Monday, January 5, 2015

I'm In: Silver Beach, Kurnell to Boat Harbour

How many adventures have started with this pithy answer? Truthfully, I can't say I've used the phrase that much myself. I'm more an instigator than a follower, but I remember some great days and weeks out when my partners answered my phone call, email, or text with "I'm in!" Perhaps some days they wished they hadn't but mostly I think "I'm in" was said with gusto and not regretted.

So, when the marine forecast read: "Winds variable below 10 knots, seas below a metre, swell easterly below a metre" it was time to find some partners for a sea kayak trip around the Kurnell Peninsular to Boat Harbour.

Last time we paddled to Boat Harbour we came up from the south on a glassy calm day with even more favourable weather. This time we planned to launch at Kurnell and paddle around the cliffs and headlands to pull in at tiny, sheltered Boat Harbour. 

Heading out of Botany Bay

My brother was originally "in" but had to pull out the night before due to tendonitis, so it was just Doug and I who launched at 8 am from Silver Beach in Kurnell. Driving out, I had that queasy feeling in my stomach that I used to get before going alpine climbing in Canada. The "what if" queasiness where you wonder if you're going to fall and sustain severe injuries or even die. Sea kayaking my "what if" is always what if it gets super rough, I capsize and can't self-rescue or get caught in some ripping current. Uncontrolled "what if's" can kill any adventure before it even starts. 

 Cruising along in easy conditions

It's all sheltered water until you round Inscription Point where the swell and sea gradually picks up. I took a few photos paddling out, but, once we got around near Cape Solander the water was too bouncy for me to take my hands off the paddle and fish the camera out. That's always the way for me trying to take impressive sea kayaking photos. As soon as anything interesting happens the camera gets put away. All we have to show for two years of kayaking adventures are a few photos of us cruising along on flat water.

We bounced our way through haystacks down past the sandstone cliffs that line this section of coast. Past Point Long Nose, Cape Baily, Potter Point, Doughboy Head and Voodoo Point. 

We had a 10 knot headwind and were fighting the current so it took us just over two hours for the 9 km paddle to Boat Harbour. It was nice to get out of the kayaks at Boat Harbour and have a swim. Boat Harbour is a funny place. Geographically, it's a lovely little sheltered bay with some snorkelling on rocky reefs in the bay. But, it's also a shit-hole as it's the only location near Sydney where you can drive on the beach and people pay $25 a time just so they can drive a couple of hundred metres and sit right beside their vehicles on the sand pumping out music that was bad first time around in the 80's and sheer torture to listen to now. 

 Doug heading out of Boat Harbour

Anyway, we didn't stay long, but got back in the kayaks for the return journey. Doug wanted to get back before the afternoon winds picked up which seemed pretty reasonable to me as paddling down through all the haystacks was a bit like an amusement ride that went on too long and any increase in wind would only make them worse. We had a tail wind and the current with us on the way back and in only an hour we were near the northern end of the peninsular.

I was paddling along thinking about fear and trying not to stiffen up every time a haystack exploded under me. Nothing flips a kayak quicker than a rigid torso. 

Back in Canada, I used to think about the day when I would be too old to climb mountains or ski avalanche slopes. I'd think how great it would be not to feel this compulsion to go out and do things that scare me, even if I was just a little scared. I got older, I moved to Australia. I thought maybe in Australia I'd stop doing things that scared me, but, I haven't, and now, as I work my way slowly through my 50's I realize I don't want to stop doing things that scare me. When you stop pushing yourself you get old. If you keep pushing yourself, no matter how little, you might age, but you don't get old. Remember this the next time some one calls you up with some crazy plan and, before you can think better of it, say "I'm in." 

 Be "IN"

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