I don’t often paddle solo but with all my team-mates otherwise unavailable, I took to my local rocks knowing that today’s conditions would be lumpy. A direct easterly 1.5m swell pattern was washing straight off the Tasman Sea through Sydney’s Heads and up against Grotto Point and Gelo Cliffs, keeping it awash with whitewater and then, every 5-10 minutes or so, a bomber wave would come through and explode against the shore. Being solo I had to stay a little further out of the froth than I would have liked (trust me though, I still certainly got amongst it!).
After a few hours exploring the waves and froth of Gelo Cliffs, I returned to Grotto Point where I found fellow member of Team Fat Paddler Nat (of sydneysurfski.com fame) putting his new ski through its paces in the swell. Whilst he practiced falling off and getting back on, I set about catching the surf that was jacking up and breaking directly on top of the Grotto Point rocks (mostly submerged just below the surface due to the high tide). Then on my last wave of the day I ended up ploughing nose-first into a rock, wiping out, bouncing across the rocks upside down and then finally swimming my boat to the protected cliffs behind the rock garden for a breather, laugh and recovery.
I learnt a lot from the mishap, mainly around the type of safety mods I want to make on my boat. I also learnt that a long timber paddle in surf and rocks can make rolling difficult! But most of all, the morning confirmed how much I love not so much the sea, but that magical zone where the sea interacts with the land. Cheers, FP
Note: this video is dedicated to Jim Kakuk for introducing me to rock gardening, Eric Soares for his continued advice, and my old rock gardening paddle-mate Gelo who I know would be missing this badly. Watch the video in HD at full screen to get a true feel for paddling my local playground.