Day 30 Pottsville – Coolangatta

Waking up knowing I was now well and truly in qld waters was amazing, I was ready surprisingly quickly for a change and it was the morning logistics that delayed the paddle start.

The conditions were due to spike a little seeing an increase in swell however the conditions were in my favour all coming from the south. So with the sun in the sky, the jet ski launched in the closest river mouth (20 min drive away) and making its way towards the starting location on the beach I was feeling optimistically good! Nic walked me to the beach from our accommodation at the Hurley High Performance Surf Centre, it was a fun walk as we winded our way through the stunning community of Salt, the houses, the temperature, the location all scream good times at me!

Once arriving on the beach I really stopped to take in the conditions, this was becoming a much more crucial role for me now as I no longer had my watermen with me pre assessing the conditions, it was all on me now. I looked at the conditions and watches as it began to build in the 20 minutes I watched the water, the lul’s between sets were sporadic and conditions were deteriorating with the southerly winds. I looked at Nic and said I can’t paddle out through this, I need somewhere protected from the south, a point, a headland or whatever but I cant battle these open beaches and compete with the elements.

Mark on the ski finally reached the open beach where we stood, I told him I wasn’t happy about paddling out in these conditions. He said he could put me and the board on the ski and go out. I wasn’t feeling it and went with my gut, as Nic and I turned and walked back to the accommodation to grab the car and drive to the nearest headland I turned and took one last look over my shoulder at the surf, just at that moment I saw Mark get completely engulfed by a wave that stood up well above him as he attempted to punch through it on the ski. That was the moment I reconfirmed with myself that yes I made the right decision.

Nic ran back and got the car to save me walking with the board, I literally felt like we were on a mission and again there was a time frame as we raced the elements. We drove down the coast to a pretty popular point break protected by a massive headland. We parked on top of the lookout and I knew this was my only shot at getting out through the swell. There was a few surfers in the water and as I stood and observed what the conditions were doing. As the swell came towards shore it hit the headland and wrapped around in a u shape breaking on 2 separate sandbanks. The waves were punchy and breaking fast, I knew if I got caught in the swell id be thrown onto rocks. I was nervous about this launch that’s for sure, but I had to suck up my nerves enough to be able to think clearly and get this done!

I walked down a rocky staircase to the ocean fairly timidly, again I stood with my feet in the water just observing what the ocean was doing. I picked my moment to go after counting the seconds in between sets.

I raced out into the surf with so much adrenalin as I knew in a few moments id see giant mountain sized lumps of water rolling towards me. I flew out past the surfers as they cheered and yelled support at me, which was pretty cool but I had no intention to slow down until I knew I was in deep water.

I positioned myself pretty far off shore and turned and began to ride the swell and wind north towards Snapper Rocks. I was simply grateful to have the elements on my side!

The day went fairly quickly, I paddled past islands and negotiated the different currents and conditions they present in the open water between them and main land Australia! I also paddled past a head of DPI baited hooks that are supposed to lure sharks towards them.

As I got closer towards Snapper I passed a giant sand dredging jetty and the river mouth entrance, I was literally around the corner from my destination and I was so pleased that my board and my body were in one piece and I actually felt great! I was running off Redbull and Coconut water for the day and this contrast of concoctions seriously worked!

Paddling around the snapper point was very surreal, I’ve never seen it from that far out in the water it looked so different to how I know it! I paddled into the beach where Nic was already there waiting for me to grab my board! I gave him my board pulled my hair out and stayed in the water paddling around and swimming in the warm clear gutter just in front of the break. I was nice to have a relaxed finish and enjoy the water enough to stay in it!


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