None of the regulars were paddling despite it being a sunny weekend. Doug and I, however, were still keen and decided to paddle out from Corrigans Beach for some rock gardening. The marine forecast was a bit messy, a moderate swell with a mixed sea on top, and windy conditions but in Batemans Bay you can always find somewhere to paddle. Just as we were launching a large group of other kayakers arrived from Jervis Bay Kayaking Company. The guides and kayakers were very friendly and it's always awesome to see other people out paddling.
I caught a couple of easy waves off the beach while I waited for Doug, just big enough to wet my spray deck and trickle cold water down onto my legs and seat. We could see a decent sized wave breaking over at the entrance to the Clyde River so we paddled over there to try surfing. Everything was kind of arse around, however, as, instead of a series of regular sized waves interspersed with 3 or 4 larger waves, there were much more larger waves interspersed with smaller waves.
Around Snapper Island
As usual, Doug spent some time getting a feel for the waves whereas I jumped straight in, but, on one of the smaller waves. This didn't work all that well as I caught a bit of a ride but fell off the back just in the spot where the bigger waves were cresting and threatening to break. Some evasive action was required to avoid getting smacked down. This happened three or four times and resulted in some desperate paddling to avoid having a large wave crash on my head. Pretty soon, both Doug and I decided it was too chilly for possibly taking a swim at the beginning of our paddle day and decided to head off to Snapper Island.
Both Snapper Island and the little island nearby have plenty of rock gardening opportunities. We had a great time weaving in and out of gulches and gauntlets timing everything with the swells. Next we wandered over to Observation Head and paddled some more passages and finally off to the little rocky islet off the north headland of Sunshine Bay. There is a really good gauntlet here which you enter then make a 90 degree turn to paddle along a passage and exit out into the swell again. The first time I went through all was well as I waited for some smaller swells to paddle through. The second time I was rushing through before the bigger sets arrived and got caught near the exit by some larger waves. My kayak got washed up the rocks in a surge and I was pretty sure that I was going to get banged about in a nasty capsize, but somehow I managed to push off the rocks, drop down into a hole, brace in the hole, draw-stroke out, and finally paddle desperately forward before I got wacked into the rocks again. Doug, as usual, was watching this and wondering what would happen next. He was probably equally surprised when I exited safely.
In some of the protected rocks
I was starting to feel like the archetypal avalanche victim who pushes further and further out on to a ski slope with each run until they eventually get caught in an avalanche, only in my case, I was going to get caught in a rock garden. We played around in a few more easy gardens before heading back to Corrigans Beach for lunch. Of course, we should have practiced eskimo rolling but the chill water and air was a major and definitive deterrent.