Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Botany Bay Game

Our warehouse here in Marrickville is only 10 minutes drive from the shores of Botany Bay, a wide open Bay in the heart of Sydney open to all manner of wind & conditions.

A favourtite game of mine is to watch the forecasts for a coming southerly front, head down to the bay when I see the weaher stations just south of Sydney starting to cop it, paddle across to the south as far as I can in what is usually either a tailwind or reasonably benign stuff, then gun it back across the bay with the frontal system up my hooter.

When I get it right, the southerly buster will whip up enough of a sea to let me sit on wave after steep, short wave and ride clean across the few miles to my launch spot in no time.

It's not the sea, so the waves don't have any power or ocean speed to them, but if the wind is strong enough, and southerlies usually hit my part of Sydney like a freight train, it produces steep little runners that are a technical test as you zig zag around from face to face.

Yesterday was one of the hottest days recorded in Sydney, at one stage my car thermo measured 45C, with brutal westerlies drawing the inferno in the west of the continent down on us urban softies.

A big 'buster' was forecast for the early hours of this morning, so even though I wouldn't be able to play my game of getting a free ride in both directions, the bay would still be pretty lively for a slog out & a blast back.

So it proved, obs during the hour I was out ranged from 20-26 knots, the sea state on the bay was short, steep & fun, and the forty minutes spent grafting out to my turnaround was roundly justified by the 20 minutes of downwind bliss which brought me home. The speed graph is below, never underestimate what a 25 knot breeze does to your boat speed!

The bay provides a reasonably safe environment for learning the art of downwind paddling, with a lee shore no more than five or six kilometres away and waves that rarely get above head height. This is my typical surf ski paddle, a short sharp hour, usually pretty opportunistic, plenty of sweat, but equal amounts of cheers….
The trace of my paddle is HERE

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