20 October 2009

Bribe to Moreton attempt

Starring: Vanilla, Gnarlydog, Karrazy, Gary, April, Adventuretess
Guest Appearance: Sea Snake

A late start, incorrectly loaded kayaks and a below G2 pace in challenging conditions necessitated an on-water change to the trip plan.Within an hour it became clear Bribie to Moreton would have to become Bribie to Bribie and while disappointing, the weekend was still enjoyable and a new experience for some members of the group.
Like all good kayak trips, the weekend provided group members with some learnings to reflect on for their next G2 trip. It also highlighted skills that may need to be addressed in future training sessions.
While the plan changed, the group still had the opportunity to experience paddling in 15 – 20kn headwinds against the tide and feel the effects of paddling through highly confused water, but close to shore.
Post Moreton Island oil spill, marine life is returning to this area with plenty of birdlife, dolphins and swimming crabs surrounding us as we paddled.

This 15km crossing can be intimidating, exposing you to a range of conditions. Deep channels, strong currents, shallow sand banks, container ship traffic, marine life and weather variations make this an interesting paddle with few opportunities to stop for a break. Having undertaken this crossing several times in various conditions, the trip was planned with a minimum cruising speed of 5km per hour.

Launch morning proved to be a lesson in patience for participants as en route some were forced to wait out the aftermath of a motorway accident. The group eventually assembled at the launch site where severe beach erosion made packing the kayaks close to the water impossible. Packing was carried out high up in the dunes then the loaded kayaks were carried ** to the sliver of remaining beach to launch. An hour behind schedule the group was on the water.

** http://gnarlydognews.blogspot.com/2009/10/kayak-carry-straps.html for an article on carrying loaded sea kayaks

Within an hour of launching, Gary's GPS read that we were progressing at only 3.5 km/h. This speed was well below the planned pace. A 15 – 20knot headwind, strong outgoing current and the skill level of some group members indicated reaching Moreton would take at least 6 hours – double the planned time on the water. To the disappointment of some, the decision was made to turn back to Bribie.

Close to shore, highly confused water tossed the kayaks around offering the opportunity to low brace in small pitching waves (see movie below). For some this was a welcome chance to play, for others it was an anxious first experience of ‘washing machine’ water.

As conditions did not ease as was forecast and the group were prepared for an overnight trip, the decision was made to postpone Moreton and paddle north to camp on the ocean side of Bribie Island. With the wind and current now at our tails, we made fast progress for the first time that day. The ocean side of Bribie is remote but very busy in summer with 4wd vehicles traffic and fishermen.

Scouting for a semi protected campsite in the dunes, the first 'recon' was a success. Taking it in turns to land in the small surf, off the water a quick perusal of the area confirmed several campsite choices high above the waterline. The beach here was also severely eroded so the kayaks were emptied and lifted high out of the way of 4wdrive traffic.

A pleasant pre dinner happy hour was spent together in the dune grass, contemplating the meaning of life and reviewing the day, the view of Moreton Island teasing us in the distance.

In the evening, 3 of the group opted to go ultra-light and sleep without tents. There are several lagoons on the island so ultra-light camping requires a heavy application of tropical strength insect repellent. After the success of Vanilla’s home-made ‘Sand Fla Van’ in the Whitsundays, the concoction was shared around and we settled in for another glorious night under the stars.

Woken only once during the night by donuts (not the deep fried delicious kind, but the ‘beach bogan’ tear up the beach in your 4wd kind) we rose the following morning refreshed and bite free.

Vanilla’s early morning beach walk revealed a large sea snake lying on the sand just above the tide line, close to camp. Appearing to have difficulty making its own way back to the water we were concerned that this exquisite reptile would come to grief on the busy beach. The sea snake was gently encouraged back into the safety of its water habitat.

The forecast of increasing winds encouraged the group to start early. Launching was non-eventful and we enjoyed a slow paddle back with a 10knot head wind and an occasional dolphin for company.

Arriving back at the launch site close to high tide there was very little beach to land on. Kayaks had to be quickly hauled high out of reach of the encroaching tide.

While the trip may not have gone as planned, being adaptable meant the weekend was not wasted. The decision to turn back was not made lightly. As a QSKC trip leader I lead trips that offer others the opportunity to kayak, test their boundaries and increase their skills within the safety and structure of Australian Canoeing guidelines.
Just as I learn something about kayaking and trip leading on every paddle, I hope the members of this group learned something that will enhance their kayaking experience in future.

1 comment:

  1. On this trip to Moreton the speed of the group was too slow.
    Some paddlers just could not sustain the planned 5-6 Km/h.
    While majority of the participants probably would have been OK, a Club trip is a group affair where all paddlers stay together and can paddle only at the speed of the slowest paddler.
    It was a wise decision to turn around before exhaustion could have set in for some, too far away from shore.
    A skilled leader should be able to identify these problems and act accordingly.
    Tess was smart enough not to pursue the original plan, even if some paddlers questioned her decision.
    While the trip could just have been simply cancelled, amending the plan saved the day so we could still have an enjoyable outing, fun and a great night camping.