Monday, April 25, 2016

Junk Miles: Sea Kayaking Mosquito Bay to Sunshine Bay

In running, junk miles are generally considered to be purposeless running. Of course, us non-runners could argue that all running is purposeless. Generally, however, if a person is aiming to improve at any sport, targeted practice beats gritting it out and simply accumulating time. Unless, perhaps you are aiming for mediocrity

I would like to get better at sea kayaking, and, yesterday I realized that simply paddling under easy conditions could be the sea kayaking equivalent to junk miles when running. Which is not to say that going out and having a pleasant paddle with engaging companions is inherently bad. After all, what attracted me to sea kayaking in the first place was the ability to go out into a wild environment and explore new places while being physically active. 

But I am not, and never have been, one of those people who thrive on mindless activity. I'm more the "everything must have a purpose" type. Even if that purpose is simply following a trail to see where it goes. Of course, if I was preparing for a long multi-day sea kayak trip I would view accumulating time in the boat completely differently, just as an ultra-runner counts time on their feet as valuable.


Yesterday, three of us paddled from Mosquito Bay to Sunshine Bay and back via Black Rock. It was an easy, no drama paddling day. I didn't need a single corrective or recovery stroke. It was a lovely day out and I enjoyed the society of my companions. What would have made the day better for me would have been some more challenging paddling or going somewhere I had not been before. 

None of this was my companions fault, it was, in fact, fairly calculated. Initially, I had suggested a stretch of coast I had not paddled before but which required landing and launching through the surf. The swell was running around one metre with bigger sets hitting near two metres. Even a metre wave is over your head when sitting in a kayak and can be quite confronting if you have not launched or landed in these conditions before. To that end, changing the destination to somewhere that did not require paddling through surf seemed wise. 

One of the good things about the stretch of coast from Broulee to Batemans Bay is that all the headlands, islands, reefs and coves mean there is almost always somewhere easy to launch and land. We launched from Mosquito Bay which was easy, but I probably would not launch there again. There is a boat ramp, which some may consider a plus, but I find annoying as it means power boats are coming and going. With a big easterly swell running the ramp and beach would be quite exposed. 

From Mosquito Bay it is just under 1.5 km out to Black Rock. My companions found the crossing a bit bumpy so we stuck to the west more sheltered side. I suspect Black Rock is a lot like the Tollgate Islands when you get to the east side the current, clapotis and swell all gets considerably bigger. 

From Black Rock we paddled northwest to the prominent headland south of Wimbie Beach where we had short pit stop. Then we cruised up the coast to Sunshine Bay under easy conditions. I have to admit I was looking at all the rock gardening opportunities longingly, but I didn't think my companions were really into that kind of kayaking and it seemed churlish to play around while they waited. 


From Sunshine Bay we pretty much straight lined it back to Mosquito Bay. There was the usual but quite minor clapotis around the headlands but nothing to cause a single stroke to falter. Once back in the bay, I metaphorically girded my loins - which in this case meant putting a wet suit on - and did the obligatory eskimo roll practice. Ever since I have worked out - after Doug made a chance remark about it - that pulling up hard on the water knee is the key to keeping your head down, and easily righting the boat, I've had great success with my rolls. I still don't enjoy these practice sessions but they are a lot less painful when you come up first time and don't have to try repeatedly before bailing and dragging the boat in to shore to empty it out. 

It was a grand day out, and, a few short weeks ago, I would have been sublimely happy with our achievements, now, however, I am rethinking those junk miles.  A good stiff wind, some rock gardening, or even a big swell would be kind of fun. 

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