Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kayak Sailing

It's just four days until we leave for Cooktown, the jumping off point for our sea kayak trip to Lizard Island. Everyone in the group has a kayak sail, except for us, which will leave us far behind the rest of the group if the winds are favourable. Thanks again to the incredible resourcefulness and helpfulness of Tim and the rest of the group, we will have borrowed sails for the trip.

Accordingly, it seemed like a good idea to get out and learn at least the rudiments of kayak sailing. The only thing thwarting us is the unusually calm winds which are rarely reaching 15 knots these days. But, 10 knots is better than nothing, although 5 knots barely fills the sail.

Yesterday, we launched the boats at Palm Cove (one of Cairn's northern beaches) and paddled and sailed south to Holloways Beach, a distance of about 14 km. Unfortunately, we didn't note the time we put in or pulled out as it would be interesting to know how fast we traveled.

Initially, we had a fairly reasonable wind, maybe 12 knots gusting 15, and after having to throw in a quick brace when I first put the sail up, I felt like we were whipping along at a good speed, just leaning over on the paddle. But, gradually, the wind decreased and we paddled more and leaned out on the paddle less.

I learnt a few things. One, you should lean over into the wind as you deploy the sail. Otherwise, you get a sharp yank and the boat threatens to capsize downwind. Two, if you cant the sail to catch a wind coming somewhat across your beam, you may have to lean over even further to keep the boat upright. After a while, especially if you are paddling not just leaning on a low brace, you can end up with quite a crick in your back. Three, the amount you need to lean depends on wind strength. Four, paddling is much easier with a sail assist.

The only problem with our day yesterday was that the bus journey back to retrieve the car took longer than the paddling and, while I suffered great degrees of boredom waiting for first one bus, then another, Doug was worse off stuck at Holloways Beach where he was continually harassed by a half-dozen drunks in varying degrees of non-sobriety. 

Slowing down as the wind died

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