It was cold, a bit windy, overcast, there was both a strong wind warning and a "large and dangerous seas" warning, pretty much the perfect day to go sea kayaking. Actually, inside Batemans Bay it wasn't too bad but as Doug and I stood by the whipped up brown ocean pulling on wetsuits for another kayak surfing session it was hard not to feel that we might be crossing the line between healthy interest and crazy obsession. We could probably legitimately blame Peter who, the day before the east coast low moved in to pummel NSW, noted that on days with a huge swell on the open ocean, semi-sheltered locations often have great surfing waves.
On Tuesday, the swell was still running around four metres with peak waves up to seven metres and a long line of breakers was hitting the sandbars near the breakwater at the mouth of the Clyde River. The ocean was brown with run-off. It was a mostly easterly swell so we thought Surfside Beach would have some good waves. The swell was good, around a 1 to 1.5 metres with larger waves rolling in frequently, but the beach itself is too steep for a good spilling wave and was instead a nasty shore-dump. Just to the west, around Pinnacle Point, the beach is long and flat. Normally, there are no waves here, excepting perhaps a riffle, today there was a steady line of breakers. The small creek that usually trickles out was a steady flow.
Doug catches a wave where normally there is barely a riffle
We spent about an hour surfing here. The waves were a little tricky to catch as they were somewhat irregular and steepened suddenly which meant the kayak would broach even sooner than normal so rides were short, spin cycles long. I lost half my spray deck on one large crashing wave, pulling out finally to see Doug giving me a thumbs up for hanging on.
After a bit we decided to wander back around the corner to Surfside to see if the falling tide had improved the waves. It hadn't but we could see a nice wave across the way just inside Square Head. Although the waves were pretty small here, no more than a metre, they were fantastic for surfing as you could get on and ride a long way in towards Cullendulla Creek then exit at the end without the usual thrashing. They were gentle enough on the face that a stern rudder would hold the kayak in a straight line. We hung out here for a long while until Doug's virus began to assert itself and we decided to head back.
Heading home across Cullendulla Bay
It took a long time to paddle back to the car as not only was the tide and wind against us, but all the rainwater flowing out the various rivers and creeks was creating even more current. The swells were a decent size coming in but not steep enough to get much of a ride. When we pulled the boats up to the car, I realised I had managed to leave my life jacket on the beach near Cullendulla Creek. Neither Doug nor I had noticed that I had spent half an hour surfing and almost an hour paddling back not wearing a life jacket.
Neither of us relished the idea of another two hour round trip in the kayaks to retrieve it. Luckily, I found a good track down to the Cullendulla Creek from Long Beach and retrieved the jacket in a scant 20 minutes on foot.