Below I will reproduce the first, minus some editions and the photos that I didn't submit because I had none from that afternoon:
I arrived for this paddle that normally attracts more than 10 paddlers, sometimes a lot more. On this occasion we had 7 turn up which is a good number for some play around rocks. However my hopes for that gradually ebbed away as I looked around at the mix of boats. All composite kayaks with rudders and not a single helmet to be seen. I imagined it would be just a normal cruise along this beautiful coast. During the briefing Rob confirmed my thoughts adding the that there were good chances of seeing whales. He had seen whales almost every day in that last 3 or 4 days… And I hadn’t brought my camera!We launched and paddled out. The front of the pack was not going far out to sea, just following the coast some 300 meters from the cliffs so I stayed where I like it, closer to the cliffs, some 0 to 5 meters from them J.
There was no wind and the swell was between 1 and 2 meters with some reaching 3.
From time to time I did a sprint from the cliffs to the group and went back close to my silent rocky friends. In that fashion we reached the corner where the ‘dragon’s cave’ is located. I was unsure if going in or not, I didn’t want to drag all the group when the stated aim of the paddle was to try and see some whales out of the coast. Luckily Mark was just ahead of me and he turned the corner to have a look. Of course nobody had to call me twice to go after him into the mayhem produced by the clapotis and the jets of water bouncing from the cliff walls. The smaller swell created the clapotis and some jets of water, the bigger swell hit the wall and created spectacular splash reaching high and far. Those bigger swells spilled the top when ‘felt’ the shallower bottom in our playground. The foam from the spilled waves mixed with the rebounds creating bigger waves that travelled parallel to the wall. When I spotted that dynamic in the water I positioned myself to catch them and I managed one really nice ride and some not so good.
Unfortunately the rest of the group was just looking, none of them had helmets and their ruddered boats were more designed for speed than for playing. After a little while I felt guilty and I retreated from the rebounds and jets of water.We started to return but not so close to the cliffs. However the whales were still hiding.
Reaching south head I saw the waves breaking in a nice seducing way over the rocky reef. A few months ago we were coming back from a similar paddle but with bigger surf over the reef. On that occasion I completely misread the waves and got trashed by a wave that broke over my head, that time I rolled and paddled out before the next set could get me. After that day I take more care when trying to surf the south head reef. However this time the sirens songs enchanted me and I could do anything but going onto the reef.
|The siren spelling while the wave swallos me. My kayak is red and plastic only :-)|
The moment before I tucked in to set up for rolling I was hoping I had enough depth and that I would not hit any rock while performing the roll. I wasn’t lucky, neither unlucky. My helmet hit something and my arm brushed the seagrass on the cliff wall. I rolled up and before I could manoeuvre too far from where I was the next wave came and carried me some more meters above some more rocks to finish a perfect uncontrolled side seal landing on a rock platform.
I got out of the kayak and I signalled Rob I was ok. Then I dragged the kayak to the other end of the rock platform to relaunch on the calm side of the bay. The rest as they say is history J