Thursday, April 14, 2016

Surfside to Caseys Beach Via Snapper Island

When Doug and I came to Moruya, we were keen to meet other sea kayakers so joined up with the Eurobodalla kayaking group. This is a very friendly group of people, but, we quickly realised that the main interest of the group was flat water paddling, while our main interest is ocean paddling. In my usual optimistic fashion, I managed to convince the group organizer that there was a ton of people on the email list (which is really, really long) who really wanted to ocean paddle but just had not got the opportunity. That made it only logical to put some actual ocean kayaking trips on the schedule. 

 Smoky sky but calm water

There were certain conditions, however, mostly that the paddles be in at least semi-sheltered waters such as those around Batemans Bay. After some discussions, two kayak trips around Batemans Bay made it on to the autumn schedule and the first of these was slotted in for the day after our trip out to the Tollgate Islands.

The weather forecast could not be better. Low swell, light winds, sunny skies. It was tempting to blow off the Eurobodalla paddle and head back out to Montague Island, but, after nagging J. to put these trips on the schedule, I felt duty bound to go. 

Cave at Square Head

The turn out was disappointing. J, one other fellow I had not met before, Doug and I plus Mr Honey from Long Beach. Of course, it could be that all the other paddlers headed out to Montague Island, but, I suspect that, at least for many folks, a new trip on the schedule was not the welcome addition I had imagined it to be. 

Mr Honey paddled down from Long Beach and proceeded to show us a series of fun and easy gauntlets, rock gardens and sea caves that you could paddle into. At Square Head, there are some rock gardens that you can run through, although I got the timing slightly wrong and ended up high-centred on a rock. After watching this, none of the others were game. A bit further around Square Head is a feature Mr Honey calls the "swimming pool" where a rocky reef runs parallel to the headland and allows some easy rock gardening. 

 Heading over to the rocky islet near Snapper Island

Then there is the big cave, which is more of an alcove than a cave but fun to paddle into and, a couple of other rock features can be linked together for some more interesting paddling. Over at Snapper Island, the big cave on the north side is obvious and an easy paddle into via a long gutter. The rocky islet nearby features some other fun rock gardens as well as an arch right through this unusual island. 

Mr Honey and the cave on Snapper Island

At Caseys Beach there was a bit of a dumping swell which was easy to negotiate for most of us, but one guy did get a bit wet. As usual, the talk over morning tea was about kayaks and electric bilge pumps and the weight of different boats.
We paddled back via Observation Point which has some rocks you can weave around. Doug and Mr Honey headed over to Long Beach as Doug wanted to try paddling a Nadgee, while I returned with the two other guys to bring the car around. Both of them, paddling kayaks at least 10 kg lighter than mine wanted to tell me that once your kayak is floating the weight ceases to matter, but, as anyone who has paddled a loaded versus an unloaded kayak knows, the overall weight of the boat does make a big difference. 

There is another Batemans Bay paddle on the autumn schedule, perhaps it will garner better participation but, I am inclined to think my usual optimism was slightly, as it often is, misplaced this time. 

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