Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Freya Chases Down Continent No2

The amazing Freya Hoffmeister begins her quest to circumnavigate another continent tomorrow, when her South American odyssey begins. 
The scope of her circumnavigation of Australia is mindblowing, but somewhere as exotic as South America, with it's political variances & wildlife, is something I find very intimidating. Then again I suppose sharks, big surf & crocs are something we're more familiar with here in Australia & so they hold fewer fears of the unknown. Meeting a Shining Path guerrilla would probably be a far friendlier experience than landing on Bondi & having Tony Abbot accost you in his smugglers...…
You can follow her journey once again through her Qajaqunderground Blog. Best of luck Freya, we'll be following your adventures.
If anyone can do it, Freya can, she is one determined woman.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Video Diary - North Reef Expedition

One of the great things about modern day paddling is our ability to record the adventure with all manner of waterproof digital cameras.
On our North Reef trip we had 'tough' point & shoot digital cameras, GoPro HD Hero Cams, POV Litpstick cameras, a Canon EOS 7D SLR, and a hand held Flip HD. I took my laptop along so we had a convenient dump point for the large data files that this bevvy of technology produces, and was able to clear off our SD cards each evening & store the day's adventures.
The upshot of this is that we are able to document the trip in it's entirety, & attempt to share the essence of this beautiful & often wild part of the world.
I hope you enjoy the diary.
Note, there is a Flickr album with the entire collection of pics HERE.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tarans at 10 paces


Occasionally when the weather forecast is very pointed, predicting a strong change to hit at a fairly certain time, an email arrives in my inbox from either of Rob or Chris. Usually something like 'Rapiers at 10 paces', or more lately, Tarans.
Last week there was one such forecast of a good southerly blow so the buggers closest to Watson's Bay, Rob & Chris, headed out to blow out a few North Reef blues.
They paddled into the conditions for an hour or so, before turning near Diamond Bay & running back as the wind strengthened.
Mercer was back in his element, craftily riding the subliminal water shapes that code themselves off the cliffline, so Chris figured all was fair if he hoisted his sail to catch him.
The video above shows a few of his little rides in amongst the sea & swell, brilliant fun, & a long way removed from the slow & short seas of the Capricornia Cays.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Downwind

The final day of our North Reef trip featured our first where the predominating SE trade winds lined up behind us. We delayed launching from Hummocky Island to complete the 39km back to Keppel Sands until mid morning when the wind had built to near enough 20 knots, and as it was a fresh breeze we got a developing sea running only a fraction faster than the top speed of our boats.
A 2kn current running against us jacked things up for about an hour as we left the lee of the island, & while it slowed us down, it made from some brilliant lnked surf rides.
Our Flat Earth Sails got their first proper workout of the trip, set atop customised carbon brackets we have built specially for the expedition.
I was pleased to have spent the last year or so chasing downwind runs in my surf ski, because this magic three hours was the nearest thing I've experienced to that ski high in a sea kayak. When you consider that our boats were fully loaded, with about 35-40kg in each, it becomes apparent just what a great lift the sails give you, as we surfed along at speeds frequently exceeding 14kmh.
The GPS trace from the journey is below, showing us covering the first 33 km in 3hrs 21 minutes, before a snapped rudder cable in Rob's boat saw us ease back & sit alongside him as he expertly cajoled his kayak in through the steepening sea to Keppel Sands.
It was a fantastic, seat of the pants way to finish a great trip. Hope you enjoy the video shot from all three of our POV cameras.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

North Reef Expedition - The Wrap

The tiny coral cay island which houses the North Reef Lighthouse, 130km off the Queensland coast.
Back to reality for Rob, Chris & I after completing a brilliant, challenging & incredibly rewarding trip out to the North Reef Lighthouse, via the Capricornia Cays.
All up we covered just under 370km in seven days on the water, with four weather forced rest days at Lady Elliot Island & Lady Musgrave Islands.
We snuck through some decent crossings, with the big one out to Elliot clocking 92km, the Musgrave to Heron a speedy 75km, and the final slog back from North West to Hummocky Island 59km. While the destinations each evening were picture postcard coral islands, the real highlight for us was the water in between. There was so  much variety, current, swell, wind & sea that we used every bit of experience we've gained over the years to complete each crossing. 
The blog documenting the trip is now complete, & if you missed following the progress of the journey it will remain up at http://northreefexpedition.blogspot.com.
Thanks to everyone who followed the trip & took the time to send us their good wishes.