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.
Kayaking Ocean Whitewater and Wiping Out from Fat Paddler on Vimeo.
Wow! Everything was smurfilicious until you surfed that wave, got dumped, were upside down in madness for a very long time. Glad to see you were okay.
As for the bouncing upside down on the rocks: “Scientific studies indicate that multiple impacts with hard and pointy rocks can cause injury to the head, shoulders, and thorax.”
I’m glad to see you had a helmet and some padding. FP, you are a candidate for body armor! So be careful out there, and keep on chooglin’.
What boat is that Nat is on – the new Horizon maybe ?
Would love to get some detail on that one.
Great story as usual mate. Thanks, Chris.
Not a Horizon – its a new THINK EVO ocean ski. Previously he had an Epic V8 but has moved up to this one which apparently is excellent at going really fast for several metres before turning upside down. 😉
Do you have air-bags / buoyancy in your boat ? Also your PFD looks to be riding too high.
Hey FP – Where’s that roll gone?
Mick – yes I had airbags in the boat, although only in the back. Thinking now I need to rethink buoyancy (and other safety kit) in general. The PFD does ride up, but that is largely because fat guys have a big gut and smaller chest, so its hard to stop without securing it between the legs (and who wants to do THAT!?).
Owen – the roll was barely there to begin with, and I particularly struggle with it when upside down being smashed against rocks. Will continue to work on that though!
Fat guys have a big gut ? What are you saying ? I just have an extremely over-developed 6-pack 😉