Tag Archives: Kayaking

Paddling Moreton Bay

I love to paddle

I love to paddle

Today was the final day of our Easter long weekend so my parents, best friend and I borrowed some kayaks and hit the water. Despite living so close to the bay, we’ve only explored it by kayak a few times by paddling around Coochiemudlo Island. So it was a real treat to get out today with my parents’ friends’ kayaks for a full day of exploration.

Getting ready to set off

Getting ready to set off

We set off from the Cabbage Tree Point boat ramp in the mid-morning. Like most of the coastline around Brisbane, the beach at Cabbage Tree Point is muddy and shallow. My parents loaded their cargo into the hull of their kayak while I strapped ours into dry bags in the back of the deck. It’s cooling down and the skies were overcast so I packed a waterproof jacket and pants, lightweight fleece jumper and windproof vest. Fortunately, I didn’t need them. I also packed food, billy and hiking gas stove. The extra water bottle in the photo was water so that I could boil Dad a cup of coffee (just instant) while out because I knew he’d like that.

Our route

Our route – Blue = before morning tea. Black = before lunch. Red = final leg

We didn’t have a set route in mind when we set off. We just decided to aim across the main channel and duck into the shallow water between the islands to see where we ended up. As it turned out, we spent most of our day in no more than 2 foot of water exploring waterways inaccessible by conventional boats.

My parents paddling

My parents paddling

For the first leg of our route we paddled across the main channel from Cabbage Tree Point. The water was relatively calm so the paddling was easy on brown mud-coloured water with the mountains on Stradbroke Island visible in the distance.

Kayaks on unnamed island

Kayaks on unnamed island

The tiny patch of sand on the unnamed island

The tiny patch of sand on the unnamed island

Our first stop was a tiny unnamed island where we stopped for morning tea. The island was all mangroves and mud except for a tiny 4m x 2m (12′ x 6′) patch of sand just large enough for us to squat on. The water surrounding the island was relatively deep so, after the people in front got out, Mum and my friend (who were in the front of each boat) had to drag the boats onto the mangroves for Dad and I (who were in the back of each boat) to get out.

On Short Island

On Short Island

Cooking up lunch on Short Island

Cooking up lunch on Short Island

After enjoying a break at the unnamed island we paddled around Tabby Tabby Island and over to Short Island. We stayed close to the islands to protect ourselves from the breeze. I love the feeling of being on the water. There’s something relaxing about the way the water slaps gently against the boat and the gentle rocking of the boat as it bobs across the small waves.

We pulled the boats up onto Short Island for lunch. Like the other islands in the area, Short Island is largely comprised on mangroves growing in the muddy ground. The area we pulled up onto was covered in tufty grass. While it looks idealistic and soft, the ground between the tufts is actually muddy and damp. Fortunately, the mud is well-packed so it wasn’t squishy. Despite the mud, it actually made a lovely spot to stop. The water here is clearer than that around the inner islands because the channel is wide and feeds out to the main channel near Stradbroke Island and the Jumpinpin Bar. I heated up pre-cooked nasi goreng for lunch and then boiled water for my parents’ coffees. I was glad to find the stump on the island because it made cooking safe (otherwise I would have had to sit the stove in some mud away from the grass).

My best friend in the boat with me

My best friend in the boat with me

After lunch we turned west and paddled back to Cabbage Tree Point through a channel between Tabby Tabby and Eden Islands. The sun sparkled off the water, contrasting sharply with the dark grey clouds that had been building all day. At one point, we saw a kite rising out of a tree right next to the water, no more than 2m from our kayak.

I had a fantastic day out on the water. I’m doing it all again next weekend with my son because I have the loan of another kayak. I’m looking forward to exploring some more islands.

Total: 5 hours kayaking (including morning tea and lunch breaks)

 

Kayaking Coochie

Kayaking Coochie by Andrew Gills
Kayaking Coochie, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

A half metre swell, four children under eight, two kayaks and team Whoops Witch Way. It was a morning to be grateful for.

There’s a joy in the way children see the world. Mangrove trees poking their tops out of the water at high tide amazes them. The waves bring excitement. And a stop on the beach is a chance to frolic in the sea.

In a world that’s so serious and focused on results, the joy of taking children into the outdoors is such a reward.

Total: 2 hours kayaking

Coochie daydreams

Coochie dreams by Andrew Gills
Coochie dreams, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Powder puff clouds drift across the sky as our kayak bobs on the small waves. The usually clear blue water below our boat is a murky brown, as a result of the silty water entering the bay from the recently flooded rivers.

I take the rear seat of the kayak while Mum sits up front. I’m more experienced on the water and Mum’s asked me to give her some pointers. I explain the principles of using large leg and core muscle groups to propel the boat forward, rather than our smaller arm muscles. We power across the water.

Last time I was here, the tide was at its lowest so I couldn’t complete a circumnavigation. Today, the tide is at it’s peak. The deep water is exaserbated by the flood waters flowing into the bay. In addition, last weekend’s storms caused a shift in the sands around the island, sweeping most of the beaches away. So we can stay close to the shore, instead of having to paddle far out in the bay.

It only took us an hour to circumnavigate the island; a distance of about 8km. We spent another half hour playing around the boats in the bay off the beach on the southern side of the island.

Total: 1.5 hours kayaking with Mum

Kids, Kayaking and Coochie

“Shall we take the kids kayaking at Coochie?” I didn’t have to think twice when my sister suggested a change to our Sunday MTB training routine. And so it was that this morning my sister, my nephew numbers 1, 2 and 3, and my niece all boarded the ferry to Coochiemudlo Island where we had organised to hire two double kayaks for a two hour paddle.

The tide was low and the island is bordered by long tidal sand and rock shoals. That’s just part of water sports; you can’t always have ideal conditions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time on the water.

Kayaking with kids

Kayaking with kids

My sister and I each took two kids each in our kayaks and paddled around the eastern side of the island up to the northern beach. The outgoing tide helped push us around the island so the paddling was relatively easy.

My eight year old nephew paddled in the front seat, doing a good job on his first paddle. My niece sat in front of me in the back seat, dipping her hands into the water excitedly. The pure joy the kids expressed was wonderful.

We stopped on the northern beach for about half an hour to let the kids swim in the clear shallow water. They had a great time finding ‘twisty shellfish’ in the water (all went back), and throwing water and sand at each other.

After failing to navigate the north western point of the island successfully due to the low tide, we turned back and paddled back down the eastern side. The benefit of this was that the tide had turned and the returning waters pushed us ever south and east. It was absolutely fantastic.

I have to give a plug to Coochie Boat Hire. I can highly recommend anyone visiting or living in Brisbane taking a day out to visit the island and hire a kayak to explore the island.

Total: 2 hour team kayak training with kids

Tapering?

So I got up at 3:55am, got on my motorbike at 4:20am, rode 45km (28 miles) to the canoe club, waited from 5:05am-5:45am for the Tuesday morning paddlers to arrive (they were due at 5:15am for a 5:30am start) and then got back on my motorbike to ride all the way home without a paddle. No one showed up. I know I got the day and time right because I double checked. I decided it’s a sign I’m not meant to join the canoe club just yet; I’ll wait until I move closer to the canoe club.

Instead, I had a delightful 4km walk with my partner. I got home from my wasted time just in time to catch her walking out the door. I enjoyed the walk much more than I would have enjoyed the paddle because I had fantastic company 😉 .

I have a 200km Audax Australia ride on Saturday afternoon from 4pm. I will have to climb 2,500m over the course of the ride. I think I will put this morning’s relaxing walk down as tapering for the ride. Haha.

Total: 4km walk

Paddling strong

Canoe club by Andrew Gills
Canoe club, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

I got out to the West End Canoe Club today for my first paddle on the Brisbane River. To say it was wonderful is an understatement.

It was quiet at the club due to the holidays so I had my choice of boats. I took out a yellow TK1 called ‘Buck’. It’s the first fibreglass boat I’ve ever paddled and the experience was delightful. In the past, I had a sit-in plastic bathtub kayak and I’ve also paddled plenty of sit-on-top sea kayaks too. The fibreglass TK1 was much quicker in the water and had a rudder (I’ve never paddled with a rudder before).

I paddled up the Brisbane River from West End to the green beacon with K. We caught up with D as we paddled (she had left earlier than us) and I sat on their wash for about 500m enjoying the new sensation of bow riding. I can see why this is a useful skill to learn for energy conservation. Especially when paddling into the tide.

At the beacon (4.4km) we turned to paddle back to the boat shed. I was paddling out the front of the group with D. We talked as we paddled, the tide pulling us swiftly back to the ramp.

Paddling on the river is a new way to see my city. It’s pretty out there. We had to dodge rowers and negotiate the waves coming from the City Cats (motorised catermeran passenger ferries). The TK1 handled quite well over the waves, even when the waves bounced back from the sections of the river with concreted walls. D said that I should try a faster boat next time I go out; that I’d be able to handle it despite it being my first time with the club (I used to paddle with Sandgate Canoe Club for about two years in 2005-6 so I’m not a total novice but I used to paddle a plastic bathtub there).

I am excited about joining the canoe club. I’ll fill in the forms this week and start training twice a week.

Total: 8.8km kayak

Coochie kayak

Sun, sand and kayak

Sun, sand and kayak

The ten o’clock ferry takes me across the water to Coochiemudlo Island. Just fifteen minutes after boarding I am talking with Dave of Coochie Boat Hire. He’s a friendly man who grabs me a single-person sit-on-top sea kayak, a paddle and PFD. After Dave briefs me with the weather conditions (10-15 knot southerly increasing to 20-25 knot south-easterly late in the afternoon), showing me a map and making sure I know how to contact him if I need to get picked up at any time, I set off with the kayak for my two hour hire. It’s only cost me $25 plus the $6.80 return ferry fare.

As I round the south-eastern tip of the island, the wind assists me and I can’t resist a surf in the gentle chop. I beach the boat and enjoy the sand between my toes. The occasional white horse gallops across the water but it’s certainly nothing I can’t handle.

Paddling away

Paddling away

As I reach the north-eastern tip of the island I surf the waves into the shelter of a little bay. The northern side of the island is the most geographically exposed but with south-easterlies being the prevailing winds here, it’s usually the most sheltered from the weather.

Remembering the joy of paddling

Remembering the joy of paddling

I used to be a kayaker. I paddled with the Sandgate Canoe Club in 2005-6. I even owned my own little boat: a red plastic sit-in flat water boat that I would take out in the bay on windy days to surf. The boat was too big for me so I never learned to Eskimo roll in it but I loved getting out in it. I used to paddle socially at least once a week, if not more. But then we moved house and my partner started working weekend shifts. Without a car, I couldn’t get my kayak to the water so I just stopped paddling. That’s going to change.

Drifting through the mangroves

Drifting through the mangroves

The northern and western sides of the island are lined with mangroves. They are impenetrable to all but those in shallow-draft paddle-craft. Sheltered from the wind, I let the boat drift between the submerged trees watching the fish jump. The sun beating down, warming my skin. I am so protected that I could be forgiven for believing it is a windless day. And for the next half hour or so I do.

Whoops. Glad it's not my boat

Whoops. Glad it’s not my boat

I find a small bay on the western side of the island. A bay I’ve never seen from the walking trail around the island. It seems someone made a little mistake here; sinking their boat. Shipwrecks are always eerie, even if they are only small wrecks. Perhaps it’s the visible reminder of the sea’s power. Or the foreboding sense of being unable to see what’s below the surface. And, maybe, it’s the mystery associated with those who choose to live a drifting life, rather than one bound to the earth because a sunken ship can also be a sign of sabotage or piracy.

Red Rock Beach

Red Rock Beach

I round the south-western corner of the island and am hit by the strong twenty knot south-easterly. There are more white horses out here galloping around than there were earlier in my paddle. I paddle into the wind, the small waves breaking against the bow splashing water all over me. The chop isn’t big but it’s enough to make paddling difficult. I stop briefly on Red Rock Beach to take some photos before turning around and having a surf.

Enjoying the beach

Enjoying the beach

I round Red Rock Corner again, this time heading back the way I came. I have 45 minutes before the kayak is due back so I surf a little and take one final walk on the sand before I set off into the wind again. The half hour paddle back to the boat hire beach is a solid workout. I paddle thirty strokes hard and then ten easy. I repeat this all the way back. It feels good to fight the wind and waves. My body is stronger now than when I used to paddle; the effort is less taxing than it was a few years ago.

Total: 2 hour paddle.