Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mystery Bay to Montague Island by Sea Kayak

Getting into your sea kayak and pointing your bow straight out to sea towards a very distant island is always a bit confronting, but, the more frequently I do it, the more normal it begins to seem. Our destination this time was Montague Island which lies about seven kilometres off the south NSW coast, and the weather forecast was as good as it gets - light winds, sea and swell below one metre and falling. 

Montague Island from Mystery Bay

We launched from Mystery Bay, the traditional location for sea kayakers bound for Montague Island. Apparently, this can be a rough launch site at times, but it was very calm when we started out around 7.15 am. Mystery Bay is somewhat south of Montague Island making the actual distance to the island around 9 to 10 kilometres. Paddling steadily, it took us about 1.45 hours to reach the south end of Montague Island and our first view of the islands Fur Seal population. 

Fur seals at the northern end of Montague Island

Inexplicably, landing on the island is banned unless you pay tour companies lots of money and arrive using fossil fuels. We pulled into a sheltered cove for a snack and some water, and then paddled north up the west side of the island past pretty little coves, large granite boulders and, of course, Fur Seals. 

Under the lighthouse on the west side of Montague Island

The largest concentration of Fur Seals is at the north end of Montague Island where they congregate on sloping granite boulders and rest in the ocean. As we passed by, there was a lot of loud barking which is pretty cool to hear. With such favourable conditions, we decided to circumnavigate the island and paddled around to the east side. This is definitely rougher than the west side and I was glad I had put 12 litres of water into the kayak as ballast before leaving. 

Conditions as good as they get

Back down at the south end of the island, we decided to head straight for the closest piece of coast and then make our way back to Mystery Bay. The seas were even calmer on the way back and it took us only about an hour to arrive at Bogota Head north of Mystery Bay.

At Bogota Head

Paddling south was pleasant in the clear water along Loader and Fullers Beaches. At Corunna Point, the sandy beaches give way to low jagged cliffs and tiny coves. There are lookouts along this section of coast. Finally, five hours after setting off, we landed at Mystery Cove and staggered out of the boats on somewhat wobbly legs. 

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