Friday 23 September 2011

Greenland Paddling in & around Sydney Harbour

Sitting on the beach after landing at Hummocky Island on our recent expedition, with just one day's paddling left, and so many months previous spent preparing for the challenge of the trip, I asked Rob how you get over the 'post expedition blues'. He said the secret was to start planning the next challenge as soon as you get back, even if it's not likely to happen for a good deal of time.
The time demands of a trip like we did means another one like it cannot really be on my radar now for a while, so I have spent the last month or so trying to work out what to do with my paddling without a clear challenge on the horizon.
Thinking it was a bit silly to have the Greenland boats in our range & not really have any handle on how they work, I have filled my lost motivation nicely by having a crack at the art of Greenland rolling.
Today was a beautiful Sydney spring day, with a warm northerly wind in the morning & a bouncy but pretty tame sea running outside. After an early demo paddle Rob met me down at Watson's Bay & we took the two Greenland boats in the Tahe range, the Greenland & the Greenland T out for a trundle along the cliffs. As we left the heads dressed in black, in our black boats, a dude paddling past asked us what we were going to go & secretly bomb. No calls from ASIO yet so hopefully he accepted our lame excuse for looking so silly…
The spectacular scenery of the Sydney cliffline is highlighted in the morning sunshine, and it's a beautiful time of day to get out & around the sandstone formations of the infamous Gap.
Being relatively inexperienced with a Greenland paddle, the rebound & confused water is definitely something to concentrate on a bit harder. Even so I soon settled into a rhythm, essentially by waiting a fraction longer for the stick to 'bite', rather than feeling the power at the catch as you do with a flat blade. It takes a little while to adjust to the 'different' predictability of the stick, and remembering to keep your hands low when you need a bit of extra support, which is quite counter-intuitive to my normal dynamic water paddling.
We messed around up against the cliffs, washing in & out on the surges & generally having a relaxing time in among the rebound & chop.
With a big change forecast we struck out for the harbour & spent an hour or so doing some rolling in the calm of the bay. NRS sent us some webbed gloves to try out & the extra lift from them soon had me doing some hand rolls, while Rob was almost able to crack a forward finishing hand roll.
I then lined up for a go at my first forward finishing or reverse sweep roll & managed to do a couple of them, much to my own amusement. This is an amazing roll to perform, & I can't honestly say I have my head completely around how to position myself. It's also a very late recovering roll which is something to get used to when my combat roll is snappy & instant. The number of twists & convulsions you seem to perform upside down are quite disconcerting, but with a little bit of extra rotation suddenly you're upright again. Too funny.
These Greenland boats themselves are such a pleasure to paddle. While we had the little Greenland boat out in conditions that are probably at it's limit, at least for a paddler of Rob's weight (& therefore free board), I had no end of fun in the higher volume Greenland T. It's a smile on the dial boat if ever there was one. It skips along in the flat water & turns & dances around in the gentle clapotis, importantly responding perfectly to properly applied technique. The little one is definitely the king of rollers though, even though the T rolls like a dream, it's smaller sibling is almost a self roller. If rolling is your thing, then this specialised boat just has to be on the list, it's a dream...
We rounded off the morning with lunch on the waterfront back in Watson's Bay (at 'Rob's Office for those of you familiar with his hospitality set-up). We got some good still & moving pics of the paddle which are now up online HERE….

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