Monday, January 23, 2017

Guerilla Bay To The Tollgates

After a couple of months of avoiding any pulling or pushing exercises at the gym, venturing out in the sea kayak only for short trips, and massive amounts of corrective exercises and mobility work my shoulders, thoracic spine, and most importantly elbows are now working properly and all pain has resolved. Of course, during the healing process I steadfastly ignored conventional medical advice to tape the offending tendon and do reductionist tendon strengthening exercises. If you have any kind of extremity injury, you really have to look upstream for the problem as it is highly unlikely that the reason you have knee, elbow, wrist, or ankle pain is truly from your knee, elbow, wrist or ankle and much more likely that it has an upstream cause.

Doug heads out to Jimmies Island

In any event, I am happily recovered and focusing on rebuilding some of the strength and muscle mass I lost over my long lay-off - which is a reminder, if ever one was needed, that injuring yourself training is ultimately stupid. Sunday we went out paddling for a real paddle day, not a really long day, but a day like we used to have before I injured myself.

Paddling through the gap at Jimmies Island

The usual summer northerly was forecast, along with a 1. 5 to 2 metre swell. Neither of us were in the mood for faffing around with transport options for a one way trip so paddling north and returning with a tail wind was a good option.

Doug heads into some rock gardens

We launched the boats from Guerilla Bay where the tide was just high enough to sneak through the rocks between the shore and the little rocky island that forms at high tide. You can always paddle inside of Jimmies Island, so we did that, and then paddled through a few small easy rock gardens along the headlands leading up to Pretty Point. Doug paddled out to one of the new shark buoys off Malua Bay, and then we headed north to Black Rock and the Tollgate Islands where the tide was very low, and the passage between the islands was intermittently closing out.

Shark Buoy off Malua Bay

It was about 11.30 am when we got to the Tollgate Islands and the north wind was blowing. Time to unfurl the sails and get blown back down south. We started out with our full metre sails but after I almost got blown over in a few gusts, we dropped down to our two-thirds sails. It was exciting sailing at times with a light boat, some gusty winds, and a surprising amount of bumpy water, but, we did keep the boats keel side down, and arrived back at Guerilla Bay about an hour after we'd left the Tollgates.

If you would rather watch the video, than read all this clap-trap, view it here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


About a week ago, with a strong northerly building, three of us paddled from Surfside Beach in Batemans Bay out to Three Islet Point. It's a trip I have done a few times as it is safe for novice paddlers, allows a detour into the warm water of Cullendulla Bay where you can practice some eskimo rolls, passes some easy rock gardens and caves, and ends with a sheltered landing on a deserted beach. 

Paddling to Three Islet Point with the Tollgate Islands behind

Paddling back after lunch near Three Islet Point, we had the wind behind us and were making good time. As we approached Square Head, however, we hit a strong (for these parts) outgoing tidal current and suddenly I was having to work much harder to make progress and not fall even farther than normal behind my two companions. Three months of only occaisional easy paddles and virtually no pushing, pulling or deadlifting in the gym as I recovered from elbow injuries had destroyed my paddling fitness. When we landed, however, it became clear that neither of my fellow paddlers had even noticed the current, which I attribute to our differing capacities.

Cave near Square Head

Imagine a 2 knot kayaker (me) paddling against a 1 knot current. If I continue paddling at the same rate and intensity, my speed will be halved. A 3 knot paddler however (M and D), will only see their paddle speed dropping from 3 knots to 2 knots. In other words, their speed against a 1 knot current will be equal to my speed with no current. The faster, stronger, fitter paddlers simply have more capacity to buffer environmental influences (in this case, current, but could be wind, waves, or any combination of these three).

The Tollgate Islands from Three Islet Point

Which makes sea kayaking, a lot like life in general. The less capacity we have to buffer environmental influences (poor diets, lack of exercise, poor sleep, etc.) the greater the impact those environmental influences have on us. Ultimately, this is why what you managed to do in your 20's you are unable to do in your 40's, 50's or 60's if you have not maintained your capacity.

Rock gardens near Square Head

The common language among us all as we age regarding the modification of environmental influences (i.e. behavioural change) runs generally along the lines of "I've got to X years of age doing this, I see no reason to change now." Which would be reasonable if we had maintained the capacity we had at 20. Chances are, however, we have not and those environmental influences we buffered at 20 (back to poor diet, lack of exercise, poor movement patterns, etc.,) are killing us now. Most of us don't want to change, but, as our capacity ineluctably declines, we simply cannot afford not to.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Surfing at Tomakin

My elbow injuries are all healed up, which means I can lift weights again, and go surfing (click here for the video, PC, DB) and kayak rolling again.  Life is good. 

Doug setting up to roll

Friday, January 13, 2017

High Tide, Hot Day, Kayak Video

Tides are high under a full moon, weather is hot under a northerly flow, time for a kayak trip.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Two Melons Crash A Sausage Party: Tathra To Bermagui And Back By Sea Kayak

The beginning of the end was probably "what a bunch of soft sausages" lobbed across the bows via email late at night right before the 2017 Coffee Cruise was due to convene. Plans for six sausages and the owner of two melons to meet at Tathra at 9 am for a pre-trip coffee were suddenly cast into disarray. Sausages were flying everywhere in splinter groups that bore little resemblance to the original plan. Two sausages did get in their kayaks and found themselves camped in a quiet lagoon, one sausage decided to stay away altogether, and four other sausages went (unintentionally) 4 wheel driving. It was looking more like a Chaos trip than a Coffee Cruise.

Packing the kayaks for another day of cruising, PC DB

Day two things settled into a pleasant routine of easy cruising north along the scenic coastline, punctuated by lonely camps on deserted beaches, and stories; lots and lots of stories of bravery, heroism, and the occasional buxom female.
On the third day, we packed camp in an easterly wind and paddled north across a surprisingly lumpy sea to Bermagui. I found it a long 16 km and judging by how stiffly everyone else staggered out of their boats at Main Beach, I was not the only one. After a long rest, we headed south again, pulling into a quiet beach and setting up camp on a gum shaded grassy field overlooking Montague Island.

Sausages at sea, PC DB

We had perfect sailing conditions on our fourth day and ran down-wind easily passing rocky headlands and small surf strewn beaches to a sheltered camp in a warm lagoon. I passed the afternoon wandering in an unexpected rain shower along a deserted and wind-stripped beach.

Lonely beach, PC DB

And, finally, the end. A calm morning on the water, some spilling surf to land in, and, of course, for the sausages, the admiring gaze of bonny ladies on the beach.

Sailing, PC, DB

Watch the video here.