By Geoff Murray
Having returned from a fantastic solo expedition in Greenland in September last year, I was wondering what to do next.
My home state Tasmania is a superb paddling destination so I thought why not do something a little closer to home. After all, Greenland is almost as far away as I can get from home!
So now the plan is to paddle from Marrawah on Tasmania’s NW coast, across the north of Tassie and down the east coast to Hobart, a distance of 740km. Solo.
I started the first of several legs this week, Bridport to Devonport, and I did it in a relaxed 3 days. 100km altogether. I did the reverse direction due to the wind forecast, 100km into a headwind isn’t fun…
I used my “old faithful” Rockpool GT. We crossed Bass Strait together 3 years ago. She is a great rough water expedition boat, as sea kindly as you could wish for.
Of course, stashed into the hatches were a couple of essentials. My Mont Lightspeed jacket and Latitude pants. Tassie being Tassie, it’s always wise to have some top quality waterproofs accessible and these are perfect. Lightweight but tough, very breathable and superbly cut, you could wear them into a top restaurant and not have a problem then walk outside into a monsoonal downpour and stay dry as a bone.
The other essential item for a coastal trip, or a mountain trip, or anywhere else where strong winds are possible, is a good, stable stormproof tent. I took my Mont Epoch, a genuine 4 season alpine tent. I can’t give this tent enough praise. It is rock solid, has excellent access to the symmetrical inner from either end. It is roomy enough, both in length and headroom for my 185cm and it has to have the best ventilation of just about any tent out there. This makes it entirely suitable for hot weather use but it is equally at home battened down ready for a storm. And the person, or persons that designed it so obviously sat down and thought “how can we make this tent as user friendly as possible, what can we do to make it better in every way”. There are so many little touches that make it better. Double loops and toggles to hold the doors open..twice as good. 4 pockets instead of 2, a gear loft, reflective guys, a footprint that runs to the ends of the vestibules, the list goes on. Once you are snuggled into this tent you feel invincible and spoilt
So far I have only had the chance to spend about 14 nights in this tent, but I think it will be used for many more nights in the years to come.
Parking the car at Bridport in Tasmania’s North East I packed my kayak and paddled west under a scorching summer sun. That night saw me set up tent amongst the she oaks at Lullworth, an easy 32km along the coast. This is a tiny holiday village full of people in holiday mode. The mosquitoes were friendly too but the tent was my haven.
Rising to a red sunrise I once again went through the ritual of eating, packing, dressing, launching and pointed my bow west again.
This time my destination was West Head, a small but rugged finger of land jutting out into Bass Strait. I had previously spotted what looked like a good place to camp on dear old Google Earth and that’s just what it was. Perfect. Another good evening. with a wander across to the western side for the sunset.
The third and last day was forecast to be a bit windier so I expected to be able to sail and travel quickly. The wind gradually built up through the morning until the seas over the shallow bays became quite “busy”. This made for a quick trip and I landed at Devonport just after midday having covered another 34km.
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Choosing a new tent is one of those moments that calls for serious research. It's a big decision, and a potentially risky one, if you get it wrong you may have to live with the consequences for a long time. I live in Tasmania and love exploring wilderness Alpine regions, especially winter camping.
So, my non-negotiables in a tent are it being waterproof, that's #1, then weight and space. Ok, looks play a part, but they are a bonus :)