East coast low

After a few days when the sounds of the surf was hardly noticeable, it seemed last night as if there was a freight train down the hill.

With an easterly swell of 4 metre waves, maxing to 7 metres, and the wave period generally close to 9 seconds, and occasionally extending to 14 seconds (ref: MHL data from Batemans Bay waverider buoy) we knew a visit to the local beach would be interesting.

at high tide the back of the beach was underwater

It was not long after high tide. The waves pounded in right across the bay. The lagoon was open with the creek flowing out with more momentum than I’ve ever seen. Waves washed over the sand spit.

watch a while as the water flows in, and out

I was wearing my gum boots so my feet stayed dry when the water came right up to my standing spot.

Notice the sign, near the end of the video, bottom left corner? It used to be on the sand spit. I retrieved it and stuck it into a safer place.

part of the sand spit stayed dry, hope any nest was high enough to survive

It’s not often that rubbish gets thrown onto this beach. My two finds were interesting. Was the toothpaste from far overseas? Or from a passing boat? It was amongst the seaweed thrown up onto the grassy bank during last night’s high tide.

What’s the story behind this sole shoe? Where is its partner now?

Set the alarm for 4:15am

Yesterday, an unusual suggestion from me which Harry quickly accepted.  We packed and loaded the gear and kayaks, prepared breakfast and went to bed early.

When we arrived at Watsons Bay it was dark and quiet.  At 5:45am we launched, the sky was brightening and the birds beginning to call.  The sandstone edges of the harbour looked special in the light with no shadow.  We rounded a relatively calm South Head and went east for a bit, picking the spot where the sun’s rays had begun to point upwards.  Gradually the golden sun rose above the horizon, the clouds above reflecting golds and pinks.  We sat silently observing, rocking in the swell.

We continued to North Head, this side was much more dynamic than the southern shores, and ventured towards Blue Fish Point.  Hunger pangs started so we retraced our paddle strokes and headed for Reef Beach.  Flocks of sea gulls swirled and turned, indicating fish action below the surface.  Sitting on a rock enjoying our muesli, coffee and boiled eggs, we chatted with the pair of magpies who came to inspect us.

Following the low cliffline we paddled past Dobroyd Head and the huts nestled into the bush.  Searching for Washaway Beach we figured out it had washed away (for now, it will be back).  Towards Cobblers Beach and around Middle Head, we crossed via the channel markers and Sow and Pigs, returning to our start point.

Making a Break

Wednesday 1 January 2014

I don’t think the New Year even registered.  We were intent on taking this opportunity, there was a break in the strong westerly winds, one day when we could dash down the coast of Flinders Island before the westerlies came in again.

Stealing away from Killiecrankie Bay

Stealing away from Killiecrankie Bay

Leaving the beach just after 5.00am as the sun began to illuminate the eastern sky felt like stealing out of town.  I wondered what our friends would think when they came down to the beach for their morning walk.  They’d been keeping a kind eye on us; glad when we moved the kayaks off the sand and higher up the sand bank out of the way of the high tides, happy on really crazy windy days when we hadn’t left, and now we’d be gone.

Leaving Killiecrankie Bay we turned west and headed along the northern shores of Flinders Island.  As we neared Cape Frankland I observed a long line of single breakers from the Cape to the north.  My head does me in every time and I began imagining the worst.  Mental calm prevailed and I decided that this line of scary waves was further out and we’d be skirting inside it.  Of course we didn’t and before I realised it we were bouncing through some exciting waters.  And as always, I settled, told my mind to chill and focussed on relaxing my body in the kayak and doing what I do best, just paddling, picking a line through the rough seas and working my way around the cape and into the calmer waters on the other side.  Harry, naturally, didn’t even notice the challenge of the waters, he smiled and relished the fun!

Arriving at lovely Roydon Island we stopped for a break.  After all the long crossings, offwater pee breaks felt like luxury!  We checked out the hut which had two decent looking water tanks as well as contact details provided inside by locals close by on Flinders.  They were happy to provide water, so long as you were able to cross over to Flinders that is.

Brief break in the westerlies

Brief break in the westerlies

On we journeyed, heading south now along the west side of Flinders.  I’d been imagining this part of our journey for a long time, expecting to hop from sandy beach to sandy beach, lazy mornings, short days, afternoon rests, perhaps even visiting the outlying islands en route.  Sadly this was not to be.  With a brief break in the westerlies our destination was Trousers Point, and with a strong wind change forecast for later in the day we couldn’t afford to be complacent.

One more pitstop on a pretty little beach and then the Strzelecki Range became our backdrop for the rest of the paddle, Mount Strzelecki growing its own cloudtop (which we later experienced from the inside).  The winds picked up from the north, the tide turned, our sails were unfurled and our speed increased.  Landing on the calm waters of the little beach at Trousers Point was welcome after a long day, the peace of the local seas not quite appreciated until about an hour later when the winds whooshed in and the bay turned into a whitecap maelstrom.

Killiecrankie Bay to Trousers Point

Killiecrankie Bay to Trousers Point

A long day on the water

A long day on the water

Crossing Bass Strait

Trip Day 10

Paddling Day 5

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Distance covered: 58km

Launched: 5.00am


Rest day?

Thursday 26 December 2013

‘Tweren’t really that much of a rest day, as rest days go.  We did waken at 7 o’clock, murmured “Not yet”, both rolled over and slept until 10 o’clock.  After a leisurely breakfast, we hiked 5km to the caretaker’s compound meeting Kim and Spud, from Lady Barren on Flinders Island.  (Volunteer caretakers live on, and look after, the island for three months).  They welcomed us warmly and invited us in for a cup of tea.  After a chat about the family dramas amongst the Cape Barren geese living within the compound fence, we filled our water bladders, paid a nostalgic look inside the schoolhouse, visited the museum and hiked back 5km to the campsite.

Dinner, some major planning and then we relocated our camp.  We didn’t want to risk rock-hopping in the dark the next morning, so everything was moved to the beach where we set up camp right next to the kayaks.  The damp sea mist rolled back in after dark as we readied as much as we could for the next crossing.


Under the Falls

A long day.

An awesome day.

A day of new skills.

Today I learned
… to ‘moon the menace’ in crossing eddy lines, breaking in and breaking out
… to pirouette in the tidal stream
… to paddle out of a whirlpool
… to completely zip the zipper all the way on a dry suit; that last 5mm is crucial in not letting in the water
… variations on familiar rescues, necessary in the colder Scottish waters
… to use eddies in paddling upstream, though to be honest, I just paddled like bugger up the waterhill, followed Tony and his shouts of direction

And I gained an understanding of the complexities of kayaking these moving waters, the tides and tidal movements dictate

Meantime Harry celebrated his birthday in a way that made him smile – rolling along the eddylines.

[More photos to follow]