WWW – Winter Whale Watching

Argh. Winter is on its way and I have not been motivated to paddle much. This time last year I had a clear paddling goal – the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic. What to do? Whales! They are travelling north during June. How about I make them my motivation….whale watching paddles.

Actually, the plan got changed as I scored the chance to demo paddle the Tahe Greenland T. With strong sou’westerly winds, 2-3 metre swells and the opportunity to take this interesting kayak out the Heads and into the open ocean, how could I refuse? Some dynamic waters for a test paddle. My paddling mates kindly agreed and kept me in a tight pod providing guidance as I tried out a new boat. No whales, but we did spot dolphins.
Tahe photos by Matt Bezzina

Having chosen to bushwalk the lovely track to Mount Bushwalker across undulating rock platforms to serene views of Pigeonhouse Mountain, the Castle and the Budawangs on the day my mates found whales just outside Ulladulla Harbour, I was most determined to find them the following day. Despite clear skies and light winds, no whales sighted. Though it was a great paddle, finding ourselves 5km off the coast with a 2 knot current taking us southwards.

This is more like it! See post dated 20 June.

A Friday morning paddle from Watsons Bay with Sally and Stephan. Out of the Heads and north into the winds. Lumpy conditions, fun to bounce around in the swell and rebound. As far as Blue Fish Point when we turned back. No whales today we thought, content to have had a yellow-nosed albatross fly over us and hundreds of gulls swoop and whirl. Then! Whoosh! The humpback popped up twice for air, between us and the cliffs of North Head. And the second time, I had my camera at the ready…

Satisfied, we headed back to South Head. Stephan’s photos are interesting. Glad I bought the hi-vis hat, it really does stand out.

A coastal trip with The Lot

A glorious day in Sydney, close to the shortest day of the year. The swell was zilch, the recent heavy rains had cleared and we were on a mission – to watch whales as they migrate to the warmer climes of Queensland.

Perhaps because of the lack of swell, the sounds of all the birds fluttering over the bush sounded across to us.

Where Port Hacking becomes the sea, we sat and looked for the Jibbon Bommie and wondered where the usual swell on the point was. A pod of dolphins caught our eye.

They steamed past and headed into the bay.

It was Paul’s first trip along this stretch of coast and no wonder he smiled, it is rare to be able to get so close to the rocky shore.

The calm, clear waters were mesmerising. We paddled south, past where we figured where the bommie usually breaks.

With gannets and sea eagles flying over, warmth and sunshine on our back and coastal scenery to explore we meandered along.

The plant communities hanging on the sheer cliff faces must have benefitted from the rains.

I’ve never got so close to Marley Head. Around the corner wasn’t quite so calm. The cliffs had been sheltering us from the westerly wind, but on the other side it was like a vortex with the wind funnelling in one place.

We ventured into Little Marley beach, chatting with bushwalkers who had seen whales out to sea. As we sat on the headland, enjoying an early lunch, we spotted two whales out to sea. This sleek black crow hung around, hoping for a feed perhaps. Looking past him we could see the whitecaps building up.

Once on the water again, we had a hoot being blown from Little Marley, past Big Marley and over to Marley Head.
Past the vortex of the headand the wind calmed. Paul spotted a whale out to sea, about 100m to our starboard. It cruised north, faster than us, displaying its humpback and tail. What an awesome sight to see!

Once back to Port Hacking Point, the winds had increased to 20-25 knots, straight from the west, directly into our faces. It was a tough slog across to Salmon Haul Bay where after a brief rest we faced the last 100m of headwind and then turned for home.