For the non-competitive paddler the tour is strictly a non-racing event over 15km of beautiful estuary.
The object of the tour is to arrive at the finish within a one hour time window after choosing your start time to suit your craft, speed, anticipated picnic stops, and the weather and estuary conditions. If you misjudge your start time and start too early you risk either arriving before the finish arrangements are in place, or being ahead of the tide and running aground on sand banks. If you start too late however you risk being too late for the tide, and having to paddle the final section against the outgoing ebb tide.
Having said that, nearly every year many of the touring canoes and kayaks arrive too early, and the only occasion when people have had to canoe against the tide was when the organisers miscalculated the high tide time and some people including the racers had to paddle the last 2 miles against the ebbing tide.
As a general guide, with average conditions and a medium tide the fastest tourers take about 1hr 30 min and the slowest 2hr 35 min, with most being between 1hr 45 min and 2hr 15 min. In 2000 with a large tide, and good conditions after getting out of the rough water in the harbour, the fastest tourers took 1hr12min and the slowest 2hr 27min, with most being between 1hr 45min and 2hr 05min..
Due to the open water conditions and washes from other boats using the estuary, spray decks are strongly recommended. All boats must be fitted with adequate buoyancy to make them float horizontally when full of water.
Also please note that the marina gate opens at about the same time as the touring window starts, so there could be a rush of boats leaving the marina about this time - take care as they need to stick to the deep channel.
SAFETY: Paddlers taking part in the tour are responsible for their own safety. In the case of groups the leader is responsible for the safety of the party.
NB At the request of the harbour authority, the organisers require buoyancy aids to be worn by all paddlers, so you should ensure that you bring one with you to the event.