Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Lazy Paddle On Pittwater

My brother, Ken, had planned a leisurely kayak trip from the south end of Pittwater north to the only camping area in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park at The Basin, and was kind enough to invite Doug and I along. A couple of Ken's friends, Debbie and Mark, also joined the trip and paddled a sit-aboard that is operated by pedalling the legs that Ken owns. The rest of us were in sea kayaks – Ken and Renee in their Seayaks and Doug and I in our new Marlins (all made by Prijon).

On Saturday, we wandered lazily north to Great Mackeral Beach, before turning back and making camp at The Basin. On Sunday, we wandered lazily south back to Pittwater. The weather was great – apart from a little rain on Saturday night – the water a gorgeous clear aquamarine and wonderful to swim in, the wind mostly calm, and we rode the tide up on Saturday, and the wind back on Sunday.

The Basin is a lovely campsite right by the beach on a big grassy flat area with tame wallabies, ducks and even goannas. I would hate to be there when it is at capacity – 400 people – as it would be crowded as a New York ghetto, but, as the school holiday season is not quite in full swing, it was not too busy on this weekend. Given the number of people that packed up their camps on Sunday morning, mid-week would be quite pleasant.

Doug and I spent a couple of hours in The Basin itself (a big protected deep lagoon closed to power boats) practising wet exits and entries and eskimo rolls. Wet exits were easy, but entering the flooded kayak without a paddle float was impossible for me, though Doug, after much struggling did manage it once. With an outrigger paddle attached to the swamped boat and rafted up to a second boat, I was able to wet enter reasonably easily. Both of us were stoked to be able to eskimo roll our kayaks, even though we haven't rolled a kayak for about ten years, and have never rolled a sea kayak. The key is to make the sweep stroke really count – start way forward and finish way back and keep your head down.

The sheer quantity and size of boats on Pittwater is astonishing – and frightening from a global warming perspective. As is the sheer quantity and size of most of the Aussies! I was happy to see that at least three groups, including us, were actually self-powered at The Basin. One group on bicycles, one group of hikers and ourselves in kayaks. It is surprising that more people weren't in kayaks as it is a safe – provided you don't get run over by a boat – area to kayak with good scenery and wonderful swimming. 

Ken paddling on Pittwater

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