A LITTLE PADDLE
I have a gift. Whenever the weather is perfect, I plan a kayak trip and watch the clouds and rain roll in. It's a shame I don't live in far west NSW. There would be no drought. Having abandoned paddle after paddle due to bad weather, it was becoming a tad frustrating. However, the weather man predicted a beautiful clear calm morning, so once more I gathered my gear the night before and hoped for the best.
Of course the weather changed overnight and I awoke to clouds and wind, but nothing too extreme, so I put the boat on the car and headed off to Brooklyn.
Parsley Bay was nicely sheltered, but there was a lovely gale just past the point. I was trying to take a few happy snaps, but everytime I stopped paddling, got the camera out, and lined up a shot, the wind would spin me around, point me in a different direction, and begin sending me into the moored boats. Eventually I just snapped what I could then gave up.
Of course I began the paddle with the apprehension about a spider appearing. As usual I had hosed out the kayak and checked thoroughly, but they have been known to appear unexpectedly. I did once discover a monster hiding under my seat seconds before loading the kayak onto the car and I live in fear of a similar one ever appearing in the middle of the river.
|heading off from Parsley Bay to Eagle Rock|
Crossing the open water was a bit messy as the wind was blowing up a nice chop, but on the other side, back in close to the shore it was perfect. The cloud had moved off, and it was a lovely morning after all. An interesting moment when a large shape passed overhead as I paddled along slowly. A big Sea Eagle went over me carrying about a 1/2 metre of struggling goanna in its beak. After a brief contemplation of what would happen if the large angry scared and very much alive reptile broke free and plummeted 20 metres to land in my kayak, the pair disappeared into the trees above me to resume what would have been an interesting tussle .
Passing Eagle Rock, it is approaching high tide, and there is a lot of swirl where the river meets the sea. It is not as exciting as it can get at low tide when there are rocks and swell and wind and currents and spray all trying to smash you.
|swirl and current heading into Gunyah Beach|
A large group had set up camp at Gunyah, so I didn't feel like a wander around today. There are several "NO CAMPING" signs on the beach, but not sure why as it looks like a great place to stay (possibly there should be "NO FUN" signs as well). Although I have wandered the beach a few times, and seen tracks everywhere, including large goanna trails up and down the beach. I imaging an overnight stay here would be filled with lots of interesting visitations.
|view to Lion Island|
I love the paddle to Gunyah when at some point you start feeling large long ocean swells rolling under you. Suddenly you are slowly rising, then slowly descending. An amazing feeling (if you like that kind of thing - otherwise it is possibly puke city). There is also the moment when the bay open ups, and Lion Island appears with the ocean off in the distance. Awesome.
Past Gunyah, away from the shore, the wind becomes a factor, and it is decision time. Tides and currents are not too much hassle, but wind is a pain. I had thought to head over to the back of Terrey Hills and West Head, or exploring towards Jerusalem Bay, but it is not looking like a smart option today. After a bit of experimental smashing through chop and getting nowhere, I head east towards Patonga instead.
|views south down Cowan Creek|
The wind sends me flying across the bay towards Patonga. I realise I could be there in record time, but would probably need a year to paddle back against the breeze, so decide to cut that idea as well, and head calmly towards Dangar Island instead for a nice thermos of coffee (us manly outdoor types like a nice treaty).
|east to Wobby Recreation Camp, Patonga, Lion Island, and NZ if not careful|
The sun is beginning to blaze now the morning haze has gone. The tide is so high, and just about on the turn, and there is no current to fight. I am out of the wind, so that means I can get right in close to shore in the shade and the cool, and the paddle back to Dangar is easy. This is how all kayaking should be.
|Dangar Island from Wobby|
As I head into Bradley's I spy a bunch of kids on the beach. I suspect I know them all, so quickly change direction and head off to the other end, where I play a game called "take a selfie and try not to drop the camera in the water". I managed to win today's round. However, I can report that later in the week I lost. I did learn though, that a SONY digital camera, if totally submerged in a large bucket of fresh water, will eventually begin to operate again if put out in the sun to dry for several days - so technically a draw (which is really a win because I have already killed one camera in recent years and the next time I am going to get clipped by the lovely Cait).
After several coffees, I jump in the water for a refreshing dip and a toilet stop (but only a quick #1of course - I don't think leaving a floater would be acceptable). Then back on with the life jacket, and a trip around the island.
|ferry pulling into Dangar Wharf|
After a bit of ferry dodging, just past the wharf I spy some preschool parents. The tide is so high I can sit in my kayak and still chat with them at their front door. All their kids suddenly appear as well. One of my new little preschool buddies appears without any clothes on, and seems totally unfazed by my random appearance, although the joke about me coming to pick her up for preschool was not a hit, and she zipped back inside.
For the first time ever, the bottom end of the island is calm. It is normally a swirling maelstrom. I cruise leisurely by and check out some of the tiny shacks that the poor island folk have to live in.
|a tiny shack with internal glassed circular stairwell and matching boatshed|
Then off to Parsley Bay. Battling the chop around the point was made even more fun by a beer sculling rent-a-boat crowd in a BBQ Barge heading towards me every time I changed direction. Hilarious. Then it was safely back to shore, and back to the furnace of dry land.