Feature photo – 19 Kayaks awaiting departure from Jurien Marina – Photo by Ian Hollick.
The Jurien trip this year was a little different – instead of setting up camp in a different location each day we camped at the Apex Camping group and did day paddles out to the islands and along the coast. Most people headed up on Friday and set up camp – with a few turning up on Saturday morning.
We woke up to a glorious morning on Saturday and while having breakfast watched Skydivers making the most of the still conditions. There was a great turn out on Saturday morning of 19 people so the beach at the boat harbour was a spectacular site of many different fibreglass kayaks lined up. Jacki, Ian, Barry, Chris, Dave Oakley, Rob, Neesha, Wolfgang, Steve Haddon, Lance, Antony Mee, Gordon, Graham, Margaret, Jenny, Duncan, Alan and myself were briefed by Paul before setting off into the glassy waters as the wind was only about 3 knots. Antony’s partner Bronwyn waved us off and then enjoyed her day having coffee, going for walks and watching the skydivers land on the beach. Paddling the 5km toward Boullanger Island, some of us were lucky to see dolphins and a sting ray.
Continuing on the 3km to Escape Island we were unable to find a safe landing place so backtracked to Boulanger Island for a morning tea break on a lovely white sand beach. We decided we would still continue on to Essex Rocks as planned but that it would be at least a 26km paddle as opposed to 18km that was the original plan. Duncan and Jenny being fairly new to Sea Kayaking decided to head back to Jurien at that point. The rest of us made our way over to Essex Rocks keeping clear of the shallow reefs with large breaking waves that were between us and the island.
The Sea Lions came out in force to greet us with at least a dozen in the water and at least that number basking out on the rocks. They seemed to take a liking to Margaret who at one stage was surrounded by them. Alan gave them a fright as he rolled his kayak but they came back for more, seeming to take it as a game. With the wind having picked up a little and a following sea we scooted over to Booka Valley on the mainland, where we had a well-earned lunch break. The seabreeze had picked up more so we had a bumpy ride back to town. There were some weary souls when we finally made it the 26km back to the boat harbour.
We decided to take the night off cooking so headed to the tavern for a meal, a bevvy or 2 and a few yarns. Although it was a calm night there was wind of another kind – who was that?!?!
Sunday dawned blue skies and with virtually no wind which is pretty lucky for Jurien. A few paddlers were unable to make the longer paddle to North Head due to injury, aching joints, tiredness or needing to leave a bit earlier. So, after discussion with Paul, it was agreed that they should form a peer paddle to Favourite Island and back as an alternative option.
Here is Jacki’s trip report on the Peer Paddle to Favourite Island:
A pod of nine paddlers left Jurien Marina and paddled a leisurely 4km to Favourite Island, led by Graham Place and joined for a short while half way across by an inquisitive dolphin. Once at the island, we decided to have a look around the back and paddled 1.5km around through some reef and back wash waves from the island (a bit like the south wall ‘washing machine’ at Hillarys). Graham and Jacki had a bit of an unintentional surf round to the front of the island where we all landed safely on the beach. After morning tea and some paddling stories we headed back 4km to the Marina with a bit more wind to help us out. All in all, a very pleasant paddle to complement the tougher 26km paddle of day 1. We finished off with some rolling practice and cooling down in the Marina. I’d like to thank Paul Cooper as Sea Leader and Jo Foley for organising the weekend. It was a most enjoyable paddle.
The other 10 of us paddled north toward North Head. I couldn’t get over the clarity of the water – it was like glass and you could see the bottom even at 5m depth. Along the way another dolphin was spotted quite near to a small tinnie sporting a red beach umbrella, it appeared surreal against the blue sky.
After picking our way through the reef and breaking waves we landed on the north side of North Head on a lovely concave beach where we could see people camped up by the old bunker on the headland and further north on the beach. The plan was just to paddle to this point and return (about an 18km paddle) which is what some of the group did but Paul suggested we paddle a bit further north to see what it was like. As is often the case a little further turned in to a few more kilometres when we decided to turn back just in case we got a seabreeze which would mean paddling back into headwinds.
The intrepid trio consisting of Rob, Dave and Steve continued on and circumnavigated Sandland Island which is an unusual name seeing there was no sand and nowhere to land. By their accounts, there were lots of sea lions and they encountered some rough conditions. On the return Paul decided to swap his paddles in an area of shallow reef and almost got cleaned up by a big wave. Not the best choice of where to stop and swap paddles!
As it turned out we got a light northerly for some of the way before it turned into a light seabreeze. It was amazing how different the sea was even from these light to moderate winds – it was no longer glassy but lumpy instead. That night there were only 9 of us left and we swapped lateral thinking quizzes while eating fish and chips washed down with beer. The chip connoisseurs amongst us decided they were pretty damn good.
It was a much windier morning on Monday and we’d had some drizzle earlier on. We paddled out into a 12knot wind and moody skies and through a rain squall on the way over to Favourite Island which was only 4km away. Paddling around the back of the island was very lumpy due to the rebound off the cliffs of the island and due to the wind waves and increased swell from the previous days. It made for an interesting paddle. Surfing around the point we landed on a sandy beach on the sheltered side of the island which was a bird sanctuary full of Sooty Terns, various gulls and a pair of Ospreys. A curious lone Sea Lion came to check us out and when we were back on the water gave me a fright when it popped up right beside my kayak. It then proceeded to follow Rob some of the way back to Jurien.
We made fast progress back to the marina with following seas. A nice 9.5km paddle to finish off the trip before driving back to Perth – first having to be breathalysed just out of Jurien!
It was a super weekend so thanks Paul for all the work you put into organising it and thanks to all of the group for your great company and all the laughs.
Friendly Sea Lion near Favourite Island – Photo by Neesha Copley.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]
Setting out from Jurien Marina for Boullanger Island – Photo by Neesha Copley.
Crossing to Boullanger Island – Photo by Ian Hollick.
Alan entertaining the sea lions at Essex Rocks – Photo by Neesha Copley.
Jacki with Sea Lion – Photo by Ian Hollick.
Essex Rocks – Photo by Neesha Copley.
Gordon, Graham & Duncan on Favourite Island – Photo by Ian Hollick.
Paddling toward North Head – Photo by Neesha Copley.
Neesha at North Head – Photo by Jo Foley.
Favourite Island – Photo by Neesha Copley.
Wolfgang, Paul & Jo setting off into some Moody Weather – Photo by Neesha Copley.