Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Another down wind run

The weather forecast has not worked well lately. Last weekend they predicted winds and storms and the run with the wind and swell I wanted had to be changed for a surf session on an overpopulated beach with a relentless sun and warm temperatures. A couple of friends said lets go to Umina, a beach that has usually good surf and is not so full of surfers as the beaches in Sydney. I said with this forecast lets organize a car shuffle and ride the conditions. The went anyway and had a good time, while Rhys and me stayed in Sydney. We had to change the downwind paddle for a paddle around the crowded beaches and a bit of surf.
This weekend the forecast was the same so when Rhys said lets go to Umina I said yes despite the bad forecast. Once there the sky was covered by clouds but the wind was not so bad and the storm didn’t show up. We also had the beach for ourselves and we surfed until we were tired... In reality I surfed until my stern got impaled in the sand while back surfing and I hit my back hard against the cockpit rim when the backwards motion was stopped suddenly by the crash. With my back in pain and the body tired after almost 3 hours of playing I called it a day. Rhys kept going a bit longer practicing his re-entry and roll in the surf. Later in the car park he put his head down and a river of salt water came running from his nose, that is perseverance!
Paddling in the storm on Sunday
The storm finally came during the night and it was a big one with lots of rain and wind that lasted all the Sunday too. Finally!! I thought when I woke up and organized a downwind paddle with Barnabas. The sea developed during the night storm was perfect with fresh but big enough wind waves to push you forward and catch enough speed to ride some of the faster swell. The wind gusts coming from behind gave us a good push too and more than a few breaking tops were spilled over our decks. To top up the day we had two close encounters with the local fauna. Soon after we started paddling I saw between sets a fin flapping against the water, I thought it was a seal but after getting close we saw a beautiful 'baby' shark. I think it was not a healthy specimen because it swam a bit on its side and a bit as you expect a shark to swim, with fin erected out of the water. That side swim was what I saw that confused me with the flapping of a fin that many seals do. We passed it really close and it was the first time I managed to see a shark’s body on the wild. In the past I have seen a few shark fins but never the body that come attached to the fins. Luckily I didn’t manage to see the teeth that come with the body.
The wind blew the water lifted by the paddle
I was a bit worried of the big dark clouds above us, I have paddled inside an electric storm in the past and I am very keen not to repeat that experience. Luckily no flashes of light came down from those clouds, only heavy rain that washed the salt from my face, diminished the vision to a few hundred meters and tingled over my helmet incessantly.
Many white horses riding with us.
Then half way through our route I got really scared. I was very focused on the waves around us, trying to catch them while keeping an eye on Barnabas who was a few meters behind. Suddenly in front of me, no more than 10 meters away, something jumped out of the water. The first thing I noticed was a big fin on top of a torpedo like body. The second was its size, as fat as my kayak and probably 2 or 3 meters long. Being primed with the shark before I thought it was another shark... but jumping out of the water? and landing on the water like a dolphin? Immediately after that though I recognized it was a dolphin. A pod of at least 5 fat dolphins come to check me up. Another one jumped at my side and I saw clearly another 2 swimming past under my hull. Barnabas came up on a crest just in time to see the farewell jump before they disappeared swimming in their up and down swing behind the next wave.
I want more of this kind of weekends. Even the rain that kept falling helped me to wash the kayak and the car :-)

All the photos starring Barnabas were taken by me with his camera.

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