After a reasonably vocal Tas Sea Canoe Club meeting the night before, extending into the late hours of the evening, we managed to make an early start to the launching site - a boat-ramp about ten minutes paddle upstream from the Batman Bridge on the Tamar River. The kayaks were packed and left on the shore while all but three took cars through to Port Sorell.
Having never had the touch of saline water on her skin before, my Greenlander was due for christening. As no alcoholic beverage was forth coming, it was decided that an alternative 'grass roots' method would be utilised. The kayak being christened 'CECILY' after a delightful lady I know, having goat's milk poured over her bows (the kayak that is).
The tide was due to turn at about the same time as we reached George Town, so there was a slight but detectable hurry along noticed. Being a novice to making pace in what seemed to be a fast flowing tide I welcomed Laurie's advice to stick near the navigation channel markers. Apparently the deeper water flows at a significantly greater rate than that of shallow water. This became apparent when we rounded a point to be greeted by the incoming tide.
A little canoe polo, on the way under the bridge added to the entertainment of some of the paddlers. I must admit that the whirlpools and eddies experienced on the river proved to be quite entertaining in their own right.
Stopping for lunch in West Arm to the left of the mouth of the river before an exit to Bass Strait was attempted, we feasted upon many and varied delights. The quality of the conversation dropping a few rungs when Austin began talk about how to eat seagulls, of which there were plenty available.
At this time it was decided to approach the mouth of the river along the left bank to the breakwater, then ferryglide across the river to the other bank, the tide already pouring in. One group did this while the other clung to the left bank and, after a hard paddle, rounded the breakwater to find smooth water. I was amongst this group and felt quite safe under the watchful eye of Tony. Austin and Liz in a double, and Jeff and David in singles were with us.
About halfway out to the mouth we lost sight of the other group. We progressed at a leisurely pace to a position off Friend Point, where we noticed four sails on the opposite shore heading out to sea in the direction of Hebe Reef.
Here we took stock of our numbers and found David and Austin and Possum (Liz) to be missing. Thinking them to have gone to the other side of the river we proceeded to a point where we would intersect the others. We met, and after a short discussion Laurie headed back to look for the others.
By this time the muscles in my arms were on the verge of striking, they had all handed in their resignations and were progressively ceasing to work. The paddle across the bay to Badger Head was an effort, managed only by giving the remaining working muscles coercion in song. No wonder nobody would paddle within earshot of me.
Upon our arrival we were warmly welcomed by John. He had started on the opposite side of the river at 9.00am when we should have been starting but were still dilly dallying around, and missed us on the other bank. He arrived at Badger Head hours earlier, catching the tide we missed, and had a roaring fire going before coming to meet us in the bay. ... a man with phenomenal stamina ..." (C.B). After half a dozen baked bean jaffles I went to bed. It was 8.30pm and I can't remember having gone to bed at that hour since primary school. During the night Laurie, and then Austin, Possum, and David arrived having covered some kilometres in the dark.
As the tide would be against us first thing in the morning we decided to make for a late start (11.00am) the next day.
A smattering of rain at 6.00am stirred a few of us, the rest staying in. Tony and myself set off early and got in half an hour of diving off Badger Head, finding numerous abalone, a few minute crayfish and prolific weed growth, very little fish life. We geared up just in time to meet the others coming round the point.
A short adventurous paddle through a gap in the rocks off the last point saw the first decent grooves put in my sleek beauty. Maybe it will not hurt so much next time, knowing further scratches will not be alone.
Between Badger Head and Port Sorell even the more mature members of the group became a bit frivolous, with Laurie becoming water-born, not in the kayak, trying to inflict the same upon Cecily (the lady). Tony, sick of sitting in his kayak, stood up for a while. John, in his down river racer, had his spraydeck off to try this as well but decided against it in the end.
A long paddle at a leisurely pace saw us entering Port Sorell with the tide. It also saw, for the few of us who bear witness, a most amazing sight. A kayak pulled up on the shore with a Possums' rear poking out of the cockpit, apparently she had broken a rudder line and was in the process of fixing it. I must admit I will be keen to see what it is like to paddle with a rudder after being told of the extra effort it takes to paddle without one. Being a brand new boat it is still in the process of being fitted out.
Upon arrival, and before unpacking, Cecily performed some excellent Eskimo rolls, Alan and Kathy attempted to roll a double, eventually succeeding as a solo effort by Alan. Despite the extensive experience and tuition of Tony, no success was attained by myself in attempting to upright my Greenlander.
We lunched, packed and were soon on our way. Cecily, deciding her paddle would stay on the roof bars without being tied on, was sadly disappointed when it fell off.
I hope this account of the trip is considered reasonable by those who attended and that my journalize has not upset or offended anyone.
Until the next meeting or trip, my thanks to all those who were able to attend, and apologies to those who could not. It was their loss, the experience was well worthwhile.
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