Cairns has been hot, humid and still since Cyclone Dylan sidled by further south down the coast and we have resorted to a couple of hours of air-conditioning in the evening when the full brunt of tropical stickiness seems to settle onto your shoulders and the mosquitoes become as unbearable as the heat.
This morning, we drove up to Palm Cove and met some friends for an easy paddle. I got to try a stand-up paddle board for a few minutes before we left. Much easier to balance on than you might expect and, as with all water sports, much easier if you stay relaxed and allow yourself to bob around in the waves than standing rigid. William Nealy, the cartoonist, mountain-biker, climber and whitewater kayaker, used to have a great cartoon in one of his illustrated white water kayaking books with a dude sitting rigid in a whitewater boat and flipping over in the smallest riffle. Stand-up paddle boarding is a bit like that. Too bad I no longer have the book to paste in the photo as it is pretty funny.
After a few gusts out of the north, the wind all but died. We ambled out and around Scouts Hat and then paddled south down the coast to Yorkeys Knob. Along the way we met another sea kayaker – an extremely rare event (a first, in fact) in a beautifully built hand-crafted wood strip single kayak. More a work of art than a boat and we all duly admired it. I would be terrified of destroying such a fragile craft and much prefer plastic although certainly there is a real aesthetic appeal to such a finely crafted boat. It was so hot paddling in our dark coloured stinger suits that Doug and I rolled a couple of times along the way to cool off. I was too nervous about blowing my never very reliable roll and so used the bow of Doug's boat, but Doug just did a couple of sweep rolls.
At Yorkeys Knob, Doug got lumbered with the car shuttle again so I could practice my roll. In my last few sessions I have regressed to pulling on the paddle half way through the sweep and it took me quite a bit of work to correct that today. At the end of my session I got four in a row and thought “I should quit now while I am on a high note” and, of course, didn't. Blew the next two and ended up swimming with the boat in tow to shore. Interestingly, my quasi roll was slow enough I actually had to think quite clearly “I'm not going to make this roll, I should pull on the paddle,” which, of course, is exactly what you shouldn't do. Two things about eskimo rolling are completely intuitive and completely wrong: one is pulling on the paddle, the other is driving your head up. After owning my boat for a year, I finally wised up enough to move the thigh pads back (credit to Doug for that suggestion) which made a huge difference in my hip flick as I was no longer falling out of the boat. Sure wish I'd thought of that a year ago.
Finally, I cycled down to the Esplanade and bouldered for about 40 minutes. Cycling is about the only thing you can do in Cairns that doesn't cause you to sweat out several litres of fluid per minute as the breeze generated by pedaling keeps you cool, to a degree. The bouldering wall was swarming with kids, which I studiously avoided. Kids love to see adults playing and doing things that they do and will instantly glue themselves to you for the rest of the day. Usually, I'm cool with that, but when I want a quick efficient work-out, I just keep my head down. Otherwise, you'll soon have several dozen new friends for life.