Matilda Bay Paddle – February 2023
The recent paddle to Matilda Bay had its challenges and rewards, as do most paddles where we rely on wind, tides and temperature.
After much deliberation and consultation regarding the forecast wind conditions, twelve club members headed off to Matilda Bay earlier than planned in an attempt to be back before the wind “picked up”. What started off to be a gentle breeze at the club, turned into a not so gentle wind coming from the south west. The wind caused a few issues with some of the boats ignoring their rudders and preferring a sideways direction which proved a little challenging at times.
A not so leisurely coffee break was enjoyed at the Bayside Kitchen in Matilda Bay. Once everyone was refreshed we headed back out to be challenged by a slightly higher than forecast headwind. Martin Wells who was an unofficial, land based photographer for the trip happened to notice a select few of the group coming ashore at Nedlands. He kindly drove them back to the club to collect cars and by the time the main group returned, all were safely back. Thanks Marty!
Some of the newer paddlers agreed that although it was a challenging trip, there was a sense of accomplishment gained and new skills learned. All in all, it was a fun day out and it was great to paddle a bit further afield than the normal peer paddles. Thanks to Bob, Geoff, Colin, Jillian, Marion, Doug, Marjan, Patrick, Suzanne, Maggie and Lorena for taking part in the adventure.
Jocelyn Sisson – Feb 2023
Palm Beach – Penguin Island Cruising – March 2023
PALM BEACH – PENGUIN ISLAND CRUISING Sunday 5th March 2023
Despite the strong wind warning we went at last! The trip was on and off with various options hanging for a few days, but we arrived at Palm Beach, and it looked gorgeous with the wind about 13 knots from the ESE. We had seventeen keen Swannies, looking forward to an expedition for the day, or at least until the sea breeze kicked in after midday.
With the long weekend public holiday, everywhere was busy and we kept a careful lookout for the various motor craft that could appear from nowhere and snorkellers that were everywhere. We paddled under the causeway to Garden Island in 3 groups, led by Geoff, Colin P and Jocelyn, maintaining contact with each other by radio.
We had a great mix of paddlers from Andrew and Christine, who had paddled the Colorado River to Lorena who was hitting the ocean for the very first time. The interesting thing I find about paddles with Swan, is that I always meet someone I’ve never paddled with before. Maybe I don’t get out enough! Our group played follow the leader, Colin P, through the channels in the shallow reef, inshore of Mushroom Rock avoiding rocks and reef outcrops and pushed about by the waves.
When we turned the corner at Point Peron, the wind had moved to the south and was quite strong, even though it was only 9.30am! That made for a good “into the wind paddle” to Bird Island where we spotted a sea eagle. From there we went on to Seal Island, where it seemed like everyone who had any sort of craft, from runabouts to short and fat paddle craft was there. The visitors easily outnumbered the large sea lions soaking up the sunshine and ignoring the tourists.
The next stop was the beach on the east side of Penguin Island, where some of us elected to relax while the majority did a circumnavigation and returned for lunch on the grass. The banana bread for hungry paddlers was delicious and supplied by foodie extraordinaire, Kelly – thanks Kelly. With the wind expected to move up towards twenty knots we didn’t stay long and got back into our boats and headed off. Colin P in his single kayak and Andrew and Christine in their double kayak, hoisted sails and smiled as they sailed past the paddlers. Heading north, the wind was behind us, and the fetch caused wind waves that some were surfing. Jocelyn who likes a wave or two, was chasing rides, along with Patrick and Steve. We saw many Pelicans practising their gliding and somewhere before Bird Island we spotted an Osprey, Shoalwater being one of the areas for birds of prey.
Once around Point Peron, we threaded our way through the reef and were pleased when the wind dropped as we rounded John Point. It was a short-lived relief and before long the south-westerly was blowing hard on our beam, which made things hard for Fran who was heroically managing a skeg that didn’t work properly. Well done Fran for a big effort, I could see how hard you were working. Well done also to Lorena, having survived her maiden voyage on the ocean. Somewhere between John Point and the causeway to Garden Island, Andrew and Christine checked how Geoff felt about them doing a downwind run the twenty kilometres to home! Geoff figured that someone who could do rescues in the Grand Canyon in a white-water boat could probably manage the sail home and gave the go ahead. With the wind increasing they had a wild eighty-minute sail and surf back to Coogee but lived to tell the tale.
With the wind gusting up to twenty knots we were all glad to reach Palm Beach, carry the boats up onto the grass, take a deep breath and pack up. Overall, a great trip. A huge thanks to the organiser Geoff, the leaders Colin and Jocelyn and all the participants. Looking forward to the next time.
BROKE INLET January 2023
A lucky number of eight paddlers this year for our annual Australia Day sojourne down to the cooler climes of our south coast at Broke Inlet, within the D’ Entreasteau National Park west of Walpole. Geoff Emery, Jocelyn Sisson, Colin Scully, Rose Chaney, Trish Schuttler, Pete Ormond and Steve David joined yours truly on Monday 23rd for a three day paddle/ camping adventure that, as always, provided a good mix of invigorating daytime paddles and relaxing evening chats around our (non-existent) campfire.
This year we camped at Windy Point, our most commonly used campsite on the relatively remote south western side of the Inlet. (Note to potential future Swannie campers – don’t be put off by the place name because in fact we have always incorrectly referred to this camping area as ‘Windy Pont’ when in fact that name officially belongs to another point, on the opposite side of the Inlet). ‘Our’ Windy Point is usually well protected from wind and, more importantly, from potentially annoying other members of the human race, as it is accessible only to kayakers.
The ocean bar was open this year! Although this didn’t enable us to purchase refreshing beverages throughout the trip, it did mean the Inlet’s water level was tidally influenced and not quite as low as we have experienced in the past. It also meant that water quality was improved, particularly in the channel leading to the beach, where it was an amazingly clear aquamarine colour reminiscent of Ningaloo (well, I do have a good imagination!).
On Tuesday 24th Jocelyn took the reins as part of her Guide/ instructor training and led the group paddle up and into the Shannon River, via Shannon Island. Under Geoff’s ever watchful presence (as an Assessor) Jocelyn did a great job dealing with various fake ‘problems’ with radios, shoulder injuries, a rouge paddler going off- script (really Colin you should concentrate!), and an unexpected capsize to test her skills. ‘Delegation’ emerged as one of those skills (always important to keep dry, calm and collected, while someone like Steve has inexplicably gone for a swim!).
On Wednesday 25th we paddled to the ocean outlet, being rewarded by a vista of thundering surf and the perfect opportunity to invoke safety concerns as an excuse to avoid any kayak rolling training. Pete and Geoff nevertheless had a refreshing swim while the rest of us just enjoyed walking the beach in the absence of other summer holiday makers (in 4wds). A benefit in getting there just before Australia Day!
Those undertaking walks closer to camp were rewarded with a hidden wetland area, a variety of geological outcrops to avoid stubbing your toes on, and the opportunity to speculate on the origin of the wind-blown foam and the mysterious excavation holes (pigs?) along the water’s edge, as well as the array of animal footprints across the adjacent low sand dunes. Wildlife, in terms of bird numbers, was not as prolific as on some earlier trips, however this was compensated (ALMOST) by a visit from a local dugite seen heading for Trish’s tent. All opportunities for some ‘arty photography‘ in this wonderful remote part of WA.
Our other R and R activities around camp involved relaxing stints of reading, snoozing in tents (only Rose being clever enough to bring a hammock), and procrastinating about how to make the next night’s sleeping arrangements more comfortable. Gathering around our fabulous imaginary fire each evening, and with the cosy ambience of the group’s elevated tarp (thanks Geoff), we engaged rise) in the traditional Broke pastime activities. They included drinking (what a surprise!), story-telling, comparing the utility or otherwise of other people’s camping equipment (I’m still upset about your disparaging remarks about my coffee plunger Steve!), trying to repair broken camp chairs, and debating the health benefits of no actually eating the various freeze dried meals that emerged on the last night – and, when cooked, bore little resemblance to anything from known food groups. Luckily Rose was able to provide us all with a small portion of whisky to help get it down, or erase the memories.
With a moderate wind on both days, Geoff and Steve had good runs with their sails (also tried out by Pete), and we all had the opportunity for some ‘solid paddling’. The latter should not be confused with any of that competitive RFT (Rod Fry Training) stuff which permeates through our club at this time of year! However, one suspects the RFT virus may have been responsible for Jocelyn’s headache on Wednesday morning requiring a rest before she and Geoff did a quick catch-up paddle to meet us at the ocean beach, and then again to engage in a quick 10.5 km paddle sprint to circumnavigate Bald Island on the last morning (Australia Day).
On gathering before departure on Thursday 26th I think we all agreed it was nice to have a modest sized group for 2023 and doing the trip in the days leading up to, rather than over, Australia Day. This enabled us to avoid car parking issues, and almost all boaties and 4wd campers, as well as having more easily managed group paddles and a less congested camp site.
Thanks all, for a great trip to start the year.
4 February 2023
BLACKWOOD RIVER PADDLE AND CAMPING TRIP November 2022
The Swan Canoe Club’s annual November camping and paddling trip, attracted ten paddlers this year, but what an enthusiastic group! In particular, the newer white-water paddlers, Kelly, Vicki, Trudy, and Margie were very enthusiastic, while Ross and Steve showed manly reticence.
We all camped in the group camping area at Chapman Pool, close to Warner Glen Bridge, with most of us arriving early on Friday to set up our camp in daylight, especially those who were new to camping. It was disappointing that the gas BBQ’s at the site were gas-less, but with a roaring campfire and a couple of gas stoves, we all managed to have a hot dinner. Friday night was cold, but sitting around the campfire telling tall stories, while enjoying a beverage or three kept the cold at bay.
Saturday morning dawned crisp and blue-sky-clear, enough to encourage Kelly to go for a morning run. The rest of us were focussed on waking up, followed by breakfast. With breakfast done, paddle gear collected, and Geoff’s briefing done, we were off down Denny Rd to Sue’s Bridge where we dumped kayaks, paddle gear, and the non-drivers. We drove all the cars back along Denny Rd and down to Hut Pool where we left most of the vehicles and used a couple of vehicles to ferry the drivers back to Sue’s Bridge. After all the driving, we were on the water about 10.30am, with one of our warmer paddlers deciding to have a cooling dip. It was a magnificent day, and we all enjoyed cruising downriver, pausing at each rapid. We were fortunate to have several keen paddlers, new to white water but eager to learn, and we had a good team with Geoff leading, Colin as tail-end Charlie and Des and Elena giving tips and supervising. It was great to see Kelly, Trudy, Vicki, Margie, Ross, and Steve paddling through each rapid with confidence and skill that meant none of them capsized. Unfortunately, the only capsize was instructor Geoff, who was attacked by a bush and a turbulent eddy line, while playing in a rapid. Unable to roll up, Geoff exited the Dancer, and tried to pretend that this was an intentional example of what happens if you grab hold of bushes in rapids.
After about ten or eleven kilometres of paddling, we stopped for lunch at our usual inviting beach on river left, where Kelly supplied a dessert with her fantastic port and fruit cake. Batteries recharged, legs stretched, and the calls of nature answered, we were soon back on the water and working our way downstream through small rapids, a couple of which were challenging. Along the way we saw several canoe paddlers and an intrepid dog squatting low on the foredeck of one boat as they went through a rapid. After paddling for a total of about eighteen kilometres, we made it to the weir at Hut Pool around three thirty in the afternoon. Then it was car shuffle time again, to recover the vehicles left at Sue’s Bridge and return to Chapman Pool camp. Back in our warm, dry gear, we relaxed around the campfire and told tales of derring-do. Geoff was strangely quiet.
Sunday dawned a cool, beautiful blue-sky day, and after breakfast we broke camp and moved our vehicles down to the Day Activity area at Chapman Pool. All ten paddlers were soon back at Hut Pool and paddling downstream, with Colin leading and Geoff as tailender. Trudy was taking each rapid seriously, while Margie, Vicki and Kelly seemed to be having fun. There were some tricky bits to negotiate, and Des and Colin did a great job in getting each paddler into an eddy and around one tight corner, where a tree waited to trap the unwary paddler. After about six kilometres, we made it to Morning Tea Rapid and Colin, Des and Geoff had a little play, until Geoff realised, he was carrying Henrietta’s morning tea carrot cake! It ended up with nine of us having morning tea, while Des kept playing on the rapid. Kelly and Ross had a mud sliding competition while back in the rapid, Des capsized, failed a roll but made it up on the second attempt. Nice work as usual Des.
After morning tea, the longer sections of flat water began to wear on the short boat paddlers, Des, Colin, and Geoff. Des was wishing he was in his new slalom boat instead of his Diesel, and Colin and Geoff just wanted to get there. After around three and a half hours of paddling for twelve kilometres, we made it to Warner Glen Bridge and Chapman Pool by one o’clock in the afternoon. Steve was so pleased he did a victory roll to celebrate. Margie’s husband, Pat was kind enough to drive the three drivers back to Hut Pool to collect cars. Unfortunately, we met a kangaroo on the way along Denny Rd and neither the kangaroo nor Pat were happy. Back at Chapman Pool we had a bite to eat and then hit the road. It ended up being a long day, with Steve, Trudy, Kelly, and Geoff washing club boats and putting them away around six thirty that night. However, despite the tired bodies and the chills and spills we all had a great time, and it was gratifying to see the enthusiasm and skill of the newer paddlers who hopefully will be future leaders.
Geoff Emery 10/11/22.
Murray Delta Paddle – October 2022
“History is written by the victorious” – and something similar applies to
paddle trip notes when they are written by the Trip Organiser – it’s a
certainty that it will be reported as “wildly successful with glorious weather”!
Starting and finishing at the beach adjacent to ‘Jetty’s Bar and Grill’ in South Yunderup, this half day paddle trip avoids the need for a car shuffle and enables participating Swannies (14 this time) to explore the lower reaches of WA’s Murray River where it forms a multi- channelled delta before entering Peel Inlet, roughly midway between Mandurah and Pinjarra.
We had cool overcast conditions for most of the day with a gentle to
moderate westerly breeze. A small case of Mandurah mist (aka rain) around mid-day, but pleasant paddling conditions overall, and a contrast to the unseasonably hot day before.
After paddling downstream on the main part of the river past an eclectic mix of houses, private jetties and ‘pleasure craft’, we then entered the more un- touched environs of the channels that divide the delta into islands with plenty of natural bush and birdlife.
We emerged from a channel south of both Yunderup and Little Yunderup Islands to pass a sand spit crowded with pelicans (somewhat baffled by our presence) before briefly entering Peel Inlet where we met another group of paddlers. Peter Ormond was eager to try out his newly acquired ‘Valley’ kayak to its fullest extent and created minor mayhem while attempting to spilt up (or ram) the oncoming pack – well done Pete, it serves them right by asking if we were the over 55’s group!
Turning into a channel on the northern side of Yunderup Island we headed back to the main section of the Lower Murray and then across to Cooleenup Island where we had our picnic lunch, and some explored the old Coopers Mill. Surprising few mosquitoes this year, and in the absence of an ‘official tour by the caretaker’ Geoff Vine could recite whatever dates and facts you ever wanted to know (and more) about the history of the place.
After lunch we paddled through the Mandurah mist out into some mildly choppy stuff in Peel Inlet before turning into the lower reaches of the Serpentine River, then around Jenala Island and back to Coopers Mill. The return journey to the main channel of the Murray was via the narrow tree- lined channel on the northern side of Cooleenup Island. Amazingly quite on these back channels with no traffic noise or competition with power boats.
Tony King battled bravely with the skeg of the red Hydra for much of the day, fully admitting he had no control over its direction and it was a bit of a struggle to keep up. After lunch he took a short cut home but we reconnected with him in the main channel on the homeward stretch. So, against the odds, we returned to our starting point with a full complement of paddlers – what more could anyone ask for!
Janet Stanford (a.k.a. dolphin whisperer) made the official count of seven for the day, although some may have been countered twice? Some of us DID see one dolphin do a very speccie jump from the water on the final stretch.
Ross Ladyman demonstrated he was the hard man of the team with his lightly dressed attire enabling us to use him as mosquito bait, although not needed in the end. Clive Jarman impressed the punters by bringing along the result of his wooden boat-building skills, although his relaxed paddling style meant his craft wasn’t a significant challenge to Geoff Emery and Colin Scully’s not-so-secret passion for boat speed.
In the absence of some of our usual bird spotting experts, a local woman walking her dog did however spot not one, but two, of the normally elusive ‘budgie smuggler’ species. Tony and Paul Covolato were responsible for this traumatic sight (and more!) while they were getting changed in the car park at the end of the day.
Well done everyone, a pleasant and relaxing paddle trip for your organiser thanks to your patience and sense of humour. Thanks also to instructors Colin and Geoff for back-up duties controlling this wild rabble!
Photos courtesy of Geoff Emery and Christine Eyres
Paddling Walyunga White Water 2022
It looks like we’re seeing the last of the white water for a while, as the Walyunga gauge, wherever it’s gone to, would be showing about 0.5 metre today. Hopefully the disappearing wooden Walyunga gauge will be skulking underwater and can be recovered once the water drops. Meantime, we have been lucky in being able to paddle white water while the sun shines, instead of enjoying the usual grey skies and rain.
Colin, Elena, and I had a pleasant play at Walyunga on Monday 26 th September when the water level was about 0.65 metres and lived to embellish the tale. However, what was more impressive, was paddling at Walyunga on Saturday 1 st October with Kelly, Vicki, Ash, and Colin at a water level of about 0.57 metres. We spent over two hours paddling from the top pool at Walyunga to the bottom pool below the slide, playing at nearly every eddy. There were a few wobbles and serious faces and that was just me! Despite being relatively new to white water, Kelly, Vicki, and Ash were terrific in not having a capsize, but also having fun in the sun. Ash looked totally in control, burying the nose of the Katana in the stopper at Viper’s Tongue, and Vicki practised her ferry gliding in the Corsica until she mastered it, while Kelly slid the Mamba into the eddy at the top of the slalom poles with style and without capsizing! Just as impressive, was everyone breaking out of the eddy and into the fast flow and large waves and smiling while they did their low brace turn.
As if white water and sunshine weren’t enough, Kelly produced her usual bread rolls, pulled lamb and hot gravy in a flask for lunch! Ash whipped up some fancy chocolates, Vicki some watermelon and nougat, and Colin brought some cake, while slack-Geoff was almost empty-handed, apart from a flask of hot coffee and lots of talking. I jokingly labelled Kelly, Vicki, and Ash as ‘The Dream Team’ but we do have other new paddlers like Fran, Margie, Nick, and Ross who are equally competent and just as keen to enjoy the white water. Many of these paddlers have put their hand up for the Blackwood River Trip, in November where we paddle nineteen kilometres from Sue’s Bridge on the Saturday and about twelve kilometres on the Sunday from Hut pool, playing in whatever rapids we can find.
Hopefully by the time Elena, Colin S and Colin P and I are using a Zimmer frame to get in out of our kayaks, we’ll have a new cohort of younger white-water paddlers, guides and maybe even instructors. Clearly the writing is on the wall, because as I finished teaching a thirteen-year-old boy to kayak yesterday, he commented as we finished,” Gee, there’s a lot of old people in the club, isn’t there?”
Paddle Aust accredited flat water,
white water, sea instructor and assessor.
5th October 2022.
Upper Murray Paddle with Geoff E
Last Sunday, eleven club paddlers set off from Yarragil on the Upper Murray River to paddle the ten kilometres downstream to the Baden-Powell picnic area. The river was flowing well at a level of about 1.85 metres at the Baden-Powell gauge. Six of the paddlers were relatively new to white water, but what they lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm. Even an unexpected swim or two failed to cool them off.
Watching Fran, Vicki, Margie, Kelly, Nick, and Ross, it was great to see them remembering some of the techniques they’d learnt in the Introduction to White Water courses run by Colin Scully, Geoff Emery, and Colin Priest. Colin, Elena, and Des were giving lots of good advice about ferry gliding, breaking in and out and of course remembering to edge or lean the kayak downstream.
Margie was enjoying herself so much, that she became over-heated and decided to flip her yellow Katana to cool off. The problem for the rescuers, was that they couldn’t stop her laughing! Kelly was looking cool, and colour coordinated in her blue Mamba and matching cag. She remained focussed, controlled, and dry all day! Nick was enjoying his red Katana and getting a bit excited, as he pushed himself to play in each rapid. Despite a couple of close calls, he maintained boat control and stayed dry too. Ross was just cruising along in the yellow Tsunami, not feeling the cold in his tee shirt, and enjoying himself. Vicki had difficulty getting the smile off her face and appeared to be enjoying herself way too much, throughout the day. Fran was paddling well, keeping the Dancer straight, when Colin distracted her with a discussion about lip balm. She assumed he wanted her to wash it off and flipped the Dancer near a bush. Determined to remove the offending lip balm, she took her time getting out of the kayak, but finally emerged with clean blue lips. Gillian was enjoying the paddle in the Green Boat, while Elena had a bit of fun surfing across one rapid with her paddle in the air. Colin was doing a good job leading the group, while Geoff as ‘tail-end Charlie’ wasn’t doing much at all.
At about four kilometres from Yarragil, the Island Pool rapid looked a bit intimidating from the top. Des didn’t help the confidence levels a lot when he made the first run and hit something solid on the way through. Nevertheless, one by one, each paddler made the run into a nice open V chute and into the large pool below. Last year at the same rapid we had three or four capsizes, but I was impressed that this year everyone sailed through like experts. The group moved over to river left and beached the boats for a lunch break, while Des, Colin, Elena, Nick, and Geoff had a play on the rapid before joining the luncheon crowd.
Back on the water after lunch, we left Island Pool and paddled about four kilometres to Bob’s Crossing, playing on a few small rapids along the way. The water was running over the roadway at Bob’s Crossing and making a lot of noise, as we got out of our boats on river right and portaged. There was a large and turbulent eddy downstream from Bob’s Crossing and it needed a bit of care getting back on the foamy water. After another two kilometres we reached the Baden-Powell picnic area and our vehicles at about three o’clock, making it a four-hour trip. Once in dry clothes again, Geoff drove Margie back to Yarragil to collect her car and we returned to Baden-Powell to pack boats and gear. From there we drove to the Dwellingup Pub for a well-earned drink in the sunshine and the usual ‘war stories’. It ended up being a great day, with great company and I would like to thank everyone for coming along. I was left feeling positive that the club is developing more white-water paddlers who are not only younger than me, but enthusiastic and keen to go on the next trip.
A special thanks too to Colin, Elena, and Des for all the usual help and guidance.
Geoff Emery. 190922.