AIs Unite at Shelly Beach - well not quite
Saturday's weather in Sydney was totally miserable with highly variable winds and lots of rain. I was pleased that we had selected Sunday for our expedition, however, Saturday's weather appeared to be extending well into Sunday, and at 7:20 Sunday morning I called Dave with the intention of cancelling the trip. Will had already withdrawn from the Saturday option with a previous commitment to visit friends at Lake Macquarie. If he was going to join us, he would have called me.
At that time, Dave had already assembled his AI on the roof rack of the Disco and was just ducking inside to get his camera. He had likewise been contemplating withdrawal, but had previously committed to being at the WSC ramp ready to launch at 9:00am, so he ploughed on. This left me with no option but to do likewise.
As I hopped on the K1100 to make my way to WSC, the sky opened and it bucketed down, again justifying the investment in wet weather gear for the bike. If this weather kept up I guessed we would be spending plenty of time in the club rooms enjoying indoor comforts.
I met Dave at the car park outside the WSC and we agreed to proceed to the club kiosk for breakfast. As we sat down with our coffee and sausage rolls the rain stopped and visibility opened up. The weather man had predicted light southerlies and we could see flags flapping in the distance, so agreed to rig up and see what we would find. I had my AI rigged and on the ramp ready to go at 9:30 and spent the next 30min chatting to all and sundry who stopped to admire the AIs whilst Dave continued to rig up all his electronic toys and AI accessories. We were finally ready to head off at 10:00am.
As we peddled out between the moored boats a light breeze rippled the back of my neck and on unfurling the sail we were being blown along at 3 kts. We were sailing and the day started to look a little more promising. Half an hour later the breeze came up to near 10 and at times we were making 6 kts on a broad reach. Before we knew it, we were at South Reef watching a couple of kayakers paddling around South Head.
The weather man had also predicted 2m swell and now, as we crossed between the Heads, we were in it. Dave's boat, loaded up with tons of gear and dragging a side scan sonar head, is a little slower than mine, so I took advantage and ran a loop, riding the occasional wave back in, than catching up with him again. The southerly wind outside, unencumbered by land for thousands of mile, was running at more than 15 knots, with occasional gusts up to 20. This contributed to some great sailing, as well as a sharp 50cm chop on top of the 2-3m swell. Under these conditions the entry to Cabbage Tree Bay was likely to be a bit on the difficult side, plus if these conditions continued into the afternoon the trip home might be more challenging than we would like, so at a mile or so out from North Head we decided to give Shelly Beach a miss and headed back inside Port Jackson.
Unlike the previous Wednesday, on this occasion we had plenty of wind and on the return journey I was reaching at up to 8kts and caught numerous waves, surging up to almost 11 kts - what a ride.
In lieu of Shelly Beach, the fish & chip shop at Balmoral Beach became the target for lunch,
then after checking out the Young Endeavour and another play in the swell between the Heads, and tacks around both wedding cakes,
Parsley Bay became the target for afternoon tea - Alas the shark net floats, over which conventional kayaks can paddle, proved too great a barrier for the AIs and we headed to Watsons Bay. From here it was time to explore Shark Bay beach in the rain and then several tacks, with a few fun reaches across the 15 kt southerly, down Rose Bay and back to WSC.
Another great day on Sydney Harbour.
Trip distance: 17.1 NM
Max Speed: 10.2 kts
Moving Average: 3.5 kts
Time moving: 4 hrs 53 min
Time stopped: 2 hrs 9 min