Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kayak Sailing to Ellis Beach

After some droopy hot weather with light winds, we have got a bit of a reprieve with a southeasterly flow and winds forecast for 15 to 20 knots for a couple of days. This kind of forecast, at least inshore, seems to really mean 15 knots with gusts to 20. Some nice sustained 20 knot days would be nice, but, in lieu of that we are just making sure we get out in the kayaks when there is some wind. 

There was some talk of paddling from Oombunghi to Cairns, but no-one was brave enough to leave a vehicle parked down at Oombunghi, even for a day, and we couldn't get anyone to shuttle us all down there, so we ended up paddling Machans Beach to Ellis Beach with a stop at Double Island. 

Before we started, however, Doug and I went down to Freshwater swimming hole (my new favourite eskimo roll practice location) and did some drills. I didn't really feel like the whole rolling scene this morning, maybe it was too soon after breakfast, or maybe it was because I had actually eaten breakfast before 11 am (unusual for me), but, I knew that I would really regret not practising so we got in and pounded out a bunch of drills. 

Maybe Dee is slower than me because she is paddling uphill

My current strategy is based on the premise, which I believe to be true, that I have grooved in some really poor movement patterns – patterns that have pretty much no chance of me getting a roll – and I need to over-write these movement patterns with the correct pattern. So, what we do is, I roll upside down, set up, and then Doug walks my paddle in the correct sweep stroke and, I roll up at the end. The last time we did this, I was – as a friend of mine says – stiff in all the wrong places at all the wrong times – and Doug felt like he had to brake my arms to get me to move. This time, I moved easily on every drill and we probably did about 30 of them. I tried to roll three times, got one, missed two, and went back to the drills again when I failed. In some ways, this is a fairly tedious business, especially for Doug who has to stand in the water waving a paddle about, but, I'm as sure as a person who can't see the future can be, that this is the route to success. 

After that, we drove down to Machans Beach and got our kayaks ready for the day. Kev and Dee arrived a short time later with two borrowed kayaks and then Kev and Doug went off to put the car and trailer up at Ellis Beach. I took one of the Tsunamis (Kev and Dee's borrowed boats) out for a short paddle and found it very much like sitting in and paddling a bathtub. Just turning the boat into the wind took me around about a hundred strokes, a process I couldn't speed up by leaning the boat, because I couldn't get the thing to tip over onto one side. No doubt the boat is incredibly stable, but it made me glad I have a more responsive, possibly even “twitchy” boat. 

We sailed all the way to Double Island where we stopped for a late lunch and I found us each a nice green coconut. Our Prijon Marlin kayaks are so much faster than the Tsunamis that I had to brake with my paddle the whole way or I would have left Kev and Dee way behind. Predictably, the wind began to drop as we left Double Island, but we had just enough to sail into Ellis Beach.

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