Friday, December 28, 2012

North Rock, Solitary Islands

A few years ago I went out to North Solitary (mid-north coast of NSW) by motor boat to snorkel around its beautiful sea gardens. Since then I've often thought that it would be a good place to reach by kayak.

The two obvious launching points along this section of surf beach coastline are from the channels at Wooli and Red Rock.
However both of these locations present challenges with migrating sandbars and breaking waves. Can be quite treacherous in an out-going tide, I'm reliably told. Particularly with the moderate swell now running. (Thanks to the local paddler who gave me some sound advice about these locations)

Having severely broken my left leg only seven weeks ago (and still being in a leg brace with a steel plate and screws in my leg) I decided that trying to launch through steep breaking waves at these sites was not such a wise option.

The first low-risk launching point is further south at Arrawarra - but that makes for a 50km return trip to North Solitary and back. That's more than I want to paddle on my own just now - having been out of the kayak for nearly two months. 

Realising that North Solitary would remain out of my reach by kayak for now, I pushed out from Arrawarra this morning and paddled to North Rock - located within the red circle at left. A 24km return trip.
The wind was a light nor-wester with occasional gusts to 10 or 12 knots.
Hundreds of juvenile flying fish leapt along beside me. This area seems to be their kindergarten.
North Rock was, however, soon reached and I paddled through the channel which splits it in to two distinct pieces. The water was a stunning turquoise colour in the channel. Must be very good snorkelling here.
While paddling around the eastern side of North Rock a Kingfish jumped on to my trolling lure and has made the journey back with me to be sashimi'd this evening.
All the while, North Solitary loomed temptingly within reach on the eastern horizon.
You can see it low on the horizon to the right of North Rock in the photo below ...
 I didn't get to North Solitary Island today but it was good to be out in the kayak and on the sea again - travelling along this very interesting section of coast.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

The lead up

Everyone who has prepared for a kayak expedition will know that in many ways the long phase of preparation is as good as the relatively short period of the expedition itself.
It gives direction to your paddling, sets challenges to be overcome, prepares the body and the mind - all with a determined focus that constantly draws you out to sea when you may have otherwise stayed in bed.

For much of this last year we've been preparing to explore the Hogan, Kent and Furneaux Group of islands, over a deliciously generous month, during this southern summer. It is not easy to arrange a long trip such as this when 11 children and 5 wives are being left at home.

And then, with just a few weeks to go until departure day, a "lucky break" (aka broken tibia and fibula) has seen us defer the trip by one whole year. I am indebted to my paddling companions for postponing the adventure so that we may still all go together in 2014.

Looking at the situation positively, the islands will still be there and with another 12 months to prepare there is much for us to still look forward to and enjoy.

To Richard and our friends paddling the same route this year, but in the opposite direction to our planned route:
we hope that your adventure will be safe and highly enjoyable. We'll be thinking of you.