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 Justine's Journal

CackleTV Productions


The End or New Beginnings?
Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I never learn. I can still remember paddling almost non-stop for 11 hours up the West coast, not able to entirely relax the whole day because I'm anxious about what the surf will be like when we land, head down and teeth gritted as we slog into a bit of a headwind, doing the maths and working out I had to keep on taking the same repetitive paddling motion for another 7 hours before I could get off the water. I turned to Barry and said, "I don't want to do this again. I've had enough of paddling on a mission".

So why, less than 48 hours after we finished do I keep staring at the world map in Matt's living room and feeling a slight butterfly tingling as I scan around for attractive lookng coastline?? I guess it's because I also remember the albatross that landed 1 metre away from our kayaks, the dolphins that surfed with us for half an hour, craning my neck up at conglomerate arches near the NE tip of the south island, dancing around a driftwood fire underneath the moon on a remote campsite, being given a huge wok full of dozens of crayfish legs with the words, "Snack food" in Fjordland and all the other wonderful people who were so kind to us and made our journey so special.

It still hasn't really sunk in what we've achieved or that we've finished and I'll have to deal with that bitter sweet realisation over the next few days and weeks. For now, we are 'on holiday' in New Zealand! We're going to attend a seakayaking symposium in the North Island from 25th-27th April and we'll take about a week to drive up there with Paul Caffyn and Babs, the Swedish lady who completed her circumnavigation about a week before us. Then we fly back to the UK at the end of April and will enjoy some time at home for a while!

There are a few things in the diary already and I'm sure a few more things will come up. In late May, I'm giving a talk at the Keswick Mountain Festival about this expedition, then in mid-June I'm off to Toronto for a few days to attend an event organised by the Mountain Equipment Co-Op there. From July 17-20th, Barry and I will both be at the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium at Lake Superior, and we'll stay for a few days to do some paddling there afterwards. Other than that, I'll be editing my 4th seakayaking DVD which will be released sometime before Christmas 2008 - more details to follow in time!
This expedition has been the longest and most demanding one I've done, and hasn't always been fun!, We've tried to take time to look around and meet people on the way past but at times we've made the most of good weather and not lingered as much as we'd have liked. It's sometimes hard to switch back and forth from being totally focussed on a goal to relaxing and enjoying the moments, but I think we did OK at that and we've certainly got loads of wonderful memories. Apart from my infection and hospital visit, we've stayed pretty healthy. We've tried to eat well and lots, we've had a varied diet with as much fresh food as possible. When fresh food was limited, Annies fruit bars really helped as they take up very little space and each small bar contains 3-4 pieces of dried fruit.

Our sponsored kit held up to the strain really well. We didn't have a single problem with our MSR dragonfly stove and it used less than 6 litres of fuel over the entire 67 days ( we did get cooked for a reasonable amount and we cooked on wood burning stoves in huts a few times, but we think this is still pretty amazing!) Our thermarests and Sealline dry bags from their sister companies also stood up well. Our sumbersible VHF radios from ICOM NZ were great - Barry used his almost every day to get local weather forecasts; we could get a signal almost everywhere and we only re-charged the battery once in 67 days. He kept the VHF either in his buoyancy aid or in his deck bag without any extra waterproof cover and didn't have any problems.

Our North Face kit was great - the Mountain25 tent was a brilliant size, a roomy 2man tent which packs away pretty small and keeps the sandflies out! Barry loves his merino wool thermals and his warm redpoint jacket. I love the gortex trainers which are lightweight and take up very little room but which have a good grip on them and keep your feet dry if you tread in a muddy puddle while walking 17km in to Port Craig! And my TNF flipflops are dead comfy when you want your feet to breathe!

Our Garmin GPSs were really good - we loaded up a basic map of the south island into them and this was a great back-up to navigation. They were also really useful in telling us our speed so we could notice any changes in the current immediately ( and move inshore or offshore if necessary), and so we could work out accurately how long it would take us to reach different possible landing spots. We kept a GPS on all day so we could record our track and we've uploaded these to the website which allows peope to share tracks of their outdoor activities. You can click on the Sanoodi maps on the blog and get more information about our average speed and zoom in and out to see where we went. Sanoodi sponsored us with our satellite phone and paid for the calls so it's thanks to them that you got the daily updates. And of course, thanks to Karel Vissel in Israel and Alex Tearse in the Outer Hebrides. We'd send a daily text message to Karel on the sat phone with our position and a summary of the day. Karel would make up a google earth map up with our latest position and send the text message and the map on to Alex. Alex did a fantastic job of making our brief messages sound witty and exciting and putting it all up on the blog every day. Karel also sent us a daily weather forecast and a 3-day outlook once he had our position. Thanks a lot to you guys.

Casio gave us great waterproof watches with a really useful barometer. The watch has a graph showing how the pressure has changed over the last 24 hours which we refered to a lot. The day that we had 45 knots of wind in the Fjords, it dropped 3milibars an hour just before, and we got off the water just in time!!Silva gave us southern hemisphere compasses so we wouldn't get lost down here and it worked cos we found our way back to Sumner eventually! Lendal gave us 2 sets of 4-piece paddles each. I used the same tried-and-tested combination that I always use ( kinetic touring blades, 210cm length, crank shaft and 60 degree feather), whereas Barry adjusted his feather and length a bit using his variable joint depending on how his wrists were feeling.
Thanks to Chris Reed for supplying Barry with all his paddling clothing and for giving us both dry bags, and some other accessories. Thanks to Kokatat for my paddling clothing and to Snapdragon for my spraydeck and pogies ( which I wore sometimes to protect my hands from the sun). Thanks to Native eyewear for our sunglasses which we definately needed in the bright sun, and which stayed on in the surf thanks to a cleverly designed strap.

Our Seakayaking UK Explorer kayaks were great, the skegs worked well at keeping them straight in side winds. All the hatches are still dry and the boats aren't even very scratched up with almost 2,400km on the clock!

Thanks to Kev at Canoe & Outdoor world in Christchurch for freighting our kayaks down from Auckland and for lending us flares. We're about to bring them back unused, if you're reading this Kev!

Thanks also to Dr Susanna Gaynor for providing us with a great first aid kit and to Dr Bob Mark for being at the end of a phone in the case of an emergency. He diagnosed Justine's infection correctly and prescribed the right antibiotics. Thanks a lot to Paul Caffyn for coming to meet us with our maps and a re-supply at Okuru, for meeting us at Greymouth and for the champagne reception at the end - and for all the good humoured grief he's been giving us! I wonder if he hadn't been the first person to paddle around the south island all those years ago, if we'd be here now!!??

Thanks to all our friends, family and people we've never met who have written encouraging comments on the blog or sent us emails, and finally a huge thanks to everyone we met on our adventure who helped us massively with encouragement, food, shelter, a warm bed, showers, logistics and always warmth and kindness.

It's really windy outside today and I'm very grateful to be inside in clean clothes, with washed hair and all the mod cons!! But on the other hand, let's just have a quick look at that world map again.

Hopefully I'll have some photos from Paul of our finish later today.


Blogger karel said...

Also thanks to thrusting me with your lives and being a small part of the expedition

10:27 am  
Blogger moliver said...

hey justine - your campsite in this post looks very similar to Mosquito Bay (think that's the name) up in Abel Tasman north shore. I was there in '04.. one of my favourite camp sites. is this that?

congrats on your trip completion! and good luck with transitions back.

we are leaving for Kenai AK circumnav May 16th!

best - mathew. (seattle)

8:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing how at first we are grateful to be out in the open and then so glad to be back in, dry and comfy.

Glad ya'll did well, looking forward to the next DVD!


4:25 pm  

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