From The Sea Canoeist, vol4, 1980
Freycinet Peninsula - 1980.
East Tasmania - 11/12 Oct

Scribe Cecily Butorac
This is the first of many enjoyable Tas Canoe Association trips (hopefully), designed to get canoeists together from all over the state. Sea canoeing, being a non-competitive branch of the sport, seems to be the ideal medium to promote friendly relationships and improved communications between paddlers. There is room for improvement in this area amongst canoeists generally, and especially on a state wide basis. The trip was well advertised to all clubs but sadly only 16 paddlers from the southern clubs supported it.

Five of these were competitive white-water paddlers and several others were having their first experience of sea canoeing.

Ten of us camped at Coles Bay Friday night, the others arriving early Saturday morning, and the last one was on the water by 10.00 am. Perfectly calm water, a clear blue sky and a light following breeze set the scene and the blue waters of Coles Bay were soon dotted with more canoes than had ever before been seen on an overnight trip. Mouse and Rob (in down river racers) and Males (North Sea Tourer) had taken this trip seriously and brought along all their diving gear so we sent them off early so they could have a longer lunch stop for diving.

Apart from these two down river racers, and one slalom boat, the rest were regular sea kayaks; North Sea Tourers, Sea Leopard, Greenlander, Splinter, Nordkapp, and the sleek and beautiful TK2 paddled by Dave and Ellie.

After the lads hurried off the rest of us left in small groups at irregular intervals, meeting up again at Cook's Beach for lunch. There was no sign of the first three up to this stage and they had obviously gone about 5-6 km past the agreed lunch spot. During our lunch break we watched large numbers of bushwalkers stagger in to the campsite and felt a little smug knowing we were carrying twice the weight tucked away in our canoes with half the effort to transport it. Back on the water after lunch we found the errant divers just round the next point basking in the hot sun after finding enough abalone for the whole fleet, and some to spare. An excellent effort for novice sea canoeists.

Another 6km saw us on Passage Beach by 2.30 pm, setting up camp, after battling a stiff NE for a couple of km. Only one kayak was badly affected by wind and had to be towed for a short distance. We were now in a good position, about equidistant (22km) for the return trip by either the east or west coast. Passage Beach campsite was tucked away into sheltering scrub with a good safe clear area for a big campfire. Laurie's saw soon produced ample firewood from a dead She-Oak lying on the ground. This is probably the only way to get a good lot of firewood in an area where numerous bushwalkers have already burnt all the small breakable stuff.

Around this excellent campfire after tea we consumed various types of liquid refreshment and a disaster of the greatest magnitude was discovered. One of the W.W. paddlers had packed away a bottle of Southern Comfort (complete with a nip pourer) in amongst his clothes to prevent breakage. Although the end of the pourer was taped over to prevent spillage, somehow the whole thing had come out of the bottle and saturated his clothes and left nothing to drink.

During the evening we discussed various aspects of canoeing and possible venues for the next trip. All were in favour of another trip, and the March long weekend up round Eddystone Lighthouse seemed to find favour.

The forecast SW change did not arrive overnight and the stiff NE was still blowing in the morning. A little disappointing as the outside coast of Freycinet is by far the more spectacular of the two. Never the less we made an early start (8.15 am) and paddled through the Passage to the outside to get a good look at the conditions. This was more like sea canoeing conditions, a stiff breeze and an eight ft swell rebounding off the cliffs, but gradually paddlers one by one turned back into more sheltered waters til only Laurie, Males and Sausage Eater were left. They continued up the coast inshore of a huge rock just off Cape Degerando where conditions were really challenging. Even Males admitted sea canoeing wasn't quite as bad as he'd imagined and compared the conditions to a Grade 3 on a river. They turned round here and surfed back into the Passage and set out after our main party who were closely following the coastline to keep out of the wind.

Some 6km up the west coast we looked back to see a lone paddler steaming along in a hurry to catch us. My initial apprehension was soon relieved when we saw he (Jon Males) was only using the opportunity to do a bit of hard training. We all stopped at Cook's Corner to regroup and from there faced a slog into a head wind as we headed for Hazards Beach. Half the group took the direct route via Refuge Is, while the rest preferred the interest of a nearby shore to take their minds off fatigue, and made a couple of stops for a rest and snacks The wind started to die right away and it was an easy glide back up Coles Bay.

After packing up we drove over to Sleepy Bay and found the seas had dropped along with the wind - just a few hours too late. Despite not being able to see the best side of the Peninsula it was still a very enjoyable weekend and not beyond the lesser experienced paddlers. The next trip should be even better with some paddlers from a few more clubs, so get your club to put it on their programme now.


Paddlers: Vicki and Andrew Rust, John Potter, Craig Chivers, Isa Mitchell, Helmut Berger, Dave McInnes, Ellie Cornish, John Males, Rob McGuiness, Brian Edmonds, Laurie Ford, Pamela Butorac, Steve Whelan, Paul Steane.

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