Peel Island by Kayak
Launch: Cleveland Point
Distance: 8km (one way)
Estimated time to Peel: 1-1.5hr (one way)
Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow but, eventually, and for whatever reason, there comes a day when you will want paddle to Peel Island.
My day finally came one Saturday morning, so I grabbed my boat and my buddy and got going because I thought I should. It’s in my backyard, you have to.
The weather forecast was ok, not too windy with 10-15 knots, tides incoming on the way there, outgoing on the way back and no storms or rain. All good.
There are many ways to paddle to Peel, this little trip this being the short option from Cleveland Point. Plenty of paddlers launch from Victoria Point further south or Wellington Point further north. Plenty of paddlers camp on Peel Island or use Peel as a stop over to North Straddie. But paddle to Peel they do.
You can launch from the point itself, but it can get busy here with tourists and the car park can be quite full, so we chose the peaceful pebble beach next to the Boat Harbour on Raby Bay Boulevard. There are plenty of parking spots just before the children’s playground at Foreshore Park with a good patch of grass in front. Access to the pebble beach is to the far right. Signs for a toilet point to the Boat Harbour.
We launched and paddled past the Boat Harbour on the right and then past the lighthouse. At this point it is a good idea to look behind and pick a landmark to aim for on the way back. We didn’t do this…
The little island of Peel lies to the East and seemed very close. Apparently, Peel is merely 3km wide and 1km long, but it looked surprisingly big to me. The island can only be reached by boat, so good thing we were in a kayak at this stage.
Leaving the mainland and the flat water behind, the waves quickly became bigger and we were briefly taken aback by how much concentration and effort it took to get a desent speed up. We thought the 10-15 knots predicted would make for a cruisy ride over. Best not to think and just get on with it. After mainly paddling the river waterways, the wave slapping was good fun and both my Sequel and the Tsunami 160 felt stable and steady.
It wasn’t that easy trying to stay nice and close together though and trying to hear anything was pointless because of the blowing wind. The island didn’t get any nearer and we both lost our headwear for different reasons with only one successful retrieval.
Although we paddled during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, the bay was pretty deserted; I think we only saw about two powerboats, both on their way back to shore.
After a good hour of paddling hard, we got close enough to paddle around the southern point to the long, sandy beach of Horseshoe Bay. The water there was very clear and I could just imagine that on a nice, warm, sunny day the swimming here would be just brilliant.
Two Peregrine falcons circled above as we pulled the kayaks on shore and set up the stove for hot coffee. We were wet and cold and the wind kept blowing with not one single ray of sunshine to paint Peel in a better picture.
We told ourselves how lucky we were to endure these wet, windy and cold conditions so that we will be able to withstand future wilder, longer, harder and colder adventures with less food, no coffee or even a spoon to stir the absent coffee with. Things were good.
We looked over at North Stradbroke Island and the pie shop someone told me exists in Dunwich. Peel Island doesn’t have unnecessary shops like this. At one point in time it did have potentially ill people, then definitely ill people. Now it has restrictive areas, restrictive zones, restrictive sectors, restrictive access and historians writing about the importance of keeping Peel’s glorious past intact and alive. So you can at least read about it.
We got back in the kayaks and felt instantly warmer. We paddled back around the southern point to the west of the island were the wind was mild and the water was calm.
After disputing that the long grass lurking in the sand in the shallow, clear waters could be sea grass, we decided it was indeed sea grass after all and so, in the absence of better entertainment, the hunt for dugongs began. We found exactly none.
We then acknowledged that it was getting later and we should paddle back because we weren’t sure if it was going to take longer than coming over, best to be responsible… No paddling around the island, no checking out Platypus Bay and the wreck, no stroll on the empty Horseshoe Bay beach, no taking photos of the orange and red-coloured sand formations, no swimming in the blue waters, no camping overnight. Always good to leave the fun stuff out so you have to come back another day to do it then.
When you look out from the mainland to Peel Island, you can see Peel Island very well. When you look out from Peel Island to the mainland, you can see the mainland very well, just not so clearly the point where you set of from and would like to get back to.
We picked a point on the horizon and paddled off, leaving Peel behind for another day. The conditions were completely different than before and we now had to pick our spots between high waves and deep gullies. The paddling was easier and the sensation of getting plonked in the wave valleys was fun.
We adjusted the point we had been aiming for halfway when we could identify a glowing, shiny stripe as the parked cars at Cleveland Point with the sun reflecting from the windows and glossy paintwork.
As we came close to shore and decided we had had an enjoyable paddle, a few dolphins popped up just a little bit in front of us and headed the same way past the lighthouse and towards the Boat Harbour. We watched them again a bit later when we put the kayaks on the car. There were about seven of them and they happily plodded about the harbour area for a while.
That was the paddle to Peel, a nice short little paddle to get you out for a bit.
Sea kayaks: Sequel by Challenge Kayaks & Tsunami 160 by Wilderness System (Rosco hire craft)
Paddles: Rosco U-beaut & Werner Corryvrecken, plus a 2 piece Carlisle Simply Magic as a spare
Safety gear: PFDs/spraydecks/whistles/pump/first aid kit/head torch/mobiles
Navigation: laminated maps (Memory Map: print outs from Quick Carts Australia East Marine- RRP $199, brilliant program!)
Other: dry bags/gloves/hats(to start with, then just hat)/water/banana
Map of Cleveland Point: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=Cleveland,+Queensland&hl=en&ll=-27.513505,153.287323&spn=0.009268,0.01929&sll=-27.40448,153.037019&sspn=0.009277,0.01929&oq=cleve&hnear=Cleveland+Queensland&t=m&z=16
Satellite photo of launch area: http://maps.google.com.au/maps?q=Cleveland,+Queensland&hl=en&ll=-27.515551,153.286121&spn=0.002317,0.004823&sll=-27.40448,153.037019&sspn=0.009277,0.01929&oq=cleve&hnear=Cleveland+Queensland&t=h&z=18
Weather, wind & tides forecast: http://www.seabreeze.com.au/graphs/qld.asp (then scroll down for Peel Island forecast)