Monday, January 31, 2011


Rolling is the art of recovering from a capsize. It involves 'rolling' yourself back upright after a capsize, using the paddle and upper body as a lever, and twisting the lower body to bring the boat back upright.

When I started paddling, I considered rolling a bit of a show-off move. After more paddling in surf and swell, I am now convinced that it is an essential skill for open-water paddling. So I have been applying myself to learning how to roll. My first attempts, paddling my sea kayak in the Latrobe pool, were dismal. I then changed to a canoe polo boat, much smaller and easier to roll. A couple of sessions in the pool with the polo boat made me believe I had the rudimentary technique to roll my sea kayak.

However, transferring these skills to a sea kayak in the sea has proven difficult. But I can now roll. Sometimes. In calm water. 

In order to analyse the many flaws in my technique, I asked my better half to record my rolling attempts. While I was successful on some occasions, I can see at least two flaws in my technique: letting the paddle dive, and sitting up prematurely.

Not all of my attempts were successful. Where the first attempt failed, subsequent attempts rarely succeeded. In this case, after three attempts, I was spared an undignified swim by a timely rescue.

Much more practise is needed...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A paddle across the Rip

On 23 January I joined some seasoned paddlers for a trip from Point Lonsdale, on the Western side of Port Phillip Heads, across the Rip and down the Mornington Peninsula.
We crossed the Rip early in the morning on slack water, encountering some short chop near the middle of the channel. The Rip has a reputation for producing difficult conditions, but on this occasion it was relatively benign.
From Point Nepean we headed down the Mornington Peninsula stopping for a break at Diamond Bay. This spot was nicely sheltered from the prevailing swell. After a short break we headed South-East again in near perfect conditions. There was little wind and only a moderate swell. Conditions were perfect for concentrating on my forward stroke and taking in the cliffs and platforms of the Peninsula from a safe distance behind the surf.

We turned around somewhere near Gunnamatta Beach and returned to Diamond Bay for lunch.

We recrossed the Rip on the incoming tide. It was not a difficult paddle across, but the sight of boils and eddies provided an illustration of how tidal flows in the sea can come to resemble the flows of a river.

A coffee in Point Lonsdale concluded a great paddle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Looking back on 2010

Late in 2010 I made a conscious decision to improve my paddling. After a couple of years of paddling in the Bay and the odd trip on the open ocean, I thought it was time to learn skills like rolling, bracing in breaking waves and surviving in surf.  

I got involved with the Victorian Sea Kayaking Club in the second half of the year, going to pool sessions and skills sessions. I learnt a lot from VSKC instructors, especially John and Tina.

My roll remains dodgy and I have a continuing propensity to capsize in surf, but I am having fun on blue water.

After an extended period between jobs, paddling at least twice a week, I also learnt that not working is very good for one's kayaking. (A promising sign for my retirement in 30+ years.)

My final paddle of 2010 was a VSKC trip from Flinders to Cape Schanck. This was something of a landmark for me, as I had admired the rugged cliffs and rough waters of Cape Schanck on a couple of bushwalks. As we landed our kayaks on the rocks beneath the Cape, I watched walkers parading down the wooden boardwalks leading to the Cape and enjoyed the thrill and novelty of travelling by kayak.  Some photos of this trip are posted below.

Launching from the golf course

Checking out Bushranger Bay

Boats at lunch

Rest stop

Monday, January 17, 2011

This blog: hopefully more than just self-indulgence

As an interested reader of many sea kayaking blogs, I have for some time thought about starting my own. The gift of a waterproof camera has left me with no further excuse for procrastination, so this is it: the journal of a tyro paddler venturing out on the Victorian coastline in a sea kayak.

My aims in starting this blog are, I like to think, more than self-indulgent. Hopefully I can document some of the adventures to be had and sights to be seen in a sea kayak paddling along Victoria's coasts and bays.

Self and kayak in a rare moment between capsizes