A Trip to Macquarie Harbour

Preparations, Strahan, 11.00pm

On this trip Laurie Ford, the trip leader decided to test our night navigation skills. The idea was to rendezvous with the group on the other side of Macquarie Harbour. We were to start from Strahan which is on Tasmania's west coast.

Grant calculating the bearings

It was a terrible night, blowing a gale and pouring with rain. Most of us had to drive for at least five hours just to get to the departure point. It took some commitment to set off in pitch black and wet conditions. Compass bearings were set and flashers switched on.

Micks' flasher

Although it was pretty miserable to start with, fortunately after about one hour the gale abated. Then the clouds cleared and we could just make out the coast in the moonlight. We allowed for currents and an offset so we would know which way to head after crossing the harbour.

Tent site, Betsys Bay, Macquarie Harbour

After putting up our tents and hearing other paddlers turn up, we nodded off to sleep. Next morning we were eager to see who had managed to find the campsite. Fortunately nobody had got lost in the testing conditions.

Sunrise, Macquarie Harbour

It was a terrific morning for the November long weekend. A low mist was still clearing but the harbour was incredibly calm. Our intention was to paddle down the harbour to Sarah Island, about 20km away. Paddlers from all parts of the state had turned up.

Sea kayaks, Macquarie Harbour

Over breakfast on the beach we caught up on the latest gossip and laughed at each groups' experiences the night before. We had been luckier than some of the others who had set off earlier, right in the middle of the gale and rain. It had been so dark and squally that they couldn't even make out the shore.

Calm conditions

We set off along the shore noting the small island that we had hoped would help us navigate the night before. Unfortunately it had been too dark to see it. Weather conditions were now ideal. This harbour is largely protected from the might of the Southern Ocean because of its narrow entrance.

Table Head, Macquarie Harbour

We chatted as we cruised at a leisurely pace. The coast changed from low slopes to series of bays and rocky headlands. The white quartzite rocks contrasted with the dark green foliage of the west coast.

Paddling together

The group were paddling a variety of kayaks. Laurie was in his extended North Sea Tourer. There were two Tasmanian Greenlanders, Grant and I were in Dean double and Mick was in his North Sea Tourer. This is one of the best sea boats for Tasmanian waters, low, tippy and wet but unbeatable in bad weather.

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