The languid twilights of summer have passed with their welcome afternoon sea breezes and temperamental southerly outbursts.....
......and with the passage of the seasons have come shorter days on the water and time to catch up on all those neglected blogs I meant to write.
From around the country and around the world paddlers of renown and enthusiasts alike have visited to enjoy our beautiful City with its rugged coastline and gentle harbour.
Just before Christmas, local hero Stuart Trueman took the afternoon off from his circumnavigation of Australia to paddle with us for the afternoon, even though it meant paddling the same stretch in the afternoon that he had just finished in the morning.
This year Ginni Callahan made a return visit to inspire and challenge with her engaging style, valuable insights and personal flair on the water.
One of Ginni's paddling colleagues, respected Dutch coach, Axel Schoevers joined her to present some excellent boat control courses with an emphasis on finesse and water feel. Mark and I had a very entertaining paddle along the cliffs with him and caught a few nice waves on the point break at Fairy Bower.
As there are so few other people in Australia who make a living out of Sea Kayaking it is valuable for me to just share ideas and talk about different approaches with other professional instructors like Ginni and Axel.
It is also rewarding to see that the exchange cuts both ways with Axel enjoying some different sea conditions and the occasional big surf ride that he assures us is hard to come by in Holland. Ginni and Axel also developed a real liking for the local Aussie sailing rigs and they plan to share the joys of lightweight sailing rigs beyond our shores.
Tsunami Ranger Captain, Jim Kakuk was also in Sydney. He is a quiet legend with a very different approach to kayaking. Jim has a strong preference for the wash deck kayaks that he and his team have pioneered. After a short paddle to The Gap we had a long chat over lunch about the evolution of these craft and the Tsunami Rangers philosophy on the sea, skills and safety.
Hot on the heels of Aussie adventurer Sandy Robson who came to Sydney to research the first leg of her voyage to re trace the Epic journey of Oskar Speck was German author Tobias Freidrick. He was also here to research the Speck archive for his upcoming book.
Whilst in Sydney Tobias visited the Australian Maritime Museum, and travelled to the central coast where Oskar lived for many years. Over dinner at Doyles it was fascinating to hear what Tobias had discovered during his visit and at Watsons Bay the next day he spent a morning with local enthusiast, Peter Osman checking out folding, segmented and hard shell kayaks.
As you can probably tell I value these exchanges of ideas and techniques with paddlers from far and wide so I was delighted and honoured when the formidable Sean Morley, who featured in "This Is The Sea 2" invited me to attend San Francisco's Golden Gate Sea kayak Symposium 2012 as one of the Instructors. It is going to be very different instructing in such an unfamiliar environment but, frankly, I can't wait.
We have some very fine coastline and some excellent paddlers but regardless of who you are and how well you paddle there is always so much to learn and so many ideas to share. So if you want to leave the warmth of a Sydney summer and head for the cool waters around the Golden Gate Bridge next February then check out the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium site and the enthusiastic blogs from last years attendees. It looks like a brilliant event.
Registrations will open soon and it would be nice to see an Aussie contingent and a few familiar faces amongst new friends on the other side of the world.