Date: 29/11/2010 2:33 PM
Cloud cover: initially 5/10 becoming 2/10
Wind direction & speed: ESE to 10 knots
Sea state: moderate swell from east
Current direction & speed: Possibly a slight current to SE at Sunshine Reef
Participants: Mark, Alex, Sam, Jake, LeRoux, Kev
It was so good to get offshore today, the only likely opportunity in at least three weeks of incessant easterly winds and large swells. Even with full knowledge that the launch and return were likely to be tricky, several hard core yakkers opted to go. I awoke at 0345 and checked the weather -- calm at Sunshine Beach and light winds at Double Island Point. It was on.
Alex, with the enthusiasm and energy typical of a 22 year old, had driven up from Brisbane and arrived at Middle Groyne five minutes before me. Then within a few minutes Sam and his brother Jake also turned up, two yaks on Sam's Forester. I spent a couple of minutes checking the launch situation and deemed it doable with care, as the swell had dropped overnight.
I was first on the beach and rather than wait for the others, I opted to launch, but not before LeRoux shouted a morning greeting to me from the beach fringe. I headed for the deep water at the end of the wall and waited for a lull in the sets. Eventually, after backpaddling and manoeuvering in the area for what seemed several minutes, an opportunity arose and I dashed across the splash zone.
VIDEO, how to exit at Middle Groyne
The exit was a little hairy but I got out OK and after paddling into the safe zone started to unpack my gear. Some minutes later out came Sam and Jake (Jake launching with us for the first time today).
Then Alex paddled clear of the breaking area, claiming that he'd taken a bath on the way out and had many litres of salt water inside the hull, apparently as a result of a leaking hatch seal and an encounter with a breaking wave.
Off we headed for Sunshine Reef.
Although the swell was quite menacing around Fairy Pools to Hells Gates, once we broke through into the open sea conditions were much better. Just on 6:00am four of us arrived at my favourite Sunshine Reef mark, Alex coming along a little later.
As usual, I checked the current using my GPS and discovered that it was almost non-existent and, with a drogue out, that I was drifting gently toward the east, with a light breeze coming from the SE. By the time Alex joined us, I'd decided to head up-drift of my mark and had paddled some 300m west of the mark, intending to drift across it. There was little or no sign of baitfish on the sonar but, as we've found out before, that is no indication that predators are not present. Alex opted to drift along near me and so I was in great position to see him hook up on his first drop with a soft plastic, on 6 pound b/s line. The fish seemed pretty big so I paddled over to get some pics with the big camera, which I always carry with me offshore.
About now Doctor Dog called up on the radio in a very crackly voice to tell us he was on his way but that he'd had a slight misadventure on the way through the surf zone. And after a while he joined us. Then Alex the fish slayer hooked up again. I was considering heading over to photograph this fish also when suddenly my soft plastic was hammered. This was the first fish on the Van Staal reel/Fin Nor rod combo that I was using for the first time and about which I've been asked to write a review so I played it with relish. This reel is spooled with 20 pound breaking strain braid and I'd tied the main line directly to my small wire trace which I use on my soft plastics -- ie no leader. Being a novice with braid I was interested to find out how it compared with mono in a fish fighting situation.
It appears that while all this was going on Sam and Jake had headed in (seasickness?) and LeRoux had wandered off, possibly toward New Zealand. Then Alex gave the fish a break by announcing that he was feeling queasy himself and was also going to head in. That left only Mark and me out there. Other than a decent strike for Mark which failed to solidly hook up, things were quiet so Mark and I decided to head in also, some 30 minutes after Alex, leaving Sunshine Reef at 9:00 am.
The swells as we passed to the north of Hells Gates seemed mountainous but we plodded on and soon were approaching Middle Groyne. Alex called up on the radio and 'kindly' offered to video us as we ran the surf gauntlet. I was ready first and stuffed up somewhat by choosing to run just as a medium sized wave reared up behind me. A boardrider in my peripheral vision to my right got ready to catch this wave so I knew I might be in trouble and I could see it looming. The next thing I knew I was on it. I'd built up some speed and the Stealth caught the wave and charged down its face. The video which Alex caught shows that I stopped paddling briefly but I remember using the rudder pedals to straighten our course on the wave. I was amazed when I found that everything was under control and the wave was now spent, having encountered deep water. What a great ride and I'm now full of admiration for the designers of this tiny boat. Mark did a much better job than I and picked a totally quiet time to run in beautifully with no fuss, but much slower than my transit.
Hopefully Alex will be able to put Mark and my surf zone transits (incoming) up on youtube.
[Videos linked below signature]
Thanks for coming along guys. Le Roux, please let us know how you went. [See LR comment at very end of post] Hope to catch some of you at the Noosa Yakkers Christmas event on 9Dec.
Red & white Stealth Supalite, black paddle
VHF channel 09 or 22 (if alone), Call Sign: sunshiner
Sunshiner's epic ride
Doc Dog makes it look easy
email from LeRoux
Subject: Diddly Squat!!
Hi Kevvy, and thanks again for a great report!
Well it was so quiet on the inner reaches of Sunshine Reef there, despite all the burley compliments of the brothers Boulden(I sincerely hope U guys are OK?) that I decided to try a couple of other marks further out. As per the title of my email though this turned out to be a fruitless venture including quite a prolonged trawl(the guys on one of the stinkboats had caught a nice cobia on a floated pilchard, so I thought I might get lucky) as well as a visit to JS on the way back.
At least I went through the surf zone completely dry despite a fairly decent swell.
Better luck next time.
Thanks for the company guys!