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A week of firsts…..

May 17, 2011

So Sunday night came and went and I was too exhausted to write my Blog update.

The reason was that I spent Sunday morning on my first proper sea-kayaking adventure – and I reckon I used muscles that I had never used before. In fact – come Monday morning, and I knew that I had used muscles which previously lay dormant. My entire mid-section (core muscle group) was aching in new and interesting ways  !!

It was planned at short noticed and made possible through an industry colleague (Stephen from Salmat) that I have known for probably 10 years or so. He is an avid Sea Kayaker and tweeted me on Saturday to say he was going out on Sunday. Well given I had only paddled in closed waters – and these opportunities don’t occur that often – I jumped at the chance.

Long story short – and Sunday morning finds me standing on a small protected beach at Little Manly Cove. Stephen is there with some of his paddling mates and we discuss the journey. The original plan was to paddle out the Heads and around to Shelly Beach. I borrow a spray skirt and a paddle shirt from Stephen and then we are off.

We took off out across the Heads, the water being quite manageable. Once we paddled about 2 km out past the Old Quarantine Station – the swell really started to pick up and the churning of water and spray from the wind really had me on my toes. We opted not to paddle around the Head given the conditions and my lack of experience – and instead paddled out across the guts and over to Watsons Bay. It was quite an experience to ride horizontal to what seemed like a 2 meter swell rolling in slow huge surges…. in fact, compared to the chop and churn (much like a washing machine) that you get closer to the rocks, the middle of the Heads is a lot calmer, and even though you feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere – the paddling is alot more predictable.

Open water 2

This picture doesn’t really do it any justice (and I’m sure at this point you’re thinking I was greatly exaggerating earlier – but trust me I wasnt !!) – although I must admit I was just plain impressed that Stephen felt confident enough to grab his camera and shoot some pictures.  I was too busy looking forward, paddling and watching for the next big swell 🙂

I don’t know exactly how to describe that first experience on open water – except to say words like exhilarating, adrenalin pumping, nerve-racking and a whole lot of fun seem most appropriate. In fact, I probably amazed myself at completing that paddle, given that if I stopped and thought about it too long, I probably wouldn’t have done it.

open water 17-05-2011 7-38-26 PM

On the way into Watsons Bay – we passed a swimmer who was being accompanied by a kayak. When he reached the beach – a number of people on the sand applauded and shouted congratulations. It seems he was the first of  a small pod of swimmers who braved the weather to complete a 12 km swim from Bondi Beach. Impressive stuff !! Here I am sweating on my 12km open water paddle and these crazy iron men are swimming that distance up the coast !!

We stopped at Watsons Bay for a coffee then jumped back in our yaks to head back.  If you look at the map above you’ll notice that on our return trip – we veered right at the 8km mark and headed out past the Heads. My confidence was increasing and the swell was definitely picking up – but at that point where you see me turn (just after the 9km mark) – is where I lost my nerve to continue around to Shelly Beach. Even though I had been on plenty of boats – I suppose when you’re sitting at water level in a yak – well I was just in awe of the power of the ocean – and suddenly felt very insignificant. We turned and paddled hard back to our original launching spot and I quite enjoyed feeling the powerful swell at my back which seemingly lifted and hurled us forward at regular intervals.

All in all a wonderful experience and I hope the first of many. I bid farewell to my paddling companions and remain grateful to Stephen for the opportunity.

Now if you’re wondering about any other “firsts” (as I aluded in my title) – well I also resigned from my current employer.  First time ever that I resigned without having another role lined up to go straight into !!

It’s very liberating !!

I have decided to take a few months off and enjoy time with my family, complete some long overdue household projects – and last but not least – leverage this luxury of time to get in plenty of paddling practise for the Hawksebury Classic.

So watch this space for more regular updates.

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