Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Missing a meeting

Last Sunday we attempted a rendezvous off Sydney in moderately stiff weather. Two paddlers, Andrew Eddy and Mark Schroeder, set out from la Perouse to paddle for an hour into the 20-25kt SSE  then turn north to have a long sail run up the coast to South head.

The rest of us –Cathy Miller, Rob Mercer, Matt Bezzina, Dave Fisher, James Johnson and I – set out a little later from Watson’s bay to head south until we hooked up with the sailors. Then up sails and head back. Rob was in the Taran, an odd-looking craft but more than equal to the conditions. In Rob’s hands, of course, anything would be.As we intended to sail back I took the Mirage, leaving the Greenland sleeping.

It was pretty bouncy headed out. 2m sea and 20-25 knots meant for pleasantly big seas. Some people aren’t big fans of heading into the wind but there are times when it’s delightful. I love the sensation of climbing the big, windswept swells, punching over the tops and seeing the next rolling hill of water  approaching. It evokes the sensation of skiing through undulating country.

Matt and Cathy in the hills

We headed south, pulling a k or so away from the cliffs to avoid the rebound, and plunged on into the oncoming waves. While it was brisk there were no overfalls and the wavetops stayed attached to their waves, so it was exhilarating without being exhausting.

Off North Bondi we waited , looking south, but saw no-one. Stalled for a while but eventually decided to turn north and raise the sails. Rob’s Taran didn’t have a sail but that didn’t stop him getting into the heads first. I’m not the most confident sailor, but on this run managed to relax a bit into the trip this time and ease off on the right low brace. Glad of the Mirage surf rudder, we were heading a bit across the wind so it was good to be able to maintain a course without a lot of stern rudder. Also glad I had refurbished the factory sail rig after busting the sail foot three weeks ago.

Matt and Rob - in the very pretty but weird Taran. 

 James demonstrating the hatmaker's art. James, Matt, Rob and  Dave . 

Cathy considers Bondi.

Scooted round the heads, and into calmer waters. Cathy later said she’d encountered a large shark, coming head on and as close as her paddle, during the sailing run and had made very sure to stay upright.

About half an hour after we landed Andrew and Mark lobbed in. Mark said that the first km  into the wind  out of Botany bay had been the steepest seas he’d ever encountered. Given that the two biggest seas I’ve ever paddled into have been with Mark ( out of Port Stephens in a strong easterly against tide, and three weeks ago off North head in a 30 knot southerly with 3m seas on 3m swell) , I was impressed. Andrew was unflappable and nonchalant as ever.  

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