A day for the committed! A full river (i.e. flooded upstream), low tide and strong wind gave a very dynamic environment where situational awareness was just as important as boat control for safety. Getting down to the harbour via the Western Arm was pretty easy, not least because nearly all (15?) of us were in longboats of some sort or other – the exception being Adie and Robbo in a tandem open and Andy Hall (!) in a playboat. By Emerald Quay we could start to see the incoming tide winning out against the river in terms of flow. We hung around Soldiers Point for a bit and then some of the more experienced headed out by the National Coastwatch lookout and tried to catch some waves along the West Pier.
The rest of us watched the two lifeboats return to their station and then initially headed for Kingston Beach before changing the plan and heading for the Hole-In-The-Wall. There was a big swell but not much by way of surfable waves even along the Eastern breakwater. At this stage the offshore wind was just about enough to cancel out the incoming tide so without paddling we would just bob about in the harbour.
For the return up the river we had plenty of tidal flow behind us but we were paddling into a fair bit of headwind and even by Silversands without paddling we were being blown back to sea. An efficient and effective forward paddling stroke comes into its own in these conditions and is why we can never do too much forward paddling practice to overcome the lazy ways we slide into!
All made it back OK and the importance of giving the moored boats a wide berth was highlighted by one breaking one of its lines as we passed and doing a sudden and dramatic 180 turn.
Definitely one to blow the cobwebs away but another morning of safe, enjoyable learning. Well done all