• Westerly Wind Up

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    Date: Sunday 9 April, 2023
    Distance: 31km
    Conditions: 20Kn WNW - W gusting to 30 Kn.

    When the forecast is for a 10 – 15Knot WSW – W, working out a north-south trip for a beam reach on Moreton Bay that does not end with a hard slog back is tricky. Mark’s proposed plan worked out pretty well considering that wind actually turned out to be a WNW – W. Furthermore the strength was more towards 20Knots gusting to a memorable (and hairy) 30Knots.

    Leaving from Thompsons Beach required a moderate length haul across lumpy sand. As usual, Ian put in at the flying boat ramp. We enjoyed excellent sailing conditions on the brisk WNW to the Ws. Mark lamented not having his second sail with him.

    True to form it was Ian who looked like he was in for an unexpected encounter with a larger vessel. Today it was a passenger ferry. We got the impression that this particular ferry was hell bent on passing both the passenger and car ferry ahead of it in the middle of the Ws. This would require a northern short cut. Mark figured that he had sandbar protection if the ferry did not correct its current course while Ian was looking straight into the twin hulls until it finally peeled away.

    The initial plan was to have morning tea on Karragarra. This was changed on the fly to allow us to continue to sailing. We arrived at the small beach next to the northern boat ramp on Russell Island in just over an hour (distance around 10.5Km). We enjoyed a share of Jack’s homemade apple pie, hot cross buns and biscuits. The blustery westerly remained. It dried our clothes and roughed up the passage. While some boats were coming back in, it was surprising to see small powerboats boats still heading out.

    The island to the NE of Russell gave us some protection from the strong wind. We hugged the mangroves before sailing due south (that was as close to the wind as we could make) to round the southern tip of Long Island. While there was not much boat traffic, what was there seemed to be unusually attracted to the route we were taking. On one occasion I stuck up my sail merely to flag my presence as I, like Ian earlier, wondered what the hell the other skipper was up too.

    Rounding Long Island had us punching into it. Ian decided to make for the shelter of Lagoon Island. He later said he had a wild trip across. This is often the way in this particular area because it is very shallow and it does not take much wind to create standing waves. After Mark, Jack and I rounded Long Island we headed north. Mark put up his sail and once Jack had passed me we were all sailing towards Pannikin Island. The wind remained WNW. It was firm with erratic gusts. It remained difficult to sail much off due north. An unnamed mangrove blob half way between Long and Pannikin Islands provided welcome protection. Jack loaded up with some extra carbohydrates whilst I loaded up my bottles. I put 4Kg into the day hatch and another 4Kg in the rear hatch.

    Jack stated his preference to head across for the bottom of Pannikin. This would allow us to sail up to Point Talburpin for what would be a late lunch. It was a drag punching into the wind. The 8Kg made my boat feel like a dead weight and I wondered how I ever managed to slog it out when fully laden. Once we rounded the southern tip of Pannikin the sails went up and hereon in the westerly wind up became increasingly hairy. The only good thing about a westerly is that when you are close to the coast the numerous waves that come with it are small. On a beam reach they are splashy and by the end of the trip everything, including my sunglasses was salt encrusted to the point of crunchy.

    On the northern sailing leg to Point Talburpin I was pleased to be lugging the 8Kg. Mark says I brace on the wrong side of the boat. I guess I never really learned to brace as the Artic Raider has not threatened to throw me out. By now the wind had become feral and at times blew hard enough to make me wonder if I was going to take a knock down. Today was the day to do what most others do and put out a skimming brace on the downward side rather than my usual upwind side. It felt odd, but it was tested on a couple of occasions when a wind gust really knocked the boat around. I took to resting the paddle shaft on the combing, tucked my elbow in and had it at the ready. There were few oopsy moments when the upwind blade took a dip into the beam chop reminding me to stay alert to the position of the blade.

    Mark discovered the fast lane just south of Point Talburpin and reached 10Kph sailing alongside a sand bar. We remained in radio contact with each other throughout. Sometimes I think Mark is just too dam comfortable in his boat. He will happily make a radio transmission calling for a response while I am sporting a white knuckle grip on my paddle shaft. We regrouped at Point Talburpin for a relatively quick lunch. The receding tide left the kayaks stranded in that disgusting fine soft mud that we were all only too familiar with.

    By now the wind had finally swung due west so we were able to continue to sail all the way back to Thompsons Beach. After hanging in there for so long and pushing a heavy boat I did not want to haul my kayak over the lumpy sand. I opted for the long flat route from the flying boat ramp instead.

    The total trip was just over 31Km in distance and even though we had received wind assistance for much of it, I was knackered. I think that was in part because I was pushing more weight in my boat. Then at times we had to sail in a wind that was not ideal for the direction of travel. And finally I had to work at keeping myself upright in an unaccustomed way as the westerly randomly ratcheted up the knots.

    A westerly wind up is a good experience and certainly one way to get a solid night’s sleep.