Sunday, August 30, 2009

River of wind

It's fascinating to see how local weather conditions owe their characteristics to the influence of regional weather systems. Today a large High pressure cell is centred over the Indian Ocean, extending a protruding ridge eastwards over the Australian landmass and combining forces with a series of deep Low pressure cells that are peeling off Antractica (See chart above).
The magnificent effect of this arrangement, stretching over many thousands of kilometres of the Great Southern Ocean, is a river of west-sou-westerly wind that tears the harbour's surface into a field of white sea-horses. This is a great scenario for the kayaker with a sail.

Beating a path to windward and into the teeth of 35 knot wind gusts.

Tony's kayak buried in white water.

Paddling into the relative calm of the Clark Island wind shadow to ...

hoist sail and ...

... catch this river of wind.
Sail under full pressure, carving a path towards Shark Island.

We tucked into In the lee of Shark Island where the wind was roaring through the palms like an angry lion. Three times we beat a windward path up to Clark Island and then three times we sailed back to the east.

On the second trip to the lee side of Shark Island (while a particularly violent gust swept across the harbour) we had the opportunity to reach into the clear water beneath our kayaks and extract a pair of sea urchins. Cutting through the spiny shells and extracting the urchin roe we sampled this delicacy in its raw state. Although it looks entirely unappetising the roe is incredible. It's like eating the ocean as the tiny eggs erupt in the mouth. This gastronomic experience is not at all surprising to the Italians and Japanese who have been enjoying sea urchins for many centuries. The NSW Dept of Primary Industries permits a bag limit of 10 sea urchins per person.

Yep, it looks kind of like possum shit after a rainy night but the taste is truelly magnificent.

Energised by the sea urchin roe, Tony cranks the sail right back and propels his kayak along a reaching tack.
By 9am the river of wind was turning into a gentle stream.
(In this photo the climbing sun fortuitously picks out a spot instrumental to Tony's future.)

Looking a little weather-blown and salt encrusted Luke set up both sails to do the work for the trip homewards. A fabulous winter's day.
Before you go, here's an excellent recipe to try using sea urchin roe:
See ya!

And check out these videos from Tony's deck ...

Video 1

Video 2

Sunday, August 23, 2009

One perfect day ...

Destination North Head.

Tony feels something heavy on the end of the line ...

... dinner.

Peter leading the way into Salmon Cove.

The eroded volvanic dyke of Spring Canyon.

Peter had to leave the adventure early and dash home to carve the Sunday roast.

Into the Pacific.

Derek exploring the kelp.
Looking for a certain shellfish ...
From sea to mountain ...

Room with a view.
On the way back down we leafed through the geological folio at the cliff's base

A distinctive zone of darker strata reveals many fossils.

Glossopteris : an extinct seed fern that lived alongside ice sheets in the supercontinent of Gondwana around 265 million years ago.

This cliff face represents 200-300 million years of deposition.

We scambled around the small headland to the north of Salmon Cove to find ...

... an inland sea !

Some of the rudely disturbed locals ...

This is a shell-less marine snail in a small pool of exceptionally clear water.
With life comes death. This large octopus was taken from its rock pool and ended its days pan-fried in crushed garlic and red chillis. What is the consequence of this fairly innocent action? How will this rock pool be changed by the departure of a single animal - itself a hunter of other animals? The variables are too great to predict an outcome but we can be sure that change has been brought upon this rock pool by our visit today.
Climbing the cliff face with octopus.

As we prepared to leave Salmon Cove a tall three-masted ship made an unexpected appearance from behind the cliffs, like a cardboard cut-out entering a theatre stage from the wings.
The ship's metaphorical qualities as an agent of sudden change for this ancient continent did not go un-noticed.
Some moments before this apparition we had stowed into our kayaks fossilized leaves that had fallen from their branches 250+ million years ago when Australia was locked into a Gondwanan embrace with South Africa, South America, India, New Zealand and Antarctica. It is remarkable how much humans have affected the natural environment in just a fraction of this vast time. Today's innocent exploration of a relatively untouched part of Sydney's coastline was accompanied by this sense that we had invaded a little piece of the natural universe.

Paddling back to the Metropolis.