Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Day 22: 602 to 566 km to the sea: Wilkinson's Cutting - Renmark.

Day 22: Sunday 9/12

Wilkinson's Cutting - Renmark
River markers: 602 to 566 km from the sea.
Distance travelled today: 36 km. 
Total distance travelled: 1148 km

Day 22: campsite at dawn: Wilkinson's Cutting. — at Wilkinson's Cutting.

Another early start today hoping to avoid any winds that might develop and also to enable me to get as much out of the day in Renmark as possible. I packed camp, took the time to have a civilised shave and a cuppa tea and hit the water at 6:36 am. The sun had just risen over the cliffs of Wilkadene Station and shed the golden light that is so wonderful at this time of the morning on the water. It was virtually wind still, which meant that as I paddled off, my wake formed geometric waves, which themselves caught the light behind me.

I had hardly gone a kilometre though when conditions began to change. The thunderstorms which were predicted for last night may not have eventuated, but now here came the southerly change. It built quickly from a fresh breeze into a strong gusty wind. It seemed to come a little more East of South than due South, but any bends or straights which were at all close to this direction caught and funnelled the wind. On longer straights and near to cliffs the river was a virtual wind tunnel.

Day 22: Sunshine on the river.

There were several short kilometre long straights and two kilometre bends which were so gusty that water sprayed up over the deck. When wind came from the side I had to be careful as it could catch the paddle, trying to catch me off guard and tip me in. These were actually trickier than the head winds. I slowed my stroke rate in the head winds and paddled strongly but calmly, using lots of body and not much arm, taking care not to paddle too high because of the strain on the wrists in gusty conditions and because the wind can catch your paddle and throw you around. I dug deep and concentrated force in the later part of the stroke so as not to pull air in between waves and to have a more consistent stroke. With each stroke I levered the boat steadily a bit further, maybe not as fast as normally, but steadily, that was important. 

Day 22: Headings Cliff.

After sixteen kilometres I pulled in and put on my ocean spray deck. The wind was getting stronger and I had a big six kilometre straight and reach into Renmark ahead of me - all of it directly into the wind. I paddled the 36 kilometres without break as a test as to how I would handle wind on Lake Alexandrina. Though, only a taster, it was good to see. Normally, when you get tired you can stop paddling, or pull into sure for a break. In windy conditions on a lake you cannot, you need to keep going. I considered this training. 

Day 22: Too good to last, the fresh wind became stronger until it was gusting round 50 to 60 km/hr.

Approaching the corner above the long straight, I could see it had been good to be prepared. Waves were surging around the corner. I set my video camera going for the record. Some people think the Murray is always calm. I would have evidence today :). The waves built up all the way along the straight, so the end I was about to enter was where they were at their worst. Challenging, yes, but what a lot of fun. I made progress forwards. My waterproofing was holding. The solar panel could have been tied on better, but it was holding and was waterproofed. The bow broke through one wave, rose and crashed down on the next. This happened so many times in short succession that the boat was more like one of those rides at the show grounds, more bucking up and down, than cruising. Cruising we were though, in through some wild Murray weather.
Day 22: PS Industry in Renmark.
Murray Princess.

Renmark Big4 Caravan Park.

I was in Renmark by 10:30 am, after four hours paddling and was stoked. No injuries, no soreness and the boat handled beautifully. Now I had plenty of time to resupply for the next five day section and relax. I purchased a copy of the Murray River Pilot, which replaces the Murray River Charts from Renmark to the sea and began to read it over a locally brewed dark ale in the Renmark hotel. Whilst quite different, the things that unite them are greater. They were both made by people who love the river, have built up knowledge over a lifetime, and want to pass it on to others. I have a lot of respect and gratitude to both parties.

Back at the caravan park I discovered that it has a pool with a heated sauna. Ahhhhhhh. :)

Renmark Big4 Caravan Park.

More from this expedition:

  • Google+  Murray River Paddle Echuca To The Sea Photo Album
  • Facebook Murray River Paddle
  • YouTube Murray River Paddle

More information about topics from this page:
  1. Wikipedia: Renmark
  2. Captain Cook Cruises: Murray Princess
  3. Visit Renmark: PS Industry
  4. Renmark Big4 Holiday Park
  5. Barry and Maureen Wright's River Murray Charts
  6. Environment Victoria: The Living Murray 
  7. Geology: Murray Valley Geography (A geological timeline of the development of the Murray).
  8. Victorian Geology: Tectonic Framework of the Lower Murray. (from Red Cliffs).
  9. ABC Riverland SA: News and Community Events

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