Field Notes: The Big Blue Paddle
The day after Christmas, Aussies Tony Miller-Greenman and Michael Leith set off on a 30-day journey down the the coast of Australia. Starting in Brisbane, with plans to finish at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, the duo is standup paddling 917 km (approximately 570 miles) in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
Check out the guys’ recap from the first leg of their journey:
Day 1: Departure from Brisbane, 42 km
Day 2: Victoria Point – Jacobs Well, 28 km
We anticipated light winds and favorable tides as we travelled through Moreton Bay. We were wrong! The weather gods gave us strong headwinds and, as a result of our delays, we fought the winds and missed the changing tide. So, to put it simply, we had an extremely difficult day!
Day 3: Jacobs Well – Currumbin
We paddled from Jacobs Well out through the Pimpama River into the broad water, out the seaway, and all the way to Currumbin (via Mermaid Beach for lunch).
Today was fun! Great winds and we got the tides perfect, which made for a swift journey down the Gold Coast.
Shark sighting today: a hammerhead in the broad water. Just a little fella!
Day 4: Currumbin – Potsville, 42 km
Today was a productive day. We took advantage of the strong winds and cruised for 40 km. We passed Cook Island, which was probably the hardest section of the paddle because of all the side wash and chop coming off the island. Crossing the Tweed River was quite fun. Tony and I found a section where we could surf the SUPs for a good 100m. Needless to say, we stayed there for a good hour or so!
Day 5: Potsville – Broken Head, 40 km
What a glorious day! We had light winds and little swell. This made for a slow but enjoyable day.
Highlight of the day – our friend Nathan McCubbery joined us. Nathan thought he’d get some fishing in during the paddle, so he threw a lure out the back while he paddled. As we paddled out to sea near Brunswick a hawk flew past and spotted this colorful fish swimming in precariously shallow water. Easy meal… wrong. Nathan ended up catching a bird. Lucky the hawk came to its senses and dropped the lure before it got hooked!
Day 6: Rest Day
Day 7: Broken Head – Evans Head
Today we paddled from Broken Head to Evans Head. What an extraordinary part of the coastline. Had a great day out on the water.
Day 8: Evans Head – Woody Point
We were hoping to get to Yamba, but the wild seas forced us to turn in at the 30 km mark. It was a day with many weather disasters, as we also encountered morning southerlies as we left Evans Head, despite strong northerlies predicted.
Day 9: Woody – Sandon
Day 10: Sandon – Red Rock, 25 km
Really tough day today. The hardest day yet. We had strong headwinds against us, which slowed us down. The paddle was long, slow, and exhausting. The weather was hot, dry and windy. We paddled roughly 25 km in five hours 40 minutes. Our slowest day yet. Michael ran out of water, but there was nowhere to stop to refresh ourselves.
Today we did not reach our target; we only made it to Minnie Water. It really was a physically and mentally demanding day out on the water, but with your support we pushed through and made it.
Being out on the water through these tough times makes you think of the thousands and thousands of people who suffer [from] depression, where every day is a struggle.
Help us spread the word that the initial conversation with someone who has depression could be the first step in the way to recovery.
Day 11: Red Rock – Emerald Beach
After a good rest and a great feed, we slept and rested from our exhausting day yesterday.
We hit the water again today and paddled from Red Rock to Emerald Beach. Had light southerly winds today, but was still a good day.
Saw something a bit scary out there. Michael saw a big black fin breaking through the water. It did not look like a friendly dolphin … and it is not whale season … so we think it was a shark. Lucky we have our shark mitigation system in place.