BUSSELTON 2009 – A WILD TIME (trip report)

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Over the first long weekend in March, nine club members camped out with our sea kayaks near the beach at Geographe Bay, Busselton.

Six of us, now known as the Sugarloaf Six or to some as the Sugarloaf Sooks, made the 25km paddle from Smith’s Beach up to Cape Naturaliste and then around the Cape to Bunker’s Bay and on to Meelup.

We were expecting 20 knot SE winds but got easterlies of about 30 knots with gusts well above that. With the big swell rolling in at Yallingup, interacting with the wind waves and clapotis (reflected waves) off Sugarloaf Rock, life was very interesting for awhile. Despite having a UHF and VHF radio, not to mention my EPIRB, for a time I couldn’t take my hands off the paddle as I braced and braced some more.

While there were three sea kayak instructors, Gisela, Colin and myself, as well as experienced paddlers like Gail and Aaron, I thought newcomer Ian Viapree, paddling an Ecobehzig did remarkably well. At one stage I had lost sight of everyone except Gail, who was disappearing toward Mauritius. My fear was that Ian might well be swimming to Mauritius. However, falsely reassurred by having three instructors present, he kept cool and paddled well and most importantly didn’t capsize! Well done Ian.

We were very pleased to get to Bunker’s Bay for lunch, after having slogged for two or thee kilometres into the Easterly. Maggie and Kerstin joined us after lunch for the paddle to Meelup with a much reduced wind. Geoff was so exhausted it took several hugs from his all female support crew to resuscitate his smile. In the photographs you can see a guy lurking at the back who wishes he had a sea kayak and a support crew like mine.

On the Sunday the whole crew paddled from our campsite near Busselton, west for sixteen kilometres to Meelup. Initially the day was a bit overcast but the sea was flat and pleasant to paddle on with little wind. The Sugarloaf Six all agreed that Sunday would have been a much better day to do the long paddle. We decided to stop for lunch at a secluded little beach before Meelup. The sun came out, the birds were singing, Geoff was taking photo’s, we all cooled off with a swim and all was well with the world.. Maybe next year we may try for Cowaramup Bay to Smith’s Beach, on a calm day!