Kayak - Penguin Fibreglass Greenlander sea kayak.
In recent months I had been spending a fair bit of time in kayaks. I had 2 trips to Flinders Island, the Murray Marathon race and a Bass Strait trip. I had been thinking about a new challenge.
I read about a paddle Laurie Ford had done to Maria Island recently and a trip around the island in 1 day sounded like a good paddle. Laurie left from Orford and I measured that distance at a minimum of 71km doing a lap around Maria Island, starting & finishing at Orford (near the mouth of the Prosser River).
To get an early start I drove up to Orford the afternoon before I was going to start so I could get away early the next day. While I was parked near the Prosser River at Orford Laurie Ford appeared after seeing a car with a sea kayak. Laurie was building his house just up the road.
I told him my plan and loaded some gear in the kayak. I was taking dry clothes, camping gear, food and drinks - in case the weather turned bad & I had to stop.
Rather than sleep in my car next to the river, Laurie offered me a bed for the night. After a short sleep I was up at 4.30am heading down to the river & Laurie helped me carry the sea kayak to the water. It was dark and I ran aground a few times on sandbars leaving the river.
I headed out just after 5am on a compass bearing towards the northern end of Maria Island in virtually no wind. The sea was a bit lumpy but ok. The sun started to rise as I approached Cape Boullanger (nth end of Maria Is.).
It was beautiful as I paddled in close to the cliffs below Fossil Bay and Bishop & Clerk. I continued along at a steady pace for the 15.5km of sea cliffs and rocky coastline around to Little Raggedy Head - where a large bay opens up and ended north Maria Island.
From there I headed in a direct line to the next point - out 5km offshore east of the neck, towards Cape Maurouard (named by French explorer Baudin in honour of helmsman of the Géographe in 1802).
I was cruising at 7.5 - 8km/h in the loaded sea kayak - which was a comfortable cruising pace but I could tell that I had done 40km. I was just over half way.
I headed back along the sea cliffs of the south end of Maria Island towards Cape Peron (the southern tip). I had 25km to go and it there was a light n/e to easterly breeze that was helping a bit.
I kept heading in a direct line which took me between the shacks at Earlham and Lachlan Island - in Mercury Passage. I cruised past Spring Beach just after 2pm, feeling a bit weary but focused on getting to the end.
The sea became calmer as I approached Orford in the fine weather. I cruised into the river and hit the beach at 2.48pm feeling very satisfied. It was a struggle to walk after 10 hours sitting in the kayak but Laurie had strolled back down from his house to welcome me back.
The shortest, straight line distance around the island is about 71km but my gps measured that I had done 75km - as I had followed the coastline of the island in some areas - for the spectacular scenery.