Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Different Choices

Our kayaking trip to Lizard Island was one of the best short kayaking trips I have done (short is anything under two weeks), but, thinking about it afterward, I realised I would do some things differently. Which doesn't mean the way our group did things was wrong; it was just, well, different.

On our first day we paddled from Cooktown to Cape Bedford and made camp in a shallow bay open to the easterly winds. Our paddling route, involved heading straight east from Cooktown boat ramp and then pointing our boats northeast and aiming off to the east of Cape Bedford to compensate for the easterly wind that would blow us west. Paddling this route we were out at sea and not close enough to shore to land for a break. This section took 5.5 hours and, most of us had trouble standing up when we got out of the boats at our campsite after sitting in the kayaks for such a long stretch of time.

That is not what I would have done. I would have paddled north from the boat ramp along the big shallow bay to Indian Head and Nob Point. There are plenty of landing sites along this section as it is all sandy beach. Then, I would have paddled directly from Nob Point to South Cape Bedford staying well out from the beach for the shortest distance.

When I discussed these two route choices with the group before hand, some people seemed to think it was shorter to paddle east then northeast. However, I am not really sure about that as it seems to me you are paddling two sides of a triangle and just paddling the long side of the triangle would be shorter. At home, later, I guesstimated the course of both routes and drew them on our nautical chart. As best I can draw them, they turn out to be virtually equidistant, but, my option lets you land half way for a break, whereas the option we took doesn't allow any landings.

We camped in a rocky bay open to the east wind on the east side of Cape Bedford. This was a moderately difficult place to land and launch in the conditions we had (light winds) and would have been a very difficult place to land or launch had the wind or waves been any bigger. I would have camped around the north side of Cape Bedford where the landing is on sand and protected from the east wind and waves. We camped where we did because it was the shortest route to Three Islands. But, again drawing the route on the chart, camping on the north side of Cape Bedford would add just slightly less than a kilometre to the straight line distance. Of course, we don't paddle a straight line distance, but, if you assume a similar error in both courses, having an easy launch and land location, would still add very little more paddling, yet would make life much simpler.

When you start paddling from Cape Bedford to Three Islands, your destination (Three Islands) is not visible at first, as both kayak and islands are low. We paddled off in what seemed to me a fairly easterly direction, and, after about 1.5 hours, when the tower on Three Islands came into view, we altered course. That kind of guess work in following a course doesn't really make sense to me as I am sure you paddle a longer route than you would if you took a compass bearing off the map, adjusted it for wind drift, and then paddled along that bearing. We had a fairly steady easterly wind blowing so we could have calculated a vector and adjusted our course appropriately. I think, but, of course, can't prove, that my course would have been shorter and more expedient.

I will admit I don't have that much experience paddling when the destination is not visible or adjusting bearings for wind and current, so I could be wrong about all this. Then again, I could be right.

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