Upon arrival at Brooms Head (NSW) and looking out upon the sea this morning I instantly knew it wasn't really a good idea to be heading out. With a plan to meet up with Alby to survey conditions (him being a Brooms Head veteran) we missed each other due to a crossing of wires, so there I was staring out into 'interesting' seas wondering if I should brave it or not.
I had a fair idea Alby wouldn't be far behind, so I unpacked my kayak and rigged it in preparation. Still no Alby by the time I was done and by now and I wasn't feeling any better about launching. Even though I was able to formulate a pretty solid plan to get out fairly easily I knew it was going to be a lot hairer once out to sea. Every single bommie in the area was raring it's teeth - the trick today would be in avoiding them. Long rolling waves were forming unpredictably, many of them curling over without much warning. Off shore winds were blowing off the caps in spectacular fashion, making their appearance all the more menacing. 'Oh well,' I told myself, 'I'm rigged up now... might as well give it a go'.
Launching went exactly as planned, though once on the water and without the advantage of height my visibility was severel restricted by the swell, frequently blinded whenever sinking into a trough. This made it difficult to tell what was happening just around the corner so to speak and because of it I found myself getting precariously close to violent bommies on numerous occaission, twice while attempting to reel in fish. I was even unfortunate enough to have a close encounter with a humpback whale that I didn't even get a chance to see or hear - I was later told about this by Alby and others who were watching from the lookout at the beach. Of all the areas I should avoid, thats precisely where I allowed myself to end up. Driven by the previous weeks success I was poking around the major marks, which is exactly where the danger zone was. My bad for not figuring this out on land before heading out there.
I only had 2 hooks ups today - one while fleeing an incoming wave, another that was foiled by a skyscraping tower of water that I had no choice but work hard to avoid, losing the fish (while trying to tow it out of harms way) in the process. It didn't take long for me to move out to the north into safer grounds, though I had to keep my wits about me there as well. Making matters worse I'd forgotten to pack my Shark Shield, which bothered me on several counts. One of them being that if I was ever going to get thrown out of my kayak, it would be today. And also because I was feeling fairly nervous for a while, adrenalin rushing for a good hour or so. Not a good vibe to be giving off in such conditions I thought, so once I'd sailed far enough to the north to give myself a fine angle to sail back into the beach I turned back to the south.
I wasn't sure if Alby would be thinking about joining me or not. A part of me hoped he would, the other part of me hoped he wouldn't. Whilst his presence would certainly make me feel a little safer in the event I did capsize, on the other hand, having 2 AIs out would only increase the chances of a capsize to begin with. As it turns out Alby was warned not to head out by some of the local fishoes and after following my course from his vantage point was able to determine that I was coming back in, so he thought better of joining me. In hind sight I am really glad he didn't come out because had he done so, he wouldn't have captured these awesome photos!
For the first time in a long time I took the precaution of packing up the rods, removing the reels and storing them into a drybag, the rods synched down at the rear storage well for surf re-entry. I'd come so close to being flipped out enough times already that I figured that a surf re-entry might just be the tipping point. Turns out I'd done a pretty good job of charting my path out and was able to follow that back in, avoiding danger zones from both sides the entire time. With cameras rolling I was expecting some entertaining footage but compared to what I'd been dealing with at sea the landing was a complete anti climax... which came as a relief.