10. Oban – Paterson Inlet – Invercargill

Monday, February, 20: A bit of cloud to the east in the morning, clearing to fine with an easterly breeze, fog in the late afternoon & evening

Kayaking: 16.7 km
Walking: 5.9 km

Tina & Tony’s ($70, airbnb)

After the privations of the hike, and as a celebration of the last day on the island I set off for breakfast at the SSH, with Frank closely in tow. The full breakfast (which had been available from 8:00 onwards, and not 9:00, which is when I arrived) was three sausages, two eggs, a couple of bits of bacon, a tomato, hash browns and ciabatta toast for $20 and was well worth it.

Frank was still keen on kayaking and I put a call through to Phil, who was now asking $50 an hour for a part-day trip, so I had to reconsult with Frank whether he was prepared to fork out $200 for a four hour tour. Seemed a bit steep to me & Phil was still harping on about wet rescue, etc. but eventually we agreed, packed some stuff together for the tour (and I placed my suitcase in storage and returned my key) and off we set.

There was a lot of paperwork & explanations to get through. At least this was a fibreglass boat; the spray skirts were much easier to fit (and release) than the normal neoprene ones, and we had all the safety equipment in the world, and Frank could even operate some of it. Discussion about a route led to an agreement that we would try going up the west arm of Ryan’s Creek to see a shipwreck (unknown provenance), perhaps try Kaipipi Bay, lunch at the Norwegian Whaling Station and return via the near side of Ulva Island.

Kayaking around the bay. GPS quality: 30/30, coverage: 100%, download: Paterson Inlet Kayaking GPX (968 downloads)
Can’t see map? Click here!

I decided against trying to set up a camera, as this would mean more time lost, but we were ready to go by about 11:00, and agreed to be back by 3:00. We absolved a trial circuit satisfactorily, and then set off along the coast. Scraped a rock once, but the boat wasn’t taking on any water. In any case it wasn’t deep.

Dead reckoning was working with a vengeance – we seemed to be gliding along at quite a speed passing between the entrance of Kaipipi and Dirty Island. We had attempted Ryan’s Creek but the water was too shallow and the tide was going out so we didn’t reach the wreck. Then it was a short surfing tour (with the wind at our backs) to the whaling station where we stopped for lunch.

This time I took the camera out & photographed a number of artefacts. Frank had a tuna sandwich with him, half of which he gave me (I wasn’t particularly hungry after breakfast and was expecting to be fed in Invercargill). After an hydration exchange and nearly two hours into the trip we decided to head for Ulva Island which was almost directly to the east.

We were now paddling against the wind. Apart from the ubiquitous seagull, a couple of Pacific gulls were making the rounds, a skua or two, a couple of different tern species (sooty was among them), and a blue penguin popped up and gave us the eye over.

Frank’s paddling was quite strong, if a little chaotic and we often fell out of sync, but after 30 minutes of sustained paddling we reached Ulva and a protected bay where we stopped for a while. By now clouds had started appearing along the northern shore of the inlet. We paddled along the island for a bit, spotted one person, then decided to aim for the beach to the left of the passage to Oban, across open water again, but this time diagonal to the wind in order to have the wind behind us again for the final stretch.

Short stop in front of the beach & along the very calm strait between Iona Island and Golden Bay, and finally Phil’s boatshed. He gave us a bit of a discount for being early (I paid $170, Frank $175) as we switched back into street gear, put the boat back and returned all of the equipment.

Frank was a little wet and wanted to return via the street rather than via the forest walk we had taken in the morning. We sat around at the front of the pub for a while without having anything to drink. Frank wanted to see the short film A Local’s Tail starting at 4:00, and at that time I collected my pack, repacked the outer pockets, and checked in for my flight.

I should have started thinking. Fog was now down to about 50 m height and I was informed that I had just missed an extra flight @ 4:00, and that it was uncertain whether the 5:30 would take off as planned. Killed 40 minutes by walking to Leask Bay and on returning and looking for a toilet was informed that the flight had been cancelled and we were being put on the ferry instead. We only had to wait for the last passenger – which was Jebsen who had also been staying at Bunkers & then we were whisked away to the 5:00 ferry, boarding directly with luggage and within a few minutes we had set sail from Halfmoon Bay.

The trip back was very smooth although very foggy (with the fog lifting just as we arrived in Bluff). I sat down at a table with three marine biologists (strange conversation: “Did you pack the microscope in correctly?”) – Dorothy (Malaysian), an American guy, and a Kiwi living in Tassie. Pleasant conversation about science communication and as I left in the bus I could see them packing their specimens into their car. The earlier departure & longer journey meant that I arrived half an hour late at the airport by which time Tina & Tony were gone. No telephone at all in the airport, but one of the forecourt hi-viz jacketed monitors offered to put a call through for me. After about an hour of waiting and no response he let me put a call onto the other number I had (Tony’s cell) and after a shorter wait a reply came from Tina saying that they had the builders in as well as two other guests, so I took a dive for a taxi.

Pretty full house this time, as well as a new dog, who was quite peaceful. Tracey & Edward had just arrived from Scotland and had to be put through the shower before their room swallowed them whole. Then it was just me, Tina & Tony. I brought them down their presents & they retaliated with vodka, tonic & bitters (Tony) and a rice/vegetable/bacon meal (Tina). Lots to report on the last four years since we’ve seen each other and it wasn’t until about 11:00 that we decided to call it a night.

I still had to reactivate the computer and marvel at the emails (and junk) that were piling up. Then it was time for bed.