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I had a business trip to Sydney and wanting to mix pleasure with business dreamt of sea kayaking in the area. I contacted Mark (Expedition Kayaks) who kindly invited me to join him, Rob and fellow kayakers on their regular Tuesday evening paddle. I had a very warm welcome and with the loan of a Valley Etain plus kit it promised to be a good paddle. The starting point was Watsons bay, a pleasant beach just tucked inside the south end of the harbour bordering the Tasman sea.

The plan was to paddle over to North Head and then on to Manly. We set off and soon after rounding the corner of South head were paddling straight into a fresh Nor'easter (15 knots+) towards North head. Air temperature ~29C, water temp ~20C so shorts and a rashy top were the order of the day. Swell ~1.0m. After a slog into the wind we reached North Head and regrouped under the shelter of the cliff.

But we couldn't help notice a thunderstorm to the south and with darkening skies to the west the plan to paddle around to Manly was abandoned.

Some flying fish were seen. I didn't know at the time but one or two had spotted something a lot bigger. We turned for the downwind run back to South head and enjoyed the following sea. Part way back a menacing cloud was seen encroaching over the city from the north west which was obviously going to deliver something pretty unpleasant.

There was no hanging around, the nearest landing place was sought - Camp Cove, the first beach just inside the harbour past south head. Even before we landed all hell let loose and a couple of lightning strikes touched down on land within a few kilometres. Huddled on the beach there was mirth amidst the strong winds and downpour.

After half an hour or so the storm eased but there was a stiff wind to cope with before making it back to Watsons bay.

A couple of days later I spotted a newspaper article about a humback whale seen in the harbour on the same Tuesday afternoon and only a few Ks from where we paddled!

GPS track on Google maps

Many thanks to Mark, Rob and mates for a memorable paddle in a great location !
Mark's EK blog entry.

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