It’s been almost 3 years since we lived our our dream of paddling the Inside Passage! Yet still to this day we are keeping the adventure alive. In 2020 we released our film ‘Changing Tides’. We have had a premier screening in Australia, and Canada, and had an online screening during lock down – which while wasn’t perfect, was a fun experiment!
Now we get to share our adventure all over again. We are so very thankful to the team at the Ocean Film Festival and Adventure Reel, who have worked with us to create a special edition of ‘Changing Tides’ for the Ocean Film Festival. In collaboration with our original film makers Anna T, and Akemi, and some real heros at the Ocean Film Festival, we are bringing to the screen a 17min short film with not-seen-before footage, some new tracks and funny moments.
Make sure you check out the website and find a screening near you!
Plastic is not just polluting the ocean, it’s polluting our climate too
When we think about the problems of plastic, we often think about ocean. We see marine creatures suffering from plastic pollution. We see surfers riding waves, surrounded by the waste of their fellow humans, and to be honest with you, these were the issues that originally raised the problem for Mathilde and I. We have always been strongly connected to the ocean and the Great Barrier Reef is a very special place to both of us. However, it is not often that when we think about plastic, our minds turn to the climate and the climate crisis that we are currently facing.
Plastic in our oceans is only one small part of a whole system of pollution which begins at extraction, then goes to transport, refinery, manufacturing, distribution, waste management, and last but not least unintended pollution. Over the last 10 years we have been successful in bringing plastic to the forefront of many people’s minds, by talking about marine pollution. Now we have plastic on the agenda, we need to start talking about what the whole system actually means and how we address plastic as a problem at a systems level.
Just now I mentioned the link between plastic and climate change. I imagine that most of us could take a guess at how plastic contributes to anthropocentric climate change, but probably like me, you will be shocked to learn how much. So just for a moment, let’s examine the problem.
“If plastic production and use grow as currently planned, by 2030, emissions could reach 1.34 gigatons per year—equivalent to the emissions released by more than 295 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants.”
“In 2019, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the emissions from 189 five-hundred-megawatt coal power plants.”
That figure was not unexpected to me, and probably not to you, and we can’t ignore its significance. I am going to quickly break down the different parts, and then we can get into solutions.
Extraction and Transport
The extraction associated with plastic production is in the process of drilling and fracking for gas and oil. Methane leakage, flaring and fuel combustion all result in emissions. Which is also intensified by the carbon released from land disturbance and clearing. In the U.S in 2015 9.5–10.5 million metric tons of CO2 we released in association with extraction for plastic manufacturing.
Refining and Manufacture
According to the report written by the Center for International Environmental Law, Plastic refining is among the most greenhouse gas – intensive industries in the manufacturing sector—and the fastest growing. The complicated chemical refinement of plastics is responsible for a large amount of emissions associated with plastic production.
In 2015, 24 ethylene facilities in the US produced 17.5 million metric tons of CO2e, emitting as much CO2 as 3.8 million passenger vehicles.
Believe it or not landfill emits the least amount of carbon, but obviously presents significant other risks. Many landfills were built in coastal areas and are being exposed due to erosion. Recycling has a moderate emissions profile and can replace the need for new plastics on the market. Incineration is a waste management option that is often used for plastic waste management and rarely spoken about.
Use of incineration in plastic waste management is poised to grow dramatically in the coming decades. US 2015 5.9 million metric tons
Plastic in the Environment
I don’t think I need to talk at length about the harm to flora and fauna that plastic in our environment presents. However I do want to mention recent research on the impact that plastics in our ocean has on contribution to carbon sequestration and emissions.
Sarah-Jeanne Royer and her team demonstrates that plastic at the ocean’s surface continually releases methane and other greenhouse gases, and that these emissions increase as the plastic breaks down further. Current estimates address only the one percent of plastic at the ocean’s surface. Emissions from the 99 percent of plastic that lies below the ocean’s surface cannot yet be estimated with precision
Earth’s oceans have absorbed 20-40 percent of all anthropogenic carbon emitted since the dawn of the indus-trial era. Laboratory experiments suggest this plastic pollution can reduce the ability of phytoplankton to fix carbon through photosynthesis. They also suggest that plastic pollution can reduce the metabolic rates, reproductive success, and survival of zoo-plankton that transfer the carbon to the deep ocean.
In recent conversations, a lot of people have concerns about focusing on plastic and that climate change is the most important problem that we need to be talking about. Don’t get the wrong message, that is true, climate change is the single biggest challenge we face. However there is not one single cause for this challenge. Climate change is multi-faceted and we need to be looking at so many different problems and solutions if we are going to create the change we need to see in the world. That is something we can not achieve unless we seriously change our plastic consumption and production.
The same report I have referenced today, also talks about what we can do to address the problem.
ending the production and use of single- use, disposable plastic;
stopping development of new oil, gas, and petrochemical infrastructure;
fostering the transition to zero-waste communities;
implementing extended producer responsibility as a critical component of circular economies;
adopting and enforcing ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors, including plastic production.
You may feel that you don’t have the power to change these things and one person alone doesn’t. We need everyone making an effort. It could be changing your plastic consumption, or helping your community transition to a waste free environment. Or it could be talking to your elected politicians, or pressuring industry to change.
Many of you will already be aware that we have finished our epic adventure! It was exactly what we hoped for AND so much more! Keep an eye on our media page as we update it with wrap up articles! First off the rank is Sistership Magazine – check it out here!
In the meantime, here is a poem Lucy wrote about our trip:
Lucy & Mathilde are on the final stretch of their expedition, having recently arrived on the north of Vancouver Island.
The last couple of weeks have involved overnight flooding of the kayaks, calm waters and warm days, strong rapids and alot more sightings of people and boats!
They were very excited to be welcomed by Mathilde’s parents and locals at camp near Cluxewe.
Rapids through the narrow channels around Vancouver Island were a fun but nerve-wracking novolty to begin with. But the ocean showed whose boss when slight mistiming meant the girls were at the whim of the ocean as they were forced to a different camp than they were aiming for at Big Bay.
On Hornby Island, The Tribune Bay Outdoor Education Centre held a camp for Young Women in Ocean Literacy & Leadership, where 45 young women passionate about the ocean attended. The Passage Adventures duo were set to hold a workshop at this camp, but due to delays throughout their expedition, 8 days out from the camp they were still 290km away!
But they were more determined than ever, with so many eager young girls to hear their story, and they pumped out a massive average of 36km per day to make it to the camp on Hornby Island for their workshop. Their seaside welcome looked like this:
The workshop followed, whereby Lucy & Mathilde educated and inspired the girls to use their power to create change. The young women blew them away with their enthusiasm, ideas and intelligent questions.
10 year-old Straw No More advocate, Molly Steer, from Lucy’s hometown of Cairns, also featured at the camp. She is a living example of the power of the youth voice. Check out her Tedx talk here
The camp was coordinated by Oceanwise and the Comox Valley School District #71 – Check out Their Facebook page for more interviews, photos and videos of Lucy & Mathilde.
Today Passage Adventures are headed on a little 2 day trip to the remote North West Coast of Vancouver Island with the Living Oceans Society and 6 volunteers for a beach clean up. It will involve driving access via logging roads and a hike to the remote area, where they’ll collect garbage and camp for 2 days. The garbage is then heli-lifted out. Volunteers are transported and fed during the weekend trip, and helicopters aren’t cheap! This is why Passage Adventures needs your help in supporting them – half of their fundraising money is going to the Living Oceans Society! You can still Donate here
THE JOURNEY IS ALMOST OVER!!!
The girls have planned to finish their paddling adventure At 12PM on AUGUST 4TH at CADBORO BAY, VICTORIA, VANCOUVER ISLAND. They would love for anyone and everyone to join them in celebrating at a nearby restaurant/bar that evening. More details to come on social media!
The Passage Adventures pair have crossed the border from Alaska, USA to British Colombia, Canada and have now passed the 1000km mark!
The halfway point and border crossing has had the girls reflecting on their time so far and excited for the warmer weather through the Canadian part of the Inside Passage. They have nothing but warm words for the people of South East Alaska, who have welcomed the strangers with open arms and big smiles, helped where they could and generally been inspiring, wonderful people.
Crossing the invisible border line on the water from USA to Canada went like this:
An online video webinar, delayed by days of bad weather and illness, finally came into life when the girls arrived in Prince Rupert, Canada. They shared their experience so far, challenges, inspirations and stories paired with photos. They answered some questions from curious followers too. If you missed it, you can watch a recording of it here: Webinar recording
In Prince Rupert, word had quickly spread that the adventurers were in town and with many things to do like interviews, meeting new people, the webinar and replanning their route, they extended their stay to 3 nights. The local newspaper The Northern View wrote a wonderful article about Passage Adventures here: Pair kayaking from Glacier Bay to Vancouver Island
As mentioned in their Webinar, the girls have come across huge amounts of marine debris – mostly plastic bottles and fishing gear. But car tyres, huge styrofoam pieces, as well as hundreds of tiny plastic pieces have been found on the shore and in the water of this middle-of-nowhere wilderness. Lucy & Mathilde are sorting, counting and recording the rubbish they encounter to help collect data for Tangaroa Blue & Living Oceans Society, which in turn aim to stop the problem at the source.
Plastic Free July is an Australian initiative to encourage people to refuse single-use plastic in order to protect our oceans and avoid landfill waste. It is held during the month of July, but ongoing plastic refusal is obviously the aim! If you’ve been inspired by Lucy & Mathilde, it’s a great opportunity to get onboard and pledge to go plastic-free >> Plastic Free July
Prior to their launch the girls were interviewed by Ocean Wise– A not-for-profit with headquarters at the Vancouver Aquarium, who are helping to make our oceans cleaner and flourishing. The footage is of their actual journey, and highlights how Lucy & Mathilde are creating change: Ocean Wise Interview
The girls are 53 days in now, past the halfway point and still going strong! You can keep tracking their daily progress here:
The past 2 weeks have involved kayak repair work and some very cold, very wet weather for the Passage Adventures duo. They’ve had to bunker down for a couple of days (twice!) to avoid battling 24mph winds and rain. Of course the highs have been equally memorable, with many more close wildlife encounters.
Let’s start with that Steller sea lion footage I promised in the last blog, en route to Auke Bay:
Their time in Auke Bay was used to repair their kayaks, which had both had the rudder foot pedals break off the sides of the kayaks. It wasn’t long until the boats were up and running (swimming?) again.
Wonderful photographers/videographers Mikko Wilson & Sarah Moore took some footage of the girls departing Juneau (for the second time). Check out Facebook for the full drone video: Passage Adventures departs Juneau
Next stop: Tram portage!
Packing for departure
The girls were excited for a new mode of transport at their next stop: a tram portage! Initially it was a hard to find, but once they did, they unloaded their kayaks and made use of the old tram track to take them to a warm cabin with a fire!
The next week brought both sunny skies with glassy waters, as well as wind, rain and challenging tides. Humpback, orca and sea lion sightings did not waver though, and they kept the girls spirits high, even on the dampest of days.
Marine debris has been recorded and charted. Even in these pristine, virtually untouched parts of the world, rubbish is still so common.
Lucy & Mathilde are over one quarter into their 2000km+ adventure now and recently celebrated with a stop over in the beautiful town of Petersburg, Alaska. They have dried out, rested and reset for the next leg of their journey, getting closer to the milestone US/Canada border.
Next week the girls are hosting a Webinar from the Ocean! From 6am – 8am Thursday June 7th AEDT, Passage Adventures will be online to give an update on their journey – from marine debris, how they are tracking without single-use plastics, and the amazing wildlife encounters. Get more info and tickets here: Webinar from the Ocean June 7th
They’re now 11 days into the trip they planned for so long, and Lucy & Mathilde have been in contact and reported alive and well. Despite all the planning, the hiccups started early in their trip and they are currently 3 days behind schedule. But don’t worry – they havent run out of food and turned on each other due to being ‘hangry’ just yet. Read on to see how the launch and first 11 days of Passage Adventures panned out.
Juneau brought the sunshine for the official launch day on May 7th which saw the girls buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Hear from them yourself here:
Day 1 involved some improvisation and route changes due to a certain ferry not running that day. They took it in their stride and found a helpful Alaskan man by the name of John to hitch a ride from Gustavas to Bartlett Cove. They even managed to find the humour in the situation:
So launch they eventually did and were happy to be out on the water. The first 4 days involved paddling North from Bartlett Cove to Beardslee Islands, then up into Adam’s inlet. They reported many dolphin and whale sightings along the way. Traveling back down South towards Bartlett Cove again, they encountered some problems. Unfortunately mother nature can’t be planned or tamed, and they were battling both strong tides and windy weather. This meant they had to stop, camp and wait out the unfavourable weather.
But time wasn’t wasted as they ended up doing an impromtu talk at Sunnyside Market & Cafe in Gustavus. Lucy & Mathilde had met these inspirational women a week earlier and this time the women were intrested in hearing more about Passage Adventures’ cause and how they can minimise their impact.
Eventually flat, calm water made it possible for a 41km haul towards Couverden Island. Tail winds allowed them to use their Wind Paddle Sails for the second time and they were even followed by some curious Stellar sea lions, a threathened species in the Northern Pacific.
But another difficult section awaited them – the crossing of Lynn Canal to Point Louisa, Auke Bay. Stay tuned for how they got on, and footage of the seals that followed them, in the next blog!
It’s been a long time between blogs and boy, have we been busy! Preparation is in overdrive as our launch date quickly approaches – only 4 days to go! In the last month we’ve traveled to Canada, tackled logistical obstacles, mass food preps, as well as holding a clean up, a school talk and a workshop. We could not have accomplished so much in the lead up without the help of wonderful, generous family, friends and complete strangers.
Mathilde arrives in Vancouver
Mathilde traveled solo to Vancouver 3 weeks ago to get the logistics sorted – starting with the pick up of our brand new Boréal Design kayaks from Vancouver, USA – a confusingly named suburb across the border near Portland, USA – 5 hours drive from Vancouver, Canada. Thanks to the help of friends and a specific friends of friends of friends, Martin, our shiny new boats were safely delivered to our launching location.
Lucy’s Brisbane Clean-Up
Meanwhile, Lucy was still working and planning from Brisbane. She co-ordinated a clean up with Tangaroa Blue and Kathmandu. With the help of 37 volunteers, we cleared 237kg worth of rubbish from Brisbane mangroves and waterways! Sorting and counting the debris creates data that we are then able to act upon specifically.
Mathilde’s School Talk
Back in Vancouver, Mathilde was invited to Anne-Hebert French School to talk about Marine Debris with some of the most impressionable, curious minds – primary school kids. They were so engaged, with lots of questions, which gets us excited to educate the adults of the future.
Lupii Cafe Mass Food Prep
Words can’t express how great Lupii Cafehas been to us. Together with the help of volunteers, they have cooked, dehydrated and packaged copious amounts of nutritious, vegan, waste-free meals for us for our 12 weeks away – that’s over 500 meals, including desserts!! We’re currently packing the last of the food and gear resupply boxes to go out to the pick up locations along our route.
Together we hosted our first Waste-free Workshop, educating 40 keen participants on how to reduce waste at home, as well as make their own waste-free products. We made deodorant, moisturiser, toothpaste, wax wraps and boomerang bags!
In the final preparations before we set off, we’re figuring out the last of logistics, flying ourselves and our gear to Juneau to meet our Boréal Design Kayaks and getting ferried to our exact departure point near Mt. Wright in Glacier Bay National Park. And that’s when the fun really starts!
Thankyou again to all of our supporters – we couldn’t do any of this without you 💙
10 weeks until we launch!! It feels crazy just writing that down on this blog. As we get closer and closer, we are finalising every last detail, training hard and focusing every effort we have to ensuring that this trip is as prepared as it can possible be!
We reflected that one of the key draws of the expedition is being away from the busy-ness of everyday life. To have three months dedicated to the sole task of getting from A to B. Note we did not say easy, while we have no doubt it will be hard, it will be without distractions, without the complexities of juggling normal life. However, in a perverse way, the planning of this trip has made our lives busier than ever before, so in chasing our escape we have intensified the experience that we were trying to escape. One of those catch-22 scenarios, but something that will only make this journey all the more satisfying!
Our charts have recently arrived here in Australia, along with our drybags. Each adding to the excitement of our planning. We have already taken our new drybags on more than one test run. Now we have the charts in our hands we are excited to take them to a big room, then spread them out and mark out our route. Meanwhile in Canada our Kokatat gear – PFDs, dry tops, apparel and such have arrived safely in the hands of a friend in Canada. The final arrangements are being made for our Kayaks to make the long journey from Vancouver to Juneau. From where we will paddle them back again. Every little bit making this more real, making it more possible.
We are still waiting in anticipation to find out if anyone, or even us, has been awarded the Australian Geographic Nancy-Bird Walton Scholarship. The scholarship could mean having some extra security with additional gear and extra cash for our logistical needs.
In training world we have been working hard. On the water every week we are getting the kms under our belt. We are making sure we have proficiency in our rescues, roles and paddling skills. Here is a little about our Moreton Island trip over the weekend!
Originally we had 3 days planned, but weather made us shorten to 2 days. Saturday proved to be an adventure, as we paddled from the mainland across to Stradbroke and then to Moreton Island. The winds were kind, and the tides came with us, but the rain was heavy and unrelenting. With reduced visibility we paddled close together and on a compass bearing. All sense of direction is lost when you have no visual land references to guide you and we were pleased to find that our compass work had us bang on course. Thankfully the rain lessened as we crossed to the sometimes harsh crossing from Stradbroke to Moreton Island.
Sunday was sunny and bright. We got on the water earlier than needed to explore nearby seagrass beds, to look for dugongs. We unfortunately didn’t find any of these majestic creatures, but did pleasure in countless turtles and dolphins. Before long we were enjoying taking the tide to our finish point with calm seas. In the last hour of our paddle the wind picked up and whitecaps appeared. Thankfully with only 4 or so kilometers to go, we enjoyed the last challenge as the wind bounced us to our destination.
There will be some videos to come of the rainstorms! They were really the best part.
We hope that you keep reading and enjoying our journey with us. We will have are more detailed blog soon.
Some of you may have already read on our social media that we have recently gained the support of a fantastic social enterprise, Lupii Cafe! One thing we have learned throughout this experience so far is that there is a whole world of people who are ready to collaborate for a better future. We reached out to the team at Lupii Cafe after seeing their video on Facebook. It tells you all about them:
Their work is so clearly aligned with what we are doing, so we asked if they would be able to help us prepare our 3 months of food. What we received was much more. Lupii Cafe have offered to sponsor our food for the expedition and help us prepare it! We are so thankful for their support and for the work that they do on a day to day basis. We are all a part of a growing change! Check them out here: http://lupiicafe.com/
We are also excited to announce that Aquapac – 100% waterproof protection are sponsoring us! This means we can keep all of our food and gear nicely safe and dry with awesome, high quality cases and dry bags. They are also super on-board with our ec goals of protecting our beautiful oceans! The team have even offered us the opportunity to become an affiliate. That means we get 10% of profits if you purchase from Aquapac within 14 days of checking them out from this LINK. We will donate this money to the marine debris organisations we are fundraising for, so treat yourself!!
7 Day Training Paddle: 215.5km!
This week we happily completed 7 days of training! It was the longest time that Mathilde and I have spent on the water together and we are happy to say it was a great success! Success, however, doesn’t come without challenges, which their were. We had good weather, dodgy weather, favorable tides, and less so. We saw wonderful wildlife and encountered the worst of the insects. We thrived in the rain and battled against the heat. Searched for fresh water and overcame kayak troubles. All in all we learned more, we had many laughs, but most of all we came away feeling confident in ourselves, our ability to work together and our physical strength to pull through! Here is a small day by day account. Enjoy 🙂
For reference you can see the campsites mentioned on the map here
Day 1: Urangan to Moon Point 17km
We left home at 730am. We are lucky enough to have a lot of support for our training, especially from Dan G. who has helped in a lot of ways, but this time it was in the form of dropping us off at our start point. With that being Urangan, about a 4 hour drive away, it wasn’t a small ask. We had to stop on the way for some supplies, lunch and a quick surf. Which in the end meant we didn’t kick off from the shores of Urangan until about 3.45pm. With a short paddle we weren’t too worried and conditions were good. The tide helped us past Woody Island and on towards K’Gari (Fraser Island). However our delayed start meant that as we reached the island we were losing light. We thoroughly enjoyed the sunset hour, which really put on a show for us! It was stunning. However, decided to hop off the water early, to avoid a paddle in the dark. We ended up camping about 3km away from our planned camp. Boy were we punished. Never before in our lives had we experienced an onslaught of insect life like we did that night. Mosquitoes, sandflies and march flies all attacked us at once. Then we did something we wouldn’t usually do and cooked in the tent. There was no choice. Going outside was a planned mission. That night we slept in our hammocks. Lucy, not realising that her mosquito net holes were big enough for sandflies to get through, spent the night barely sleeping. She thought she was slowly losing her mind as she continued to be bitten in what was supposed to be a bug free zone. It was a great day until after the sun set, and we learned that dingoes were not the only animals we had to be weary of on K’Gari!
Day 2: Moon Point to Bowal Creek 31.3km
We didn’t get out of our beds until the sun was high at 7am. Not out of laziness, or tiredness, but out of fear of being eaten alive by sandflies. We are not ashamed,ut we will learn more about how to abate these fearsome creatures. When we did rise, there were still some hangers-on. So it was a mostly silent and efficient breakfast, packing of kayaks and getting the flip out of there. Today the land stretched out on the horizon in front of us. we looked into the distance and saw the island stretch beyond our eyes reach. As we paddled into the day, we noticed separated bumps on the horizon. Were they boats? No, as the Kms passed by, we realised they were the mountains, that were on the northern reaches of the Island where we were headed. It seemed impossible that they had been out of sight so far. However, it was a beautiful day, although very hot, we couldn’t complain as the seas were kind and the beaches were white. When we did stop for lunch, we were treated to a surprise freshwater creek! Although it was still affected by the rise and fall of the tide, the water was clean fresh and drinkable and allowed us to stock up for the trip north. There was only one downer on the day, mostly for Lucy, and yes we are going to say it… PERIOD PAIN. I am sure the ladies can understand, but for those who can’t, imagine paddling 31 km whilst being continuously punched in the gut. Not fun. Mathilde listened to the grumbles and curses with patience and we still managed to enjoy the day together. When we reached Bowal creek we were very relieved to find a serious reduction in bug life, although the march flies were still around, it was very manageable compared to the previous night. We enjoyed our first of many dehydrated meals, carefully prepared (plastic free) before the trip. It was delicious! Enjoyed with another sunset over the water, we made the most of bug free life with some yoga and a sip of port!
Day 3: Bowal Creek to Teebin Pt, via northern section 27 km
With the sun beating down, we had been drinking a lot of water, and so finding more fresh water was a priority for the day. Teebin point had amenities marked on the map, which usually includes a water tank with treatable water. We had a 8km paddle to Teebin, where we discovered there was not only a lack of water tank, but of amenities at all. With dwindling water, this was an issue. We thought the upper reaches of Wathumba creek may hold some hope, but low tides prevented us from getting upstream. It wasn’t looking good, but we also knew that there were a number of 4wds and boaties around, who may take pity on us. We were also quite distracted by the incredible number of stingrays cruising along below us, some of the spotted rays were over a metre wide! We had a moment to enjoy an unusual site of a dingo fishing in the low tide, and decided to paddle north of the camp in case of a lucky creek, and to get our kms up for the day. We paddled until the heat was unbearable and stopped for lunch under the shade of our tarp. Lunch today was accompanied by a show of fishing dolphins! They were chasing schools of fish into shallow water and jumping for those escaping in the air, it was quite a show! On our paddle back to camp, we met some locals who gave us icy water, a beautiful treat, even if 1L was all they could spare. They told us that if we dug in the sand of the beaches we would almost definitely find fresh water, so now we had a plan C. Luckily it was not needed. As we arrived at camp we were cherrily met by sailors Catherine and David and their two friends. They shared the joys of K’Gari with us, and not only filled our water, but offered us a coffee as well. We had a great time sharing stories of adventure. As the afternoon fell, we were joined by other campers Tom and Brit. They had a great set up and shared our camp. We listened to country music, shared stories and we even let them take our kayaks over to the sand bars to fish. In return, they filled the last of our bottles with fresh water, meaning we could leave camp the next day with a full 15L. That night we enjoyed a beach sunset with swarms of soldier crabs covering the beaches like waves of tiny life. It was amazing.
Day 4: Teebin Point to Coongul Creek 34.6km
Our first of longer days, we rose early and got on the water. Huge apologies to Catherine and David, who we made early morning coffee plans with. The tide was so low that we couldn’t paddle upstream to reach your boat and promise of golden liquid. We did however have a great day! Paddling back the way we came, we knew what to expect and where to get water.. We picked points on the horizon to aim for and enjoyed seeing dolphins, rays and many turtles. We lost count of the number we saw. Dolphins jumping all the way out of the water, turtles investigating us until hurriedly swimming away. We once again found the freshwater creek for a resupply, swim and lovely lunch. Today we treated ourselves to pesto pasta. It was magnificent. We have since decided that this dish is to be a vital part of our trip into Alaska/Canada. We paddled on with good humor and determination, which saw us getting into camp with hours to spare. We enjoyed a good nap, exploring the beach, watching sea eagles feed and lying in our hammocks to read. It is not all hard work and we don’t plan it to be so for the real trip either!
Day 5: Coongul Creek to Ungowa 45.2km
Today was the longest of the days we paddled. It was also windy, and included one of our bigger open water crossings. Once we had padded around moon point, we had a 9km paddle across a bay to Bogimbah creek. The wind was not nice, although the tide was working with us. It was a head down, paddles up scenario, and the first time we saw Mathilde’s game face. The wind was the enemy and we were going to win! Today however, we had a treat in mind. We knew that kingfisher bay had a resort, and thought that surely there was a good feed and real bathrooms waiting for us. It was a great motivation! With the aim to paddle 36 km before lunch we needed it! Now you may be thinking that we are cheating here, but it is important to know one thing. Mathilde and I are doing this with a purpose, to help with that war on plastic, with a goal, to raise the profile of women in adventure, and FOR FUN. Which means that, if there is a chance to stop in a small town and treat ourselves, we will! We are human after all! Lucky for us, when we did arrive we found exactly what we were looking for. Mathilde enjoyed a cauliflower parmi and Lucy a Veggie Burger, with iced chocolate (no straw) and coffee in hands, we were in heaven. Not to mention our first real loo in a 5 days! The meals were more than double the size of what we had been eating, which meant the next challenge was fighting off siesta feels, filling up our water and getting back in the kayaks. We paddled passed the ferry as it took people back and forth, through beautiful mangrove forests and old wrecks until finally as we entered twilight hour we finished our long day at Ungowa. A beautiful camp that sported a toilet, picnic tables, water tank, food lock up cages and a washing up sink! Unfortunately it also had bugs worse than ever before. We quickly set up the tent, and got in…our belongings still strewn across the campsite. Then we had to strategically plan how to spend the least time outside the tent, but also get everything out there sorted. Luckily, with bellies still full from lunch, a carrot was all we needed for dinner. Even though it was a short time out of the tent, we got smashed by sand flies and mozzies. Every bite seemed to re-ignite the anger of previous ones, and we were itching like mad. When we finally got back in the tent, Lucy finally lost it. The itching, biting and inability to enjoy the beautiful camp meant there may have been a mini meltdown cry. Sleep came slowly, even after a long day of paddling. When it did come, we were shortly woken by the interruption of a curious dingo, who proceeded to howl to friends around the camp. Not fun, especially because we soon had to pee. Facing mosquitoes, sandflies, march flies and dingoes, we made to the toilet and back. While it was a great day, and we paddled well and enjoyed the sights, the night was a dull finish to a good day..
Day 6: Ungowa to Coolooloi 45 km
Back to Back. We won’t have long days like this in Canada. Not planned at least, but good to practice we thought. We were excited because we knew we would be meeting our friend Denis at Coolooloi, who had kayaked in from Tin Can Bay and would return with us on the final day of our trip. We wanted to get there in good time, if we could. However, we had one major challenge. We were going to paddle through the slack point of the tide and we didn’t know where it would be. The tides come in and out, from the top end and the bottom end of the island. The slack point is where these two meet. We didn’t know where this would be, but did our best to plan for a good guess. We didn’t quite get there and it had a impact on the day. 9 hours of paddling against the tide. Sometimes the wind too. Normally we wouldn’t, but today presented no choice. We stopped in the the strongest hour for lunch, which was a small reprieve. Needless to say, today was a paddle to get to a destination. It was a challenge, and we faced it head on. There were moments of calm in eddies (recirculating currents) behind points. Soon we realised we had two options. Get off the water early and miss our camping fun with Denis, or paddle into the night. We calculated we would only need to paddle for maximum an hour after dark. We got in contact with Denis, and he agreed to wait with a light on the beach, With our own lights on our boats, we had a plan. As the day began to fade, our bodies were starting to protest, but we distracted our minds with nonsense talk and song. Thankfully we spotted Denis’s light in the distance before the sun properly set and knew where we were headed. Denis has been another significant part of our training support. Joining us on many of our paddles, being a sounding board and guiding us into camp that night, we were thankful for a friendly face, a cup of tea and a glass of gin. It was a tough day. There are sure to be more in Canada, but we did it. We did it well, we kept spirits up and got it done. Knowing the tidal points is a key part to the success of our trip in Canada, and we are learning more all the time. Now we are chasing down tidal atlases for the inside passage. Thankfully Coolooloi was a minimum bug camp (although Denis ay not have agreed), and we enjoyed a dinner, sharing some drinks and a laugh, before lying down for a well deserved sleep.
Day 7: Coolooloi to Tin Can Bay 15.4 km
The final countdown! This morning we were kind to our bodies and mind and had a relaxed start. With reading in the morning and breakfast by the beach, we waited for the tide to be in our favour. As we heard the wind rustling through the trees, we were glad that it was fending off the insects, but we prepared ourselves for a windy exit. Leaving camp with mixed emotions (“yay, time to eat some non-dehydrated food and sleep in a bed!”/”Oh damn, back to reality…”), we set off on the 16km crossing at a determined pace, with Denis in the lead (Mathilde’s excuse was he was still fresh from only one day on the water :P) The wind hit us head on for the first part. As Lucy and Denis seemed to cruise through the water, there were power sounds coming out of Mathilde’s boat as she tried to manage her tricky, and less-than-ideal rudder system. Questions of “are you feeling sore?” were answered with “I mean… I definitely can feel that my arms exist.” As we paddled into Tin Can Bay, the wind was a bit much for Mathilde, who will admit to having a very mild tantrum at the wind and her boat, and trialled swapping kayaks with Lucy for the last stretch. After 10 minutes Lucy considered walking Mathilde’s kayak through the shallow water, she couldn’t fully fit her longer legs in, and the rudder was playing up. We swapped back again (Denis must have been wondering what the heck we were doing as he waited in the distance!), and Lucy exclaimed “how the hell did you paddle over 200 km in that thing!” which definitely made Mathilde feel better about the tantrum. We turned the corner and the finish line was in sight. With the tide gently pushing us into shore, we touched down at the jetty, cleaned up and fit all three kayaks on Denis’ car (success!), before once again stuffing our faces with the delightful food from the cafe. It wasn’t long after turning our phone notifications back on that we considered repacking the kayaks and starting again, but alas, the real world was calling us, and we will have to wait a few more days before we can head back on the water again. All in all, it was a great trip that encompassed many of the things we will be experiencing on the expedition (aside from the cold…) We feel strong, capable and ready for more action! Bring it on!
AND here is a photo of the cumulative waste for 7 days: