22 Sep 2018 - Myall Classic

As stated on the Myall website: The Myall Classic is a major ultramarathon event on the NSW paddler’s calendar. It is held on the Myall River at Tea Gardens each September on the last Saturday before the school holidays, taking both competitive and recreational paddlers up the Myall River and return.

There are a range of distances and starting times, intended to see all paddlers complete their chosen course by early afternoon, and in time for Presentations at 2:45pm.

Distances offered are 12km, 27km and 47km, the longer course being a perfect shakedown for the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic held in late October.

LCRK always has a good showing at the Myall and it is an important staging paddle for the longer HCC.

3 August 2018 - LCRK AGM


Fri 3rd August 2018 Drinks from 6pm AGM 6:45-7:45pm Social Event from 7:45pm


North Ryde RSL Club Grand Pittwater Function Centre Cnr Pittwater & Magdala Rds North Ryde

A casual and relaxed social event. Cocktail food service (i.e. lots of finger food). Pre-meeting drinks are on the outgoing President, thanks Phil. After that drinks are an additional cost.

Partners, lapsed members and friends are welcome. Tickets $30 per person must be pre-purchased – this covers cost of venue hire and food. Tickets for the AGM and Social Evening are now available via this link [Wade can you set up in Register Now?] Please take a moment to purchase your tickets sooner rather than later.

Note: Must be a current paid up 2018-19 LCRK member to attend the formal part of proceedings – the AGM. If not up to date, follow the instructions at the Membership link at the right hand side of this webpage.

There will be a continuous video slide show and the usual awards for Best media article/contribution for the previous year, and Best Vivid entry. It’s always an enjoyable evening so I look forward to seeing you all there.

27 Jun - 1 July - Yukon River Quest

Per the official website: The Yukon River Quest is an annual marathon canoe, kayak and stand-up-paddleboard race. Paddlers come from around the world to test their endurance, racing day and night to the Klondike on one of North America’s great rivers. It is open to solo and tandem canoes and kayaks, solo SUP, and C4 and Voyageur canoes.

It's summer in the Yukon which means average min/max temperatures in the 8-23 celsius range (although 36 celsius was experienced back in 2004). Summer that far North means they days are looooong with a ~4:30am sunrise and a ~11:30pm sunset. And civil twilight runs from ~11:30pm to ~4:30am which means it never quite gets dark! That's why they call the YRQ the "Race to the Midnight Sun"

LCRKers Tony Hystek (Team #41 Sheepstations) and Peter Fitzgerald (Team #5 SHockers Lane Cove) are both heading over to tackle the Yukon River Quest. Details will be added here as reports come in. The tracker above will give you their current locations once the race starters (find them in numerical order by Bib #)

Above: Google map showing general location of event - and proximity to Alaska. Blue path is showing the walking route - it's shorter than the paddle!

Putting iconic Australian paddling events into perspective - the race briefing for the YRQ includes the following snippets:-

  • If you are lucky you will see “charismatic mega-fauna”: moose, bear, sheep, fox, etc. Nine times out of 10 they see you, you do not see them. They are not interested in the race, or the racers. Don’t make them interested in you, keep your distance.
  • It can be hot: Drink enough, watch your electrolytes. If you are hot, dip your hat in the water. If you run out of water, drink the river. Dehydration is an immediate threat, giardia takes much longer to affect you
  • The YRQ is a RACE, not a trip down the river. Be good sports! No interference with another team’s progress or you could face disqualification. Do not dawdle. Drop out and become a tourist if you have to, but do not waste safety boat and volunteers’ time. You have 14 hours to reach the end of the Lake, 35 hours to get to Carmacks, and '84 hours to get to Dawson.
  • Lake Laberge: The lake is long - 49 km. In good weather, crossings take 6-7 hours (faster teams) to 8-10 hours (slower teams). Teams must make the crossing by 2 a.m. Thursday to remain in the race. The lake can be rough with waves up to 2m (6 feet)
  • If the lake becomes too rough and unsafe for passage after teams are on the lake, an airplane will signal teams by waving its wings (weather permitting). Use good judgment! Teams should pull off at the safest spot possible. Watch for a return of the plane waving and dipping its wings when it is safe to resume. If weather is too bad to launch a plane, use your own good judgment and stay on shore until it is safe to proceed.

Live Reports

Tony Hystek 180624: Been a few days without WiFi so a bit of catching up to do. Now, where were we…oh yes, the search for sheep stations in Hawaii. They’re here somewhere (evidence), but no substantial sightings. We must abandon… Off to Vancouver, which is remarkably similar to Sydney, only more compact. We met our travelling companions Eric (Alanna’s brother), and partner Liz. A nice feel about the place. Bit of shopping at the HUGE outdoors shop MEC (could have spent a week there), and off to Whitehorse. We collected our land yacht (RV), and attempted to get a local phone connected, without much success. Left it too late to get a spot in an RV park for the night so we joined the multitudes in Walmart carpark for the night. We sure did feel trashy! A sleepless night, with the street sweeper circling the carpark most of the night. Day 2 and we are off to Skagway for a ride on the White Pass train following the route of the gold rush prospectors to the headwaters of the Yukon…spectacular scenery, and 2 brown bears thrown in for wow factor. Back to Whitehorse and the first test paddle today…after doing an hour’s work sanding the shoddy repairs in the rented Epic 18x sport. One saving grace…the boat is incredibly light for this model….maybe they forgot a layer of fibreglass? It’s a roughie but a goodie. Hire company is a bit lackadaisical but nice nonetheless.

Peter Fitzgerald 180624: Fitzies have arrived in the Yukon - carb loading at the Dirty Northern Pub first - then off find kayak which looks like Barnesy Kermit ! Green and white

Above: Kermit

Above: Carb loading

Above: Found Tony!

Above: Fitzys best ever photo of Tony - following!

Tony Hystek 180625:We were entertained by a local band at the council rotunda..apparently a free concert every day from 6pm - 7pm. Now that's community! Test paddles are definitely a must, especially with a moose sighting. Not quick enough to get the camera out, unfortunately.

Peter Fitzgerald 180625: After Tonys cross training hike he / Alanna took us on the Fitzgerald’s more beer carb loading at Gold Pans Saloon with some country and Western

Above: Aussie flag flying

Above: Kermit on the water

Tony Hystek 180626: Yesterday’s paddle was in interesting company. One woman paddling a timber boat she made off the plan...very similar to Alan Newhouse’s boats. And Wolfram from Germany who brought his boat over in the plane... a folding rubber skin boat he designed himself, looks very sleek. Unfortunately he hadn’t finished a Yukon yet. Hope this is his year. Will send photos when I can get my technology to talk to each other. One double set off today with the paddler in the back seat, paddle back to front. Didn’t notice... Another said the test paddle today was their first time on the water. Then there are the fast ones! Heaps of 18X sport kayaks here. Almost half the fleet of single kayaks I think

Above: More carb loading

Above: The lake to be paddled tomoz

Alanna Ewin 180627: Along with my trusty personal crew, brother Eric and his partner Liz, we are arrived in Carmacks! Had a win on the RV site - powered and looking straight down to where the paddlers disembark! Tony will be pleased - a 50m walk to shower, tucker, bed. We were super organised this morning and had our first ever truly relaxed race start. Tony got off well - he did run to his boat and was in his boat pretty fast and off! Photos are a mix of the trip so far including a day trip to Skagway Alaska, a little canoe trip Eric Liz and I took from Whitehorse to Takhini Bridge and race prep and race day. And off I go now to cook up a bolognaise storm for Tony to eat when he arrives at Carmacks some time tomorrow (after 24hrs or so on the water!). Weather is all looking good for the entire race. Maybe some rain last day but we could be lucky. Temperatures good. Cool, but maybe a 24 degree day into Dawson. I'm a bit buggered so just can't think what you'd like to hear so if you have any questions just ask! I'm on the net for a while now. All is well, and as Emma Llewellyn-Jones observed at the tender age of nine, after her father entered the HCC: Eat Sleep Kayak Repeat!

Above: Bol test in the RV

Above: Miles Canyon suspension bridge

Above: Positioned for start

Above: Ready for Le Mans start

Above: Tony (middle of pix) is off!

Above: 50km Lake Laberge (YRQ FB picture)

Above: 50km Lake Laberge (YRQ FB picture)

Alanna Ewin 180629: Tony left Carmacks not feeling great, noisy campsite and didn't get a lot of sleep. Saw him at Minto and he was looking pretty good and in good spirits. Pleased to see some Aussies! Now sleeping at Coffee Creek and we will see him at Dawson about 11pm our time. Tony was coming 1st in the solo kayaks for most of the way to Carmacks but had to get off the water for an hour or so and slipped back to third. Internet awkward and I'm just busy. I'll post from Dawson with pics and full story.

Above: Carmacks stopover (YRQ FB picture)

Above: Carmacks approach

Above: Tony comes in

Above: Charismatic mega-fauna?

Above: Fitz's at Carmacks with landcrew

Above: Tony's hands after ~23hrs paddling

[Progress - some 52 hours into the race (of which circa 42 hours of paddling) Tony is currently 5th in the solo kayaks, and John & Peter Fitzgerald 7th in the double kayaks - with Tony about 12km (one Time Trial!) ahead of them. Distance to the finish line looks like another ~150km, a HCC and a bit]

Above: Proximity to finish line 2 days and 5 hours into the YRQ. Scale shown on map

Alanna Ewin 180629: Carmacks was noisy! Tony had a problem with the water after Lake Laberge, along with several other paddlers, leaving him crook and losing time. Some helpful paddlers gave him some immodium but according to the race doctor it was a double dose and knocked him out for an hour. Anne at one of the checkpoints (pictured here - black jacket) saw him struggling to stay awake, and kindly helped him out of the water, laid him down next to the fire, woke him after an hour and told him to get back in his boat and finish his race! He was very grateful (as am I) and I've spent some fun times with Anne since.

Above: Anne

Above: 2nd day Bol is best!

So he came into Carmacks disappointed by the forced delays having lost his well earned first place to two other solo kayakers (Lake Laberge was pretty tough so he really nailed it on that flat water), and woke even more disappointed as he really didn't get much sleep at all with the noisy campground. He came into Minto looking content and with a double that I think he may have been sharing stories with? I think he's been slowly catching up to boat 57 AlaskaEileen. Look her up. She is a delightful cheery lady (like a dignified version of Mad Mick chatting to the crowds as she passes by) and I believe she made the boat she is paddling. It's beautiful and clearly pretty quick in her trusty hands. So it's now up to Tony to see what he can pull out of the bag. Expecting him at Dawson in the wee small hours (around 1.45am) As support crew it has been busy. Just when you think you can have a moment there is something that needs doing - cooking, driving sleeping, washing, leaning, sorting. It's run smoothly in our RV and been an interesting journey. The company of my family has made all the difference and it would have been a bit stressful first time around if I was on my own. Lovely country and lovely people. The Canadians I have met have all been very gentle, kind and helpful. There is a contented relaxed manner about the volunteers and it seems everyone is a friend. It's the 20th Anniversary of the race and there was a party at Carmacks and the Coal Mine Campground did the catering from the menu for everyone for free! Lots of fun and we even got ice cream! Photos attached describe the trip best [see the Flickr link above]. Thanks to everyone for your support and sorry to not do much updating. I don't think I've had all that much more sleep than Tony! There is no darkness and mostly just a dimming of the sun from about midnight to 4am and that's about it. Quite bizarre and has us all having very late nights and odd eating habits! we wait....... I just checked again he is dropping back a bit I think. Not sure how accurate the race tracker is but looking like a 55 hr race for him at this stage

Above: Dawson City - the finish!

Alanna Ewin 180629: He is in and pretty content! Third solo overall. Loves his thermal skins! In pretty great shape really and said the scenery on the paddle is beautiful. I asked him if he'd like to say a word to you all but he declined suggesting he couldn't think of anything funny to say :) It's now 3am, he is now sound asleep and I will be following close behind him! Goodnight :)

Above: Done!

Above: Can I sleep now?

Above: Tony - 3rd in the Solo Kayaks!

Above: Peter & John Fitzgerald - 7th in the Double Kayaks!

9-11 June - Riverland Paddling Marathon

Above: Results for the LCRK team]]

Hosted by the Marathon Canoe Club of SA since 1988 the Riverland Paddling Marathon (RPM) is not just a marathon it is a festival of paddling marathons with 6 possible events over 3 days on 1 weekend in the chilly month of June each year. Every June long weekend paddlers from all over the country gather on the Murray River in South Australia’s beautiful Riverland to meet, greet and most importantly to paddle.

The Six events which run consecutively over the weekend include –
The Murray 200 – a 208 km continuous paddle over 3 days from Berri to Morgan
The 200 Relay – the same 208 km course from Berri to Morgan but paddled in relay with baton exchanges
The Murray 100 – a 93km course over 3 days covering sections of the longer Berri to Morgan course
The Murray 50 – a 49km course over 3 days, sharing day 1 and 3 with the Mini and day 2 with the M100
Single day paddle – on Sunday of the event weekend, 26km from Devlins Pound to Waikerie
Mini-marathon – an opportunity to try the event by paddling 11 or 12km on any single day or on multiple days

From LCRK for 2018 we have a number of paddlers - including Kyla Johnstone, Duncan Johnstone, Ruby Ardren Rich Yates, Keg D'Andretti, Craig Ellis, Tony Hystek and Alanna Ewin

Above: The LCRK team

Fri 8 June

Ruby: After the first day's racing I'm behind Kyla by a nose. Duncan Johnstone hasn't yet found his boat or his team and Tony Hystek is way behind because he's elected to take the scenic degustation route.

Alanna: On way to RPM, some of us on the Hay Plain, some of us in a plane over the Hay Plain and Craig Ellis just plain old waiting for everyone to arrive. Breakfast involved a few different carb loading strategies....

Above: On the road again...

Above: Rich n Keg - carbing up?

Sat 9 June

Alanna: Kyla will get cracking soon on her RPM100. She got to sleep in unlike the full distance bunnies up before dawn. Everyone off to a good start and the sun has come up now after some very welcome rain overnight.

Above: Tony making sure he paddles downstream

Above: Rich helping get the boat off the kayak stands

Sun 10 June

Alanna: Day 2 catchup- all well and happy and did some great times. Tony Hystek not particularly enjoying the 18x as he can’t really race, but then it’s all about Yukon prep right??

Ruby: Absolutely wrecked tonight because I stayed on wash rides all day that really pushed me. 69km today (7:00:05 so again about 10km/hr), running total is now 145km in 14:49:38. Have to get up again in the dark tomorrow to do another 63km and then start the drive home. I’m in the blue kayak

Above: Another lock - another day.

Above: Ruby - wrecked, and relieved!

Mon 11 June

Alanna: Last day of the RPM and everyone’s feeling it. With a headwind dampening the spirits and the relay suffering rudder problems they’ve been doing it a bit tougher. Happy landcrew though with coffee cakes and brekky at The Claudo sangria winery checkpoint! Oh and Kyla is out. Pulled up sick this morning with her cold returned.

Above: check out that backdrop!

Alanna: All done! Ruby Ardren second lady home - not by much and a good record set! The relay team hammered it home after yet more rudder trouble steering them up the garden path. Although Sally Ellis said the lads didn’t try hard enough because they didn’t puke when they got out of the boat! I’m just hoping they didn’t beat our time from last year or I might have to do the race again! The big fella Tony Hystek managed yet another of the prized orange caps for fastest vet 55 in the 18x (that gave us all a bit of a giggle). Kyla Johnstone enjoyed her day 3 as landcrew. Soaking up the sun we chatted the day away as we waited at riverside checkpoints for our paddlers to come through. All in all a great club and family weekend as usual. Fabulous to have the Yates and Ellis partners and kids along again. They visited the zoo and wineries and cheered on the paddlers from the winery this morning! Thanks everyone for the well wishes and support. We’ve all had a ball.

Above: Tony coaches a K4 (Photo: Carolyn Cooper).

Above: Duncan and Kyla - tis done!

31 May - LCRK does VIVID (as part of our normal TT)

This event coincides with Sydney's annual VIVID festival. It's an opportunity to light up your boats, yourself and the river with a bit of a light and sound show. Contributions range from the simple (recycled Christmas lights, glow sticks etc) to more extravagant programmed LED light shows and kayak modifications.

Check out the Flickr album and Youtube footage at the links above ....

Above: 2018 LCRK Vivid - the pontoon walkway - Photo: Oscar Cahill

4 March 2018 - Clean Up Australia Day Report

Clean Up Australia Day 2018. We had a great turnout for Clean Up Australia Day this year with nearly 20 folks turning up for a few hours on Sunday Morning.

Feeling empowered in my official fluoro vest, I quickly put folks to work in various different parts of the river. Double kayaks, canoes and skis were dispatched upstream as far a Wirrong Boat Ramp while Adrian Clayton towed his garbage kayak downstream for others to fill with Crudslime accoutrements. Others took to the carpark and banks of the river on foot.

Bags were quickly filled, particularly around the carpark. More than once Jeff Collins was seen lugging a bulging bag of rubbish back to the shed, like some Anti-Santa, despite the smile. The boats returned with mother lodes of rubbish including sofas, tyres, bottles and rusty boat snaggy bits of metal. Most of it from downstream.

Oscar and Daughter Emer turned up with the widest canoe I have ever seen. Great for this type of work. It fit better sideways on the roof of Oscars car. As well as Emer, we had Dave Hammonds two kids Areti and Thomas plus Chris’s son Robert. What a good parent and child bonding opportunity!

Out of interest it seems the most common rubbish type was bottles, both glass and plastic. I was encouraged (but not surprised) to see a distinct lack of tape remnants, Gu sachets and other paddling mess around the shed and river.

Not much in the way of treasure, Oscar found most of a $5 note and has generously offered it to the person who finds the missing corner next Wednesday night. Johns number remains at large somewhere on the river. On a barter system of 30 seconds per kg of rubbish found, the following folks should have PB’s of around 53.30 next Time Trial:

Chris Johnson, Rodrigo, Jeff Collins, Adrian, Don, Kenji, PVK, James P, Duncan, Warwick, Wade, Oscar, Dave H, John D and Pete M (55:30). Being supervisor I’ve awarded myself the course record, sorry Matt. (I told you the fluoro vest was empowering).

Thanks everyone involved. It’s a satisfying job. Well done.

Rich (Thanks John Duffy for all lead up organising work)

22 Apr 2018 - LCRK Marathon Series #5 - Special Doubles Round

Lane Cove Marathon – paddler options Our Lane Cove Marathon, Round 5 of the 2018 Marathon Series is on Sunday 22 April. This Round has been nominated as the 2018 Doubles Round with the intention of attracting additional paddlers to try the joys of competitive doubles paddling and maybe even to try competitive Marathon paddling itself while sharing the effort, risk and reward with a mate. If you haven’t tried a Marathon Series event or haven’t competed for a number of years, this is a great way to get a taste of competition AND help our club compete for the Brian Norman Club Trophy for the most successful club in the 2018 Marathon Series.

What does this offer on 22 April? In additional to the up-to 50 club points that participants can earn depending on their race position, a further 80 club points is offered for each doubles craft that finishes, irrespective of position in the race. The usual rules apply to the competition for the up-to-50 points: paddlers need to enter the correct Division – PNSW will police this, especially for new Marathon Series combinations.

Unlike in any other Round, a doubles combination does NOT need to have completed a ranking race beforehand to earn club points on 22 April. A combo can come together just for that day (but, hopefully, some will really enjoy the experience and continue to compete together).

What does this mean for you and LCRK? Points up for grabs - 80 Club points per double that finishes PLUS - 40 Individual points to each individual doubles paddler that finishes PLUS - Individual place points as normal

Here's where we are currently at - firstly the almost definitely (subject to any late shuffling):

Paddler 1DivPaddler 2DivDoubles DivBoatBoat sourceEntered?
Suzie Rhydderch4Mitch Coffey11Carbonology BlastOwnyep
Tony Hystek1Alanna Ewin61K2ownyep
Tim Binns2James Pralija31Epic V10Ewin/Hystekyep
Mark Hempel2Caroline Marschner81V10Ownyep
Trevor Nicholls-Brendan Trewartha-1Red 7 skiFitzyep
David Young3Peter Manley32CarbonologyLCRKyep
Craig Salkeld-Peter Fitzgerald-3Carbonology skiFitzyep
Naomi Johnson4Alex Brown43Vadja TornadoLCRKyep
Richard Yates4Keg D'Andreti63Sladecraft SLR2Ownyep
Greg Morris-Warwick Sherwood-3Zero ToleranceOwnyep
Don Johnstone4Jeff Hosnell53Stellar skiJack Kesbyyep
Stuart Reid-Johanna Diment-3Stellar S2E skiOwnyep
Rob Hiley-John Rowberry-4Knysna G42 skiOwnyep
Darren Williams-Graham Cleland-4Mirage 730Ownyep
Anjie Lees7Meg Thornton?6K2 ClubLCRKyep
Tim McNamara8Jana Osvald?8Simon K2Geddes/van Kyep
Kerrie Murphy-Wendy Andrews-8PopemobileLCRKyep
Tom Simmat4Tim Hookins58SladecraftOwnyep
Matt Swann6Bruce Goodall99Zero ToleranceOwnyep
Paul Burges10Dave Veivers?9VulcanLCRKyep
Duncan Johnstone5Phil Geddes59Stellar DoubleOwnyep
Matt Blundell1Liberty Blundell-13?Ownyep

NOTE: Master tactician Duncan Johnstone has been overseeing and addressing questions, giving advice etc - and is still happy to take questions..

Below is an evolving list of LCRK volunteers who are helping to make this all happen.

Here's the portage detail:

Here's the offsite parking detail for Avian Crescent Lane Cove:

and for Magdala Road North Ryde

Paul van Koesveld (LCRK Marathon rustler)

18-20 May 2018 - AC Marathon Nationals - SA

The Australian Canoe Marathon Technical Committee and Paddle South Australia hosted the 2018 Australian Canoe Marathon Championships between 18 and 20 May 2018 at Westlakes, Adelaide, South Australia.

Only a few LCRK members in attendance - but check out the results anyway!

January 2018 - Classic Bass Crossing

Nicole Bartels, Kevin Kelly and Richard Barnes (words by Rich)


When is an expedition to the summit of Mt Everest complete? When the expeditioner reaches the summit? When this person is within 100m of the summit? Or when the party has made it safely back to Base Camp? Did Andrew Macauley make it in his kayak to NZ when he was in sight of land? These thoughts went through the minds of the Classic Bass team as we waited for windows of calm weather around Flinders Island. We had made it across the “big” crossings, from Wilsons Promontory to Flinders, via Hogan and Deal Island hops. These legs were respectively 55km, 45km and 65km, or 9.5hrs, 7.5hrs and 12.5hrs paddling time. Then there were only the shorter legs along coastlines of the Furneaux Group Islands and a final crossing of Banks Strait to negotiate. We had waited a day on Hogan Island, as a storm with windspeeds recorded over 100kmh swept over us. It was hard even to walk up to Hogan Lighthouse, let alone be out in a kayak that day. Then we had waited 4 full days on Deal Island as winds over 20 knots kept us cosily off the water. There was plenty to see and do on Deal, including walking up to the highest lighthouse in the southern hemisphere, and sharing tea and scones with the current lighthouse caretakers, Jo and Justin and their seven year old son Murphy.

Above: 100kmh winds at Hogan Island lighthouse ..and.. Scones with Deal lighthouse caretakers

However five days waiting meant there were few spare days left if we were to make it to Tasmania in time to catch Spirit, the ferry to get us back the easy way across Bass Strait northward to Melbourne. Could we hitch a lift on the barge that services the little town of Whitemark on Flinders, or even fly out from one of the grass strips on Cape Barren or Long Islands, and still claim to have crossed Bass Strait?

Fortunately weather forecasting is more reliable now than ever in the past. On my first crossing in 2001, we tuned in on a crackly radio with a wire aerial strung between trees, to hear someone reading a forecast for the whole of Tasmania for the next day. Now forecasts come via BOM on the internet to mobile phones, with predictive maps for windspeed, swell and wind direction, in 2-hourly increments up to four or five days into the future. For our last week of paddling, they showed generally relatively strong winds, but with small windows of calm. And so it turned out.

Ultimately, we targeted two relatively calm weather windows to make the final crossings of Banks Strait, splitting the 35km distance from Clarke Island to the NE tip of Tassie into two with our final camping night midway on Swan Island. These were to be our two hardest paddles. Our one and only team capsize occurred on the leg from Clarke to Swan, just off Swan Island. Strong counter currents slowed our pace so the weather window became too short to reach Swan Island. Just off the lighthouse, the rising wind broke the top off big steep swells, and Kevin got caught by one of these breaking giants. However Kevin has a great party trick, a re-enter and roll. Whilst his kayak was upside down, he did an underwater somersault to get back into an inverted seating position in the cockpit, then proceeded to roll up. It would be impressive at Lane Cove, but it was doubly so in rough water.

Calm weather along Wilsons Promontory ..and.. Rough weather off Swan Island lighthouse

The very last paddle was a mere 7km direct from Swan Island to Little Musselroe Bay. The weather decided to have a final hurrah, and combined with strong adverse tide to thwart our expedition arrival. For the whole Bass Strait crossing, we covered just on 400km, in a total time in the kayaks of 76hours. That is an average of just under 5kmh. Not quite Matt, Dave, Brett or Stu’s 12km lap speed at Lane Cove, but realistic for Mirage kayaks each weighing around 200kg fully loaded. Our final 7km took 3 hours, an average just over 2kmh. As we wryly noted, we could have walked the kayaks along Musselroe Beach faster than we were able to paddle. The moral is that the journey is never over, until we step across the finish line. For us, that was a greeting from our invaluable landcrew Dee Taylor and Andy Singh, two of the original team from Rivers Canoe Club who had planned to be paddlers on this crossing. From a starting crew of ten or so hopefuls, just two, Nicole Bartels and Kevin Kelly, had made that finish line. Both are Hawkesbury Classic regulars, so perhaps that is a key step in training for a Bass odyssey.

I had joined Nicole and Kevin only a few months before the trip. One reason was to help make sure their dreams were realised. Another was to use this crossing as a trial for a prototype Tasman sea kayak. This prototype started life as former LCRK member Ken Holmes’ Classic-completing Mirage 730.

Above: Prototype One
With a lot of guidance from LCRKer Tom Simmat, I constructed a pod over the front cockpit large enough to potentially be sleeping quarters. It certainly solved all issues of lack of space for equipment, but did bring its own set of steerage problems in strong winds. In the time we waited on Deal Island, I constructed a fin out of our emergency fibreglass repair kit to try to help control my prototype kayak’s wayward wanderings.


Space is at a premium in a single Mirage. We set off from Port Welshpool with 15 days food supply, and about 20 litres of water each. Add in tent, sleeping bag, stove, clothes and spares, and the last of the equipment usually ends up sharing the final corners of the cockpit with the paddler. Food and equipment sums to around 75kg, and made the 580s float just below the deck join line. Both Kevin and Nicole still found room for luxuries such as sleeping mat and pillows. Oddly, Kevin pulled out a grater on Deal, along with real potatoes, and set about making us hash browns. Kevin’s occupation is chef, so he also couldn’t be parted from his creamer, a huge device which is pressurised by C02 cannisters and turns longlife cream into whipped coffee mousse. Kevin is not a camper, and borrowed a tent and camp chair from John Duffy. He commented on being woken by sore elbows when his arms slipped off his narrow camp mat and rested alongside on the hard ground.

Above: Chef Kevin and his grater

Inner Sister Island

One of the goals of this trip was to try to camp on Inner Sister Island, off the north tip of Flinders. It promises safe landings with beaches on both sides. This would be something new and a little unique, as this island is not part of a regular crossing being slightly north of the most direct route. We set out from Deal with our bearings set for Inner Sister. Along the way were the landmarks Wright Rock and Craggy Island. Wright Rock is only 20km from Deal, but is small and only visible from about 10km. At about that distance one’s sense of smell confirms its proximity, as the large seal colony there is very smelly. We’d aimed to paddle in amongst the seals. However tide had other ideas, and after battling counterflow, our closest pass to the seals was 3km before we turned away. Next waypoint Craggy, where the ebbing tide looked like it would sweep us past its northern rugged shore, on course for Inner Sister. After a few more hours paddling, we were closing on Craggy. The tide turned, and suddenly was flowing strongly SW, against our course and into the rising westerly breeze. I promptly got seasick and threw up. Nicole got nervous running downwind in the big swells that developed. Kevin chimed in with a preference to head for whichever was closer of Inner Sister, or the traditional Flinders landing at Killiecrankie. Consulting our GPS, Inner Sister was 22.3km northeast, whilst Killiecrankie was 22.2km east. Destiny diverted, Inner Sister remains an elusive goal for some future Bass journey.


Above: Flying porpoise show

The Wrap

Bass Strait remains a paddlers’ Mecca, combining so many of the features which create an epic journey. At 400km and 16 days, the time and distance are of grand proportions. Paddling is at times out of sight of land, so there is a real reliance on self to achieve the day’s destination. The campsites are pretty wild and special. Some, like Whitemark, are relatively suburban, with access to showers, a hotel, general store, cafes and a bakery. The wildlife is always interesting, and interested. Seals are abundant, and always inquisitive. So too are the gannets and large Pacific gulls, whilst albatross fly by imperiously. Penguins are so human in their characteristics, especially when their regular path from sea to burrow is blocked by one of our tents. We were particularly lucky this trip to have a pod of killer whales glide toward and around us. The sea can be wild, but with patience there is always a window through which to paddle safely. Scenery always amazes and alone is adequate temptation, in particular the red lichen-covered granite boulders and sculptures round Cape Barren, Clarke and Flinders Islands.


Above: Campsites at Thunder & Lightning Bay and Rebecca Bay

Sun 28 Jan - Paddle4Good - Newcastle

Newy Paddlers has shared details of a fundraising paddle event (~10km) being held Sun 28 Jan. Go to the link above for all the details.

“Paddle 4 Good” this year is supporting a local Women’s Refuge that is in need of appliances for their venue. The refuge is a community based organisation and is currently self funded which is why they are in seeking assistance. The Refuge helps women and families that are under enormous stress and do amazing work in finding these women and families support in housing, financial, counselling and legal assistance. Please note that all proceeds will be going to the Women’s Refuge

  • When: SUNDAY, Jan 28th, 2018
  • Registrations: will open from 8:00 - 9:00am
  • Race briefing 9:15am
  • Race starts 9:30am (slower boats will be sent first)
  • Where: Throsby Creek “Beach” - Tully Street Carrington (Newcastle)
  • Cost: A donation of $10 (entry fee) which all proceeds are going to the women’s refuge.

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