The first all-female circumnavigation of Tasmania by sea kayak.
Have you seen the opening scene of the DVD “This is the Sea”? Well, those 3 girls paddling in buoyancy aids (sorry, PFDs) that look remarkably like bikini tops decided they had so much fun surfing in the tide race at Penrhyn Mawr that they should paddle together a bit more. Justine hasn’t been forgiven for making them film that scene in the chilly February seas so a bit of sun was called for. So, in November and December 2004, Justine Curgenven, Trys Morris & Gemma Rawlings swapped Wintry Wales for Southern Hemisphere Summer sun.
The Australian island is about the size of Ireland, approximately 1,500 km all the way round. We started on the East coast at Eaglehawk Neck ( about an hour from Hobart) and travelled anti-clockwise to make the best use of predominantly Northerly and Westerly winds on the most tricky sections. In fact headwinds were our biggest challenge – no-one had told the weather gods that the wind was meant to be behind us! Constant headwinds were particularly bad on the north coast where our morale was beaten to it’s lowest by day after day of battling into stroing winds. We constantly got up in the dark at 4am, to try to be on the water at first light at 5.30am.
We knew the West coast would be challenging as big swells roll in from the Antarctic and there are few landing spots, people or roads. The swells were up to 3-stories high but we managed to avoid landing through big surf most of the time. Sometimes we had to commit ourselves to paddling up to 40km to the next “safe” take-out. We had a tense day, in the aftermarth of a storm, paddling past beaches with raging surf, hoping that we had correctly identified a sheltered landing spot on our map. Fortunately, we were right.
We completed the journey in 37 days, with 4 days off due to bad weather. It was 1350km the way we did it and a fantastic experience for all of us.
UPDATE: COMPLETED, READ TRIP BLOG HERE.
TRIP REPORT AVAILABLE: CLICK HERE. (PDF)
Justine is an experienced expedition sea kayaker with past trips to Kamchatka, Alaska, around Wales and a solo trip around Iceland’s West Fjords. She is an adventure filmmaker and will film the expedition for international television and for a commercial DVD.
Trys was the first woman in the world to pass the BCU level 5 seakayak coaching award, putting her at the very top of the coaching ladder. She has worked as a kayak instructor and guide all over the world. She’s a qualified expedition leader who’s past trips include an 8 month journey from the UK to Greece. She’s currently writing a book about sea kayak leadership.
Gemma is a gutsy, talented paddler with a broad background in canoeing and river paddling. Since starting work at ASSC a year ago she’s had some of the best tidal races in the world on her doorstep and she’s taken full advantage to become a skilful sea kayaker. Past trips include crossing the Straits of Gibraltar and exploring the Outer Hebridees & Jura.
The headline sponsor is ‘The North Face’ – thanks very much to them for their generous support.
Nigel Dennis Kayaks | Lendal | Reed Chillcheater | Snapdragon | Extreme Vision Systems | Cotswold Outdoors | Cafe Active | Kaynau
Thanks to Olly & Leo of Rock and Sea Productions for use of their ERIPB.
Thanks to Axel Schoevers (www.seakayaker.nl) for donating us the best map cases ever.
Thanks to Aled Williams for setting up our Trip Blog (www.rockpoolkayaks.com)
Thanks to everyone who helped us and entertained us along the way in Tasmania,
particularly Matt who was like a 4th member of the team, and to Jeff and Rex.