Paddling Sydney Harbour

A lot of my paddles start from the beach at Clontarf where the early tide once brought many floating starfish. This city of more than 4 million people has waterways that allow for quick and easy escape from the noise. Pete is a regular paddling mate of mine.
Passing with the lower cliffs of South Head on our right and the high cliffs off North Head to our left, Shelley Beach at Manly is a regular destination.

We were once joined by Dave, a visiting Irish paddler, keen to experience the reef break at Shelley Beach.

Once on the beach, Dave and Mark swapped ideas about instructing.

During summer, the regular nor’easters usually provide a quick ride back, with dramatic city landscapes. Dodging the Manly ferry and racing sailing boats adds to the challenge. Andrew has been my sailing mentor for years.

Don’t ask what Pete is up to here – though I am assured it is related to navigation skills. He even persuaded Dave to practice his cultish gestures.

Not far from South Head, Sow and Pigs can provide a little surf with the right swell and tide.

The waters of Sydney can reach 23’C during summer, and stay in the 20s well into autumn….incentive to practice rolling skills on a regular basis.

The value of Sydney real estate is marked by the willingness to move trees around waterfront properties. On another day, in much the same area, we had a formation of Navy helicopters fly right over us – noisy and awesome.
Coffee boats are a regular feature of the bays at weekends, plying their trade among the moored pleasure craft.

That which doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger

How can there be times on the water when selling my kayak becomes an imperative? Sunday, off the cliffs of Dover Heights, Vaucluse and Watson’s Bay, paddling in an unending washing machine created by SE swell, NE winds and rebound against a strong current was almost enough to bring me to that parting with all things kayak. The bouncy waters were challenging and the headwind called for focus on good paddle style but it was the unrelenting flow against us that was most debilitating. The mental effort needed to focus on each and every stroke without let-up or any moment of rest left me utterly drained.

As usual, there are no photos of that stretch. The closest were those I managed to take once safely inside the harbour
heading into Watson’s Bay and a welcoming party of mates.

The line up of kayaks at the start looked familiar. The 2 metre swell was impressive as it broke onto Cape Banks.
Stewart used the light southerly to get some sail assistance.

As the cloud cover burned off, the day heated, the light southerly dropped and gradually the nor’easter blew.
One paddler’s sea sickness brought us into north Coogee where landing assistance was given from shore.
George and Glenda keep a watching brief out their Coogee window and smartly recognised that kayaks with sails must be fellow club members. They came down to the beach to offer assistance – how wonderful is that?

Keen to step into his new role as Admiral Commodore of NSW SKC, Mike landed gracefully calling to Stewart to lift his kayak from the water.

And now? Is my Mirage for sale? No, of course not. I survived, my muscles are recovering and the next paddle adventure beckons…..