Without a background or any particular interest other than as a participant in surfski racing, I've come to regard skis as a great tool for a workout, a fast & uncomplicated craft for a couple of hours of hard paddling, with the added bonus that in any sort of following conditions they are absolutely, entirely brilliant. This kind of scenic and, due to nearly 6km of unbroken & unlandable cliffs, committing paddle is one I'd normally reserve for a sea kayak, but with Steve keen to get out & mix it up in his new ski we decided to have a crack.
A superb Sydney winter afternoon beckoned us out to sea, virtually windless. We set up a car shuffle, and left the sandy beach at Gunamatta Bay in mirror calm. Progressing around the point named after George Bass & Matthew Flinders, we then struck out across the 7km expanse of Bate Bay to Cape Bailey, an imposing sandstone wall that marks the southern edge of the Capes cliff line. A punchy but small groundswell was almost unrecognisable until we hit the line of Capes, where it threw back the sort of typical rebound that Sydney paddlers know so well.
About halfway down Steve had a lapse in concentration & did one of those slow-mo capsizes that I'm sure we've all experienced. In the cold water he had two 'nearly' remounts, and considering the looming sunset & our exposed position I suggested an assisted rescue, it was mid winter after all! He climbed back on board & took off towards Cape Solander, me struggling to foot it in the Fenn Swordfish, but doubtless feeling a little more stable.
As we rounded Cape Solander, the setting sun cleared the cliffs & put on a show to remember. Forgetting for a moment the surf ski mantra of speed & heart rates, I had to stop & get a pic or two, and I'm glad I did.
We eased past Cooks Landing & into Silver Beach to finish up a cruisy 16km, 90 minute paddle.
Steve learnt a few lessons, first & foremost to get out & practice his remounts, but otherwise did incredibly well considering his limited sea paddling & the demanding craft he has chosen. You always wonder when someone dives into an elite ski whether they'll be committed enough to master it, & I've no doubt this was the right boat choice.
A brilliant winter afternoon ski paddle for fun & fitness, along one of Sydney's most picturesque cliff lines.