One of the kayak lads suggested paddling from Potato Point to Mystery Bay over the weekend. Apparently, this isn't a big ticket paddle like the Nadgee or even the coast south of Tathra but, I had only paddled a short section - from Bogota Head to Mystery Bay when we went out to Montague Island - so I was keen. Apart from Mark, who pulled the trip together, there was me and Mike from Nelligen who seemed to be a veteran of many sea kayak adventures. I knew both the lads would be in their light home-made boats while I would plug along in the heavy Prijon, hopefully not too far behind. Optimistically, I packed the sail.
We were supposed to meet "in the park" at 9 am, but I had no idea where the park was. Potato Point, however, is not a large metropolis so I figured I would work it out. Luckily, as I was driving south I saw Mark's car in Bodalla so I pulled off on the Potato Point Road to follow him into Potato Point. We drove down a dirt road, through the park, to a pull-out behind Potato Point Beach. The beach looked easy to launch from with the type of surf you read about in kayak books but never actually see. A wide swash zone where you could hang out waiting for the smaller swells to paddle out.
The lads heading out from Potato Point Beach
But, of course, we still needed to find Mike. Back we went to the park, where upon Mike went whizzing past. So, off we went, catching up with Mike as he was turning about to catch up with us, and we found our way to the boat ramp. I've been to this boat ramp a couple of times before and it always looks like a worse place to launch than the beach so we went back along the dirt track to the first pull-out.
It was a bit embarrassing hefting my heavy boat off the roof compared to their featherweight jobbies, especially as I proceeded to fill mine with all manner of kit. After the boats were carried to the beach, Mike and Mark set off to Mystery Bay to leave a car for the return trip. They optimistically announced they would be back in half an hour, but I had done the Google maps thing the night before and knew it would take an hour.
On the beach, I faffed around and then spent the time stretching. The sun was beating down and, despite a forecast 10 to 15 knot wind, there was nothing at all. It felt like north Queensland. Just as I was beginning to develop heat stroke, the lads came back and we moved the boats down the beach to launch. Usually, I just plunge out and end up getting smacked in the face by a few waves. This time, I waited patiently for the smaller swells and then paddled easily out. The lads took the face smacking approach. I saw the underside of Mike's boat early on but he rolled up very quickly.
Looking back at Mike from my brief lead
I knew I would be the drogue on this trip so my tactic was to straight line the entire coastline to minimise the waiting the other two would have to do. Once you pass Potato Point and Jemisons Point there is the long straight Brou Beach at the south end of which is Dalmeny. There are some nice rocky coves around Dalmeny but I just kept paddling straight south past them all while Mark and Mike wandered closer in. Occasionally, I would put my sail up just in case there was a tiny bit of wind that might make me a bit faster but it just sagged in sun.
When we got past Kianga, the lads started looking for somewhere to land but nothing really obvious appeared until the breakwater at Narooma which was easily navigated on a rising tide. I guzzled the 750 ml of water I had brought and wondered why I had not brought more. It was frightfully hot out on the calm sea with no wind. A stout fellow from Orange ambled down the beach and engaged Mark in a long and detailed conversation about sea kayaking. Eventually, we extricated ourselves and with our new friend waving madly, paddled back out to sea.
Narooma to Mystery Bay is the most interesting part of this trip but I saw little of it as I continued with my straight line policy. Looking towards land I would see Mark and Mike weaving in and out among rocks and little islands. It all looked like great fun but it would have made me even slower. As we neared Mystery Bay, some big thunderheads starting building out from the hills behind the coast making for very scenic conditions and my straight line policy finally bore some fruit as I got ahead of the lads for the first time all day. I was congratulating myself on sticking resolutely to my plan when I heard the faint trill of a whistle. It seems I was overshooting where the car was parked and I had to turn around and come back thus loosing my hard earned lead.
We had a swim off the beach which actually felt great on achy muscles and then embarked on a forty minute exercise in loading three kayaks on to a roof rack designed for two. Strangely, a feisty red pair of men's underwear seemed to feature frequently in this endeavour. Eventually the kayaks were wrestled into submission, stray underwear was stowed away and we were on the road back to Potato Point.