determined to make me pay for every paddle stroke.  I was not amused.

To cap it all, Spraglebugten, the bay in which I was to camp, was completely devoid of flat camping sites.  Stony rocks, broken glass, tummocky grass, there was little respite to be found on shore.  Only when I beached and walked up towards higher ground did I by chance spy a flat, shingle terrace with a fine view, just made for me and my tent.  I promptly scrambled down to claim it, although the competition for such a fine site was, admittedly, non-existent.  The yacht moored across the bay had all the comforts of home without needing to share my space.  

I was finally in my tent eating pasta a little after 07:00.  I had started paddling at 18:40 (on the water) the previous night.  My paddlathon was over and I was in back in familiar waters.

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