Monday, June 27, 2011

Paddling in winter

Acting on my resolve to paddle throughout the colder months, on Sunday I went for my first ocean paddle of the winter. I joined Tina, John, Dave, Roger and Greg for a West Coast trip.

John, Dave and Greg heading to sea

The forecast was for inshore winds in the region of 17 knots dropping later in the day to below 10 knots.
Choppy wind waves off Ocean Grove

We launched on the Barwon River and headed for Point Lonsdale.

There was around a metre swell running, with the gusty wind creating a little chop over the top and providing a bit of a tail wind on the way there.

Wind over waves

By the time we got within sight of Point Lonsdale, the wind had dropped off

Point Lonsdale is just inside Port Phillip Heads. The Heads of course is a notoriously dangerous stretch of water for boats, but there is a gap in the reef off Point Lonsdale which permits a relatively smooth entrance in all but the biggest seas. On this occasion, the passage was fairly smooth, but with some gratifying turbulence and white water on the seaward side.
A smooth passage through the Heads

Tina appeared to choose a less smooth path through the Heads

Our lunch spot on rocks near the pier was nicer for the absence of people.

Landing for lunch - Point Neapean in the background

On the way back I dropped behind to venture a little closer to shore, allowing Tina and Dave to take the lead and enjoy the illusion of superior fitness.
Dave behaving very sensibly in a boat borrowed from Tina

I had a characteristic moment of un-coordination while playing in a small break at the mouth of the river on the way back and found myself upside down on an embarrassingly small wave. I didn’t think of much at the time but the need to roll up, and I managed it. But afterwards I reflected on just how little difference there is between a capsize in the warm waters of summer, and the frigid waters of winter. With all my practise falling in, there was no more than the usual sense of disappointment at having failed to brace effectively, then the concentration on trying to roll up again, with no mental energy to consider the rude shock of the cold water.

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