Lashing with rain as the silver bullet pulls up behind The Bathers Pavilion at Balmoral and the surfmuppet hops out to go in search of Vlad and his band of intrepid Impalers.
Finds them huddled en masse by a tree to the left of the Balmoral Beach Club, stripping off, getting the vaso on and not worrying too much about the sun block. Great big purple black clouds lurk over the heads in the distance, the colour of punched eyes the morning after a drunken brawl up the Cross. The lashing of the rain increases with a fury so that the safest place to be is in the water. Which is a murky green colour and full of bull sharks. Nice choice.
Forgot parking – race back to the silver bullet, stopping by the bank on the way to get a second mortgage to feed the parking meter. Not enough cash, need to use the plastic which various parking meters – infernal machines, the work of the devil – won’t read because the reader slot is dripping wet. By the time SM gets back the Impalers are walking towards the water with Vlad exhorting his minions to be brave while dragging his kayak along the sand.
Muppet leaping about under the tree between sheets of rain trying to get his gear off, sling the bag into the back of Vlad’s car which is by now jam packed with Impaler baggage, and runs to the water to join the happy throng.
Compared to the land and the soggy wet sand the water is tropical island warm. The pack sets off south towards Rocky Point, the rocky promontory which divides Hunters Bay into Edwards Beach in front of the Pavilion and the Bathing Club, and Balmoral Beach south of Rocky Point. First destination the swimming baths on the southern end of Balmoral beach. Then turn back north again, past Rocky Point and up into Middle Harbour, destination Rosherville Reserve bay. Then back down again. Repeat until your arms fall off.
Pretty soon it’s the same old story – the Peloton disappearing into the distance with Vlad scooting alongside on his kayak. Muppet and an English Channelateer team up and end up getting a bit lost amongst all the yachts moored up at the southern end of Hunters Bay. Spy the Peloton hooning away back north up the bay so set off in fast (well, kinda sluggish) pursuit. Back at Rocky Point who turns up out of the blue but Big John and Fearless Fiona and thus our happy pod of four steams away up middle harbour in search of the elusive Impaler Peloton. Hit occasional seams of icy cold water, hoping it’s not stormwater being channeled into the bay via secret pipelines.
By this stage it’s evident that the legendary bull sharks of Sydney Harbour are having the day off and are having none of the foul weather up on the surface. Down below in Neptune’s Bar and Grill they’re getting drunk on octopus ink wine and singing the bull shark blues.
On with the swim. To the east the skull white edifice of Grotto Point Lighthouse in the Sydney Harbour National Park is a good reference point to progress but it seems to be stationary for a while, indicating a bit of a current going south. The English Channelateer takes a line in the middle of the water course while surfmuppet, Fearless Fiona and Big John form a trio and go in close to the small cliffs on the western side.
Great underwater scenery with lots of reef, shoals of small fish, billowing clumps of sea weed, the rich and famous in the mansions above chomping away on their bacon and eggs while looking down on the aquanauts gliding past below.
Turn the corner into Rosherville Reserve bay and there in the distance is the elusive Peloton with Vlad and his kayak. By the time we get there they’ve flown the coup so it’s a guick pep talk from the V-Man and back again to the swimming.
The trip back south seems to go faster supporting the muppet’s theory of a current in play. Bit of a swell coming through the heads which makes passing too close to the reefs along the way a bit dicey. One of the guys later gets a nasty gash on the hand from miscalculating this.
But back to happier times – the feeding session back at the jumping off point. Load up on the carbs and the water. Charm stands guard over the goodies in a white full length rain coat with hood. Shoos the trio back into the water and it’s off again for the loop back down to the swimming baths and back again.
Half way across Hunters Bay the rain starts to bucket down so the surface of the water looks like the sizzling hot surface of oil in a frying pan. Passing by Rocky Point, Big John gives Fearless Fiona a shock by grabbing hold of her ankle for the laugh. She retaliates by threatening to dak him there and then and has a go. The rain lashes down while the pair go at each other. The muppet tries to bring a mature tone to the proceedings but decides on the Falstaffian notion of discretion being the better part of valour. Once the pair settle down it’s back to the beach where Charm cuts a forlorn figure standing alone on the strand. Fearless Fiona gets to get out while Charm hunts Big John and the muppet back into the water for more torture.
Half way back across the bay the sky goes black as if the full fury of Mordor is about to be unleashed and the five Wraiths mounted on flying dragons are set to swoop down. Big John and the muppet freak each other out with tales of swimmers getting fried to a crisp by lightning strikes on days such as this so the pair swim back to the tucker box in the hope of slinking past Charm while she’s not looking.
No such luck and the pair are busted before they’re half way up the sand. She relents to the pleas for mercy and then it’s hot showers for the boys, joined by various members of the Peloton as they return to the land of the living. Clocked at two and a bit hours water time and about 6kms for the pair.
On the way back to the silver bullet spy the Awaba Cafe and order up a coffee to go. Chat to some of the Peloton-ers who’d finished ages ago and have just polished off breakfast. Crank up the heating in the bullet, wipers on full bore, over the hills of Mosman and back to the world.
Christ almighty, sounds more like a chapter from Lord of the Rings than a swim around a couple of bays. Mr MM and I might end up joining you (she says from comfort of home).