It was agreed that the team would all have a semi sleep in and a later start on the water. This was in aid of potentially assisting me with motivation and energy. I guess it worked even just as a placebo.
I launched off a small white sandy beach on North Stradbroke Island and jumped into the aqua cannal that separated Stradbroke Island from Moreton Island. As the tide was dropping to low that assisted me with crossing the open body of water as well as moving north towards Moreton. I was tracking my progress and was impressed that despite the wind creating some chop on the water surface I was still able to maintain holding 7km per hour, which for anyone who knows paddling is actually moving quite well! Its odd that despite my feelings of tiredness and mental fatigue my body seems to be running on auto pilot, my paddle rhythm is being maintained and even increasing in speed the further the distances I seem to cover.
Helicopters yet again are a strong and reoccurring occurrence in my life, as I paddled my way over what would be a multitude of sandy islands on the low tide I saw a helicopter up ahead in the sky. I now know the difference between the private, commercial, weed spraying and the DPI Fisheries (shark spotter) helicopters. This one was definitely a private chopper, however I know helicopter code for sharks, so I yelled over to Beechy on the ski “if this starts circling us we are f…..ed, it means they will be warning me about a massive shark or something”. Moments later we were indeed being circled…
Beechy spotted a sand island up ahead and I decided that would be the perfect place to enjoy my lunch/breakfast as I couldn’t stomach anything before I paddled. As the helicopter circled above one more time they waved. Odd but friendly I thought, at least they weren’t screaming shark at me as I know the area is swarming with some of the bigger sized fish (so I’m told).
As I approached the island the helicopter looked like it was landing on the same sand island, it looked absolutely incredible. I reached the island moments later and the pilot and passenger were heading towards me. I couldn’t believe it, running towards me from the helicopter was Fish! I was squealing and crying as I ran towards him for the biggest hug still in absolute shock! When at last I calmed down I was introduced to his dad and we were able to have a normal catch up. I sat down and had a few snacks as we all chatted for a few moments and checked out the helicopter. Eventually we said our goodbyes and I stood back and watched the helicopter take off as Fish piloted it into the sky. Such an incredible experience and such a beautiful shock! Just before they took off Fish mentioned how many dugongs they saw while flying. This is a very special and rare occurrence as they are protected and found in only a few water ways in Australia.
As I continued to paddle my way up alongside Moreton Island the westerly wind increased which meant I was paddling diagonally forwards yet directly out to sea. Progress was being made, I was just paddling my way 8km off shore.
The further out I got the more the currents and water temperatures began to change, I hit such a warm patch of ocean I was instantaneously overheating. It was incredible being so far out at sea with such warm temperatures, so much warmer in the water than out.
As I continued to paddle along and go with the wind and across the swell right in front of my board was a big dark grey dorsal fin, at last my first shark that was clearly visible from the water surface. As I paddled right at it you could see I startled the absolute heck out of it, there was a big splash of white water as it flicked its tail to change directions and dive down to get away from me. Just incase it had any second thoughts I charged at it paddling fast and confidently. (Fun fact: if you have a shark you can see that is attempting to stalk you or size you up the best thing you can do is assert your dominance and swim, paddle or move as fast and confidently as possible right at it).
After finishing the days paddle in the middle of the ocean I jumped on the ski and Beechy drove us back to the Straddy boat ramp, just before we arrived the local pod of dolphins cruised past and went under the ski. They are quite shy and some of the palest dolphins I’ve ever seen, they are almost a white/grey in colour.
Arriving at the boat ramp was exciting as Jacky has travelled all the way up from Newcastle to spend some time on the island with us and check in making sure I’m ok. Her support is limitless, from the morning messages of motivation to the short film clips to bring smiles and laughs. I’m incredibly lucky to have her on my ‘Team Mermaid’ as well as in my life!
The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming in lagoons, exploring beaches and the rest of the island!