Aug 03 2011

Ocean kayaking – a true show of love

If you want a true test of a relationship, try ocean kayaking together. In a double kayak.

It sounded as if it would be a good idea. Kayaking around Cape Tribulation, getting a close view of the marine life.

I’ve been kayaking before. With my children along the Noosa River. It’s beautiful. You take your time, paddle in amongst the shallows of the mangroves, look through the still waters at all the fish, get up close and personal with flocks of birds. My son and I used to get up early some days and go for a paddle on the still river for an hour or two before everybody else got up.

So kayaking around Cape Tribulation should be a breeze.

The first sign that it might not be so easy came when looking at the brochure. Three and a half hours for the journey. I don’t know why that didn’t tip me off to start.

Second sign was when we got picked up in the morning. He guide warned us – “you do know it’s choppy out there today.” There were six of us on the trip and still none of us twigged. “Oh, that’s fine” we all said.

Sign three – standing on the beach before getting into the kayaks, another warning from the guide. “It’s quite windy out there today. Try and stay in as close as possible to shore to stay out of the wind, because when we go around the Cape it’s going to be quite difficult. If anybody wants to drop out, just let me know.”

So off we went. Doc and I in a double kayak. Heading straight out to sea!

“We need to go back in towards shore.” I kept saying.

“No, stop trying to turn us, we’ve got to get out past the waves or we’ll tip over.” He kept replying.

And we’d only just started!

Finally, after much toing and froing, going out to sea and back to the shore, and getting further and further away from the group, we settled down to a gentle paddle.

It was very pleasant.

Rainforest coming down to the beach on one side, mangrove swamps in front, whales and dolphins frolicking out to sea, and the odd turtle popping it’s head up. What more could you ask for of a morning paddle.

Apparently something more vigorous!

As we were enjoying ourselves we were getting closer and closer to Cape Tribulation itself. I can understand why Cook called it that.

The guide gathered us all together one more time.

“OK” he said “We’re just about to go around the Cape. It’s going to be a bit difficult going around this way because we’re paddling into the wind and against the tide. But that means it will be much easier coming back.”

Oh good, we all thought, and off we went.

Sight of the day had to be Doc and I paddling furiously, not always in sinc. Kayak bouncing over and through waves, seemingly stuck in one place on the ocean, paddles clashing or missing the water altogether and paddling through air as we went over waves. At that point we didn’t have time to look around at anything.

Every time I looked at the shore it seemed as if I was seeing the same spot. We weren’t moving. My arms were getting heavier, my paddling was getting erratic (or more erratic). I needed Jacko to come and give me some extra life!

All I could hear from the back of the kayak was “Where’s the fucking outboard?” or “I’m never fucking doing this again” over and over again.

Then, finally, we were passed the Cape and it was time to turn the kayak into shore and surf into the beach on the other side.

Doc was all for heading straight to the nearest point – the rocks at the end of the beach. He didn’t care if the kayak smashed to pieces. He didn’t ever want to see it again – even though we still had to get back. No amount of cajoling was going to change that.

But we made it in – and out again. The trip back was uneventful and what took us 25 minutes on the way over, took 5 on the way back.

We made it, and the relationship survived. Though not without some precarious moments during the next 24 hours.  A tantrum and case of the sulks ended the day (I won’t say who did what). If we had more than a roof top tent somebody would have been sleeping on the lounge.

But space was limited, circumstances meant nobody could storm off, and we got through.

And now we’re back to enjoying life, sitting in the sun, having a glass of wine, eating dinner that has been cooking in the ecopot while we drive, and listening to the birds at sunset. We’ve even found a nice swimming hole with no crocodiles.

Things are good – but there’s the whole rest of Cape York to go!

Permanent link to this article: http://kathswinbourne.com.au/ocean-kayaking-a-true-show-of-love/