Paddling in gale-force winds is better than not paddling at all

No paddle mates means self-portraits!

No paddle mates means self-portraits!

ANZAC Day, an Aussie/Kiwi institution. The Dawn Service, the March, the beer and two-up, for many antipodeans it is the most important day of the year. The day after ANZAC Day is also important, because it’s the biggest hangover of the year.

So on this post-ANZAC Day, the Fat Paddler was trying to rouse up some kayak mates to hit the water early, since a Weather Warning had come in detailing 40 knot winds and gale-force gusts across Sydney later in the day. But no-one would respond, and yours truly was left without any kayak  mates at all. With such a weather warning a smart paddler would stay home and watch DVDs, but facing two weeks without getting wet seemed too harsh to contemplate.

So kayak on the car and off to explore new (and hopefully protected) waters, with the Lane Cove River as the target destination.

Lane Cove National Park, beautiful Aussie bushland

Lane Cove National Park, beautiful Aussie bushland

And what a great paddle it is, long stretches of bush and mangrove swamp and the odd fish skipping across the waters.

That is of course until the previous warning comes true and strong gusty winds hit your kayak! Whilst trying to enjoy the expensive waterfront houses of Hunters Hill (and about 7km into the paddle) I got hit with 40 knot head winds and 2-3 foot chop, which my kayak enjoyed cutting through allowing water to slosh straight into the boat. For 20 minutes I fought the wind, desperately trying to keep some forward momentum in the face of wild swirling winds.

Uh-oh, is that the wind picking up??

Uh-oh, is that the wind picking up??

And then just when I thought my kayak was close to overloading with water, the wind died away! The nearest landable beach was a sandbar in the middle of the river. Perfect for tipping unwanted water out of the kayak, taking photos and having a much needed rest.

Pitstop - sandbar, middle of Lane Cove River

Pitstop – sandbar, middle of Lane Cove River

So with only 6km to go, and with the kayak empty (so I don’t feel like I’m sitting in a bath), I head off back up the river, amazed at the now calm conditions and glassy glimmering waters.

Sunshine - nice!

Sunshine – nice!

Of course the wind came back a few times, and I had a few hard struggles into the headwind, but I managed to get back to Fullers Bridge (kayak entry/exit point) without too much trouble.

Yes I was wet, yes I was exhausted. But the blowy paddle was indeed better than no paddle at all.  Bring on the Hawkesbury Classic!  🙂

The Fat Paddler!

The Fat Paddler, training hard for the Hawkesbury Classic!