Rockingham Beach to Garden Island - 17km, 2hr 14min
"No problem", said Westy. "12km easy downwind paddle. We'll be eating breakfast by 0930" he said. Naturally, things didn't quite turn out the way we had intended due to Seabreeze.com.au and the actual wind direction disagreeing by about 90 degrees. But a plan is nothing more than a basis for change, and in this case, what a great change it was.
Westy knew a friend of a friend who once met a bloke who's Dad had heard of the Navy, so we were able to meet at Rockingham foreshore, push through the drug addicts, side-step a couple of stabbings, drop the boats off and then go and leave the cars at the northern end of Garden Island. Bad James, Westy and I were joined by Dr Evil, who had risen at an uncharacteristically early time to make the paddle.
I was a little apprehensive about crossing Cockburn Sound this morning, so I put on my PFD - just in case. As we set off, the wind was not the 15kt sou-easter that we had anticipated, but was definitely either easterly or fractionally nor-easterly, leading us to hug the coastline northwards before reaching across 9km of Cockburn Sound. And what a paddle it was. If you have never paddled around the grain terminals or the BP refinery, or indeed up around Stirling channel then you are missing some of the best small beaches in Perth. These little appendages of paradise precariously hanging off the edge of desolate industrial wastelands are spectacular. At one point we saw what appeared to be a whitewater river running into the Sound to the north of the BP refinery, and when we investigated, the water temperature 150m offshore was about 40 degrees. There were huge garfish in the area enjoying the bathwater temperatures and wondering what the hell we were doing in their spot.
Being completely shark-paranoid, I was convinced that this was going to be the paddle that saw me looking at what appeared to be a Tarago driving under me as I paddled, but apart from a cool little penguin and a few fish, we luckily saw nothing of the sort.
As we got to Stirling Channel, Bad James and I had separated from Westy and Dr Evil, and realised that our trajectory didn't quite have the waves straight up our collective duck-runs, so we zig-zagged back towards Henderson until we were directly upwind from where we had parked the cars and made our turn. By this stage, Westy and Dr Evil were about 3km south of us, making directly for our exit point. As soon as we turned, our average speed increased dramatically, and we were regularly catching runners at 13.5kmh across the Sound, punctuated only by a few looks to make sure that the others were not sharkbait and a few funny stories that nearly had me in the drink with laughter. As did a minor collision with Bad James when a runner pushed his Mirage sea kayak nose-first into my trusty steed before he or I could do anything about it.
In the end, after 17km, James and I arrived first. Shortly afterwards, Westy and Dr Evil were intercepted by the Naval Police, where a sea-borne interview occurred that went something like this:
Plod (hands on hips and bending knees): "'Ullo, 'Ullo, 'Ullo! What's all this then?"
Westy: "And the Leb...he pulled out this big gun...and he went, like, Chk Chk Boom!"
Dr Evil:"Nothing to see here sir."
Plod: "Move along then!"
|Crime in progress! Quick, Robin, to the Batboat!|
It was the longest paddle I had done since this time last year, and after 17km in 37 degrees, we had seriously earnt breakfast. Having uploaded my Garmin data, I'm sure Michelle would be pleased with the 1900 calories that I had burnt, and the elusive ton that is very, very close now...
Bettyblue Bistro, Rockingham
"The Boardwalk" Shop 3 & 4, 1-3 Railway Tce, Palm Beach, Rockingham, WA 6168, Ph: (08) 9528 4228, www.bettyblue.com
When we walked in to Bettyblue it was 1120 and we were skeptical as to whether or not we would get breakfast. It turned out that our concerns were valid because had we arrived 10 minutes later then it would have been all over, Red Rover. We were seated in the shade, and the waitress snappily delivered the menus. The place was heaving and young families were eagerly knocking back their scrambled eggs and fried porcine products. At this point they didn't realise how close they were to having four hungry chaps assist them by eating over the top of them.
|Bettyblue Big Vegetarian Breakfast. With...err..bacon.|
|The standard Big Breakfast. Yum!|
We were really enjoying these plates of heaven, washed down with some decent coffee. But it was 37 degrees and the sun had well and truly risen above the yardarm by the time we finished. I could have murdered a six-pack of Little Creatures Bright Ale, but alas, I'm back on the wagon for my annual Dry February, this time joined by Mrs Blue. I'm not sure how well its going for my lovely bride - she declared that she would have eaten the glass of the half-bottle of red on the kitchen counter just to get to the wine inside the other day. I did offer that the screw top was a much more convenient and safe method of accessing the contents, and that she wouldn't require more than a day or so of training to learn how to use it. She is also very creative in her use of the English language on occasions such as these...
But Rockingham being Rockingham, we were just about to leave when a young chap toting a skateboard came past with an awesome mullet that required a picture. The camera just wouldn't come out of my pocket quick enough, and I was almost climbing over tables before I got this outstanding portrait at just the right angle...
In summary, if you are down in Rockingham, Bettyblue is a deadset great spot for brekky - just make sure you are sitting in the shade! Oh, and as a closer, Westy revealed at brekky that a 3m great white was seen near the channel just before we started paddling. Bastard.
Bettyblue Bistro, Rockingham - 7/10 (+1 for the mullet!)