Patonga to The Basin 8 Dec 19

Paddlers on the way to The Basin

Participants: Colin North, Timothy North, Steven Constantine, Christina Adams, Isabella Adams, Jennifer North and Jennifer Hartich.

This open water paddle required a crossing of the mouth of the Hawkesbury River in both directions.  The wind increased to its median level of about 12 k/hr at about the same time that we set off from Patonga Beach.  A direct track to West head in sloppy seas driven by a 1 metre incoming swell.  In other words: a difficult push through the first leg.

Map of route to The Basin from Patonga

Route taken from Patonga to The Basin and return

We eventually rounded West Head, observing the concrete structures known as West Head Battery. Some interesting background on these structures can be found at

Paddlers resting at Wet Head

Paddlers resting on the way to The Basin

A few weary bodies, so we took a break by landing at West Head Beach.  Now out of the wind and swell, we cruised just off the rocks through the pristine Pittwater waters around to Mackerel Beach; a 1920’s subdivision in paradise with about 100 houses.  It was made infamous by two neighbours who ran a 20 year neighbourly dispute which culminated in the NSW High Court describing it as an Alice In Wonderland hate session.  Both parties have now left the area which resulted in 98 remaining residents breathing a collective sigh of relief. { }  Today it is an idyllic haven accessible only by boat.

Paddlers at Mackerel Beach

Paddlers entering Mackerel Beach

At the headland after Mackerel Beach an executive decision was made to head for the Palm Beach coffee shop. A 2km grind directly into the wind.  Finally we beached to the north of Alfie’s Boat Shed (for all the Home and Away aficionados).  The shop was occupied by a couple of boys in blue, advising us the site was closed because it was a crime scene.  We unanimously decided that if the coffee was that bad, we would decline to partake.  Resorted to muesli bars on the beach.

Paddlers crossing Pittwater on the way to Mackerel Beach

Paddlers crossing Pittwater on the way to Mackerel Beach

For the direct return track to Patonga, it was decided the A team paddle the double kayak, so Isabella  and Colin led the flotilla off the beach and out through the Pittwater heads.  With the wind and swell behind us we surfed our way home.  Of course, always someone to test their skills, Steven surfed left while his kayak surfed right.  Great self rescue as we watched on.  Just in case

someone was not watching, he did the whole performance again 5 minutes later.  Subsequent comment: “Today was the first time I have used my paddle leash…. Wasn’t that lucky”.  Yep, a good reminder of the difference between a small dunking and a major issue in open water… we will be fitting paddle leashes to all our open water rental kayaks from this day forward.

With the completion of dramatics, the fleet followed the A team to a welcome beach landing back at Patonga.

A great paddle with a few new observations on paddling and increased respect for the vagaries that effect open water paddling.  Many thanks to all that joined us on this paddle, we look forward to many more adventures with you in the near future.

[Thanks to Steven for Sports Track and photos]