Monday, 7 May 2012

Great weekend

It was a first for the NSW Sea Kayak Club who organised a two day gathering of the NSW paddlers this past weekend . This gathering was reserved for those that have passed the sea skills assessment and the focus was more on skills than on paddling from A to B, although there were also trips available.

The options for Saturday were rescues, surfing, greenland rolling or a small trip around a nearby island. I opted to do rescues in the morning and surfing in the afternoon.

With Adrian the instructor and another 7 paddlers, we practised some rescue scenarios with a scoop rescue being a brand new experience for me. The scenario is a paddler with a dislocated shoulder in the water and what to do to get him back in his kayak. Not an easy task as you must try not to touch the injured shoulder.
We then did some pool noodle fighting, where the paddler’s fighters sit on the back deck and try to make the opponent fall with blows of the noodle. Some fighters were swimming before receiving the first blow and the final was decided with a hand to hand fight to make the opponent fall since neither of the two was falling off.
Another contest was speed race for a re-entry and roll. Capsize, do a wet exit (don't jump off the kayak because you’ll avoid getting the water in it), set ready at the side of your boat and GO!!! The winner took 4.5 seconds to be sitting in the kayak pumping water out. An astounding record!!!

The afternoon was spent with Adrian and Ken leading 6 avid (or should I say crazy) surfers. We warmed up paddling parallel to the beach with breaking waves washing over, before and on top of us. At one point I was first in line and I saw a big mama wave coming for us. I estimated it would break on top of me so I turned to face it and let it pass under my hull (yeah, I know, I cheated on that one). As soon as it had passed me I turned and looked behind me to see 4 kayaks  being taken up in the air (it looked like 2 meters high), then I could only see the white spray and when the wave was gone I saw 4 hulls. Not even one paddler stayed upright, three rolled back up and one had to swim to recover his kayak from the beach but he wasn't the only one swimming that afternoon.

On Saturday we had some good waves.

... and some smaller ones.

A nice tube that finished with a roll.

Ducking to receive the impact.
Lost paddler, swimming somewhere.

The above photos were taken by Ken on Saturday afternoon while we surfed he stayed with the water up to his neck taking photos. Thanks Ken!!

At night during dinner, we swapped tales of the day and I mentioned that even though I had to roll several times that day I hadn't had an involuntary wet exits for a few months. I shouldn't have said that, as on Sunday I had to eat my words...

On Sunday there were only surf or trips on offer, so I was again up for the surf. Apparently most had had their share the day before because it was only Adrian and Ken instructing me and Drago. The swell was bigger than on Saturday with a beautiful and dangerous dumping. We split in two groups and went almost straight for the surfing. The first wave I took rolled me over and I came up to keep fighting, the second one I tamed and surfed all the way in, but the third... Well, according to Ken it was the biggest wave of the day and it felt like that to me. I set up for the surf but there was no time, it just broke with me on top of it and before I realised I was under water with the paddle being taken from my hands. I just managed to keep it in my left but then I was being suctioned out of the kayak and even though I tried to hold myself with my knees I ended up swimming. When I could finally take my head out of the water my kayak was at least 10 meters away and another wave was pushing me down. Apparently I had the first of the big set because another 2 or three big breakers washed over before I could start swimming.

Anyway when I got to the beach Ken had surfed in and collected my kayak and soon the other two were also landing to regroup. Adrian decided that the swell was too 'swollen' and we moved to the spit with some stops at a small rock garden.

In the rock garden. Thanks Adrian for the picture!
The spit is a sand bank joining the mainland with an island. It’s fun when the water is above the sand and you get a clapoits of waves breaking from both sides of the sand bank, meeting in the middle creating a sort of zipper. Very fun place to play around but need to be careful because as it is not very deep. The final score was two swimmers and a broken paddle!

PS, thanks Steph to correct some spelling and grammar.


  1. Good report Fer on a great weekend when the conditions were lively enough to test us all out, at some time. The Sunday paddle down south towards Boat Harbour was quite "lumpy" with 2 distinct and unusual swell directions. Upon the downwind return trip it was a hoot with plenty of "runners" all the way back and around Shark Island then back to the Spit for some surf action, prior to crossing over and paddling back to the beach.

  2. Nice report and some great pics. Bit worried about the position of your right arm in the brace in pic 3 -- I would much prefer to see your elbow tucked against your hip and the hand no higher than shoulder level (staying inside the "box"). I reckon at this stage of the wave if you had been more committed in your lean and inside the box the potential for injury would have been dramatically reduced.

    However, this could be a case of do what I say, don't do what I do :)

    Looking forward to another session in the soup with you.