The morning was cloudy with a 15 to 18 knot wind and a 1 to 1.5m swell. I had butterflies and I was a little anxious and excited. I hadn’t paddled in my single boat with a big group for a long time. I needed to look brave and self assured so the trip leaders wouldn’t guess my anxiety.
Rock and Roll is our NSW Sea Kayak’s annual club meeting. This year it was at Currarong, Jervis Bay, which is a pretty coastal seaside resort village. The RnR committee members work hard to create an interesting itinerary with different trips and training to suit all skill levels. We are grade two paddlers but Roy has more skills than I do. He can do an Eskimo roll but I can only do the first half.
The weather off the coast didn’t look too promising so we chose one of the less demanding trips. The trip was from Honeymoon Bay to Boat Harbour and return approximately 15 km. Honeymoon Bay is a 7 km drive from our campsite and inside the Defence Force live firing range.
We launched at Brindijine Beach just north of Honeymoon Bay at 11:00am and a group of 11 paddlers started into the 15 knot wind.
Oh the exhilaration of paddling on the ocean again after a few weeks of flat water kayaking. The wind and spray in our faces and swell to bump over is so good.
It took me a little while to get my bow pointed into the wind and then I was off. Over the waves and what freedom it is.
We had crystal clear sea, a cloudy sky and the splash, splash of our paddles.
We rounded Dart Point and the wind from the Tasman Sea was directly in our faces. Our leader made the decision to turn around as some of the paddlers were uncomfortable with the conditions. Spin around and downwind we fly.
The whistle blew! Someone had capsized in the rough conditions. This meant a rescue which the leaders did while we all stood off.
We are on our way again and flying downwind. Another capsize, rescue and back on our way.
We turned back into the quiet water for a snack and to catch our breath. It was too early to go back to shore so the group decided to fly downwind for a couple more kilometres.
We ran down waves with the wind behind, birds flying above us and the shore rushing past.
There are not any words to describe the exhilaration and enjoyment I feel when paddling my single kayak totally blind. I have to be aware of every paddle stroke, the feel of the boat, the rise and fall of the swell and listen to the directions my husband gives.
At 1:00pm we turn homeward and the wind slammed into our faces and tried to push the kayaks backwards. Stroke, stroke, use my back muscles not my smaller arm ones, push off with my feet and twist from the pelvis. It feels like I’m paddling up hill.
Oh no, I have to slow down because everyone else is over 100m behind me! I go as slow as I possibly can but even my husband cannot catch up and I cannot go any slower. When I paddle slowly my boat weaves but when I paddle powerfully the skeg holds it on course.
When I stop for him to catch up the wind spins my kayak around broadside. Then I have to paddle wide sweeping strokes to turn back into the wind. I’m on track again and we are almost home.
Oh what a marvellous most rewarding experience paddling is.
I used to paddle a double with my husband but my skills didn’t increase from simple forward paddle strokes. When I paddle a single I have to do it myself. Use my body and boat together as one.
We landed about 2:45pm after one of the most enjoyable days.
Sunday 22 March Sunday’s forecast was similar to Saturday’s. We chose to go from Honeymoon Bay to Point Perpendicular.
We launched from Brindijine Beach about 10:45am. There was no wind at all and very low swell. Perfect conditions and we had a big group of 16.
Paddling out was just beautiful. There was one little tricky place with a few waves forming and breaking over rocks and we went through the gap one at a time. When I was given the command to go I paddled hard. I felt the wave pick me up and I kept paddling so I wouldn’t capcize.
The rest of the trip to Point Perpendicular was uneventful but so good to be on the ocean with the swell, sea air and clouds racing overhead.
When we arrived at Point Perpendicular Our group split into two with 10 going further to explore sea caves and the remainder returning via Boat Harbour.
I’m not skilled enough to go inside sea caves yet so I stayed with the smaller group.
We caught some great waves on the way back where my little kayak speeding down them and that’s what we like best of all. The waves picked up my kayak and shot it forward so fast.
We passed a few sea caves and came to a tunnel. The group members with helmets went in but I stayed out as the cave is a bit tricky at only 1.2 m wide and has waves entering side holes.
After a quick snack break at Inner Tubes we launched again and paddled towards Honeymoon Bay.
Dolphins ahead! We paddled towards them. There were about 8 dolphins playing in the bay and we paddled about 5m away from them.
I heard them spouting but only one or two made enough noise when swimming for me to hear them. They were thoroughly enjoying themselves and surfacing but not leaping completely out of the water.
What a glorious day!
23 march Callala Bay to Green Point return.
The last day of our holiday and Rock n Roll. Monday had a wind speed of 15 to 25 knots.
We chose to go from Callala Bay straight to Green Point and then back around the protected beaches through the mangroves.
From Callala Bay to Green Point was 4 km directly into the wind. Conditions were a bit rough but a great paddle. If I kept to a constant speed I can keep a straight line.
We had a brief stop at Green Point and then back into the boats for more head wind paddling.
When we reached Chinaman’s Creek we wove our way through the mangroves. Some love this sort of paddling but it’s not my thing. May be it’s pretty but to my mind it’s slow and tedious.
I was happy to be back into the sea with the wind and waves.
Homeward bound with the wind behind us and we were flying.
When the wind is behind and my boat is flying down the swell a little correction using a stern rudder on the left side makes her jump instantly. We all landed safely and said our goodbyes and packed up the kayaks after washing them down.
A wonderful three days of Rock n Roll and the end of the most enjoyable holiday I’ve ever had.
Thank you again Guide Dogs NSW/ACT for the opportunity for me to have this break and the opportunity to write the blog.
I am tired but very happy.