Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: British Columbia

Up the bay with Al to paddle!

It’s 6:15 Saturday morning and Al is up.  Not just up, but excited.  Not that kind of excited! He wants out on the water in our new kayak.  He starts out with bouncing around the bed.

“Good morning Kitty, are you ready to go?”

“It’s 6:30 in the morning.  I will go with you at 9”.

“9 is too late. How about at 7?”

“If you don’t let me sleep, then it will be 10 when we go”

“Oh, okay.  I will go for a ride on my push bike while I wait”.

That is how the conversation went.  Al is deflated, but not about to give up. He puts on his bike riding clothes all the while making sure that he is making enough noise that I can’t get back to sleep.  He sits on the end of the bed… hard… several times.  I know he is trying to irritate me. It would be working if he wasn’t so dam cute when he is excited about something. It is now 7:15.

“Okay, I give up. I will get up and go out kayaking with you”.

Now he is excited. Really excited! Within 5 minutes he has his biking clothes off, his kayak clothes on, all of the kayaking gear ready and is standing by the door, waiting for me. This will be our maiden voyage!

Judy and Kayak at Ettalong

Judy and Kayak at Ettalong

We have bought 2 little wheels to go under the kayak as we have about one block to the beach. We put the wheels under the stern.  I take the stern handle, while Al takes the bow.  The problem is we have to cross the street.  We promptly lose the wheels at the curb. Oh well, we carry the kayak across, but the wheels back on and continue on. We reach the beach, but there is a stair and sand. We will have to carry the kayak again. By the time we get it to the water, my back is hurting. Dam, I haven’t even paddled yet!  Of course because this is the maiden voyage we have to take pictures to commemorate such a momentous event. Then the camera has to be run back home because we don’t have a dry bag yet.

Al and Kayak at Ettalong

Al and Kayak at Ettalong

We are finally on the water by 8:30. Getting into the kayak wasn’t a problem, but in all our excitement to get out on the water we forgot to adjust the pedals for the rudder. It turns out the pedals are too close and Al can’t get his knees up high enough to get his feet on the pedals.  The rudder is now useless.  It doesn’t matter because it is flat calm and a beautiful sunny day.

We head out across Broken Bay with no immediate destination in the plans.  We reach the sand bar and have to take a sharp left.  The sand bar is too shallow for us to pass over.  As we turned left, this pointed us towards Wagstaff.  Okay, that sounds like a destination.  Wagstaff it is. We reached it in no time at all, but it is getting mighty hot. We could use some water. Did we bring any? Of course not. Who would think of bringing water when working up a sweat kayaking on the water? Not us!  That’s okay. We had always talked about  when we had a kayak (which we finally do), we would take it to these little hamlets along the water, beach it and go for lunch or in this case, brunch. But wait a minute, did either of us bring money? Of course not. Who would bring money on a little kayaking trip in Broken Bay? Not us!

It was time to head home.  We made it back in no time slicing through the water like expert kayakers with a rudder except ours was useless. Imagine the speed and grace we will have when we get everything in working order.

We adjust the pedals as so as we get back to shore. We will now have a working rudder on the next voyage. Then we decide to try something new with the wheels. We place them midship and strap them on. It works great. Much easier! Now my back won’t be killing me by the time we get to the waters edge. It is a learning curve!

The trip got me more excited about future kayak trips. We live in one of the best places in the world for a kayak.  We are surrounded by an immense area of protected waters, Brisbane Water. Or, we are minutes away from open ocean if we choose to be more adventurous. I can imagine in the summer we might just play around Broken Bay at times, learning to get back in the kayak if we dump it.

I have kayaked in British Columbia several times. It is a beautiful area to kayak in and I have always really enjoyed my trips. Australia is different. What is the unique thing about kayaking in Australia?

Firstly, we kayaked without a skirt in the winter. In fact it was a warm 23 degrees yesterday and it is supposed to reach 28 degrees today.  It is the middle of winter which means the tempurature is not constant. It is expected to get cold again next week, probably about 15 or 16 degrees. That’s what winter means here in New South Wales.

Secondly, the ocean is considered to be cold right now, but not nearly as cold as BC. The average water temperature in the area we are kayaking in is probably about 16-18 degrees in the winter. Not very cold by British Columbian standards!

Finally, after it’s maiden voyage the kayak is full of sand. In fact it is unavoidable, the kayak will always have sand in it. There is no escaping it.  Oh well, I guess I will just have to live with it.  It will be like my house in the summer. Sand everywhere!

Hopefully Al will be able to sleep now that the maiden voyage is over.

I wonder if his excitement has waned at all, I will ask him just as soon as he gets back from kayaking. He was on the water again today, by 7:30 this morning, with a water bottle and money in hand!

Judy on Kayak

Judy on Kayak

Lap Band Vacation!

Two weeks into visiting family and friends in Canada and I am down 1 pound! Not a big loss but I reckon there are a couple of factors here:

1. The Lap Band is still not fully in the sweet spot (so I eat a bit more), that should be changed next visit to get a needle in my abdomen.

2. More beer than my doctor would like, and lots of very fresh crab.

After country bars in Regina, Bushwacker’s pub and fabulous Dungarvan red beer, I am surprised things are not worse. Then I went to BC.. you know, salmon leaping, black bears dozing in the sun, impossibly beautiful forest…

… well I was out with my partner’s son, Jason, this morning. Way north on Vancouver Island, gliding across the glassy waters of the inside passage to empty the crab traps. We tracked a bald eagle just above our boat as a seal popped his head out of the water to see what the noise was. As I glanced to the horizon, huge mountains loomed above us, still covered with snow in mid summer.

Back to the dock, clean the crab and take it home to cook it. Jason insists his process for cooking crab is the only way and I have sampled enough batches to attest to the method. Perfect, fresh and tender crab every time.

So, if I can survive partying with my mates in Vancouver, golf on beautiful British Columbia courses and a little more of that sensational Canadian West Coast salmon, I might walk in the door at home in Sydney a pound down still 🙂

The Old Pacific Highway!

Kit Kat and I lay in bed on Sunday morning, gazing out the window. The weather looked cloudy but dry across Broken Bay and my sudden urge to fire up the Triumph broke our reverie. Half an hour later, we were cruising past the Easter Sunday crowds at the local Churches. I could not help a wry smile at the number of devoted devil dodgers who ardently flock to places of worship  for two events of the year… I guess people are just too busy for god the rest of the time.

We headed straight for the Old Pacific Highway. Until the opening of the F3 in the 80’s, this two lane, twisty scenic drive was the main arterial heading north of Sydney. My childhood memories include the “bumper to bumper” snake of cars slowly writhing along the beautiful strip adjacent to the mighty Hawkesbury River.

Since the opening of the F3 freeway, the Old Pacific Highway is a mecca for motorcyclists. Fifty kilometers of windy road with a reasonable surface and very few four wheeled cages to dodge makes this the promised land. Relics of the “old days” litter the route, abandoned service stations and old stores.

The Aussie scenery is beautiful here. The road winds through grand sandstone bluffs and crags resplendent in grey, orange, red and yellow. The tortured trunks of Eucalypts with leathery green leaves hanging lazily above the road. Exultant stands of Gymea Lily raise their scarlet beacons as an offering to the heavens. The shrub layer bursting with Wattle, Ti Tree, Banksia and a carpet of native grasses and sedges.

The Triumph performs faultlessly. The occasional thump in the back, reminds me not to let the Bonnie go too hard. The road is damp in patches in the mornings, catching the occasional flashy sports rider off guard. We cross the first bridge over the F3, the traffic is light on the northern route. A couple of sports bikes slip by going the other way. This bridge is a favourite for wheel standing – nothing like grandstanding for the bored F3 crowd.

The sparkling Hawkesbury materializes through the early morning mist and the lush coastal forest. The air is pungent with the smell of salt water. One last bust of acceleration through the twisties and we lunge over the old bridge across the river. Kit Kat has gone from assaulting my back to massaging it… I relax back onto her caressing palms. The sun is warm on my face and I savor the salt air in my lungs.

Brekky is at a cafe near the Hawkesbury River train station. We eat eggs, bacon, mushrooms and toast. Kitty sips on her Chai Tea Latte and I down a strong Cap. A guy on a Harley “sportie” has wandered over to chat about the Bonnie. Nice bloke. One of the great things about being a rider is the connection you have with other riders. There has always been a great bond between two wheel enthusiasts. It gets tarnished occasionally by the bad guys but it still is there.

I am reminded of my former life riding a Beemer in British Columbia, Canada. Bikes go to the front of the line up for the vehicle ferries there. Riders, waiting for the ferry to load, circle each others bikes, checking them out and making comments to each other. It is a great ice breaker. I always think it reminds me of dogs and their ritual of greeting. Thankfully, this is less personal.

Kit Kat and I have a look around Brooklyn, not much is open on Easter Sunday. We head home back up the Old Pacific Highway and via Peats Ridge. We pass motorbikes and fruit stalls as we wind our way back to the coast. It is half way through the day and we are feeling very fine. Brekky and a lazy 120 kilometer round trip have made the day.