It’s blowing a gale when we arrive at Flat Rock boat ramp for the Baffle Creek Boat Club day out. It’s cold and the creek is choppy. The forecast 10 knot winds must be blowing gently somewhere else because it’s got to be closer to 20 knots here, which is too strong for us to take the sailing boats out. I follow my friends K, G and M into the boat club shed where there’s coffee, tea and a range of homemade goodies. I meet their neighbours (a relative term here where properties are scattered far and wide) and admire the old Sabots piled up in the back of the shed.
We pack some kayaks on a ute and head down to nearby Rules Beach, which is protected from the wind. A tarp is erected across some driftwood trees to provide shade and we settle in for a day of fun, sun and sand.
I’ve brought my packraft up to Baffle with me and take the opportunity to get it out on the water. I’ve got inflating it sorted and it takes less than 5 minutes of relaxed work. I am sure I could get it up in less than 3 minutes if I put some effort in but life’s not about the rush anymore.
While the waves look small from the beach, they tower over me in my raft and my first few attempts at launching the boat end in the boat being swamped and me swimming. The trick is to have patience and wait for a break in the waves so that I can get my skirt done up. M comes out to help. I do up my skirt on the beach and he pushes me out until I am floating. The boat now floats up over the breaking waves quite well and I find myself paddling and drifting happily out to sea.
I drift and enjoy the diamonds dazzling off the water. It’s almost impossible to believe that this is the middle of winter. It’s just glorious. I catch a few waves in the packraft. It floats nicely on top of the water. I can see why these boats are good for whitewater. As the waves subside with the changing tide I come into the beach to chill out on the sand. One of the young boys decides to cover my back with sand and then buries my legs. I listen to the locals’ conversations and soak up the sunshine.
After an hour or two the tide has changed enough for some more little waves to build. Sure, they are only about a foot tall but it’s enough to have fun without feeling threatened when I inevitably get dumped. I take out one of the boat club’s kayaks and catch lots of waves with a couple of the other guys. There’s plenty of laughter as we succeed or fail in our wave riding efforts. It feels great to be lifted by the waves then surge forward as they break. By the time we return home (I must mention that I call anyplace I lay my head home) we’re all pleasantly relaxed and ready for a yarn around the campfire.