• Wellington Point to St Helena

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    Date: Sunday 29 November, 2020
    Distance: 24km
    Conditions: 20Kn N - NW

    Leaving Wellington Point
    It can be a dilemma whether it is worth going out in a unidirectional 20Kn wind, that is unless you go with the wind. A one way paddle can be a wicked pile of fun, but it is invariably sandwiched by the hassle of a car shuffle. Finding an interesting beam reach on a 20Kn NW in Moreton Bay can be tricky if you want to get home. Usually it means a slog somewhere for sometime with no guarantee of an absolution for your penance. But sometimes, just occasionally, it brings moments of pure joy. For me this was one of those trips.

    So we decided to stick with the original plan of Wellington Point to St Helena but leave earlier to ease the penance. Six paddlers took a casual pace into the remnants of the 2.3m flood tide and a pesky NW. We took what shelter there was in the lee of Green Island before heading across for St Helena. Mark astutely noted two planes ascending at the same time – Brisbane’s parallel runway in action. Jack called out two dugong but they remained elusive in the warm murky water. A haze smudged the horizon in memorial to Fraser Island.

    We munched into a beautiful date and walnut loaf made by Jack and decided to go around the island anticlockwise on the now falling tide. Shags pegged themselves to a skeletal tree on the increasingly eroded foreshore. The baby bullsharks were harder to spot, but they were there and in quite large numbers. A brief port over the coral bank that bounds the shark lagoon on the northern side of the island had us dragging the boats out to knee deep water. The sails were readily filled by a steady northerly. The time of day, angle of the sun and turbidity made it hard to read the water and pick little runners. Nevertheless it was a quick jaunt down to the beach on the southern side of the jetty. Lunch was had at the same table where we continued to have the pleasure of watching rainbow bee eaters and butterflies.

    By now the casuarinas were singing and the white caps were out. Yachts were heeling and with the increasing wind strength, Rod decided today was no longer such a great day to walk to the cemetery. It has been quite a few years since I have done a wind against mid-tide paddle in this part of the Bay. When it is blowing 20Knots it can get lumpy. I put 8L in my day hatch and 3L up the nose. I put my foot stirrup in the front pocket of my life jacket pulled the straps so that the jacket was uncomfortably tight and yanked my hat strap firm. Time to go.

    After seeing the sails go up I followed suit. That leg from St Helena to Green was pure joy. We were making 9 – 10Kph with the sails alone. Put a paddle in and it became a surf skipping treat. The swell was not too big and not to weak. The wind was constant and had enough to oomph to make it easy skip from crest to crest. The boat was sitting and responding well. It was pure paddling joy.

    After re-grouping off the spit at the northern end of Green, the leg down the western side was relatively tame. The mischief began in earnest once out of the lee of Green approaching King Island. I had a firm braking and steering brace out to starboard with right rudder down as the kayak slewed and rounded up on the messy chop. If Innes hadn’t used much of a brace while sailing, I think this would be the time to try one out. I did feel remiss in being out front on my own, but to be honest, it is hard to slow a sailing Raider down when you are not willing to let go of your skimming paddle brace. The conditions had me watching what was coming and I was pleased to have the extra weight in the day hatch. Mark continued to check in on people via the VHF, he knows that no response means I am usually hanging in there. I look forward to a day when instead of hanging in there I might be grinning and squealing with joy as I had done from St Helena to Green.