Friday 11 July 2014

Day paddling to Moreton Island

After a week in the mountains, it was time for an ocean paddle.  With the winds predicted to be off shore in the morning, dropping off and swinging on shore later in the day it was a perfect forecast for a day paddle over to Moreton Island return.

The tides lined up for us nicely with a morning high tide and and an afternoon low tide.  I always try to cross the spitfire channel within an hour of the change over of the tide as the tide can move up to 4 knots with a spring tide.

This is a technical crossing and we tend to be a bit complacent having done this on numerous occasions.  Careful planning of tides and the detailed wind models for the area are advisable.  Considerations when planning the crossing are:

  • Taking off south of Woorim on Bribie Island to Comboyuro Point is 16 kms.  We averaged 8.8km/hr on the crossing including breaks and did the crossing in 1hr 53min.  If your average speed is slower, you will need to leave a wider time margin around the tide change over.
  • Cross the Spitfire Channel at the either the M2 or M4 channel markers as you have the channel clearly defined at that point.  If you see a ship within the distance of the next marker, wait for it to pass as it will take less time than you think.  We usually cross at the M2 beacon on the way over and the M4 beacon on the way back.
  • Crossing Yule banks on the Moreton side of Spitfire Channel is perfect with crystal clear water running over shallow banks - when the waves are breaking it is a hoot, unless you don't like waves.  Beware of large easterly or north easterly swell as this will hit the banks and can even break at high tide, the explosions of white water can be seen from shore.
  • Alter your ferry glide angle depending on the tide and where you are on the crossing.  There are three points on the crossing where the tides can run in excess of 3 knots (Close to both islands and Spitfire channel).
  • Try to avoid paddling against the tide close to the islands - it can be done but you will expend a lot of effort to make slow progress.
  • Bring some cash for a hot breakfast at the shop at Bulwer.
The views from Moreton Island are always spectacular.

The problem with paddling to such a beautiful destination is the lack of motivation to paddle back in the afternoon.

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