Sunday, December 21, 2014

Planes, Trains and Automobiles at Cape Wollamai

Years ago, when I cycle-commuted to work in Calgary, there was an unfortunate incident involving a patch of ice, a bus trap, a bicycle, and the #37 bus. A bus trap, to those not familiar with such devices is essentially a pit dug into the road way wide enough for the wheels of a bus to straddle, but not a car. Generally, they are about 40 cm deep and bridged with steel bars. On this particular wintry day, I hit a patch of ice as I was cycling beside the bus trap, and, in a flash, I was in the bus trap, with my bike on top of me. As I was laying there somewhat stunned, I heard a deepening rumble, the ground began to shake, and, quaking I looked up and saw the #37 bearing down on me....

Rounding Red Point today on our way to Cape Wollamai, I felt a bit the same. We had just endured being buzzed by at least 20 jet skis, and now, as we were bouncing around in their rebound, a huge tour boat was aiming straight at us. We edged in closer to the rocks, as did the tour boat, and then, the noise of yet another infernal combustion engine and a low flying float plane - tourists gawking out the windows - skimmed by about a metre above the wave tops. Our kayak trip to Cape Wollamai was not exactly turning into a wilderness experience. 

The paddle trip from The Narrows, down Cleeland Bight, past Red Point and out to Cape Wollamai would be a wonderful excursion if only ever other inhabitant of this country was not permanently attached to an infernal combustion engine.

We launched from just south of the bridge that joins San Remo to Phillip Island as we wanted to avoid paddling back through The Narrows against a ripping current later in the day. It's an easy paddle south down Cleeland Bight, and actually not that interesting until you get to a pretty little cove between rock outcrops near Red Point. Beyond Red Point the kayaking gets interesting. There are sea caves and rocky islets as you approach Cape Woolamai and the water is incredibly clear and aquamarine green. You might see sea eagles or even seals. Once you round Cape Woolamai you are out in the big southwest swell that rolls up the coastline. 

Unfortunately, I got vertigo again from the ocean swells and had that "oh, oh, everything is spinning, I think I am going to fall out of my boat" scene all over again. That, combined with the insane amount of boat traffic caused us to turn around soon after we had passed Cape Woolamai. The nautical regulations actually mandate a 5 knot speed limit when passing within 50 metres of another vessel, but, most Australians seem to have those numbers transposed and they pass within 5 metres going 50 knots. After a number of very uncomfortable close encounters with stupid boat operators we turned back and paddled into the sheltered waters where at least the wakes would not dump us out of our boats. 

In a rare lull between maniacal boat operators, we did see a big fur seal fishing and watched him coming up to the surface with a huge fish in his mouth which he proceeded to bang about presumably to render it insensible so he could swallow it. The kind of thing I'd like to do to a few of those boat operators.....

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