Monday, August 22, 2016

Getting Lucky In The Slot Machines: Narooma to Mystery Bay By Sea Kayak

It is barely 13 kilometres from Narooma to Mystery Bay, so when we suggested it for a weekend paddle, the local sea kayakers could barely stifle their snorts of derision, 20 kilometres is really the minimum for any self respecting kayaker, and 30 or 40 is clearly better. 

 Doug enters the arch near Mystery Bay

Last time we paddled this section of coast we had a great time paddling around peering into sea caves and winding through clusters of rocky islets. All of these were great fun, but the real draw for a return trip was the two narrow slots just north of Mystery Bay barely a paddle width wide that separate off a small blocky island of rock from the rest of the coast. On that trip, neither of us was brave enough to paddle in as they were getting well washed by surging swell but we had thought frequently of going back.

Slightly blurry slot shot

If Peter weren't such a nice guy, I would suspect him of trying to make us all look weak like newborn kittens as he opted to paddle down to Narooma from Tuross and arrived early abruptly interrupting my scientific tests of the friction capabilities (poor) of $10 KMart water booties on a series of sit start boulder problems scattered around the beach. As soon as Mark had put the finishing touches on his GQ attire - friends should not let friends wear shorts and long socks, even if they are super-duper Goretex socks - we launched the kayaks and paddled out through the breakwater and turned south. 

When you are this famous, you have to travel incognito

The first section of caves and arches is directly under Narooma Golf Course and you can paddle right into a few of them. The water, which is almost always beautifully clear along this section of coast, was even more pristine than usual, a wonderful aquamarine green. We gradually worked our way south whoever was in front would lead the group through rock passages and past little islets. 

The water really is that colour

Somewhere along this section I narrowly missed getting scraped up on the rocks as I was paddling close in when what seemed like the biggest wave of the day rolled in and broke right where I was. I vaguely heard "look out for that wave" and just had time to brace before getting pushed much closer in that I was really happy about. I thought the second wave would surely mash me, but somehow I managed to claw myself out into deeper water, not, however, without a drenching.

 Paddle through arch

Shortly after this, I looked over and saw a paddler slowly tipping into the water on an incoming wave. There was a few seconds, perhaps even half a minute when a paddle pawed across the surface of the water in a valiant but ultimately failed attempt to remain upright, then a paddle jacket floated one way, a paddle another, body and boat together emerged in the swash zone. The sunglasses were not seen again and the replacement pair were only suited for Captain Hook with a patch on one eye. Two of us were now drenching wet.

Glassily calm in the second slot

We continued meandering south, now keeping a closer eye on rogue waves, until we reached the tiny pocket beach near Corunna Point where we stopped for lunch and a thermos of hot drinks. It was a chilly break despite a warm winter sun and some in the group were overly anxious to reach the fleshpots of Narooma (aka, the local cafe) now that the trip was nearly over. But, we still had the slots to paddle. As is frequently the case with these things, paddling through, turning around, and generally hanging out indefinitely was easy. At a higher tide, I think you might be able to paddle in one slot and out the other, but the tide was a bit too low when we were there. Very close to the slots there is also a big arch that you can paddle right through at high tide. 

Just another sea cave

And that was it, our leisurely exploration of the coast was over. Any further trips will undoubtedly have to meet the 20 km rule at a minimum.

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