Wednesday 11 April 2012

Surfing the Bundeena Bar

The Easter forecast showed a decent wave period from the ENE, and a lowish tide around mid afternoon Sunday. I grabbed a golden couple of hours & drove down to Port Hacking with my V10 Sport to see if the fickle Bundeena Bar was working. This is a bit of a mystery break in some respects, it's coded as a 'novelty spot' on surf websites, which means when everything else is being obliterated by a big southerly swell or East Coast Low, it's surfable for the board riders. 
For a kayaker, it mostly provides the sort of gentle, barely breaking waves that you see in my video above. They're slow, easy & as consequence-free as you ever get on a paddle craft. 
On a decent day however, it can be epic & every bit as demanding as a beach break. 

Just after my eldest daughter was born in 2004, I went down in my old Inuit Classic for a surf on a day with a honking westerly, a genuine two metre long-pulse swell, and not another boat or surfer in sight. I had been doing a lot of surf kayaking in the years previous, and was very confident of my own abilities in the surf, even though I hadn't been in a sea kayak for a while (& consigned to the hurt locker the feeling of being thrashed in a boat with a much longer waterline for a breaking wave to grab & toss around). I cracked a couple of great long fast rides, then got a bit cocky & tried a surf-kayak turn & got well & truly dusted. Despite a super-reliable roll, I couldn't even get the boat to begin to rotate from it's capsized position, so had to wet exit. 
The westerly pushed me & the boat back into the crunch zone & I held on while I got a couple of good floggings, slowly heading back over the break & out into the wider bay. I had three or four goes at a re-entry & roll & inexplicably still couldn't get the thing to move, tried a cowboy which was always doomed, and then watched the Bundeena Ferry chug past too embarrassed to ask for help even though I was cold & starting to tire, and the next stop was Jibbon Bombora, at best.
In a moment of rare clarity after another failed re-entry & roll I relaised I was trying to roll a hard-chined kayak against a twenty knot wind, so set up for an offside roll, which wind-assisted was successful first go. To give you an idea of how the cold can affect your thinking I didn't even consider turning the boat around & going to my strong side, which would have been a lot easier!
A chastened paddler then slowly paddled the couple of kilometres back to the beach at Bonnievale where as penance I forgot to pack my bestest surf paddle & lost it forever!

Thankfully, Sunday was the opposite, long, clear runs with just a couple of other guys out there on skis & outriggers, all waiting our turn & enjoying the blissful conditions. I'm reacquainting myself with my ski after concentrating pretty hard on training for the One Degree South paddle, and enjoying the freedom & simplicity of the boat, as I always have. We're planning on getting the cameras rigged up for an epic Bundeena Day as soon as one is in the offing, but for now enjoy it the way it mostly is, a cruisy play spot, one of my antidotes to the modern world…..


  1. Top vid Sundo!
    Good to see you got out for a bit of fun during the Easter break. Looked like a day you could stay and play for hours.

  2. Nice story about the roll against wind, just yesterday I was talking of that with Matt, which way would you try the roll if wave and wind are opposite to each other... In the end we decided that under water you would probably forget about the wind direction and just tried to roll with the wave...
    Next time Bundeena Bar is 'on' let me know if you want company, at least to record another camera angle :-)

  3. I think you & Matt were definitely right there Fer, I don't recall putting my finger up through the water too often whilst upside down to check on where the wind was coming from before rolling! It's worth remembering though for a re-entry & roll, but only when the wind is horrendous (like your Tuesday paddele just gone eh?)
    Next time Bundeena goes off we'll let you know, but beware it's not very often, maybe less than half a dozen times a year. I hope you can make a movie that is not rubbish like my one!

    1. I like your movies!!! :-) I am preparing one from tuesday's paddle so get ready to trash it with comments :-) from almost 90 minutes of recording I can't get more than 1 minute with the len free of water tips...

  4. Mark - What is that rope (?) running forward from your cockpit? (My guess it's a safety leash for your camera)

  5. No mate it's the towline for the jet ski, some of those suckers were just too big to paddle onto, even with my athletic capacity.....

    Yes, a spare leg rope tethered to the camera, let's me get it further forward.


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