Sunday, March 6, 2011

Through the Heads

On another beautiful autumn day I joined John, Tina, Tony and Roger for a short paddle on the West Coast from Barwon Heads to Point Lonsdale and return.

We launched on the Eastern side of the Barwon River. Like much of the water around Melbourne recently, the Barwon was pouring unattractive brown water into the ocean.

The less than sparkling waters being poured out from the Barwon River
We had a moderate cross wind on the way to Point Lonsdale. At the Heads, we snuck through between a barely covered rock platform and a reef break. It was surprisingly flat.

We landed just short of the pier at Point Lonsdale. Roger and Tina practised an amphibious landing technique, somehow getting onto the back deck while afloat and pulling their legs out of the rather small Nadgee cockpit before paddling in with their legs out. Not trusting my ability to replicate this without capsizing, I practised an ordinary landing.

We ate an unhurried lunch next to the pier.

On the way back out of the Heads, the water was even flatter than on the way in.

Returning to Barwon Heads I thought I should venture a little closer to the surf zone. Initially I kept well out of the impact zone, enjoying the opportunity to bounce around and catch a little swell. Closer to Barwon Heads I made a proper effort to surf a wave. After a short run I exited early, but gracefully, I thought. I was then side on in the impact zone for the next wave. I braced into it and surfed in sideways, somewhat close to an unsuspecting family bathing inshore, but without injury to them. As the wave petered out, I fell over but managed a roll back up.

We landed at Barwon Heads and had a cup of tea at John and Tina's house.

Another pleasant West Coast paddle.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A trip to the Northern Prom

On the weekend of 26-27 February, I joined five other VSKCers for a trip to the Northern end of Wilsons Prom. The weather forecast was superb – no wind on the Saturday, increasing a little on the Sunday.
Shark sighted at Port Welshpool

As we launched from Port Welshpool on Saturday morning, the inlet was millpond calm.

Millpond conditions
The tide had started flowing out around an hour earlier and we enjoyed a very smooth, accelerated ride out of the inlet. GPS readings showed we averaged around 9 km per hour for the first couple of hours.
Doing 9 kmh

On the open ocean there was almost no swell.
Open ocean?

Bill emerges from the Whale Rock
Heading to Lighthouse Point

We stopped for lunch at Three Mile Beach.
Shark sighted at Three Mile Beach

From Three Mile we headed directly to Rabbit Island. This island is around 3 kms from the Promontory.
Rabbit Island

The circumnavigation of Rabbit Island was the undoubted highlight of the weekend. Paddling anti-clockwise we passed from the sandy beach of the Western shore of Rabbit Island to the rocky cliffs of Southern, Eastern and Northern shores of the Island.
All hands on cameras
Big cliff

Amongst the cliffs were some interesting caves.
Cave Man

Hamish heading towards the crack
And into the crack, in reverse

Interesting birdlife.
Cape Barren Geese domestic dispute
Shag on a rock

From Rabbit Island we headed back to the Prom and the diminutive Rabbit Rocks and to our campsite at Five Mile Beach.
Between a rock and a hard place
Landing at Five Mile

The campsite, which requires permits and is limited to 12 campers, was set amongst the trees. As we landed at low tide, there was a long carry to get our gear and boats to the campsite.
Some years ago I was moved to take up sea kayaking on a bushwalk around the Southern circuit of the Prom. It was a hot, uncomfortable walking trip. The sea was dead calm and I thought of how much easier it would be to be paddling instead of walking. I had been attracted to the idea of paddling for some time. On that walk Callum told me that it was possible to store a slab of beer in a sea kayak. I resolved to buy a boat.  Now, here I was paddling the Prom, drinking vino from Coonawarra and congratulating myself on my choice.
Refreshment stop

The next morning we were spared the long carry of the previous afternoon. The high tide brought enough water up the creek to allow a comfortable launch from the creek.
Creek boating

We headed back up the Prom, stopping for a brief look at Johnny Souey Cove, a campsite favoured by paddlers for its more sheltered shoreline, but presently closed to campers due to the discovery of extensive middens after the recent bushfire.
Johnny Souey Cove

The wind picked up a little on the trip North. I broke out my homemade sail for a little assistance.
We are sailing

We paddled into Corner Inlet while the tide was still flowing out and had an early lunch at Biddy’s Cove. Small crabs crawled all over the sand exposed by the low tide.
Soft shell crabs

The tide was not due to turn until 2.30, so rather than wait we headed back to Welshpool on the last of the ebb tide. Once we got to the point of turning East there was a reasonable Westerly blowing and those of us who had sails were able to hoist them for an effortless ride back to the cars.
Tacking the briny

A great weekend. Thanks to Raia for organising and leading the trip.