Monday, November 3, 2008

Peddle to Wollongong to Paddle to Sydney

Mark Anderson called a while ago with an idea for a trip. His plan was to do The MS Sydney to Wollongong bike ride and then paddle back to Sydney. So that’s what we did.

I started my ride from Glebe, got to the official start at St Peters and began just before 7. Mark and I met up soon after and we more or less did the ride together finishing around midday. Admittedly Mark beat me to the finish but then he has a carbon fibre racing bike and wears lycra and special bike shoes whilst I have a heavy hybrid and wear sandals.

Marks wife met us at the finish and we rode a few hundred metres to Wollongong Harbour where we swapped our bikes for the kayaks. The day had turned grey and there was a solid North Easterly blowing. We packed our boats, had a chat to the coast guard who were watching us, said our goodbyes and off we went.

We paddled into the wind at a speed of only 5 km p/hr and landed at Coledale Beach after a three hour slog.


Mark crawled to his tent and fell asleep before he'd even got in

The next day a strong wind warning was issued and this made Mark want to abandon the trip. Although there was a strong wind warning it would be from the south west, with a southerly change later, all good seeing we were going north. I argued that we could duck under the cliffs for shelter and if the southerly change came before we got to Little Marley, where I wanted to camp, then good – we’d get a free ride. The other big plus was that there wasn't much swell which meant we had various pull out options. Mark was still not convinced and as I punched out through the surf I wasn’t entirely sure he was going to come. Once past the break zone I turned to see a grumpy faced Mark getting set to launch. As I watched him paddle through the surf I thought “if he gets trashed here I’m in big trouble” but thankfully he made it out unscathed.

Conditions turned out to be absolutely perfect although the cirrocumulus clouds warn of the approaching change

The wind was blowing quite solidly from the south west so we hoisted our sails, a new experience for both of us. The conditions, the wind and the sails made for a fantastic day on the water. We flew along the Royal National Park coastline enjoying long rides on the following sea. When the wind became too strong we’d simply paddle in closer to the cliffs effectively turning the wind up or down depending on how far out we chose to paddle. As we turned the corner into Port Hacking we felt the full force of the SW wind and had to work hard for the last stretch to the Bundeena ferry wharf. We had a huge hamburger and milkshake before finishing up for the day at the National Park Camp site at Bonnivale.

Near North Era

By Tuesday morning the effects of the southerly change and associated fronts were obvious – it was raining and very windy. Our morning negotiations were again in full swing as we packed up ready to at least have a look at what it would be like outside. We pushed off and I hoisted my sail. Adrenalin was up as I felt the wind blasting from behind. My GPS showed a speed of over 13 km p/hr and we hadn’t even cleared Bate Bay! I figured we could be at Sydney Heads within 4 hours! But alas it wasn’t to be. Mark blew his whistle and indicated that there would be no way he was going to go outside in those conditions so without hesitation we both turned around and headed to Cronulla where our trip ended – amicably!

I made my way home by train & tram, collected the car and came back for Mark and the Boats. It was a great little trip that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Wind was around 30 knots from the south with gusts hitting 40

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