9pm-ish bathe at Coogee, waiting for the fireworks with Pete R. and family. Loads of people about. Flat as, quite clean, a tad cool but getting there.
Late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Not as many people around as I would have expected, and parking was plentiful. The water is a bit cold below about half a metre. Completely flat, little wind and quite pleasant out. I just headed out into the middle of the bay in a singlet. I wish I'd taken the snorkeling gear as it seemed quite clean and it would have been a good day to head out to the bombora.
First visit to Coogee all season, and it was as flat as I've seen it. There were quite a few people, but not not as many as one might usually expect; I wonder if the pom backpackers being priced out of the country is reflected in the statistics anywhere.
After work snorkel at Little Bay, the beach setting of choice for photographers of ladies. The water was surprisingly clear, not too rough and I did see quite a few fish. Loads of blue bottles were washed up on the beach but I was fortunate not to meet any in the water, despite an on-shore breeze. The water is certainly getting warmer.
After work paddle at Gordons Bay. The onshore breeze had me worried before I got in, and sure enough I encountered an armada of bluebottles out in the bay. I got stung lightly across the inside of the elbow but otherwise came away OK. The water remains full of plant detritus so, while it hasn't been raining here, there must be a lot of runoff.
Early-evening snorkel at Gordons Bay, off the northern scuba ramp. Quite a few people still around, but parking was as easy as I hoped... it won't be like that for much longer. The water was a bit cool, even in a singlet, and fair murkier than usual, so I didn't see much. Fortuitously I ran into the mature blue groper a bit of a distance from his usual spot. Perfect day for it.
Early-evening snorkel at Long Bay. The water was flat, a tad cool and pretty cloudy so I didn't see much. I swam (with flippers and snorkel in a singlet) from the northern boat ramp to the southern; according to Google Maps that's about 350m. I didn't think I was that fit. I saw the wreck of a car, maybe the same one as from April last year — it was overgrown with seaweed, rusty and roofless. I also spotted a stingray trying hard to be inconspicuous. Otherwise it just the friendly little yelllow-finned guys.
One last afterwork snorkel before the storms roll in... that's if I can trust the BOM. The water was too murky to see much, and it was a bit cold and rough right out in the bay in just a singlet. Loads of dogs on the beach and in the water. The weather was perfect for it, even with a stiff onshore breeze.
Another after-work paddle at Gordons Bay. Loads of blue bottles had washed up on the sand but I didn't encounter any in the water. The water is decidedly cool below about 50cm.
After-work paddle at Gordons Bay, as this was the third day without rain (if I got it right). The water near the shore remains cool, but out in the bay proper it is quite OK, at least in a singlet. I ran into my first blue bottle of the season and was lucky that it didn't bring its mates, suffering just a mild sting on the left wrist and right forearm. Some blokes were trying to fish off the rocks midway along the bay.
Late afternoon snorkel at Cape Banks. After last time I figured I'd play it safe and wear the spring suit, which was wise as it wasn't any warmer. Visibility was pretty good but there wasn't a lot to see along the shoreline. Loads of people were out spearfishing, collecting abalone, doing whatever.
After-work paddle at Gordons Bay, from the scuba ramp. I must remember not to drive along Doncaster Avenue as the roadworks there are interminable. Strangely the water is coldest just at the shore, and gets warmer as one gets out into the bay proper.
After-work snorkel at Little Bay. The water was a bit too cold for just a singlet, and the waves large enough that visibility was a bit poor. Very happy to be back in the water though, given how little fine weather there's been this season.
Late afternoon snorkel at Cape Banks. There were loads of golfers out, and the water was too cold to be pleasant in just a singlet. I saw a few fish, including some yellow-striped juveniles who followed me around.
Five o'clock snorkel from the scuba ramp at Gordons Bay. Quite a few people around on this, the second of the first two consecutive days of fine weather in a long time. I got in in a singlet, and the water alternated between cold and quite warm as I swam out. Loads of fish, but no sign of the mature blue groper(s). Apparently tomorrow will be the same.
Mid-afternoon snorkel at Long Bay. Dad tells me it's the filthiest beach in Sydney, not due to the adjacent sewerage treatment works as one might suppose, but because of the huge storm water drain that empties onto the northern end. The water was fine in a spring suit and singlet, quite calm but with poor visibility. I didn't see much.
A snorkel in the rain with Rob. Up to 1:30pm or so the day was perfect for it, and then the storm blew in. We went anyway. The tide was out at Little Bay so we went much further out, past the rock break, than we usually do. Perhaps for that reason we spotted a stingray, the biggest I've seen, perhaps a metre across, and some Port Jackson sharks resting at the bottom of a crevasse in the rocks. The water was OK in a spring suit and singlet, with gloves. Visibility was excellent as the regular rain (and recent fine weather) has thoroughly cleaned the streets.
First snorkel of the season, with Rob at Gordons Bay in the mid-afternoon. The day was absolutely perfect for it, about 23° tops with a light north-easterly breeze. I got in wearing a singlet and the spring suit, and found the water bearable; we've gone in when it has been much colder. Some brave blokes went in in just their trunks. Apparently the water was about 18° according to the Manly Hydraulics Lab.
Perhaps due to it being a bit cooler, there were heaps of fish in the bay. We found one of the big mature blue gropers still hanging around the rocks down from the headland carpark, and quite a few immature ones of various sizes. I forgot the camera.
Early-afternoon snorkel at a fairly flat Gordons Bay. Great day for it, excellent visibility for the most part, fairly flat conditons. The water is definitely getting cooler, though a wife beater and a pair of gloves are enough to keep it at bay presently.
Early-afternoon snorkel with Rob off the southern end of Coogee. The day was calm with little swell, and the water warm enough. We got in next to the rock pool out the front of the surf life-saving club and headed around the rocks to Wylie's Baths. It is surprisingly shallow along there with heaps of rock shelves and reefs. Saw quite a few fish and this solitary squid who didn't seem particularly fazed by me. (This photo has been enhanced by iPhoto.)
After we got out a bloke told us that there were a few larger gropers to be found along that stretch. I guess we'll have to go back.
Mid-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Warmer in than out, I would say, bearable. Little to no wind, mild swell, looked clean enough. The clouds blowing through made the sea bottle-green.
Yet another mid-afternoon snorkel at Gordons Bay, from the scuba ramp on the northern side, swimming westwards. The weather is back to being perfect again, though the swell was large enough that visibility was mediocre. I didn't manage to find the huge blue groper. Andrew T tells me that they need to be quite old, circa fifty years, to get to that size. Difficult to believe with all the fisherpeople around.
Anyway, I did see quite a few younger gropers, and loads of the usual fish. I was surprised to find this stingaree in the sand, at a depth of two metres or so. It spent some time trying to splash sand over itself to blend in better. They seem to be shy but not retiring.
Making a habit of these morning snorkels, I headed down to Gordons Bay around 9am. The surf was a bit rough so I went westwards into the bay where I found loads of immature blue gropers. There were also some quite long things that looked like garfish but were swimming at depth, and heaps of the usual species. The water remains comfortable, the day is sunny and the wind mild. Visibility was only fair between the whitewater and plant litter. Getting out was more work than I wanted it to be.
I love the sound of tradies in the morning... My neighbour is getting her bathroom renovated and so I ventured half-asleep down to Gordons Bay for the first morning snorkel in a long time. I headed eastwards from the scuba ramp in search of the big groper but stopped when the whitewater got too heavy to see anything. There were a huge assembly of fish around that point. I eventually found him right in front of the ramp, chasing some females. The water was about the same temperature as the air (I'd say), something like 20-22 degrees. I got slaughtered by the cool off-shore breeze when I got out. Visibility was fair to good.
Early afternoon snorkel with Rob at Long Bay. We got in from the northern boat ramp and headed eastwards. Visibility was OK, not great, and the water noticeably cooler. Just the usual suspects were about.
Fine if only moderately warm day. I trekked down to Long Bay to see if I could spot some squid. Visibility was quite poor and all I saw were the usual suspects. Pleasant enough in, not much in the way of swell.
Quick paddle in the pool at the northern end of Coogee. The tide was out and so there was only about half a metre of water in the western end. Luckily I've learnt to swim in that much from my snorkelling launches...
Late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Too weary to really enjoy it; it has been a while since I got a decent sleep, as the flat opposite my bedroom window is being renovated. The tradies have been there every day for the past week (including this weekend) from 7:30am. Anyway, the water was fine, the sky and water clear. Probably would have been perfect for a snorkel.
Clovelly, Rob, gropers, stingaree, early evening, a bit rough but very clear, water a tad cool.
Mid-afternoon snorkel with a million others at Clovelly. Beautiful day, the water is supposedly still 22 degrees. As predicted by Rob, there were several mid-size gropers in the middle of the bay, and some large-ish fish. What I've been calling macklin are in fact Eastern Garfish.
Mid-afternoon coffee and paddle at Coogee with Albert. The water is definitely getting cooler, but the weather is holding out, despite the BOM's forecast of showers and thunder and all that. We tried swimming out to the pool at the northern end, but gave up and walked like all sane people do.
Yet another early-afternoon snorkel at Gordons Bay. The surf was about the same as yesterday, but visibility was a bit better. The water remains a perfect temperature. I didn't see any of the big blue gropers today, and I'm wondering why.
Yet another snorkel at Gordons Bay, in the late afternoon in some fairly rough surf. Visibility was a lot poorer than it has been, though the water remains warm. There was a fair bit of light and loads of fish in the bay itself; I found one of the male gropers straight in front of the scuba ramp.
I invited Rob, Sandy and Albert for a snorkel today, at the same place I've been going to these past three days. We were quite slow in starting, getting in around 2:30pm. I gave the camera to Rob and this is the best photo he took, of the first of the three large mature male gropers we saw. I think they got progressively larger as we headed east along the headland. It is damn hard to get a photo that captures these magnificently languid creatures in perspective. Sandy didn't last too long as the water is definitely cooler than it has been: barely 22 degrees according to the life savers at Clovelly!
There were heaps of people around as it was an absolutely perfect day, and the water remains quite clear. I should head back and see what I can find in Clovelly.
I had to go back to Gordons Bay and try to get some photos of that huge groper I saw yesterday. I'm not altogether sure this is the same fish; this one liked ducking back under some rocks during the photoshoot, and I think yesterday's was significantly larger. The water seemed a bit cloudier than yesterday (perhaps due to me having the camera with me) and a little rougher with a mild northerly breeze.
Mid-afternoon snorkel at Gordons Bay. The water has been too clear for too many days now not to snorkel. I got in at the scuba ramp on the northern (Clovelly) side. The tide being out made it a bit challenging, scrambling over the half-exposed rocks with gear in hand. I saw a huge blue groper, the biggest I've ever laid eyes on, more than a metre long, fat and cobalt-blue. Of course I didn't take my camera. Also a smaller one, some squid, and schools of juvenile marlin (?) and a jet-black fish I know not what, and the usual suspects. Lots of larger fish about presently.
Late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. A few people out snorkelling, a couple of blokes mucking around in a row boat. About the same as yesterday: absolutely perfect. Flat as, incredibly clear.
Got back to Sydney yesterday afternoon and probably should have gone for a swim. Today was just as perfect. The water is noticeably cooler than it was last time I was in, flat and very clear but with lots of street material at the fringes. There is a massive infestation of backpackers presently. Would have been perfect for a snorkel.
Mid-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. All round absolutely perfect — the water is quite warm, the day temperate, little wind and some waves.
I went for a mid-afternoon snorkel with Rob at Cape Banks, our second foray to the aquatic reserve beyond the golf course. The rescue helicopter was returning from somewhere-or-other, and I hope the rescuee survived.
We leisurely snorkelled from the south-eastern corner of the island eastwards towards the wreck. There were loads of fish out, the usual suspects for the most part, though I did see a fairly large maroon-coloured cat fish. Rob got this photo, again so much better than my usual efforts. One has to get up close and stick the camera in the creatures' faces.
Weather-wise today slotted between the short drizzle of yesterday and the promise of storms for the foreseeable.
Late afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. The water was a bit filthy, but not too bad. Beautiful temperature and quite a clear day.
Lunch and an early-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Strong on-shore wind and relatively large surf (even some breakers). Pleasant enough in but not very tranquil.
Bloody hot day. I figured I'd try snorkelling at Little Bay, for it has been a while since I was there last. The building of Stocklandton continues apace. The water was warm, clean and clear though I didn't see much. Three blue bottles right near the sand should have forcibly ejected the constituent zooid who was responsible for inflating the sail in these conditions.
Early evening paddle at Gordons Bay. Loads of people on the northern side near the scuba ramp, which looked somewhat like a postcard from some European beach. No rubbish in the water meant that it would have been great for a snorkel. The sea was a lot calmer than yesterday. Quite warm out, 30 degrees earlier in the day, and very pleasant in. About as perfect as it gets.
I met up with Pete R. around midday and walked with him to Bondi along the coastal walk. I haven't been along that track in many years, and the improvements are vast. We had lunch at the park in Bronte, where the beach was closed, as was Tamarama due to some hefty surf. Bondi itself was relatively tame, and surprisingly uncrowded.
The days are definitely getting shorter again, the sun sets before 8pm now. Yet another early-evening paddle around an almost entirely deserted Gordons Bay. Some sea birds (maybe gulls, I dunno, I didn't have my glasses on) were dive-bombing for fish quite near the beach. The water was warm and less choppy than yesterday. A moderate amount of leaf litter and sundry crap in the water.
Late-afternoon snorkel with Rob at Gordons Bay. The sea was continues to be unsettled so we didn't see much. We poked around the northern scuba-ramp and swam across the bay to what we hoped would be the more sheltered southern rocks. I think I saw some juvenile gropers. Very pleasant in the water, though there was a lot of matter suspended in it.
Thinking that it had been more than a day since the last rain, and trying to get in ahead of the forecast shower, I went for an early-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. The surf was quite rough even in the bay, due to an apparently 2.5 to 3.5 metre swell, and there was a fair bit of leaf litter, seaweed and garbage in the water. The wind was quite stiff, resulting in a lot of whitewater. A bloke was trying to fish near my hop-in rocks, but quit while I was in the water.
I knew the rain was coming as the BOM had forecast it continuously for the past few days. The storm was late by about 90 minutes, rolling in around 7:30pm, snuffing out any chance of the Windies making the last two games of the one-day series worth watching, and otherwise unfolded as predicted. Somewhat amazingly Sydney dams went up 5% this past week.
Knowing this I went for an early-afternoon snorkel at Long Bay. Malabar was fairly dead, and the council was blasting the organic matter off the walls of the pool. I didn't see anything worth talking about, just the usual suspects. After all this time I figured I'd better get working on a duck-dive. The after-school traffic all along Anzac Parade and Avoca Street is totally ridiculous.
Getting in while the getting in is good: last night was damn hot and I slept badly. Zombified today. Had a late-afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay that was more soporific and aerobic. Big nimbus and some not-quite-condensed storm clouds blew through just before I got there, so grey skies but no rain. Slightly windy, warm water, very clean. An English couple were trying to fish in the middle of the bay.
Early evening paddle at Gordons Bay. It has been raining heavily for several weeks, so this was my first opportunity in quite a while. The water looked clear, with no garbage on the beach or in the water. I am so unfit.
Mid-afternoon paddle at Long Bay. I intended to eat lunch and go snorkeling but forgot the gear, so I simply went for a swim from the southern boat launch. Pleasant enough in the water. The clouds were as threatening as they have been for the past few weeks.
One of the most famous motifs in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children is the land-reclaiming tetrapods of Bombay, which presumably look something like these. I found this pile of regular tetrahedrons right next to the old boat launch, and wonder what their purpose was.
Yet another early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay, slightly later (7pm) than my usual time (6:15pm). Again, storm clouds, deserted, but with some larger waves due to the stiff breeze blowing on-shore. The water was clean, and still no precipitation worth mentioning...
Early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay. The weather is so weird, almost completely overcast and grey, reminding me of Göteborg, but little rain, just some thunder and distant lightning. The bay was deserted apart from the joggers. Quite clean too, as according to Pete R. it hasn't rained down there much either.
OK, so the big storm they warned about did blow in around 7:20pm...
Early-evening paddle at an almost entirely abandoned Gordons Bay. The water was cleaner than I expected after the recent inclement weather. Apparently the overcast, steamy and occasionally stormy conditions will continue for a week or more.
Early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay. More people than usual about, probably due to the heat of the day, and the day being Friday. The water was a lot cleaner than last time. I wonder if anyone came along and cleaned out the rubbish, or if it somehow cleaned itself. Loads of seaweed on the beach.
Spent the day in Woy Woy with Nell. We hoped to go snorkelling somewhere. The surf on Putty Beach was huge, and the lifesavers had closed it, so we ended up at Lobster Beach, within the Bouddi National Park, a short and steep walk from near Wagstaffe. To our chagrin there was a dredging boat not far off the coast doing laps, reducing underwater visibility to centimetres, so we could really only go for a lazy paddle.
Afterwards we had some decent pub grub at the ancient Woy Woy hotel after an extensive and ultimately fruitless search for a pub with water views in the greater Woy Woy / Gosford area. It's all suburbia, every last square metre. I think most people patronise the bottle shops and drink on the shorelines.
Late-afternoon snorkel at Little Bay. Beyond the rocks the surf was quite rough, and indeed visibility was poor and I didn't see much. I had a group of tiny fish follow me around the bay, which they've done before when I've been there with Rob.
Late-afternoon paddle at a mild Gordons Bay. The sky was remarkably clear of clouds, the water and air was warm, so it seemed like much earlier in the day. Lots of rubbish at the point where I usually get in, plastic and leaf litter.
Early-evening paddle at Gordons Bay, running a bit of a risk after the recent rain. The water was very pleasant. Too lazy to go very far.
Mid-afternoon snorkel off the southern boat ramp at Long Bay. Beautiful day for it, being so damn hot. The water was cloudy but warm enough. I spotted about six squid (so Rob tells me) in a row, going nowhere.
Late afternoon paddle at Gordons Bay. Massive infestation of underage drinkers, apparently starting their final school year in a month or so. Despite the booze they were remarkably civilized. The water was warm, though there was the same vast amounts of crap as there was at Coogee yesterday.
Mid-afternoon paddle with mrak and Pete R. at Coogee, which was as packed as I've seen it this summer. We had a few beers at the Palace afterwards, which was similarly packed. Pete takes his shovel to the beach, eliciting interest from just about everyone.
Early afternoon snorkel at Cape Banks with Bernie and Hui Nie. The water was surprisngly cold, perhaps the coldest I've been in since early summer. Loads of fish. We made it around to the wreck, but it doesn't extend into the water as far as I could tell. I spotted a cuttle fish, huge and brown, but it disappeared by the time I got into photographing position. Dang.
I did manage to take the best photo I've managed yet, though: this strange looking thing obliging sat in fairly shallow water quite close to where we got in, and wasn't at all perturbed by our swimming over the top of it.
Peaceful mid-afternoon snorkel at Little Bay. Quite a few people about and a wedding at the chapel on the bluff. The brown-paper-bag building projects continue apace. Some remind me of of the studio prefab I lived in at Chalmers — flimsy, built for a price, and not designed to outlast the time it takes for the developer to cash his cheque and buy the Ferarri.
Saw heaps of fish. The water was mostly quite warm, with a little swell.
Early evening paddle in a fairly calm and abandoned Gordons Bay. Perfect water temp, light winds, lots of joggers.
Midday snorkel at Long Bay. The water remains temperate, though visibility wasn't as good as it has been, and the wind made things choppy. I saw a cuttlefish which teased me by changing colours several times — translucent to seaweed and back — before scooting off.
Early-afternoon paddle with Pete R. and his kids at a totally flat Coogee. Quite a few people there but not as many as one might expect on a summer weekend, perhaps due to the thunderstorm that was threatening the whole time and blew in from the south around 1pm. I went back at dusk on my lonesome for another paddle after a vegie risotto dinner with Pete, Beth, Danny, Frankie and the kids.