February 26 - March 3, 2012: Issue 47


Words and Images Copyright Robyn McWilliam, 2012. All Rights Reserved.


 Kayaking Careel Bay
by Robyn McWilliam

Around six years ago our sailing friends did a bulk deal purchasing Hobie Lanai kayaks. Their stability and adjustable seats for back support make for a comfortable way to explore waterways.

Careel Bay should be a safe place to begin. Vessels are restricted to eight knots and most skippers are aware it’s a no wash zone. Sun protection is an issue. At a market in Queensland, I bought a 50+ ultra violet protection top made by Sun2Sea. Check online but the Cancer Council shop at Warringah Mall also stocks outdoor leisure clothing. Hat and sunscreen goes without saying. There are a few other handy items. To prevent sore hands, I wear cycling gloves. Wetsuit shoes, available at Whitworths, are great if you have to step out into slimy weed or onto oyster-encrusted rocks.

The best time to kayak is in the morning before the wind comes up. If the breeze is building paddle upwind first then it will assist you on the way back. In strong wind gusts and choppy water, kayaking becomes a strenuous workout. One handy technique for those with underdeveloped biceps is worth trying. When dipping your paddle in one side, pushing and extending the opposite arm provides more power. I recall seeing a woman caught by a Southerly Buster unable to make headway at all. So a weather check can be helpful.

If you start near the boatshed, continue past the houses on the western side towards Stokes Point. Meandering by the jetties and pontoons you might see cormorants, wings stretched and quivering to dry their feathers. Pelicans snooze, their lengthy beaks tucked away, perched atop mooring poles. You’ll hear the sluice and slap of water around the pylons and wharves, perhaps notice crabs scuttling.

On the tip of the point is Finisterre, the caramel heritage-listed home of Bob Oatley, renowned for his famous yacht Wild Oats XI, a Hobart race contender. Across the mouth of the bay on the eastern side is a strange looking house built into the cliff. Back in the 1960s its semicircular concrete boatshed housed a small float plane. Then it was the holiday home of Mervyn Richardson, inventor of the Victa lawn mower in 1952.He developed it to help his son who mowed lawns in his university holidays.

Just beyond a creek enters and there’s a grassy bank edged with dinghies. In this part of the bay the sandy bottom is perforated with holes. At low tide nippers can be collected for bait using a cylindrical hand pump but be aware there is a limit. Children love to watch them jostling around in a bucket with their solitary pincer.

The sandy shore extends right up to the prolific mangroves at the head of the bay. At high tide you can paddle up to the shiny green leaves. At low tide aerial roots rise out of oozing mud. Near this end you might see the tiny licensed fishing boat, Sicilia Star, with its daffodil-yellow stripe motoring out for a catch.

Careel Bay Marina is always busy: yachts at precarious angles on the slipway, cruisers or tinnies tying up for fuel and passengers being picked up from the public wharf end. If you don’t have a kayak and would like to try this increasingly-popular activity, hire one here. Singles are $20 an hour, doubles $30 and a family special is $45. There are overnight rates also to encourage boaties to take up kayaking.

I recently inducted a friend. She said, “It’s so relaxing just gliding through the water.” So try exploring with paddle power and enjoy the exercise as well.