Burrup Peninsula

April 2012:

Easter was looming and there was a 4 day break on the horizon and I was working near the Burrup Peninsula in Karratha abutting Dampier Port. Touch of history maybe necessary here: Burrup info

With a few packs of freeze dry food, oranges & a book I’m ready to go kayaking around the Burrup for 3-4 days. Tides checked, weather forecast noted and GPS loaded with a few waypoints for beaching I’m set to paddle.

Well nearly – 1st things 1st. Load the new ultra light Barracuda 5m 17kg sweetheart. Here’s where it’s telling ‘what I didn’t do’. New kayak actually needs some forethought before an overnighter. The storage capacity varies between kayaks. My folder Cooper kayak can easily stow enough for 10 days in medium size drybags. This beastie is a little more limited for storage. However, when loaded it appeared that I’d got it right even though I couldn’t remember what was in which drybag!

The loading was interesting as the tide was incoming and it was a case of stow, lift back up the beach, stow, lift up the beach, rapidly park the Jeep and lock, hie it back down to the beach and save a kayak from floating away.

Off out of Withnell Bay with the kayak kite up humming along about 3 knts. About 600m later I’ve come to realise that a new kayak, new kite and fully laden this is not the best time to open all stops. Kite folded and paddle in hand a sense of stability returns. In comparison to the Cooper this Barracuda is probably 30% tippier 1st time out. Never mind – tuffen up and keep paddling.

Running up the west side of Burrup there’s one campsite after the other setup on the beaches – its Easter weekend and families have 4WD into the peninsula. No problems for me as I’m headed for one of the Islands – no people!

I’ve headed NW off the peninsula heading for Angel Island and the heel of my right foot is starting hurt. “No sand rubbing against it” Mind you I’m barefoot in the kayak and it’s pretty difficult to get my heel where I can see it. So beach up 1st chance on Angel Island to find that I’d gouged a piece of meat off the back of my heel while loading on the rock strewn beach.

Being safety conscious that I’m paddling solo for 3-4 days I have onboard: x1 Spot Messenger;  x2 handheld GPS/UHF Radio units; Compass; Chart; Spare Paddle; Paddle float; Pump and a 1st Aid Kit. With the dressing applied to the heel and using 100mph tape to hold it in place my ‘Barefoot shoes’ on, its back on the water.

A few hours later I ease into a wide bay on Angel Island looking for a safe beaching point. OK, here I have to give credit to someone because without her trip blog, in the past, I wouldn’t have sat there watching the swell rolling onto the beach. To the north end there’s a white cap sequence that breaks (OK OK its big enough there are surfers). Here down at the southern aspect it is purely a swell lapping up a gentle slopping beach. OK my put-in point is decided.

Beached and unpacked the gear and its all well above high tide mark. Barely 3pm and off the water the heat is pretty intense. I’ve erected the flysheet for shade but the wind has shown how unstable my minimalist camping style is. Time for a swim and lie down.

For company there’s a stink boat at the northern end, a few surfers as well and a yacht off-shore. Well there was until late afternoon and I have the sweeping beach and this part of the Island to myself.

So its fire up the Stove and add the water to a freeze dry pack, pour a ‘glass’ of Red and sit back for the sunset. The obvious finally kicks in and there’s a full moon behind my flysheet just to complete the setting.

Awake about 4 am and the Heel has said hello! Decision time to head back is made as the risk of infection has raised its ugly head… bother! or a word to that effect.

So Easter paddle ends all too quickly yet had a top time.

The GPS/UHF unit did all I expected even managed to pick up communication between the Iron Ore Shipping Tugs.

I actually used the deck Compass for bearings rather than my usual ‘keep on checking the GPS’ – no need for the paddle Float or Pump which spelt a safe trip – pretty glad that I’d actually purchased the 1st Aid kit.

The Trip Blog is Freya Hoffmeister’s circumnavigation of South America with all its adventures.

As for the Kite – well not what I expected as the design isn’t conducive to quick and simple collapse. Then again 1st use isn’t a fair assessment.

The Beachcomber kayak – that’s turning into a love story.

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