The wind was still blowing at 3.30am this morning and at 7.30am when I set out from Jacobs Well it was quite strong from the north. With the channel heading east it was a struggle with the sail but I was honing my techniques.
After half an hour the route turned south for a flying run down to the Gold Coast seaway. The plan had been to go to a boat ramp at Surfers and finish for the day but with the strong northerly it seemed perfect to head to sea and aim for the Tweed River as it was only 11.30am.
It was a battle out the seaway against the tide and the wind but once the sail was up and the kayak was pointed towards Tweed Heads life was great. The wind dropped a little and then came up from the north east. This was fine as the line to Coolangatta was still achievable with the sail up.
The route was a long way off Burleigh Heads, maybe 4 or 5km, but the sail was working fine and as usual I was keen to make good time. There was practically no swell as I headed out to sea but by the time the Surfers highrise was close it had increased to the stage that all the buildings would disappear behind the big waves. I practiced paddling and surfing the waves and achieved speeds of 12.5km/hr.
The sail was new for the trip and learning how to use it had taken time but it seemed that I had mastered it. There were a lot of white caps around and they announced their arrival with a roar that could heard in enough time to get ready. The white caps were blown from about 1/2 behind the kayak but the swell was almost from the side.
John Schulstad was primed for a radio sked at 2.00pm at Burleigh but we had agreed that I might be a bit further south by then.
When I was about halfway down Burleigh Beach but a long way out a big set came through. I could not avoid the white water and it hit the kayak side on. All was well for a few seconds and then over we went. Initially it was difficult to get out but I relaxed and rolled forwards under the water. On surfacing the ocean was strewn with all sorts of things but the paddle was tied on and I could get to my hat and the bailing sponge.
To cut a long story short it took 45 minutes to finally right the kayak after countless times of achieving it only to be tipped out again, find the sponge etc, and try again. John called at 2.00pm but I called back to say that I was in a spot of bother and would call back.
It was a bit of a worry at times because I was so far out to sea and things were going so badly but there was never a really life threatening emergency. John was in touch with the Coast Guard and the worst that would happen was that I would have to trigger the EPIRB in my life jacket. It would have been disappointing to lose the kayak and have to swim for it but it didn't get to that stage. We did lose some gear, including the GPS but I eventually pulled into Currumbin Creek and headed back to the camp site for a well earned beer.
Isn't it funny that a labor MP has had a gutful of the labor government and defected to the Greens. Here I am, an engineer with 37 years experience in the water industry and have had a similar gutful. Have no doubt: What I did today was not for pleasure. Something needs to be done and this is just my way.
Ready for the Gold Coast
Out to sea