August is usually the coldest month of the year in Apollo Bay. The forecast for last Friday was for an intense low pressure system and a couple of associated cold fronts to bring very strong and cold winds to the west coast, and indeed to the whole state. Winds in the 50-60 knot range were forecast. Snow was forecast down to low levels. A sizeable swell would be expected with such a weather pattern, and was forecast.
So it was that I forsook my Friday early-morning ocean swim and headed west for Pt Campbell with my camera, an hour before first light, to see what the southern ocean looked liked in such conditions. The recorded wind at Cape Otway (see right) at 0519 was 85kph (46 knots).
The red dot on the BoM rain radar screen shot is Apollo Bay. It’s on the protected side of Cape Otway and accordingly doesn’t feel the full force of weather and swell from the west and south west. In fact a westerly wind is directly offshore at Apollo Bay’s east-facing beach. Pt Campbell and the adjacent coast line on the other hand are ‘around the corner’ on the weather side of the cape, and take the full force of weather and swell from the west and south west.
It all looked very promising for being at the right spot at the right time, as far as big storms and big seas go.
The pre-dawn attempt at driving to Port Campbell to witness the storm and big seas
Plan B – an ocean swim at Apollo Bay
There was a strong offshore wind at Apollo Bay. There was certainly some swell, but it was much smaller than forecast. So, the pre-dawn photographic mission to Pt Campbell having been aborted and perhaps not a lot lost in terms of photographic opportunities, I settled for a solo swim in squally weather conditions at AB with my GoPro camera. What a contrast the offshore conditions at AB were to the wild white ocean at Castle Cove and points west.