Saturday, March 26, 2011

In the rough - Clontarf to Pittwater in a Howling Southerly

Mark Schroeder, Andrew Eddy, Ian Vaile and me decided we would test ourselves in big seas.

Forecast winds were 20-30 Knots Southerly with 2-3 metre seas and a 2-3 metre Southerly swell.

That forecast defintiely got my attention but it wasn't until we rounded South Head after starting at Clontarf that the conditions really hit us.

Observations obtained later put winds at 30+ knots gusting to 45 and wave heights during the time we were out peaked at a whopping 7.2 metres! It looks like the wave rider buoy got knocked out itself around midnight.

I told myself more than once during the day to stop looking behind as it was simply scary to see such big swells baring down on us, especially since the tops were sometimes breaking away.

We tried to sail but three out of the four sails got damaged. Ian's mast step snapped away from the tiller extension arm. Mark's has a plastic ring which connects the stays and it got stretched and slipped down and my mast bent like a banana. At least mine still worked though and had me not too far behind Andrew Eddy who is a very experienced sailor and has a demonstrably bomb proof set up.

Due to Marks broken rudder cable (broke where some webbing was riveted to the peddle)and Ians damaged mast we pulled into Collaroy where it was decided that only Andrew and I would continue around into Pittwater as planned.

We all decided there is no place for rivets on sea kayaks.

On route, we paddled past a massive old seal just wallowing in the rough as if he was sleeping on a water bed! Unfortuntley I simply couldn't get my hands off the paddle for a shot.

Andrew and I made it back to our car after 43km which took us 5 hours on the water, partly due to rescues, repairs and detours.

Shaan Gresser and Paul Layton set off from Shelly a couple of hours before us and dealt with a number of capsizes before hitting Palm Beach in 4 hours.

Here are a few scenes from what was probably the roughest sustained paddle I've done to date.

In The Rough from Matt Bezzina on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Night

Here are a few scenes from a typical paddle from a couple of weeks back in fairly bouncy North Easterly conditions. Unfortunatley I didn't get any footage of the biggest shark I've ever seen near North Head.

Tuesday Night Paddle from Matt Bezzina on Vimeo.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beecroft Peninsular - Circumnavigation

Mark & Andrew

Bill - had a "BIG" day!

Rob - rounding Pt Perpendicular
Blusterly conditions made for an exciting day. Big long period swells and ENE winds meant we needed to stay well off shore to allow for a margin of error should any incident result in us being blown up against the cliffs - not a good place to be on this day.

We stopped at Boat Harbour for lunch before giving a couple of members an out at Honeymoon Bay. Four of us continued up a rapidly emptying Currambene Creek which was teeming with fish, rays and sea slugs. A small shark and juvenille sea turtle were spotted. After the portage we were fully engaged in an adrenalin pumping surf launch. We all got out unscathed and finished off the circumnavigation with perfect weather and a dolphin escort back to our starting point.

Blusterly Conditions off Beecroft Peninsular from Matt Bezzina on Vimeo.

Team: Mark, Bill, George, Rob, Matt & Andrew.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

West Coast of Tassie

Keith Oakford, Harry Havu, Guy Reeve and John Wilde have completed a trip from Devonport to Cockle Creek which takes in approximatley half of Tasmania - the wild half that is.

Keith describes the trip:

Well Harry and I are back at work, Guys is looking for a new job and John, well the bugger is off to India in the next few weeks so we won't mention him. (At least this time he is taking his wife)
The Trip was everything we had imagined and then some, the coast along from Devonport to Woolnorth (NW Cape) is a mix of beaches and low hills with green trees and shrubs, The headland called the Nut was spectacular as the top was covered in a low cloud, giving it an eerie look, Robins Island and Mosquito inlet would have to have been the highlight. Turning the corner and heading down the west coast mother nature let us know who was the boss and showed us what we could expect, about 15km out of Marrawah we were hit by a STH Westerly change that brought winds to 25knts gusting to 30knts and bloody heavy rain, we must have looked like bloody idiots to those on the beach when we eventually landed.
The west Coast of Tasmania is something to be seen, the coast is consistently changing from low sandy beaches to low rocky foreshores to high sand hills and even higher granite cliffs, some covered with the hardest salt bush in the world, in the back ground you have various ranges and mountains that range from a deep green or blue in colour and are consistently covered with a moving low cloud, it is always raining somewhere, the beauty of this was that the sun would break through every now and then and give us a fantastic range of colours and shades that highlighted the surrounding landscape. Of note was the lack of bird life the further south we travelled, guess even the Sea Gulls, Shearwaters and Albatross have more sense than us.
It was tough but enjoyable paddling most days with various strength headwinds, some rather large swells and seas and rain squalls, one day in particular we paddled for 8 and a half hours with no land in site due to a heavy sea fog that greeted us after a 4am start, good management and navigation saw us paddle out of the fog with the entrance to Macquarie Harbour right where it was supposed to be, I must say that we all let out a sigh of relief, although none would admit it while we were there. The size and power of the swells along this coast are something you have to experience to understand, you have this ground swell with wave periods of 15 to 20 seconds moving mountains of green, blue or grey towards the shore, there are rocky shelfs (bommies) scattered everywhere that force the larger ones to break, this forced all of us too, at some times mutter a few expletives, turn our kayaks and paddle like there was no tomorrow. Oh and don't forget the 2 to 4 meters of seas and the consistent rebound that on top of the swell that at times raised our heart rates.
The camp sites we found were varied from sandy beaches to moss covered river banks to bunkering down under the trees at Port Davy, it was in Spain Bay (Port Davy) that we saw wind gusts picking up sheets of water off the surface of the Bay and hurling it meters into the air, each site allowed us to experience another part of this coast, we walked the beaches and surrounding hills, we swam in the creeks and rivers, we drank the water from the creeks and rivers,(you do get to like the taste of Tanning water) we saw some of the wild life that dares to make it home in this bountiful but inhospitable palace and we did our best to leave only foot prints. The South Coast saw even higher granite cliffs from the water to the sky; each bay we paddled past was surrounded by high peaks covered in low cloud with deep rich green valley's running down to the ocean, water falls were numerous and provided us with the chance to get some clear sweet water.
We didn't quite make Hobart the weather and time conspired against us, Cockle Creek was always an option and given the nature of the West and South Coast of Tassie we were blessed to make it there as we did, still it does allow for another trip?????????????
To the Buff boys
A trip like this takes some planning and this one went off as planned, we had some gear failures (all of which were managed with spares etc), we had wind and rain, we were cold and wet, we saw some amazing places and sites, all our landings except Rocky Boat Harbour were as planned, everyone was consistently on the lookout for each other, the day to day decisions were made with a minimum of fuss and were centred around the group dynamics and not on individual wants. Thanks for being there and being you.
To the People we met along the way and to those that supported us with the logistics (Christian, John and Sarah + Family, Brett and Chris, + Family, Keith and Lisa + Family, Richard, Ian, Mick, Brian, Gas, Nigel, Laurie and
A big thank you for being part of our trip, your friendship and support helped make the trip what it was. If you are ever in Sydney please do not hesitate to call or drop me an e-mail, there will always be a warm bed a clean shower and plenty of food and drink on tap. We are planning to put some of the better photos together and to write up a full trip report for our Clubs magazine, as promised we will be in touch and get you all copies.
To my long suffering wife
I thank you most of all, your support and belief in me allowed me to do these still things, one day I will find a way to pay you back at least in some small way.

Congratulations on another notable kayaking achievment. Its the prospect of trips like this that keep all the regular paddling real for the rest of us.