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Aotearoa, the Maori name for New Zealand, is the last large piece of the temperate and sub-tropical world to be colonised by men and ground-living mammals. Some of its flora and fauna are descended from ancient Gondwanaland, from which New Zealand split eighty million years ago. The Islands evolved unique flora and flightless birds large and small, the only alpine parrot and some of the world’s most accomplished songbirds. Despite this lineage, it is difficult to find any landforms older than 14,000 years.

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One side of New Zealand has white-capped mountains, glaciers, hot springs, caves and volcanoes. It is home to the wild places like Fiordland, the Southern Alps, Mount Taranaki, Rotorua and the Western rain forests. This is the place the tourists come to see and play in. The other New Zealand is agricultural. It is tame, tidy country, marked off by high, long hedges and paddocks, extensive irrigation. A place that looks like it could well hide a hillside of hobbits. It hosts kiwifruit and vineyards, apple orchards, dairy and deer farms, and, of course, the ubiquitous sheep. None of the country’s native plants or animals have been domesticated or used in any commercially sustainable way; all the crops come from the Northern hemisphere.

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The entire archipelago of New Zealand takes in some seven hundred islands, but most of the land mass is accounted for by the unimaginatively named North and South Islands. To the Maori, they are Te Ika a Maui (the Fish of Maui) for the North, and Te Waka a Maui (the Canoe of Maui) for the South. The coastline is enormously long, 15,000 kms (9,300 miles), but you are never more than 130 kms (80 miles) from the coast. A North-South hiking trail called Te Araroa has been in existence for a little over ten years now. It covers slightly over 3000 kms (1875 miles) from North to South.

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So far, only about two hundred people have done the whole thing. Last year, a Melbourne-based adventurer named Richard Bowles became the first person to actually run it. It took him just 65 days, but was the toughest thing he had ever done. “I was running in the notorious Taraua Range and the wind blew me clear off the ridge line. I tumbled 200 metres before my pack got wedged in some rocks.”

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Our adventure was going to be a great deal less taxing, We would be venturing out with guides in stable, sea worthy kayaks. We would be based at a cabin about a one-hour drive north of the town of Paihia, on the Bay of Islands, in what is called the Northland. To get to the tourist town of Paihia without driving requires booking passage on one of the two bus lines that runs between Auckland and Paihia. Thanks to the frequent stops to pick up and drop off passengers along the way, the journey takes four long hours. Fortunately, we were given a very quiet room at our motel in Paihia and got a good night’s sleep. We did not fare so well at the end of our kayak adventure.

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On this particular trip we were going to be the beneficiaries of an old friendship between our outfitter, a hybrid Kiwi/American named Mark Hutson, and his good friend Richard Israel. Richard’s property was to be our home base. We would take up residence in a rustic cabin without electricity but with running water, cooker and a huge picture window overlooking the rugged coastline. Our bathroom was in the great outdoors, a short, walk up hill. There was a flush toilet, au natural if you will, and a very refreshing cold water shower to get the salt off.

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Fortunately, for every day except Christmas, the weather Gods smiled. During our five day sojourn together we snorkelled off an island that dates from the Permian extinction, paddled the rugged coastline around Tauranga Bay and Whangaroa, explored caves, checked out a Maori site called a Pa and threaded our way through a mangrove swamp and up a beautiful creek. We swapped stories and favourite books, shared anecdotes and laughed a lot.

On Christmas morning Mark, his helpers and family members treated us to eggs Benedict and presents. Despite some reservations, I dressed up as Santa Claus for the occasion even though I had no presents to offer. Perhaps this post will make up for it. With everyone around me wearing antlers, what else could I do?

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Check out the rest of the photos by clicking any of the pics that run alongside this post in the More Pics box. That will take you to my Flickr site. I am Red Flier on that site, but the name has nothing to do with Santa Claus. It has to do with a bicycle, but you guessed that already. Until next year.


There is a moment in every adventure worth writing about that takes your breath away. If you’re an adrenaline junkie, it might be leaping out of a plane.  If you are anything like me, it can be triggered by a spectacular sunset or the sight of a sheer cliff dropping off into the turbulent sea below. On this particular trip,  an unnatural, diagonal line on the sea set my heart to fluttering.

I suspected it was emanating from Cape Chignecto.  As I sat in the kayak, mesmerized, I heard the imperative words of our guide, Luciano– “Backpaddle, now!” He did not want us to get sucked beyond that line until the tidal turmoil had subsided and we were good and ready for the crossing.  I paddled backwards furiously, easing the boat away from the invisible threat.  Here be dragons!

It was a trip that began, as these things do, with a simple suggestion from me to my wife that we should have a little fun before we packed up and headed back to Australia. We had both been working a fair amount since arriving back in Nova Scotia. My wife had been consumed with her part of co-authoring the chapter of a book. I had been trying to make some headway on a long list of things that had been neglected at the Stewart House, everything from having a dead tree cut down to cleaning up the carriage house.

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We hadn’t been to the other side of the Bay of Fundy in some time, and a little nosing around on the internet revealed that NovaShores, a kayak outfitter, was offering a three-day trip around Cape Chignecto. It was an opportunity to see some of the most spectacular cliffs in Nova Scotia. There were two significant question marks to be considered: the weather and our ability to handle this kind of paddling trip. If my wife had had more time to focus on the risk involved, she might have pulled the plug, but our contact with the outfitter and the guide was very reassuring.

Our immersion in Bay of Fundy waters had taken place over twenty years ago with one of the small companies offering Zodiac boat “surfing” on what is called the tidal bore. This refers to a wave that precedes high tide by a couple of hours. The rubber rafting companies offer tourists a chance to zip across the wave as it forces its way up the Shubenacadie, a large river near the end of the Bay.

Twice a day, the tide hits the river, sending salt water up and over the fresh water flowing into the Bay. The wave is usually not high, but it is powerful, and surfing across it in a Zodiac can be like white-water rafting on a field of liquid red mud.  Bald eagles often soar overhead.

I doubt if any of the companies still do this, but we were encouraged to jump into the river about halfway through our tour. With our life jackets in place we bobbed along like corks. The guide told us to take a good look around, then close our eyes for a whole minute. When we opened them the landscape around us had changed. We were moving very fast up the river, but couldn’t feel our speed because we were part of the flow.  It was a memorable experience, a Bay of Fundy baptism.

There are two places on the Bay of Fundy that generate serious turbulence. They stick out like scimitars into the most powerful body of tidal water in the world. Cape Split is only forty minutes from our place, and Cape Chignecto is the other, on the opposite shore. At Chignecto the incoming waters split in two. Part of the tide goes up into Chignecto Bay. The rest rushes into the Minas Channel, squeezing around the cliff called Cape Split, then shooting down Cobequid Bay and eventually up the Shubenacadie.

All of this takes place slowly at first, then gradually increases to fast walk, a trot a canter, then a gallop. Twice a day one hundred billion tons of sea water sloshes in and out of the giant, mud bathtub called Fundy. The water can travel five miles inland or five stories up, depending on the topography it encounters. The force is equal to 25 million horsepower. You don’t want to get caught around a headland when the tide is coming in, at one inch a minute.

It was the morning of July 5. The trip had been delayed one day by weather, but it was still on. Our small group gathered for a briefing at the home base of NovaShores in Advocate Harbour. Our fearless leader, Luciano, was a transplant from Quebec with Italian roots. The other guests looked to be in their late thirties. Glen and Marcia had driven all the way from New Jersey in a tightly packed Mini. It was their first time in Nova Scotia and the kayak trip was the centerpiece of their vacation. After signing the waivers and getting our gear, we piled in our cars for the drive to Spicer’s Cove.

Double kayaks may look roomy, but cramming the “essentials” (plus the gourmet goodies we all eagerly anticipated as a perk of hard paddling) into two tandems and a single is a fine art that requires patience, skill and experience. After lugging the boats and all the gear across the rock strewn beach, we were more than happy to leave most of the packing to our guide.

Our drive up had been through scrub forest, covering an area of amazing geological diversity. This was a boundary area of tectonic collisions, when a huge chunk of ancient Africa broke off and attached itself to the North American plate. More than a dozen rock types make up the plateau that formed the backdrop of our trip.

Our route would take us southeast, tracing a leisurely semicircle back toward Advocate Harbour. The cars would magically reappear at the end of our trip. Despite our early start, it was noon by the time we were ready to launch, and from our point of view the timing couldn’t have been better. In the time it had taken to get all the gear into the boats and our bodies into the PFDs and spray skirts, the tide had come in and the sea was lapping at the hulls. One push and we were off.

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On the water, a kayak trip soon turns into variations on rhythm, the stroke of the paddle, the counter stroke of wave against boat, the dip and pull of another stroke. We launched in fog, but by lunch time that had burned off and the rest of our trip was fine. The first day established the pattern– a late start dictated by the demands of breaking down the camp, rolling up mattresses, having breakfast, brushing teeth and then packing everything back into the tight confines of the hatches.

And we had serious tides to consider. Hauling the kayaks up above the high tide mark was essential to avoid having our sleep interrupted by sea water. Our journey would take us past Squally Point, the Three Sisters, Seal Cove, and French Lookout.  Two spots were haunted by memory– Eatonville and Refugee Cove.

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Each party in a group adventure of this kind brings something to the table, jokes, anecdotes, songs or some ability that others don’t generally take for granted. Glen and Marcia brought the candor and off-beat humor that New Yorkers seem to cultivate as a mark of the tribe. Marcia’s artistic temperament came into focus as soon as she discovered a rudimentary driftwood creation on the beach. By the time we left it had been transformed into something worthy of an exhibition.

Luciano brought his paddling skills, of course, navigation, trip coordination, culinary talents, and a repertoire of songs.  My wife brought stories and her inimitable skill at starting fires the old-fashioned way.  I brought along my own stock of anecdotes and enough cameras to cover a wedding. Unfortunately, only one was waterproof.

Refugee Cove and Eatonville represent two eras in Nova Scotia history– the unhappy end of the Acadian saga, and Nova Scotia’s golden age of sailing ships. The Cove is the only significant break in the southern escarpment.  It is fronted by a high cobblestone beach littered with logs and a sheltered flood plain beyond the beach. Acadians fled here in 1755, at the time of the Great Expulsion, struggling to survive one winter on game and fish. Later, a logging operation would operate here for some time.

In the 1870’s the Eaton Brothers established a settlement at an anchorage on the western shore of Chignecto Bay, naming it after themselves. Twenty-one boats were built here, including one that weighed over 1,550 tons.  The lumbering and wooden shipbuilding industries would soon be replaced by iron and steam, however, and the community was abandoned by 1920.  It was a peaceful, beautiful spot, offering us a fine place for a gourmet lobster lunch.

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Our progress toward the Cape was slow but inexorable. All the while my wife’s anxieties about the traverse had been gnawing away at her. On previous trips, we had both encountered waves for which we were wholly unprepared. I had been dumped unceremoniously into the freezing waters of the Nahanni, and twice into the Bonaventure River.  Both immersions had been from canoes, however, not kayaks.

We both knew the Bay of Fundy was no cakewalk, but I had more faith in the stability of the the big, Quebec-built tandem than she did. Fortunately, the weather on the day we encountered the Cape was absolutely perfect. Our timing was a little off thanks to our habitually late start.  We had arrived about three hours before slack tide, so when Luciano told us to back paddle, we did not hesitate to do as he suggested.

We retreated to the nearest beach and sought shelter from the sun until the time was propitious for the crossing. It was a quiet time, a little tense. In the interest of balancing our strengths, we switched paddling partners. The water crept up the beach. It was time to go. When we reached the mesmerizing line that had extended out from the Cape, it had disappeared.

We were near slack tide, and the waves would carry us on into West Advocate with very little effort required to keep the boats moving.   As we shot around Chignecto, atabatic winds barreled down off the bluff, whipping up the water and nearly tearing the paddle out of my wife’s hands.  In no time at all, the Cape was behind us. The rock formations of the cliffs were stunning, but we were moving too fast for more than a couple of photos.  I could not do them justice with my waterproof camera.

We were past the Cape, moving fast and it felt good.  We were on our way home.

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We are wrapping up the first phase of our stay in Durham and we have barely scratched the surface.  I’ve visited Chapel Hill twice, and I have yet to visit Raleigh, the state capital, which is only thirty miles from here.  I feel I may be failing to educate my readers about the Triangle area of North Carolina, but  it takes time to settle into a new place, to find a new doctor and dentist, to discover the things worth doing and seeing.  It is a process with which I am long familiar.  One step forward, two steps back.  It is the price one pays for geographic variety, the cost of being a nomad.

The two parts of North Carolina that attract tourists in droves are the mountains and the sea.  The state has been blessed with attractive proportions of both landscapes.  The Appalachians run up through the western part of the state and the barrier islands, the Outer Banks, maintain a tenuous foothold against the waves of the Atlantic.

In the last ten days, I have been to both areas, for very different reasons.  The first trip was easier in terms of distance and the driving, although the route finding was a little tricky.  I have invested in yet another GPS to replace the one I lost to the smash and grab man.  This one should help keep us on track. I am tempted to call this the land equivalent of the Bermuda triangle, since I discovered that I am not the only one who finds it impossible to get one’s bearings here.  I have adjusted the voice of the GPS to guide me in Italian, rather than English.  Silvia’s voice is pleasant, far gentler than her American counterpart, and if she does anything to bring back my Italian language skills I will be grateful.

The destination for our first significant outing was the coastal town of Swansboro, some three hours away by car.  The village lies about half-way down the North Carolina coast, below the bulge of Cape Hatteras, tucked in underneath the old town of Beaufort.  You can place it by its proximity to the Croatan National Forest and Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base.  Marines and marine life are the main focus of the people who live in Swansboro.  Camp LeJeune is home to some 40,000 Marines, so they have a significant impact on the economy and the lives of the local population.   Swansboro is home to boat nomads and fisherman as well.  The shrimping season will start soon.

A long lost relative had sent me an unabridged CD set of a book by Arthur Upfield, which made the drive pass very quickly.  Roger was astounded to learn that I had spent three years Down Under and never read any of Upfield’s books.  The author of the “Bony” books grew up in England but settled in Australia in 1910 at the age of twenty.  After the War, he immersed himself in the aboriginal culture and life in the Outback, then wrote a popular series of mysteries with a half-caste hero as the protagonist, a man with the unlikely name of Napoleon Bonaparte.

His books depict life in the forties and fifties, but the Outback changes slowly, so much of what he depicts is probably accurate to this day.  The “Bushranger of the Skies” had us both hooked.  Tony Hillerman credits Upfield with some of the inspiration for his own series of mysteries starring Jim Chee of the Navaho Tribal Police.  At a rest stop, my wife was so absorbed with the narrative that she felt we were back in Australia.  Everything around us was out of place.

Our journey to the North Carolina coast had a simple mission–  to enjoy a little rest and relaxation on the water.  Lamar Hudgens launched Barrier Island Kayaks fourteen years ago.  He offers kayak rentals, guided trips and instruction out of a building right on the water.  He is one of a handful of Americans qualified by the British Canoe Union with a five star rating, but we had not come to take advantage of his expertise on this particular trip.  We were there for the scenery, the paddling, and the zen-like calmness that comes when you are out on the water and into the rhythm of self propulsion.

The Waterway Inn is literally right next door, so we were able to check in, change clothes, grab some lunch and get out on the water by mid-afternoon of the same Saturday we departed from Durham.  With Bob Patterson as our guide, we paddled through the marsh lands and hunted for sharks teeth on one of the islands close to town.  We learned to identify birds and get a feel for the tide.  We learned to dodge the maniacs on jet skis.

Sunday morning after breakfast, Bob led the way toward Bear Island.   The trip out to the uninhabited barrier island was mesmerizing, offering us a variety of birds and seascapes, and we were fortunate in our timing, having the benefit of a returning tide on our way back.  It is like being carried on the back of a giant whale, being pushed by the sea.  Green turtles, loggerheads and even giant leatherbacks lay their eggs on the island.  I am glad there are no lights to distract them, that their offspring will be able to make their way easily back into the ocean.

I hate to visualize them making their way through the black muck that is spreading like cancer in the Gulf, but I have no doubt it is happening.  Bear Island is beautiful.  Like the turtles that come back year after year, we too will return.


When you are deep into a vicious game of A_sehole, up against the devious El Presidente, you never, ever want to be forced into picking up a fistful of cards. The whole point of the game is to whittle your hand down to none as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I had no choice. An ace had just been played and I had no “two” or “ten” to beat it. El Presidente’s eyes gleamed in the night. Damn!

It was raining softly, the last night of our kayak expedition down the Freycinet Peninsula. The six of us were huddled under a tarp playing one of the most perverse card games ever invented, the rules of which changed continuously as the evening progressed.

It is a little-known fact that river and kayak guides spend much of their spare time inventing such games in order to drive their clients to bed so the trip leaders can have some peace and quiet after a long day. It is an unknown fact that opossums, the pests of campgrounds in this part of the planet, hang around simply to sit in on such games. They are, in fact, avid card players, but we ignore them or even drive them away, assuming they are after dessert.

This adventure began on a sunny day a month earlier when we stumbled into the office of Freycinet Adventures in the town of Coles Bay. It was our reconnaissance trip to Tasmania. We had worked our way slowly across the top half of the island, sampling Cradle Mountain and the wines of the Tamar Valley before dropping down the East coast to check out the spectacular scenery and do a little paddling.

It was after we had arranged to rent a kayak for half a day that Nikki said, “You really should come back and take advantage of our four day Easter paddle.” To set bait for two people who love to get out on the water you don’t need much more temptation than that. We were hooked.

Down in the southern hemisphere, Easter is the last gasp of summer. Everyone here heads for the great outdoors. Fortunately, with a bit of head start, we were able to book two nights at a wonderful B&B in Coles Bay called Sheoaks. That was our anchor. After that, I cast the net for a place to stay in Hobart, for flights and a car.

With only one night and a morning in Australia’s second oldest city, we were not able to see a great deal. It was Good Friday, after all. Many of the shops and restaurants and all the museums were closed. Fortunately, we were staying at Colville Cottage in the old port area known as Battery Point within walking distance of Salamanca Place. The City seemed sleepy, but not half as sleepy as it would be in winter, when it appears to function mainly as a jumping off point for scientists on their way to Antarctica.

The first European to visit the Freycinet peninsula was the ubiquitous Abel Tasman, for whom Tasmania itself is named. He named Schouten Island (our home for two nights) but mistook the peninsula for an island. A French expedition in 1802 provided the area with most of its current place names. A whaling station was established in 1824, followed by quarrying and mining operations until it became one of Tasmania’s very first national parks in 1916.

The high pink granite outcrops that plunge down into the sea at Freycinet are part of the same geologic formation as Wilson’s Promontory, three hours south of Melbourne. With sufficient planning, preparation and stamina, it is possible to kayak Bass Strait, separating Tasmania from Australia, thanks to a handful of small islands bridging the gap.

Our jaunt would be a paddle in the park by comparison. We gathered on the beach on Saturday morning for the first time. Our companions were a congenial brother and sister team from Newcastle. Our guides, Tim and Matt, took turns going through the safety procedures, then helped us cram our personal gear into the hatches.

Soon we were on the water. There is something magical about being self-propelled on the ocean. Everything falls away. It is just you, the waves and the glint of the sun. We made our way slowly along the shoreline down to the bottom of Hazards beach.

It was just enough paddling to feel the weight of the boat, the heat of the sun. We set up camp and had lunch, then our four companions headed off on foot for Wineglass Bay. We had hiked there on our previous visit, so we took advantage of the lazy afternoon and had a nap.

It may be possible to actually lose weight on a Freycinet Adventures trip, but I can’t picture it. When our two guides broke out the wine and the chocolate fondue on the very first evening, I knew it was all over. We were in for a gourmet indulgence. Fortunately, we had some hard paddling booked for Easter Sunday- fourteen or fifteen kilometers to Schouten Island. Once there, we could set up camp for good and enjoy ourselves.

And so we did. We paddled the choppy waters of the open ocean, hiked to the top of Bear Hill , swam a bit (keeping a wary eye out for the stingrays), walked the beach, watched the billowing sails of boats in the distance, wined and dined, told stories and played cards.

The game is insane, of course. It is called A_sehole. Just so you know, the trick is– keep your tens.


The yacht race to Hobart may have grabbed the headlines, but more far more challenging events have been happening on the Tasman Sea. A four person rowing team arrived in Sydney Harbour the morning of December 30th 31 days after departing New Zealand.

Steve Gates, Andrew Johnson, Kerry Tozer and Sally Macready rowed across the “ditch” in a purpose-built, twin cabin boat made of balsa and fiberglass.  Thirty-three feet long, it weighed a ton and a half fully loaded.  They are the first Australians to make the passage under their own steam. Check out pics before they disappear at: http://www.theage.com.au/photogallery/2007/12/30/1198949663732.html.

Early in the arduous journey, a four-day storm generating thirty foot waves forced the rowers to hole up in the tight space of the boat. “When you’re stuck in there for four days with three people, you’ve got condensation running down the walls, everything’s wet, you’re wet… and there’s no room, so if one person moves they kick the other person in the head – that’s pretty tough,” Mr Gates said.

Two days out they lost their sea anchor. The replacement lasted only eight hours. One of the solar panels failed, as did pins in the rudder. Despite headwinds and huge waves, they had a fast and relatively safe passage considering the perils. On Christmas night, however, they were almost run down by a freighter.

Only quick action with a powerful spotlight saved them from disaster. They had been rowing in pairs, two hours on and two hours off, 24 hours a day, cat napping in the cabins in between shifts. Their mental toughness was amazing, and they may have brought a new term into the lexicon: butt blisters.

Among the first to congratulate the team by wireless were two kayakers still out in the ditch as it is commonly called by seafarers. James Castrission and Justin Jones started their journey nearly two weeks earlier from the town of Forster, just north of Sydney. Plagued by storms and adverse currents, it took them nearly a month to reach the halfway point. For two entire weeks they made virtually no progress, adding about 1000 kms to the crossing.

A recent podcast from the “womb” of their boat, Lot 41, describes two “rather large predators” who are rubbing themselves up against the hull like curious cats. The sharks were attracted when Justin went overboard to remove a buildup of barnacles.  The two young men are exhausted, struggling to maintain morale.  They are still over 400 kilometers from New Zealand.  Log on at : http://www.crossingtheditch.com.au/

The Tasman Sea has been crossed before by the solo New Zealand kayaker, Colin Quincy, in 1976, but the two young men out there in the ditch are no doubt haunted by the loss of  Australian Andrew McAuley, who disappeared last February within sight of the coast of NZ.  His kayak was found but his body has never been recovered.

If there have been any positive repercussions from the McAuley tragedy, it may be the trepidation of the trip itself.  Extraordinary precautions have been taken by both teams to ensure that their young lives were not been jeopardized by inadequate preparation for the challenges of crossing the ditch.  Dangerous adventures such as this deserve no less.


The annual general meeting of the Victorian Sea Kayak Club gave us an excuse to get out of Melbourne and find out more about sea kayaking down under. We joined the Club in May, but had done nothing to pursue our interest aside from checking Ebay for second-hand kayaks. We knew no one, so it was with something approaching trepidation that we drove down the Mornington Peninsula at rush hour on a Friday afternoon.

We have had three kayaks in the course of our time together. The first was, in fact, a tandem sea kayak that we purchased somewhat rashly when we were about to launch our lives in the direction of the Philippines. We were ready to send a 20 foot container on its way from Nova Scotia when my wife asked the mover (one day before pickup) if an eighteen foot kayak would fit inside. Sure, he said.

We didn’t, in fact, have a kayak. But the mover knew someone in Halifax who sold sea kayaks and it just so happened that he had a tandem that would meet our needs. We didn’t realize at the time that the Philippines are entirely too hot for anything but sit-a-boards. The one, and only time we took it on the ocean was a complete fiasco. Mostly we used it on Lake Taal, a huge volcanic crater lake a couple hours south of Manila.

The other two kayaks were “creek” boats that we bought when we moved to Northern Florida. It didn’t take long for us to discover that kayaking the spring fed creeks and rivers with a naturalist was the best possible way to enjoy our time in Gainesville. Gators or not.

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Sleek sea beasts of all shapes and sizes decorated the roof racks of cars, vans and trucks at Merrick’s Lodge, our home for the weekend. The Lodge is located on the eastern shore of the Peninsula, across from Phillip Island. It was constructed to meet the needs of church groups. Bunk beds and block bathrooms sent me back to my summer camp days.

But campfires have been replaced by computers. Friday evening began with Powerpoint presentations by members who had done a couple of notable paddles– a long solo trip south from Sydney to Cape Conran in Victoria, and a Bass Strait crossing from Victoria to Tasmania.

These are both daunting paddles, making me wonder if we had settled in among amateur “hikers”whose credentials rivaled that of Edmund Hillary. Despite my worries, we were reassured by Les and Helen Doyle, who did a recent paddling trip to a very remote area of Canada– Baffin Island. They adopted us and made us feel very welcome.

Saturday morning was glorious. There were half dozen group paddles scheduled. We signed up for one that seemed relatively easy, as we had rented a tandem for the weekend and it was not light. It took four hefty bodies to get it from the car down to the beach. Despite taking a drubbing for not having a line tethered to our paddles, we kept up with the pack and managed to make it back without falling too far behind.

The afternoon was devoted to the annual general meeting, followed in turn by the only catered meal of the entire weekend. Despite the less than luxurious facilities, there were no prohibitions on alcohol. We were in wine country, after all. So we kicked off our shoes and settled in for the evening. This time, there was a real slide show, by a climber, mountaineer and kayaker who had done some amazing adventures and taken fine photos.

Sunday morning was devoted to workshops covering everything from photography to fiberglass repair. We dropped in on one about kayak camping. How does one get everything you need for a week of kayak camping into a boat and out again? There are tricks involved, decisions to be made. Terry made it all seem simple, sharing his errors so we would not make the same ones.

In the afternoon, we said goodbye to our newfound friends and headed to an excellent local winery for lunch. Then we had a walk along the same beach we had paddled the day before. It was a long drive back. Sunday afternoon on the highway is not much better than Friday. But we had made connections, learned a little bit about the kayak community. Next time, perhaps, we’ll have boats and be able to roll them with aplomb.

If not, there will be a tale to tell.

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