Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Rob and Sharon's Southern Summer Adventure

I was delighted when Greg Simson, Commodore of the Tassie Sea Canoe Club, invited me down to spend some time with he and other club members, especially when they suggested early January and I realised that I could take Sharon along and extend our trip to take in some of the sights around Hobart and maybe even sneak a little paddle across the Mercury Passage to share the delights of Maria Island with her.

Commodore Greg shows off the modern Tassie Rig (designed by Tim Parker)

The Tassie Sea Kayak community has a long and distinguished history of paddling some of the most challenging waters in Australia and they have pioneered the use of very big rudders and a number of elegantly simple sails. Many of the members still paddle boats built with the club's "Greenlander" mould. Handcrafted fittings and sails figure heavily in many a paddlers' setup. I am currently researching different sails and was lucky enough to spend some time discussing Tasmanian sail rigs with some of the pioneers and stalwarts including Jenny Scott, Veronica Steane and Mike Emery who have used these rigs to great effect in challenging conditions.

Guy's sail uses a flexible mast and single line control

To use a Sundin style sports analogy the Tassie club punches well above its weight with around 170 members and a vibrant calendar of activities. With a burgeoning membership the club is looking to the future with an eye to maintaining club standards and promoting the philosophy of safe and self sufficient adventure on the cool and restless seas that surround them. As the club grows numerically I hope they can preserve the sense of a real sea going community that has been the backbone of their club for decades.

I was there to give an outsiders perspective on Sea Kayak Leadership; as well as a low key presentation on paddling around Sydney, leading groups on the NSW coast and an overview of the recent North Reef Expedition.

After this session I witnessed just how fast the weather can turn nasty even on the Derwent and in the aftermath how useful power can be to a seakayaker when Peter Kelly successfully towed a supported paddler with a swamped cockpit into a 40-45knot headwind!

I also spent a very rewarding day with Peter and a group of his mates who have embraced the challenge of skeg boat paddling. With the notable exception of local Brit boat enthusiast, Geoff Murray, rudderless paddling is still considered a fringe activity in Tassie.

The coldest day was reserved for private coaching with Hobart paddlers. I spent about 6 hours standing in the Derwent delivering rolling tuition which really wasn't so bad: at about 17degrees the river water was about double the air temperature!

After a walk into the magnificent old growth forests with Peter as our guide we headed north to Orford to head out to Maria Island. Despite a strong wind warning we made the crossing and setup camp. From this point the photos speak for themselves.

“It’s just over there."

Painted Cliffs

Darlington Sunset

View on the walk to Bishop and Clerk

Leaving Darlington with a full kayak

Fishing boats sheltered under the Fossil Cliffs.

Sharon paddling along the Fossil Cliffs

Sea Cave in glassy conditions

View of Schouten Island from Maria Island Sea Cave

Perfect Caving Conditions

Dwarfed by Stack

Friendly Darlington Local

1 comment:

Steve G said...

It was great to spend time with you down here Rob and meet the lovely Sharon; it was great of you to spend some of your down time with us. I now feel special being on the 'fringe' of tassie skeg boating!
After much to'ing and fro'ing with boats i've now decided to keep the lovely Valley Etain shown in the photo. I was convinced it was too big for me, but then i remember you carving it up around that little Sandy Bay beach and you're significantly lighter than me!
Etain and skills ho!!

Steve G