A perfect day for a paddle – fresh morning no wind and sunshine.
There is no tide point at Manns Beach, the nearest being Port Albert where low water was 7:15am and the next point along the coast Woodside with a low water at 9:15. The paddle was planned allowing for a later low water at Manns Beach around 9:00am. We now know tidal changes at Manns Beach are 3-4 hours after Port Albert.
6 keen paddlers set off around 10:00am having conveyed our crafts to the waters edge over the “solid mud” – not the thick gooey stuff of Tarwin Lower or the bottomless silt of Andersons Inlet – these were discoveries for later. With flocks of swans, cormorants and other water birds we headed off into the morning sun, following the meandering channel that flows between the shore and St Margaret Island – picking the channel at times proving challenging. Thick seagrass indicated the state of the tide – still on the ebb in some places, turning in others with the upper layers of water showing a rising tide, while the lower levels were still ebbing. Seagrass gave rise to rocky areas and then clear sandy patches with “lunch” of you could catch it (flathead) abundant. The practicality of a clear bottomed kayak looked tempting (if you have a spare $1000 to spend on Gumtree). In one section there was almost a lagoon with thick seagrass and abundant fish almost jumping out of the water – unfortunately JohnL was not having fish for dinner.
Having started our paddle before low tide, we gradually discovered the full meaning of Shallow Inlet with John having to hop off and walk his Hobie over a couple of very shallow impediments. Just before “the narrows” we ran out – both of water and time if we were going to go to McLoughlins Beach. With the channel down to a very single lane, lots of sticky fine silty mud, participants trying out their “poling” or “gondola skills” or hand paddling skills and the tide not rising quickly enough to enable forward progress without damaging boats we made the decision to turn around, pull over for lunch and then make our way back.
Lunch on Margaret island, Ros boiling the billy for a hot cuppa, watching the tide to make sure the boats did not head off before us, a well earned relax for all.
Heading back into a quickly rising tide, and a gentle headwind, we were able to take a more direct route, however we had to deal with frequent shallow sections as what was previously dry land was now under water.
Congratulations to all for a very interesting, definitely not boring, paddle.
Thank you to all for a great day