East Coast 5

After moving camp to the North West River Park we set off to explore and came across a bloke in a bird suit. His name is Jim and he didn’t have pockets for a business card, being a bird and all. Another chap had a video camera and they were filming the Chesapeake waterways as a bit of a promotion. I did a piece to camera with him which was fine but my comment about how low the area is and what sea level rise will do has to be edited out because the Republicans don’t like that.

We also met John from the Coast Guard Auxiliary who trains people in recreational boating safey. He gave us some literature and a couple of whistles. I now know what 1, 2 and 3 blasts mean.

Next day we set off for a serious attack on mileage. Forgot to put the camera in! Bugger. Set off from swamp with zero wind but picked up a smidgeon back on the canal. Put the sail up but mostly it just sat there although the wind was from behind. The occasional gust made a difference and I cleared the canal two hours later.

A couple of real boats, a Beneteau around 40 ft and another I didn’t recognise went past. The second one put a headsail up just after the canal so I was able to see him for more than an hour. After three hours I hit the straight on the Alligator River that goes all the way to the bridge at the mouth. The wind was still fickle but useful. If I paddled hard I went faster than the wind and I couldn’t see much sense in that so ticked along at just under 4knots and kept the sail full.

The intracoastal markers run a big zig zag but kayaks don’t draw much so I straight lined down the middle. The river is about 6km wide. We would call it a bay. Each side are swamps with alligators, bears and snakes so the middle seemed just fine.

It took another two hours until I saw a truck driving across the water a very long way ahead. The bridge had finally materialised. The wind built up to 8-12knots with the occasional white cap and a few waves. When I got a wave the sale lost all pressure and back luffed. The GPS was at 8mph so that gave me the wind speed. Eventually it built to 12-15 knots with waves to catch and lots of white caps. When I got a good runner I would surge along at 7-8 knots and average about five so the miles rolled by quickly. After 6 ½ hours I pulled in just after the bridge. The Alligator River was done and the trip log was 48.8km for the day.

Next morning was favourable winds to cross to the other side and then run up to Powell Point. On the water I found that I could see the Powell Point area after about an hour but had agreed to meet Julianne at the bottom of the peninsula which was the closest land. Better to be safe than sorry but it did add a couple of hours.

The wind was from the south west at 15-18 knots but gradually died and then picked up again from the north west at about 8knots which was just OK because that is where I was headed. It was all pretty uneventful but I was surprised by the lack of people about given the fabulous weather and warm water. One bloke I did see was doing something to his jetty. He was standing in the water in front of it. The water was below his waist. After that I checked water depths and almost everywhere I was paddling in water that I could stand up in. You can walk out to all the bird blinds that I saw.

From wide open waters I gradually went up the bay to where I could see both sides, through the next intracoastal canal, out into an area with islands and then right up into the top of Currituck Sound and into the Coastal Paddling Trail. With the wind from the north the close waters were very welcome.

Heading back through the swamp to the canal1

Lots of dead trees in some areas. Rising water levels?2

Alligators are a protected species2a

It looked more daunting than it was. I could almost see the end of the peninsula2b

Quite a few of these. Nets? Traps?3

Like the ones we see in Ballina4

Commercial crab boat5

Look closely, you can see the eye in the dark patch and the nose on the left. It scuttled into the hole in the rocks behind it6

Beautiful day and no people here7

Optimistic but the sail lasted two minutes7a

Note nest and distance shore has moved8

Some of the few birds I saw. Lots of eagles but shags, seagulls etc are almost non-existent.9

Lots of these. She was warning me off10

Because it is so shallow the protection walls seem to work. I am in half a metre of water with a dead tree trunk. If this guy’s neighbours don’t do something he will eventually be on an island even if the water doesn’t rise11

Finally, someone enjoying the water. 12

Some people go to a lot of trouble for not a lot to see.13

The kayak touched bottom here14

Lots of sea grass15

These guys passed me heading up the river and then vanished17

Spoke to one bloke while the others pretended I didn’t exist. Gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were on the run from the law. Advice was crabs are more plentiful up in the top of the bay. They run 8 months of the year, winter months there are none, each crab pot yields about a dozen crabs every day16

Found the coast guard around the bend putting a pole in18

Heading into a short connecting canal19

If you go within 10m of the bank you run into these old tree stumps20

In the canal. First time there was significant current and it was the wrong way!21

Can someone please tell me why I think this is fun. This was one of six thunder showers.22

The wheels of the vehicle are about 30cm above water level23

After a screaming broad reach across the front of a storm24

The banks are closing in again25

Now into the river26

Spotted these up a side channel. The bottoms have been ripped off.27

Then I saw this. Can’t help stupidity I guess.28

Into the swamp and the route is not always clear29

Still quite wide30

And then this on an advertised paddling trail32

And then another one. The average person simply could not get through. It is very tough work and nowhere to get out33

Recently chopped down34

Princess Anne, Julianne just behind the bridge, with a beer, temperature 33 deg C35

This post has been a long time coming. I have been buggered at the end of each day. Everything hurt, even my heels where they touch the bottom of the kayak and I change position regularly. Hopefully it is a passing phase. Route


Klaas OBSERVATIONS. Why is it that in America almost no one has a veranda. I have now seen well over a hundred thousand homes in six states and a house with verandas is an exception. No BBQ areas either. My conclusion is that the vast majority of Americans live totally indoors in an air conditioned environment. Air conditioned. cars, shops ,offices and homes.. In the caravan parks where we have been staying ,some with two hundred sites, you see no one outside although each site has a pick nick table. It is surreal and frightening to see all these huge RV’s parked and nobody around. What do they do all day inside and why do they camp. Our present site is in a national park and it is beautiful . We live outside, eat outside and light a fire every night and sit around and swap stories. We watch the squirrels, I feed them and they are becoming quite cheeky but they are ever so cute. We have been kayaking on the lake and river, trying to see bears and other wild life, to no avail so far. The nearest I came to a black bear was in a rangers office where their was a stuffed one. Klaas  36