Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kayaking around Sydney

Some pics of typical paddling scenes from around Sydney and surrounds. I hope they inspire more people to enjoy our great harbour and magnificent coast in the best way possible - from a Sea Kayak!

Juvenile Black Browed Albatross

Just inside the entrance to Sydney Harbour

Pelican - The Biggest Beak on Earth

TJ catches a wave

Underneath a wharf at Pyrmont

North Head

Looking towards Sydney CBD from Watsons Bay on our regular Tuesday Night Club Trip

This is on a day trip from Frenchmans Beach, Botany Bay to Rose Bay in The Harbour


A Humpback dives off North Head (Sat 2nd June 07)

Rainy days are good - you get the harbour to yourself!

Under Sail

Drum & Drumsticks - Beecroft Peninsular. Can you see the 3rd kayaker?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hawkesbury Classic 2007

The Hawkesbury Classic. If you love paddling you'll love this event!

Hawkesbury Canoe Classic

Classic night is one long night

Mark with his ground crew & wife Catherine. At least one of them looks to be having fun.

Wismans Ferry round midnight
What a night - Mark did it in 12:07 with a short break and I did it in 12:22 non stop. Next time I'm doing it in a Mirage 580 or some other fast boat. Last time it took me 12:57 (including a 30 min stop) using a wing paddle. This time I used a flat blade - conclusion - wing or flat makes no difference when paddling a sea kayak! I felt much less fatigued when I finished this time which I also attribute to the flat paddle.

All photos in this post (Hawkesbury Classic 2007) by Steve Tarrant. Thanks for ground crewing Steve!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Survivor Weekend 25th & 26th of August 2007


Stuart Trueman (Leader)

Paul Loker (2 IC)

Mark Schroeder

Mark Anderson

Roger Boardman

David Page

Terry Walsh

Stephan Meyn

Matt Bezzina

“A weekend of tests to challenge individuals” was how Stuart Trueman described and
conducted this years Survivor Weekend.

Saturday morning saw us unloading boats and gear early as our brief included the line: “At 0859 you will be standing by your kayaks, cars locked, keys packed with nothing to do before getting on the water. Those running the weekend are not expecting to have to motivate participants”.

Not surprisingly everyone was ready early. We were soon heading out of Shoal Bay towards Cabbage Tree Island. On arrival we zigzagged over to Boondelbah Island and from there turned towards our days destination, Broughton Island. Stuart quizzed the group as to our ETA and as it was about 12 KM the estimates ranged from one

and a half to two and a half hours. The conservatives got it because half way there Stuart had us tie bungee cords around the hulls of the boats to simulate a heavier load. This on top of the sea water ballast we were carrying really did make a difference. It wasn’t long before a couple of litres of sea water were poured into everyone’s front hatch as a test to make sure that everything was properly waterproofed.

Once we arrived at the island we all went through the obligatory Cons Cleft – and all got through without incident. It was the breakers over the reef across from Esmeralda Cove which gave one member a swim. Following this we had to
demonstrate our off side roll which resulted in a couple more swimmers. As we approached the beach around the other side we were ordered to bail out and swim the boats into the beach. This resulted in mass swimmers! On landing we were given ten minutes to be changed into dry clothes and have a hot cup of tea in hand. After a
written test we were free to find somewhere to set up our tents – easier said then done seeing we were on a beach that gets submerged at high tide and the top of the
banks were infested with prickly pear.

Sunday we were to be ready to go by 6! This had us up in the dark packing away tents and trying to fuel up on breakfast. Stuart and Paul paddled around from their civilized camp spot on the other side and came up to the weary eyed group. As he looked out at the dead calm and peaceful lee side of the island towards Myall Beach Stuart said “Look at those huge dumpers – theres no way we can launch from here. We’ll have to do a portage over the island”. And that was our morning, lugging all our gear and seven boats up the rough track over the top of the island and down to Esmeralda Cove on the other side where Stuart and Paul sat having breakfast and coffee. Once over there we made a call to the coast guard via the radio on the island and then headed off. The swell was up a bit from the previous day and Cons Cleft was looking quite hilly.

Mark Schroeder was first through with me following. A year ago when I first went through it was a scary experience as I copped a big wave whilst in there and got smashed into the side. I managed to stay upright but my boat took a bit of a beating and lost a lot of gel coat. This time it was probably just as rough but a year worth of experience made all the difference and I took time to look around and take in a bit of this spectacular feature. I came out and turned quickly to get a few photos of the others as they came out – all grinning from ear to ear.
Mark Anderson
David Page
As Terry Walsh came through so did a big wave. It reared up behind him and knocked him over. As I was thinking how best to conduct a rescue, as I’m sure were Paul and Stuart who were holding position inside the cleft waiting for the wave to pass, Terry rolled up beautifully and powered past – the happiest face imaginable!

After that we did a navigation exercise before landing just next to Dark Point on Myall Beach where we had lunch. After a surf launch we headed back. Once out past the breakers progress was good, a slight head wind but way short of the predicted 20 knots, a bit of rain and a nice swell. I was just getting into the zone and really cruising well when Stuarts dreaded whistle blew. We gathered round as he suggested we follow him in to the surf. Mark Schroeder, myself and Mark Anderson blindly followed. As he approached the surf zone Stuart did a roll which I think he does as some kind of preparation for battle.

The swell suddenly got much steeper and as Stuart and Mark Schroeder turned to seaward to avoid a big wave Mark Anderson and I found ourselves side on to a big breaker. At this point I decided to roll under it so as to avoid being pummelled into the beach but as I leaned hard into it I found myself in a perfect broach position, the lean became an edge into a high brace and I enjoyed the best broach ride I’ve ever had, all the way to the beach where I landed quite nicely. Mark didn’t have quite as nice a landing and ended up being pounded, eventually landing about thirty metres down the beach from where I was. We both turned our boats around and stood there on the beach staring at the quite solid surf in front of us. The feeling of jubilation I had from making it in unscathed was quickly replaced by feelings of anxiety as I wondered how the hell we were going to get back out!

Mark and I met for a discussion but there wasn’t much to say. We were in the best spot with a light rip going out in front of us but still there were breaking waves right across and they didn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

I went back to my boat and sensed a lull. I quickly got in and knuckled into the surf. As soon as I was afloat I paddled like hell – through the first small breaker and then through the next more sizable wall of white water. I saw a clear run and paddled with all I had. I thought I’d made it and tried to catch my breath as another wave appeared before me – a bloody big one. I paddled with all I was worth and just managed to get my blade over the crest to make it over. Next thing I experienced the biggest free fall I’d ever had as I dropped over the back of a now crashing wave, the laden boat adding to the impact. I paddled over to the group who were waiting patiently out the back. Mark hadn’t been so lucky on that last wave and had been collected and washed back to shore. As the group had now been waiting for some time Paul Loker went in to give Mark a hand. He was in and out in no time and made my whole experience a little anti climatic!

A short time later Roger Boardman had his boat lifted out of the water by something big enough to lift his boat out of the water. He had teeth marks on his now bent metal rudder and Paul noted a large swirl. I had seen a shark the day before but it was too far away to make a positive identification. That sighting helped with motivation during the swim landing and after Rogers experience no more rolling was done – except by Mark Anderson who’s obviously not afraid of sharks.

That was to be our last adrenalin dose for the weekend as we paddled back to Shoal Bay. Not so for Stuart who snuck between a rock and a lot of whitewater. On rounding North Head we were greeted by some dolphins.

This was a trip with a difference and one of the best things I’ve done with The NSWSKC club. I think the objectives of the weekend were well and truly met – that is to test yourself (and your buddies) in an expedition environment. It was a good bunch of blokes who worked well together and made it a truly enjoyable weekend despite (or because of) the Trueman induced hardships.

If your thinking of doing a serious trip I would recommend you take this challenge on with anyone your planning to go away with – as someone once said you can learn more about a man by paddling with him for an hour then you can from a year of conversation.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Norah Head to Sydney

Mark Anderson and I put in at Norah Head on the North Coast and paddled south with aim of going to Sydney. We did the trip in a somewhat leisurely time of three days.

Launch Spot-Norah Head boat ramp
With a nice North East swell running, and the wind also from the NE, we made excellent time paddling up to 3KM off shore. On arriving at Terrigal for lunch after 23KM we negotiated a break across the bay and landed for lunch amongst the hordes of tourists and day trippers.

After lunch we paddled a further 8KM to Little Bay. Having never been in this area before neither of us new what we were looking for but after carefully looking at our map I was convinced that what appeared to be the bottom of an unbroken cliff line was in fact our destination. The wind had been consistent all day and the sea was up to about 1.5 Metres on top of a NE Swell. From where we sat it looked pretty threatening but being sure we were in the right place, now with the added certainty of a GPS reading we decided to head in. We paddled into the zone and were immediately surfed in. On racing down a wave I noticed we were surfing over a nasty reef. Luckily we both handled our surf ride well and landed between a couple of rocks on the beach where we set up camp.

Ideal Camp spot on Little Beach
Day 2 Mark took off with such enthusiasm that it took me quite a while to find him in the swell outside.
We then paddled around the corner to discover another camping possibility:

Caves Bay - enough room for one small tent
We then paddled into the beautiful and well protected Maitland Bay for a brew and a sunbake.
The rest of the day had us paddle into Broken Bay and finish up at the very end of Patonga Creek where we set up camp in sweltering heat to the deafening sound of ciccadas. Paddling up this still mangrove lined backwater was a real contrast to being on the ocean.

Patonga Creek
The next day we were to paddled non stop for 44KM back to Little Manly Beach in Sydney Harbour BUT we got to Palm Beach where we agreed we'd wimp out. Mark called his lovely wife Catherine to come pick us up and so ended our little trip - I would have liked to have been able to say we did the whole trip but then again we kayak for fun not bragging rights and besides we'd done the stretch from Sydney to Palm Beach in a day trip a few weeks previously (excuse).

All in all a great trip which I'm sure I'll do again, maybe in reverse.