From The Sea Canoeist Vol. 2, 1980

Schouten Island
Dec ‘79

Scribe: Mike Emery
We drove up the East Coast in winds that made driving unpleasant, we stopped at Swansea Beach to have our worst fears confirmed, and arrived at Coles Bay to find a flat calm. We left the beach at 7.40pm with just a slight tail wind and a clear sky, we coasted past the quarries and then round the point to a magnificent sunset of red sun on red cliffs. We had planned to camp on the southern end of Hazards Beach but the weather changed our mind and we made a beeline for Cook’s Beach instead. Night caught up with us on the way and approaching the beach we were black shapes on a black sea under a black sky - except for one boat which had a torch in the bow accidently switched on in the packing process - the boat glowed a faint luminous green.

We staggered up the beach carrying our boat about 11 metres, pitched tents, and while I climbed into my sleeping bag, others - to my amazement - lit a fire and started cooking tea.

I woke at first light to the sound of the ever reliable Les lighting a fire; a quick swim, a run along the beach, and by 7.30 the boats were being carried back to the water. As we started across the Schouten Passage, three of the party separated to go straight to the beach at Crockett’s Bay, while the rest of us headed for the western end of Schouten Island in a flat calm and a hot sun. We paddled easily round the sandstone bluffs and outcrops to land by the tessellated pavement at Sarah Ann Bay: an intriguing place since one half of the bay is sandstone and the other granite, and a few large mischievous granite boulders have rolled onto the enemy territory where they look very much out of place.

We lunched in Little Sarah Bay, a bit further around; we lit a fire, made seats of driftwood and sunned ourselves while Tony went for a swim with the inevitable result - as much crayfish as we could eat. We then paddled on around the cliffs, exploring inlets, paddling into bays, splashing faces with water to keep them cool.

The end came suddenly.

As we rounded the eastern tip we were confronted with a stiff sea breeze, a confused slop, and a large swell, and we had to work for our living. I was caught with a camera round my neck: it was only well into the next bay that I was game to put my paddle down to put it away. It was half way up the east coast at Trumpeter Bay before we could rest again, here we found a blowhole which instead of throwing up a jet of water sent up a fine pressurised spray that looked like smoke.

The final leg to Crockett’s Beach was uneventful: we landed amongst a fleet of fishing boats and runabouts to feast on Tony’s crayfish.

On Sunday morning we all paddled across and through the passage to Slaughterhouse Bay where we played in the reefs, then up the east coast staying close to the cliffs, exploring caves which are more interesting than those on Schouten: one with an entrance of less than a paddle width which broadened into a deep cavern, another deep narrow one with a glint of light at the far end - Tony tried to paddle through it but was thwarted by boiling water just outside the exit. While running through a narrow gap John was caught by a wave and capsized, after about six attempts to roll he came half out, spray cover off and head above water: he was promptly righted and taken out to sea to be baled out with a cup and a sponge.

At Eastern Creek we found a beautiful waterfall, some of us following the creek up the valley on foot to find a succession of waterfalls and rock ledges among cliffs and trees. Tony decided the easiest way back was to jump into the sea from a 12 foot cliff. We lunched nearby, then set off northwards into a stiff sea breeze, occasionally finding a shallow cave in which we could rest: at the last shelter behind Cape Forestier we dropped jellyfish eggs down each others necks for comic relief until a rogue wave scattered us abruptly. From there it was one steady pull across the wide entrance to Wineglass Bay and a run under the cliffs south of Sleepy Bay - the most beautiful cliffs of the whole trip. Sleepy Bay itself was sheltered from the breeze and we coasted in in warm sunshine to finish the trip with a swim.

POSTSCRIPT: If 5 blokes carry 7 canoes up the cliffs at Sleepy Bay (2 blokes to a canoe), how many trips must each make?

And if 2 girls carry the entire contents of 7 canoes up the cliffs, how many trips must they make?

PADDLERS were: Tony Gaiswinkler, Sue Foster, Steve Whelan, Cecily Butorac, Les Linsell, John Pedley, Mike Emery.

Mike Emery.


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