DAY 43...Finally leaving Castle Point

I knew the start was to be very early today and set my alarm for 2.45 am, aiming to get ready and then drive to the Castle Point Lagoon to try and be on the water by 4 am.  I wanted this paddle done and dusted early as the wind was gradually dropping each hour I was out until around 1 pm.  The first plan to go wrong was the setting of my alarm!  I had set it for 2.45 pm!  That would have been no help at all, luckily I was waking on and off from midnight, listening to see if the wind was dropping and then looking at my mobile checking the time.  At 2.50 am I wondered why my alarm had not gone off, ha, idiot.   I am impressed with my inbuilt alarm clock as if I had not woken up that would have put me in an instant bad mood.

Down to the lagoon and it was pitch black.  I had not figured there was no moon for this paddle.  Nat had mentioned it but there was cloud cover on and off.  I had my head torch on and as I was pushed off into the lagoon got reminded to put on my red flashing light as well for the cray-fisherman, though at this stage they were not even up.

The Castle Point Lagoon was a little bit darker than I wanted so I waited till my eyes adjusted to the rocks and the waves that where rolling in over some sections of the rocks walls.  There was a little bit of nervousness in my stomach and I was questioning myself a little.  I inched myself towards the end of the rocks and used the massive hill as my maker for the exit.  It is a crazy thing paddling in the dark as it is really hard to see how big the swell is and also I was hoping I would see if there were any breaking waves.  To me it was fine, there was a big swell but there was no white foaming breaking waves so out I paddled.  Some of the swells seemed bigger than I liked and I hoped I was not going to paddle out into a rolling, turbulent washing machine swell like the Friday when I came into the lagoon.  It was with a dry mouth I got going, checking my Garmin in the dark and then pointing the my nose of my kayak in the correct direction and faintly making out the hills along the coast.  Each km I rechecked my paddling to make sure I was not heading out into the yonder and that I was on track.  I was doing okay and after a little while it was getting lighter and everything seemed to be calming as I got further from Castle Point.

It was still a strange day, grey overcast and it took forever to get light.  The sunrise did not happen as there was way too much cloud.  At my hourly intervals I txt Nat to let her know how I was tracking and that I was on track to chat to her at our checkpoint, Riversdale, by mobile as at this stage we did have good coverage.  I got to Riversdale in the four hours as planned, I stayed way out the back and had weaved my way along the coastline following the craypot line.  They have and are a great guide to missing any unexpected breaking waves.  I continually scanned the horizon to make sure I did not make any errors or try and cut any corners at the headlands and points as I wanted an uneventful paddle today.

Nat and I chatted at Riversdale, she asked me if I wanted to continue on as planned and my answer was on the lines of, “too damn right.”  I wanted to get some distance down this coastline today before the predicted wind returned and along with it an increasingly larger swell.  Today I had packed some extra gear in Louise and also a 6kg water bladder to give her a little more weight and it was helping, but also what was helping was there where no big wind gusts and that is what has some days unnerved me about this section of the coastline.  We all can deal with a strong wind (within reason) but a strong wind and then a crazy insane wind gust that just about blows you completely over is not good for the nerves or your energy level, especially if it is for the entire day.  It makes me doubt the weather forecast and then the doubt starts eating you up, and jangling your nerves even more.  The other (good) mental mind game for me was that if it did turn pear shaped I had packed enough to be able to camp overnight.

It started to rain and continued for the next hour.  I could see sunlight and the sky clearing as I was getting further down the coast, heading towards Flat Point.  I had about another 3 hours paddle to reach the beach and I gradually edged down this coastline, actually smiling to myself thinking of a comment my friend in Australia had emailed saying, “Red, just imagine how many crays you are paddling over!”  Yes, Greggie, if you were with me we would be going diving, but you are not and the crays can stay where they are, maybe next time.  The cray boats were out early on and I think this is always a good sign as they know the weather and this coastline well, so if they are out early then most times the day is okay.

From Riversdale to Flat Point there were a few river outlets but as there was only a light wind they were not too bad, the normally dirty water, uneven chop and swells were still there however.  At one stage today I had suggested I push on further than Flat Point, I was now glad for Nat saying no.  I got closer to Flat Point and the point was littered with whitecaps, this was going to be a long haul out and around them, there was no way of cutting through without rolling yourself.  I tried Nat on the VHF as the meeting spot was just around this point and to my joy she answered.  The new Cobra VHF the land crew had was amazingly better than the original.  I said that it was calm my side and there were trailers and tractors on this side meaning I thought this would be better to land on.  Nat mentioned that around her side it was tougher than yesterday when we looked.  I asked if she could try and get out to me as I was keen to land where I was.

While she drove out to the point I bobbed around in the relative calm.  I watched Nat in Cuzzie as they navigated gates and driveways then headed to the lodge on the point to ask if it was okay to go on their private property.  Luck was on our side!  Mary from the lodge not only said it was fine to get to the beach, she gave Nat a key to the locked gate, but then added she had a camping area for us to stay on as well as the use of their reception wifi to check weather reports.  By now the sun was shining and it was time to land, I came in, jumping into the water and grabbing my kayak for Nat to drag up the beach.

The day was done :)

We unloaded the kayak, found the camping field and I set about drying out my gear.  The funny thing is that paddock we are camping in is the paddock we found the cool long drop in yesterday, what a crazy world!

This afternoon was resting and relaxing in the sun and shade.  My day of paddling was over before midday and I was pleased, the inner stress had started to hum with the wind that had started to pick up again.  From the paddock Nat and I can see the big whitecaps now on the ocean.  For me this coastline and large whitecaps are not a happening thing, so unless the weather report has changed drastically I am stuck in this paddock tomorrow.


Long exposure at Castle Point Lagoon this morning.  That white spot in the middle may be Red...

Long exposure at Castle Point Lagoon this morning.  That white spot in the middle may be Red...