Sunday, January 26, 2014

There Be Crocodiles

“Hey, hey, you there, better watch out, there's a big crocodile swimming around here.” A couple of guys in a fishing boat anchored not far off shore near Brown Bay shouted at me. I thanked them and kept paddling. Clearly, they thought we were crazy, but, what were we to do, abandon our kayaks and walk on water to shore? The presence of a mobile crocodile did, however, make me rethink the half hour we had just spent practising eskimo rolls not 200 metres away. 

We had launched from the boat ramp at Lyons Point and paddled east towards Cape Grafton. Rounding False Cape, we got into the full brunt of the southeast wind and made very slow progress into Misson Bay towards Yarrabah. The winds had not been forecast to increase until the afternoon and I thought we would have time to paddle in past Cribble Point to Yarrabah before we turned and caught the wind back home. Forecasting, however, is not an exact science and the wind had arrived a few hours early.

How cute is that, matching sails

After beating into the wind for a while, never much fun, we turned and raised our new 0.65 square metre test sails. With wind in the 15 to 17 knot range, the smaller sail was ample to get us moving fast and I found the smaller size felt way more stable than our regular square metre sails. The only time I had to brace was when a gust of wind hit me directly abeam and threatened to tip the kayak. Doug's test sail has a separate section that can be ripped off to reduce the size of the sail to about 0.35 square metres for very strong winds. By the time we tested out the smaller sail, we were partially sheltered from the wind so the smallest size didn't get a very good test. 

There is a monsoon low up near the Solomon Islands and a building ridge from a strong high down in the Tasman Sea so the next few days could be pretty windy and good for kayak surfing and sailing.

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