Sydney Harbour at night doesn’t make my paddling better

women kayaking

Earlier in the week, Fat Paddler and Pete Corbet and I headed out for a night paddle on the Harbour. Conditions were not ideal, with Sydney experiencing some pretty grey and dreary weather over the last few weeks, with this evening be no exception. Pete was up from Melbourne for a couple of days for work and the only time we could all make a paddle was after dark, so that’s what we did. It was a strange trio heading into the dark water at about 9pm – FP in a whitewater kayak, Pete in an unfamiliar sea kayak and me on a surf ski I’d paddled for the grand total of 78 minutes at that stage.

I quickly discovered darkness doesn’t make my paddling better. On the one hand no one could see me falling out of the ski… in front of the ferry… but on the other hand, I couldn’t see what was coming either, so had to heavily focus on getting comfortable with my new ski, and that unfortunately meant a lot of bracing strokes.

The ferry incident was a moment of sheer lunacy on my part, and in our post-paddle debrief, I still couldn’t articulate what exactly was going through my head as I paddled out in front of a ferry that had just docked at Milsons Point. Needless to say I lost it, and in an adrenalin fuelled remount and start, I was out of harms way in about 3.4 seconds. It’s not something I’d ever do again and certainly don’t recommend it.

Losing it, in the dark, at Milsons Point, in front of a docked ferry – 2011 Extremely Stupid Award goes to…

For the sake of the tourism industry, I made a spectacular dismount in front of a bus full of Japanese tourists on the other side of the Bridge, just past the northern pylon – I haven’t seen that many flashes go off since the New Year’s Eve fireworks. I  was also starting to worry I may steal the capsizing crown from fellow TFP member Paul Grummett.

The other thing that caught me out was the cold – we’ve been blessed with a relatively mild winter in Sydney and I can honestly say I don’t remember feeling the cold this badly for some time – having swum several times probably didn’t help.

After a couple of close encounters with party boats and a few more ferries out in the open Harbour, we headed to land  at the little beach next to Taronga Zoo, a place we like to call “Hypodermic Beach” – if you’ve ever been there, you’ll know why.

On the return leg, I started to get some rhythm in my stroke, needing to brace less and getting the full face of the blade in the water (at least I think I was).

But for those of us that live here, I think we sometimes take for granted just how lucky we are to have this Harbour to paddle in, and at night, even through the drizzle, it is spectacular. I love it!

Enjoying the run home to Lavender Bay, under the Harbour Bridge and past Luna Park.

Can’t wait to do some more night paddling, but might wait until it warms up a bit more!

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