Friday, April 15, 2016

Moruya Heads to Mossy Point With A Little Help From A Sail

We have had some adventures in kayak sailing before, but, mostly we only use sails on our kayaks when we are in waters without big swells. Now that we are getting more comfortable in rougher water it seemed like time to get some sailing practice on the open ocean. Thursday the forecast was perfect. Light winds in the morning gradually increasing to reach 15 or 20 knots in the afternoon. We could paddle north from Moruya Heads in the morning to Mossy Point, then turn around and kayak sail back with the rising wind. Not only would we get some sailing practice, but we could finish up our project to paddle the coast from Moruya to Ulladulla. 

It was calm in the morning. No wind and only a low swell. I began to think perhaps we should have gone back out to the Tollgate Islands to try for the blue cave again. It is good to be flexible, but sometimes I find constantly changing plans mentally fatiguing and I just can't face the drama, so north we went.
There was a lone SUP surfing the perfect wave off Moruya Heads - another inclination to change plans crossed my mind - and a dolphin swam past us as we paddled out beyond the breakwater and headed north. Incised into Moruya Heads are a series of rocky gutters good for playing in and turning south to see what they were like today also tempted me. 

So calm that paddling was actually a bit boring

On glassy water with a low rolling swell we paddled north up Bengello Beach to Broulee Head. It was interesting to paddle along the surf line and identify all the rips running out. As we passed each one I tried to work out whether landing through the rip would be easier than landing through the surf as rips often flatten out the waves. On some rips yes, others did not look any different, at least from the back. 

We had a very quick break in the little bay on the south side of the isthmus between Broulee Island and the mainland. Sometimes the swell comes right in this bay but it was calm and sheltered today. Around Broulee Island there was only a little bit of current, mostly it was extraordinarily calm. The north wind was gradually ticking up but we continued on to Mossy Point. Around the south side of Mossy Point there are more rock gardens that would be good for playing in. 

The little bay on the south side of Broulee isthmus

After a second quick stop just inside Mossy Point on a tiny beach accessed by a rocky gutter, we prepared the sails for the trip back. We have modified our Pacific Action sails so that you can reduce the size by one or two thirds. The full sail, at a metre square, can be a bit of a handful. As we knew the wind would only be rising, we took the top third off so the sail would be roughly 0.66 square metres. 

I hoisted my sail as soon as I cleared the channel off Mossy Point and, for the first time that day, got ahead of Doug. The kayak immediately felt lighter, but, also more tippy. Travelling to Broulee Island the wind was slightly quartering but once we got to Bruny Island we could point directly downwind to Moruya Heads.
Travel was a lot faster. We did two kilometres (roughly) less heading south than we had done heading north as we pretty much straight-lined the coast. Turns out, about 12 km heading south with sails up took us about half the time as 14 km heading north without sails. 

Super calm around Broulee Island

Sometimes for almost a half a minute, the kayak would actually sail straight down the following waves, but, most of the time I was using corrective strokes to prevent broaching. After three years paddling these boats (Prijon Marlin) I can say that they do not track at all. The slightest wind blows them off course and they broach almost instantly in a following sea. But, you paddle what you got, so I usually just think about what great practice I am getting. 

Near the breakwater at Moruya Heads we pulled the sails down. I had to keep mine up a bit longer than Doug to wait for a bit of a lull in the wind as I was too unstable to take a hand off the paddle and yank my quick pull-down cord. As soon as we dropped the sails the kayaks felt unaccountably heavy and slow, which made me remember my silly discussion with the guys last weekend about light versus heavy boats. Once inside the Moruya River, the wind swung around to get funnelled up towards Moruya and we could sail back to the vehicle. The wave off Moruya Heads was still pretty perfect, but I was ready to get out of the boat, and Doug was really hungry, so, we passed it up until another time. 

 Rip spotting along Bengello Beach

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