• Coochie Mudlo

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    Date: Sunday 9 September, 2012
    Launch: Raby Bay

    The sky was as clear as the water transparent. The breeze as still as the bay smooth. The tide had revealed a thick carpet of curious weed at the waters edge. The giant brown cornflakes made a soft cushion for the kayaks. The tide was quietly creeping back to take shoreline when a relaxed group of five floated off into the blue sparkles.

    Off Cleveland Point a SE blew away the contemplative start. Bugger. The thought of the grind had me eyeing up Peel for a sailing leg as I didn’t feel like a slog. What a wuss, get with the programme girlfriend, the other four were okay with Coochie. So gym work out it was. Ray went to the east of Sandy Island while I stayed to the west on the memory that there would be sufficient water. The rest of the group came down the western side after I radioed clearance. The only creatures I saw today were indignant birds on Sandy Island’s southern spit. I was sceptical that we would have a pretty landing on Coochie’s northern beach yet our timing was superb, skimming in over the rubbly flats in two inches of water.

    I pulled out a large punnet of strawberries to share when Carol revealed some of her culinary magic. Hee hee … the joy of a small group … the chef served the most exquisite fresh pavlova with strawberries and cream with a rich chocolate tort on the side. Kicking back on the beach in dappled shade hidden from the SE we relapsed into a contemplative state as we took in the blue sparkles and clear blue skies and savoured this most exquisite treat. Remind us Tom, why aren’t you here ?

    After such a Zen moment, the SE was no longer a bother, indeed I was calling for it to put some more elbow into it so we could have some fun sailing as we circumnavigated Coochie. Nothing was a hassle, we almost fell out laughing at the absurdity of landing on the SW beach on Coochie for lunch. Just behind us we discovered a charming golf course – a surprise on such a small island. The SE persisted and gave us a useful shove. By now the bay was filled with yacht races of all shapes and sizes. As we approached Cleveland we watched two Nacras jostling for the lead. They were way out in front in a tightly fought contest. They rounded a buoy around 500m to our northeast and remained on a direct line with us. As a small group in choppy conditions we were holding a tight formation, so it was with disbelief that we watched as the two Nacras held their line.  As the trailing Nacra came right alongside Ian the person at the helm slapped the side of the hull twice and they tacked, right then and there. Holy shit. They were close enough for Ian to say a polite steady on. All I could see was a touche dangling within easy reach of a decent paddle stroke (call it a Nacra slap). Having only just avoided Ian, this overpowered speed demon had not finished. We were still moving under sail and Mark was suddenly bracing and turning to avoid having the nose of the Marlin wiped out by the flying hull.

    No other yachts in the same race came anywhere near us. These tossers had plenty of clear water to play their games, but no, the second chose to use us to their strategic advantage. He seemingly pulled the race rules on us, despite that fact that we were not racing and his decision forced paddlers to take evasive action to avoid collision. It is not uncommon to find ourselves entering a marked race course and we do our best to keep out of the way. The tactic the Nacra used was something we have never seen before. For over 10 years we have only seen yachts, including some of the largest and fastest cats in Moreton Bay take decisive and evasive action to keep clear. This guy who was racing as a part of the Cleveland Yacht Club Spring Carnival was racing for keeps and not by the rules of the sea. One day he might catch more than he bargined for.

    We all came ashore, a small group held tight by the wind having been granted a beautiful Sunday on the bay – where else would you be ?