Well, it’s over for another year. I look forward to it all year and now it’s back to the grind. Here’s a brief overview:
This year RnR was held at Currarong Beach Caravan Park. Currarong is a pretty sandy beach just to the north of Beecroft Peninsular which is the northern door post of Jervis Bay and includes the massive cliff of Point Perpendicular. You’ll see why it has that name, soon. Event organizer was the very capable Campbell Tiley, a Hunter Klanner, a capable Grade 3 paddler, and an all round decent bloke. This year Campbell packed a whole lot of non-paddling activity into the four days which meant there was always something going on in the big marquee or nearby.
Unlike Batemans Bay or Umina, Currarong doesn’t have ready access to the water. It’s a bit of a portage to the beach or creek and this means the normal rounds of boat testing and impromptu instruction didn’t happen. Still, the caravan park was accommodating and pleasant with some spectacular coast and terrific ocean paddling. Beecroft Peninsular is a popular kayaking destination that can vary from a pleasant coastal cruise to a life shortening death-trip. Fortunately, we were treated to nice weather and friendly winds.
I arrived on Friday after driving through Kangaroo Valley where I found the World’s Best Pie. Seriously, it is the world’s best pie. On arrival I quickly set up camp and then mingled with the other club members and fellow Hunter klanners. Beer and Pizza courtesy of Expedition Kayaks is now a tradition. Forty pizzas and I think some of the boxes were consumed in a feeding frenzy that lasted only a few minutes. That night more beer, wine and guitar playing at Bruce & Lynne McNaughton’s caravan.
Special guests for the event were the impressive. The mighty Paul Caffyn whose awesomeness requires no explanation, Stu Trueman who approximates that awesomeness and Sandy Robson who having survived a crocodile attack on her kayak and is now retracing the journey of Oscar Speck is compiling her own scorecard of awe. Everywhere you look there are paddlers of suitable praiseworthiness. The lovely Shaan Gressar, the first woman to paddle solo across Bass Strait was amongst it as was the steadfast Chris James, everyone’s mentor Rob Mercer and badman Mark Sundin. Combine these standouts with the normal cadre of club stalwarts and you have a gathering of the finest paddlers in Australia.
One of those stalwarts, Paul Loker, led my Saturday trip for a coastal run along the sheer cliffs of Beecroft Peninsular. We ran south down to Gum Getters Inlet, stopping to investigate the nooks and caves along the way. In on of these caves I screwed up a gauntlet exit and speared my Assateague at speed into the cave wall sending blue gel-coat into the air. More embarrassing than dangerous it left my boat with a bloody nose and ribbing from Sundin who mysteriously appeared right at that time despite not being on my trip. After a brief stop at Gum Getters Inlet we turned back home into the 1m swell. My trusty Elver Greenland paddle kept my pace up and I reached home tired and pleased to have been up lose and a little too personal with those amazing cliffs. At night talks from Caffyn and co. The official club dinner and mingling with beer and wine before well earned sleep.
On Sunday I went with a bunch of others on a drive to Honeymoon Bay for a trip to Point Perpendicular. It’s a good drive through a military live munitions zone and a portage to the water but Honeymoon Bay is one of those postcard perfect little bays with a neat sandy beach and crystal clear water. We set out toward Point Perp but on rounding the first point found the swell too large for the beginners in our group so they turned around and went back. Well, I came to see the massive cliff at Point Perpendicular so I continued on alone into the swell. I quickly discovered this was a mistake. At 3m, it was not difficult to negotiate since there was was no wind to complicate the water but as I progressed out further, the swell stood up more vertically until it started to break over me. This didn’t bother me either but the breaking of my seat did as my right leg lost good contact with the boat and made control almost impossible. Turning was now tricky as I couldn’t edge. Fetch was only about 5m so there was risk of swamping the boat between swell crests. I took a wide gradual turning circle but with the swell at my back now the situation was worse. Surfing would have been brilliant but the short fetch kept my bow ploughing into wave in front forcing a broach so I had to lay back on the deck to slow up. I finally rode back into Jervis Bay and hastily made my way back to Honeymoon Bay and then back to Currarong for a barbecue.
Late Sunday afternoon Chris James and his good mate Chris Walker took me out into Currarong bay to test the Rockpool Taran. Perfect conditions we shared only with two enormous pelicans. It was flat and calm with a slight swell. We went out a few kilometers then turned to power back into shore with the following swell. Short and sharp training sprint. The idea was for the two of them to introduce me to the Taran but it was the advice I received from this pair on the beach that was one of the highlights of the trip. These are men for whom I have enormous respect and it pays to heed their advice. I have been on the verge of buying a ski but the two made sense. Chris Walker, a ski paddler these days, told me to be either a ski paddler or a kayaker and not to put a foot in either camp and mastering neither. The skills from ski paddling don’t always translate to the kayak and at any rate the Taran is just as fast as a ski. My friends in the klan may see it differently but for me this advice made my choice clear. I will buy the Taran and make it go fast.
Apart from some socializing this effectively ended Rock n Roll for my. I packed up on Monday and went home stopping for another two of the world’s best pies.