Whitsunday Dreaming [22]

By Rob Jung

We all have dreams of things we intend to do some day. One of mine was to kayak a sea, cruising along and exploring remote shorelines.

Julie, my co-paddler, organised our lift to Mascot early on a Sunday morning. The boat, a second hand Klepper Aerius II, was split into two bags and we had a ruck sack with our personal gear such as tents, sleeping bags etc. In my case I also had a little bit of photographic gearl. The big boat bag weighed 38kg, only 8kg over the limit, but they still let us on board without penalty. A few hours later we were cruising low over the southern part of the Whitsunday Island chain, spying scenes of jagged sea peaks pushing through low cloud (sea fog).

We landed at Hamilton Island on a balmy tropical morning at 11am. We loaded all the gear on the trolley and trucked it one kilometre or so to a quiet beach where we assembled the boat. We had plenty of time since ebb tide began at 3pm. In the Whitsundays we were to learn that tides are very important: tidal ranges are up to five metres. In the narrow passages these create five knot currents (which are tough to out paddle). Flood tides here travel north to south and ebb tides south to north.

Assembling the boat was easy, but packing required much experimentation and repacking of our dry bags. By four pm we were ready and headed off for Long Island. Pleasant conditions and a slight tailwind meant paddling was sail assisted. Even so it was after sunset before we landed on a rocky beach on Long Island. Here we discovered that our heavily laden boat would not wheel across large stones so had to pull out to sea gain. In another half hour, in waxing moonlight, we were fortunate enough to find a tiny bit of sand to land and wheel the boat to shore.

Every night most of the gear had to come out of the boat, and every morning it has to go back in, somehow! It was nearly 10am before we departed, packing proving quite a task as the tide fell and left lumps of coral protruding. In two hours we were on Shute Island where we set up camp for lunching and paddling over to meet the four other paddlers of our group who had made the long drive from Sydney. They had spent over four hours packing their kayaks and were eager to make distance before night! That meant us repacking in double quick time, which was made even more difficult by the two weeks of our food that the others had carried up from Sydney and 40 litres of water in 10 wine casks. Somehow we managed to be packed and away within an hour. So much for a relaxing non-stressful holiday in the tropics.

A promising sandy beach (White Rock) appeared as night approached, but the group leader felt enough distance hadn’t been made, so on we went. After dark (again) we landed at Humpy Point on a rough staghorn coral littered slope, which is not recommended for soft skin boats.

Monday we had to wait until 10am before catching the flood tide through the narrow passage between Long Island and the mainland. A headwind opposed the tide making conditions lumpy. Lunch at Paradise Bay was out of the wind, but then came 18 kilometres of open water in the crossing of Whitsunday Passage towards Lindeman Island. Against a breeze and one metre swell it was sunset when we landed on a pleasant beach on Seaforth Island. At the eastern end were grooves in the granite where freshwater had collected, which is notable since freshwater is hard to find on the Whitsunday Islands. We also found water in pools on the western side of Seaforth, on Shaw Island, Border Island and at the Woodpile on Hook Island, as well as in the creek north of the cave paintings in Nara Inlet.

Wednesday, getting to the neck on Shaw Island meant paddling into a blustery 20-30 knot headwind. That afternoon we climbed Shaw Peak (413m), collecting the usual bushwalking collection of cuts and scratches. Things that would not normally be of concern, but I was to learn, in sea kayaking where cuts stay wet for hours, they can fester and take much longer to heal.

Thursday an 8am start with a strong ebbing current, and a tailwind, had us quickly cruising to and past Pentecost Island admiring its towering ramparts. So good was our progress that we were easily through Solway Pass before midday, passing Whitehaven Beach (with its cluster of tour boats) before lunching on Esk Island, a delightful little Hoop Pine and rock clad jewel where the snorkelling is superb. After lunch we faced the tide to Border Island landing at sunset — a day of 40 kilometres. The group leader was ecstatic.

After two nights at Catamaran Bay on Border Island a fresh southerly had us sailing north: two hours, 13km to Pinnacles Pt on Hook Island and we kept up with the fibreglass boats. We camped just around the point at the ‘Woodpile’, an area which offers excellent snorkelling over coral gardens.

On Monday, as we left the beach a dark black shape of a three metre Manta Ray glided by. Paddling anti-clockwise around Hook Island we made Stonehaven Anchorage easily for lunch (with favourable flood tide), but we faced a tougher south east headwind and ebbing tide on the way to Nara Inlet.

Tuesday morning we paddled and sailed up Nara Inlet to the marked Aboriginal art site, had a late lunch on the S.E. point of Hook Island, then paddled across to the beach opposite on Whitsunday Island for an early camp and a walk along a virgin beach. Next day, a walk to the cairns and an afternoon departure still gave us plenty of time to set up camp on Cid Island. There were no other boat and it had a much less trampled appearance.

Thursday morning our four companions departed leaving us to a leisurely departure. After quick progress to Reef Point we toughed it out for 2 hours paddling hard towards Henning Island, but succeeded in drifting west towards Shute Harbour. Giving up against the ebb tide and wind we surfed back to Cid Harbour, camping at beautiful Joe’s Beach.

Next morning, with a flood tide we reached Henning Island easily, set up camp at the pleasant airy end and dried out our gear. Saturday was calm, tranquil and later sunny day, perfect for a cruise up Gulnare Inlet with its mangroves and pine covered shoreline. Sunday, in sunny mild weather, we paddled back to Hamilton Island to await our flight home.

Fact Box
Location: Whitsunday Islands
Transport: Air to Hamilton Island
Group: General kayak experience but not a lot of sea kayaking
Boats: Puffin, Greenlander, Estuary & Estuary Plus
Days: 14
Accommodation: Tent with mossie/sandfly mesh
Side Trips: Shaw’s Peak, Mosstrooper Peak (Border Island)
Charts/Maps: AUS 370, 254
Reference: 100 Magic Miles: David Colefelt
Special Tips: Popular campsites be careful with food – feral animals.

Surfing For Beginners [22]

By David Malcolm

This article comes as a result of my experiences and observations while surfing kayaks. It is by no means a be all and end all for surfing paddlers and I make no claims to be an outspoken authority on the topic, nor a master of the discipline. Others may disagree or elaborate on what I have written here and I welcome any criticisms.

Surfing can be challenging and fun, but I think more importantly it is an essential skill for the touring paddler. It is also a very effective way of improving technique and confidence which is probably often overlooked as a skill building exercise. It most definitely improves boat control.

Breaking out through the surf seems easy enough; just point to sea and paddle. Try to time paddle strokes sot that when you go through waves, the paddle goes into the water as you emerge on the other side. This is important, not only as an aid to stability but also prevent being sucked backwards by larger waves. When breaking out through large broken waves, I find the best approach is to lean forward onto the deck (offering less area for waves to hit) and ‘come up fighting’. In large waves the only real option is to roll underneath, let the wave pass and come up on the other side.

To come in, look for a suitable wave. I find that gentle breaks are easiest, safest and often the most fun. Point the nose to the beach and accelerate in front of your chosen wave. A few powerful strokes will generally get you onto most waves. I like to lean forward as the stern rises since this helps me accelerate down the wave.

Once on the wave, you are faced options of turning or running straight. Straight is not so good for the beginner due the risk of an ender. The easiest option is to angle to a side and let the kayak go into a broach. In a broach, lean into the wave face (or broken white water) and apply a low or high brace depending on the size of the wave and/or preference.

It is usually a case of enjoy the ride once you ar broaching. Continue to hold the brace and possibly pull off the back of the wave as it loses power. Aim to balance the lean and brace so that little pressure is applied to the paddle, ie. the boat takes your weight, not the paddle. Remember that when broaching, the boat will still travel across the wave as well as towards the beach – a correction stroke here may well be worth considering with other people around.

If you find yourself high and dry on the beach, let the water recede, tip the boat right over onto its side while while supporting with a hand and spin the bow around to point to sea. This is almost impossible when laden, but becomes easier with practice. Then slide the boat into the water for more!

Changing direction while going down a wave is usually slow ans sometimes difficult in a sea kayak. Lean on the outside of the turn (text book lean turns) and use the paddle for a stern rudder / reverse sweep on the opposite side. Thus for a kayak angling down to the right, to straighten, lean to the right and reach up to the rear on th left to put in the stern rudder / reverse sweep. Note that by doing this you will be leaning on the ‘wrong side’ and will need to be ready for a quyick change of lean for when the wave catches up to you and accelerates your sideways motion.

Here are some tips that will make surfing just that little eassier.

  • Avoid other surfers – this is quite obvious as kayaks are relatively logs in the surf and have caused considerable damage. Arespectable distance is advisable.
  • Avoid steep waves – they are harder to control and potentially destructive.
  • Avoid surf too large for your ability – being out of control is dangerous. If you enjoy the adrenalin rush, good luck.
  • Weigh lean into waves proportionally to wave strength – leaning too far into small waves will cause you to ‘fall over the back’ of the wave, though rolling back from this position is relatively easy. Larger waves obviously require a stronger lean. Aim for a balanced lean with little pressure on the paddle blade.
  • Have elbows high in a low brace and elbow close to the body in a high brace – in a low brace, having the elbows high give more control and allows maximum leverage to be applied if necessary. When using a high brace, the elbows should be close to the ribs and the shaft under the chin (similar to a chin-up position). This might feel unconfortable at first, but is safe. Throwing the top arm out and the bottum arm up leaves the paddler vulnerable to shoulder and muscle damage. Having the elbows in close also becomes a more relaxed position.
  • If capsized, hang on and keep head low for protection – a paddler that is in his/her kayak can not be hit by their boat; a swimming paddler can be hit by the kayak, paddle, rocks, or even strangled by a paddle leash. The best course if you capsize is to try and stay in the cockpit until the major turbulence subsides and then wet exit (if you can not roll).

    While hanging in a submerged kayak, the major concern is the submerged torso striking the bottom or rocks. The safest option her is to have the head down low (high when upside down) towards the foredeck. This hides the face, chest and stomach which are the most sensitive areas. The head could then be coverd by a helment and the back with a bouyancy vest providing the best available protection. Leaning forward has the added advantage of placing the torso in a favourable position to commence a roll.

Good surfing!

Secretary’s Rap [22]

Gary Edmond

I wanted to label this column the Gary Spot, or G-Spot for short. Maybe I missed the mark. Maybe it would deter retailers, no-one being able to find their advertisements. Who knows? Anyway the transition to the new board had been both smooth and optimistic. Those people in the club who I speak to regularly prophesy good things. I must confess that I alleviated my personal guilt now that Patrick Dibben, that tireless servant, has been relieved of the many and varied tasks of President, secretary and editor. I should also acknowledge that our new treasurer, Peter Adams, has been receptive to accepting additional components of club administration for bureaucratic ease.

With regard to club business, there is little to discuss. I would like to welcome the following new members to Club: Peter Putcher, Andrew Dickson, Mark Kitteridge, Bruce Wingrove, Mick Keyts, Jan Bartel, Greg Wilkins, Steve Howlett, Adam Wildman and Andrew Eddy. I encourage them to come along to the various trips and functions planned over coming 12 months.

I should also remind members who are not financial, and therefore not technically members, that their fees are now overdue. Actually that’s not quite right. For fees can’t be due for people who are not members. To that end I shall create a new category, the ‘quasi-member’. To all you quasi-members, your fees are now due!

One bonus which I have just discovered is that the secretariat has access to a modest, though maturing, collection of home-grown sea kayaking journals. Groups from around Australia have reciprocal arrangements with our club to swap newsletters and magazines. In the future I will endeavour to produce a carefully annotated index, updated in subsequent issues, to provide information for members.

A more felicitous discovery is that our mail-box and past correspondence boasts a trickle of international inquiries concerning sea-kayaking in Australia. Thus far two USA women have written asking for information about our paddling calendar over Summer. I presume this stems from our listing in Sea-Kayaker magazine. I hope we see them.

To all concerned please note that there is a brief meeting of the executive scheduled for Patonga early Saturday evening prior to the festivities and entertainment.

Finally I would encourage members interested in experimenting with waves and surf to attend the inaugural Surfing at Coledale weekend in December (see trip calendar). Im sure we will all get wet together. Not such a bad thing.

South Coast News [22]

By Nick Gill

I am writing having just returned from a weekend in which Norm Sanders’ new, hand-built, cedar strip kayak was christened. Norm, who has been working on this boat for some months, couldn’t bring himself to smash a bottle over the glistening varnish, contenting himself with pouring champagne over the bow. (Inuit ceremonies used the owner’s urine! L.H.)

Paddle reports of the kayak are positive so far, with rapid acceleration and good tracking. It is indeed a joy to behold, and I’m sure Norm will attract the attention on beaches this summer.

Look out for Norm and ‘Tigara’ (an Eskimo village on the Bering Sea) at Patonga in November.

Introduction of a rating system for club paddles so that people can get some idea of what they are in for, has been the topic of some discussion. In South Australia Investigator Canoe Club uses the sea kayaking certification levels to indicate the level of skill needed to participate in a given paddle. Thus, a beginner’s paddle would be labelled ‘I’ for Introductory, and a more difficult paddle labelled ‘P’ for Proficiency. These letters would be part of each advertised paddle in the club’s calendar.

Peter McCabe and David Winkworth report that channel seven’s ‘Getaway’ holiday program has taken an interest in sea kayaking. In October the program crew were expected to film a segment featuring Peter and kayaks. Keep your ears open for the showing of the segment.

Recent paddles down south have highlighted some safety issues that should be considered, even short day paddles in apparently benign conditions. In October, at Broulee Norm Sanders and myself were pottering around the bay in calm, pleasant conditions. However, by mid afternoon we found ourselves wet and cold on a SE facing beach with a strong (and cold) SW wind blowing. Launching from the beach proved problematic, the entire bay a mass of whitecaps, and we were forced to retreat to the shelter of the forest. Fortunately, we had both a stove and warm clothes, and were able to brew up a cup of tea and remain warm. The incident brought home to us the need to always be prepared for adverse conditions, even in apparently innocuous circumstances. ‘You never know what you’re doing until you’ve done it, you never know where you’re going until you’re there’.

On a separate weekend, the need to be aware of what is happening to other members of your group was reinforced. Having spent some time around a headland and gauntlets, we returned to a sheltered beach for lunch. However, one member of the group was missing and no-one knew where he was. It turned out that he had become separated from his boat in a nasty surf, with a strong rip flowing, and was in trouble. It was only by immediately returning to search for him that further potential trouble was avoided.

Despite the above incidents paddling is alive and well down south, and on a recent paddle there were three new Canberra paddlers, including one completely new to sea kayaking. The ‘Canberra Pod’ remains active and paddles frequently. Give the Canberra crew a ring if you want to come down.

Easy Weekend: Beautiful Place

Never been on a club paddle? Don’t know what you’d be getting yourself into? A bit worried about having to paddle 40 km and do a surf landing? Haven’t done much paddling? Then we have the weekend for you. On February 11 & 12 there will be a weekend of gentle paddling at Honeymoon Bay (in Jervis Bay).

Honeymoon Bay is small, cute, very sheltered, easy to launch from, easy to land in, and gives access to beautiful Jervis Bay.

Member Profile [22]

Max & Sheila Newman

By Leigh Hemmings

In their 60s, Max and Sheila’s energy and enthusiasm for the outdoors come across strongly. There’s an innate love for preservation of wild places, of local conservation, and a sense of fun and good fortune at being alive to it all. The exquisitely hand crafted model of a Greenland skin kayak which has pride of place in their home gives you a clue about Max and Sheila’s most recent kayaking experience. (See next issue of NSW Sea Kayaker) but they began with local trips.

I asked about life before sea kayaking. Max it turns out was the catalyst for their shared paddling adventures since he has a background of adventure travel trips. Ten years of Himalayan trekking and white water rafting gave him a good grounding in outdoor experiences. And while Max started off Sheilas paddling (they went courting in a kayak on Myall Lakes) a son of a friend started Max off by inveigling him into the Hawkesbury Classic. That Max’s partner was 25 years his junior didnt seem any bother. Max and Sheila now regularly compete in the classic. (This year was Max’s 5th and Sheila’s 4th.)

Asking them why they go sea kayaking you get an inkling of their personal philosophy as well as their enjoyment of being together. Akin with many paddlers, the feeling of being in love with life and at the same time being able to share silence, total isolation and freedom were motivating factors which they both feel just as strongly today. And there’s that sense of space tinged with excitement which grips them each time they launch the boat and head off — be it in south west Tasmania or on the Spit to paddle across the Harbour for breakfast. It is in the latter supposedly ‘civilised’ sort of paddle where you sense their enjoyment of the known mixed with the unknown. It might be a harbour surrounded by nearly 4 million people, but there is still a sense of being alone and slightly vulnerable.

Max and Sheila still have their first boat (an Estuary Twin), but it has been joined in the garage rack by a Tasman Twin. The Tasman they rate as an excellent dry boat, fast paddling with good storage. Also tucked away is a folding boat, the Amphibian 11 (designed by Peter Poole), a purpose purchase for a very special trip– Bathurst Harbour in south west Tasmania.

The Bathurst Harbour trip was mentioned by both as providing two memorable sea kayaking experiences. Firstly when they were kayaking on what seemed like molten glass, then were later dismissively pushed back over the same water when the famous west coast weather let loose. Max and Sheila also nominated paddling in the ice fields of Greenland (see next issue) and sunsets on the Great Barrier Reef as some of their most wonderful sea kayaking times. Not so wonderful was a rugged experience off Hook Island.

Max and Sheila always paddle as a team, they regard this as essential to utilise each other’s strengths. Sheila has a much greater sense of direction (she steers from the front), while Max is stronger. Naturally both would encourage others of their age and younger to take up sea kayaking. They rate the activity as inexpensive and practical, using boats which are easy to handle and have low upkeep. Paddling, they say, gives them a feeling of strength as well as helping to maintain their fitness and health. This is not to give the idea of a pair of fitness fanatics who live at the gym prior to major paddling trips. I asked about the preparation for their Greenland trip and was told they had done a lot of gardening!

As for likes and dislikes on trips –they would both like to know why no-one has yet designed a spray deck that doesn’t leak! If they could have found it, such a skirt would have made it onto their personal essentials trip list. This is now a padded seat, Pelican box (for cameras), Mars bars and a Goretex hat made by Outdoor Research.

President’s Report [22]

By David Winkworth

Hello Everyone. Firstly an apology. My extreme lateness in getting this report to Editor Leigh Hemmings has meant that you’ve all probably been wondering where the magazine is! I sincerely apologise for the delay.

The Club’s AGM was held on 27 August. Attendance numbers at 27 were lower than expected especially considering the calibre of our guest speaker. More on that in a moment.

Highest on my list of priorities in this report is to thank the outgoing committee for their efforts in the club’s past year. It was another good year for the club with membership continuing to climb. Special thanks for this success must go to retiring President Patrick Dibben who for the past 2 years has acted as Editor of the magazine, fulfilled the role of Secretary and also held his elected position of President. Patrick and I have had many long late night phone chats over the last year or so, and I know the vast amount of work he has done for the club. We owe him a great deal. Thanks Patrick.

Voting results at the AGM are as follows: I was elected President with Gary Edmond taking on the Secretary’s role. Peter Adams accepted Treasurer and Leigh Hemmings is our Editor. Dirk Stuber again took on the job of Trips Convenor but tendered his resignation from the job some weeks later due to family commitments. Thank you for your help Dirk. At the Committee meeting on 19.9.94 we welcomed Arunas Pilka to the position of Trips Convenor. You can hear Arunas on our Infoline anytime … updated midweekly.

Our guest speaker at the AGM was Paul Caffyn. Paul, a New Zealander, was in Australia not only to talk at our meeting, but also to promote his latest book The Dreamtime Voyage which is an account of his Australia circumnavigation by sea kayak. I think his book is fantastic and deserves to be on all sea kayakers bookshelf…OK, this is, I believe, Paul’s second talk to sea kayakers in Sydney, the first being at Canoe Sports at Narrabeen about 18 months ago. Since then, Paul has released his book and at the AGM he was questioned on many stories in it. If Paul comes to Australia again to talk to sea kayakers, dont miss it!

In General Business at the AGM, discussion took place on training, the Club’s Constitution, aims and objectives, funding from Government sources for training, provision of grading and more information on the Calendar. You should find that in the latest Club Calendar.

On behalf of all club members, I extend a warm welcome to all new members. I hope that we can organise training and paddling outings to your liking. Please feel free to call any Committee member is a you strike a problem on our waterways. Our Infoline is a great way to keep in touch. Make use of it. Leave a message! As summer approaches, remember …there is no substitute for time in your boat.

From the Net [22]

Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club

The Tasmanian Sea Canoeing Club is organising a trip from Little Musselroe Bay on the north-eastern corner of Tasmania to the northern end of Flinders Island, via Swan, Clarke, Cape Barren and numerous smaller islands, and invites members of mainland groups to join us.

There are limited berths and car spaces available on the TT line ferry Spirit of Tasmania leaving Melbourne for Devonport on Monday 9th January, and returing from Devonport on Saturday evening 4th February. They have indicated that they will accept kayaks unaccompanied by cars, and we will provide ransport to and from Devonport for paddlers and kayaks who require it. We will also provide billets for anyone who wishes to arrive earlier or leave later.

The plan is to paddle to Swan Island, Clarke Island, Preservation Island,western end of Cape Barren Island, Long Island then up to Killiecrankie at the northern end of flinders via the islands Mt Chappell, East Kangaroo and Prime Seal if the weather permits. We can go on to the Sisters Islands if we feel like it. Then return along the west coast of Flinders, explore the Franklin and Armstrong Channels and the wreck of the Vansittart before returning to the southern tip of Clarke and crossing back to little Musselroe Bay.

Much of the trip will be coastal paddling under conditions which should not be difficult. Some of the hops between islands off the west coast of Flinders are open sea crosssings of the order of 10km, and they can be abandoned if the weather is unsuitable. However the crosssing from Swan Island to Clarke Islands is a serious crosssing of about 18km. Tide changes produce strong currents in the shallow water, and can form large overfalls and very rough conditions. The crossing takes 2/12 to 3 hours and needs to be synchronised both with the slack tide and with times when the tidal changes are small. Provided that is done, (and the weather is appropriate) the crossing should be straight forward, but it is essential that paddlers are competent and their equipment sea-worthy.

Anybody interested in coming should contact me at

150 Summerleas Road
Fern Tree
Tas 7054
Phone (002) 391 518
Mike Emery (Commodore)


Are you on the Wave~Length?

A new 40 page magazine format, non-glossy, recycled newsprint, easily recycled and still FREE.

In celebration of their fifth year!

Wave~Length is distributed free throughout the Pacific Northwest, but for local paddlers it is also avaliable on the InterNet.

Use Web BBS (WaveNet@web.apc.org) to interact with the global community.

Contents in the November/December edition includes:

  • Fishing from a kayak.
  • Through the surf zone.
  • File a trip plan.
  • To fish or not to fish.
  • Doing our part for preservation.
  • Kayak Regatta
  • Submarine Dead Ahead
  • Seaward’s new kayak cart.


Haida Song for Smoother Waters

Ocean Spirit
calm the waves for me
get close to me, my power
my heart is tired
make the sea like milk for me


(Info thanks to Nick Gill)

Kayak Builders and Tinkerers

Is anyone interested in a a weekend get to gether to talk over the joys and despair of constructing your own sea kayak and or making serious modifications to a commercially constructed one? This is Norm Sanders idea and could be along the lines of a casual or structured weekend of show and tell, slide shows, practical hands on building or brainstroming on how to get over various problems. Norm has his stripper kayak, Leigh Hemmings has a epoxy/ply boat and Peter Witt has a couple of stitch and glue boats. Though these are all timber based, the idea is for all forms of construction to be dealt with. If you are interested please register with Norm Sanders or Leigh Hemmings before the end of December.

Build your Own Sea Kayak

If you’d like to build a sea kayak but still are not quite sure what do do, why not join class on ‘Build Your Own Sea Kayak’ in January 1995 or try their owner/workshop arrangement. Details from Ian Smith, Woodcraft Boats Mortlake Phone (02) 743 5349

Life and Sex of the Kayak

It is interesting…that in the Aleut oral tradition, the kayak is not an object; it is a living being, male, a hunting partner which attempts to identify itself with its master and would like to share his married life. Their fates, indeed, are bound up together, and their lives end at the same time: they disappear at sea together, or, on land, share the same grave.
The Aleut Kayak‘, Joelle Robert-Lamblin