Saturday, 30 April 2011

Huon River

Today I discovered genius.

Specifically the genius of a boat that is designed to sink.  Yes, I realised that on face value that doesn't sound particularly brilliant, but stick with me.

As I've just discovered, the purpose of an ocean ski isn't to cruise around and take photos (my intended purpose).  The purpose of an ocean ski (which I'd know if I had bothered to do any research at all) is to go fast and well that's it really.

What better way therefore to motivate and impel you to travel fast and apddle forward than to create a boat that sinks 30 seconds after you stop paddling?  See, that's genius.

Specifically (if you're wondering what the heck I am going on about), my new Epic V8 has a small drainage hole in it near your feet which is intended to let the surf spray and other water drain out from your feet as you paddle forward.  The problem is of course, that the moment you stop going forward, all you are left with is a hole, and a boat with a hole in it just sinks.

This was a bit of a challenge for me on my first real paddle down the Huon River this morning as I had great dreams of taking pictures along the way.

As I discovered the reality is that you have just enough time to stop paddling, get out the camera, take two pictures, seal up the camera again (I had a non waterproof cameras as I left my waterproof camera battery in the charger when I took off this morning) and then get paddling again pronto.  Even with this strategy I soon ended up with a soaked backside and I seriously hated geniuses when I got out of the water with a kelvin rated body core temperature and a very, very sore right wrist.

That aside it was magnificent getting up early this morning, and thinking "I'm going off on an adventure".  Even the nervousness I felt last night about whether I'd capsize, or whether I could do the planned distance was sort of delicious in its challenge.

It was so great to get back to the little things, like stopping off at Subway for a brekky sub, sipping my soy latte as I drove down the road, and singing along to the chirpy tones of Lily Allen while everyone else around me was just waking up.  It was all just good.
Approaching Franklin
I put onto the water at about 8am on the Huonville Esplanade, and got off to a nervous start as I got used to the boats balance and the different paddling strategy required using a wing blade paddle.  It was king of embarrasing about a kilometre down the river as these super-human scullers zipped passed me in the opposite direction.  Fortunately I couldn't turn and watch them laugh at me as I was too afraid of capsizing.

Today's paddle was set to be a modest, yet challenging, 30km paddle from Huonville to Glaziers Bay (7 Inch Beach to be exact) and back, criss crossing egg island using several natural channels and of course the old ferry way just off Franklin (See route here).  This was my stomping ground where I grew up as a kid, and hence my reason for choosing it as a safe first solo paddle location.

It was a beautiful morning, with an almost mill pond water surface.  I frequently spooked black swans and ducks as I glid past them, and there was a low, but appropriate light for the day as the occasional drop of rain fell.

Wooden Boat School at Franklin

I watched my sculling friends go past in the opposite direction just as I got to Franklin and took some photos, and I later got stuck on the mud bank as I tried to cut through a narrow channel I know about about half way down the Island because I mistimed the tide slightly, but overall it was just a nice day and a nice paddle.

Ferry Channel near Franklin

Natural channel through the island, just before I got stuck.

Approaching the turn around point, Seven Inch Beach (Glaziers Bay) where I grew up.

Seven Inch Beach (very cold)

The only real downside was that I started getting a very sore wrist on the way back, and it was really sore by the time I was home.  Stephan tells me that I paddled to far, and had my blade set too long, and my technique was probably wrong ... all of which are probably true, but all I know was that my wrist was very sore, and that's not the plan for my comeback.

Sunday will need to be a day of rest and recovery, but it was still great to get back out there even if it is a long, long way that I still have to go.


  1. Beautifully said. I have just discovered 7" beach, having come to live nearby 3 years ago. Why it took me 3 years to find it I don't know. I am looking for a vessel to paddle too, to explore the waterways etc. Have fun!

  2. Sure you had a blast. The river is calm, view is great and the day is beautiful. Have you tried stand up paddleboarding too? Paddleboards in Alberta