Hundreds of surfers turned out at Sandon Point on Saturday morning to send off well-known Thirroul photographer Clarrie Bouma.
His older sister, Helena Heidenreich, 72, joined the paddle out and said she had been overwhelmed by the turnout.
"It's amazing," she said. "Such a tribute to my brother. There were 300 people there.
"I think he would have been a bit embarrassed actually.
"But he did much for so many people, he could talk to little ones, big ones, young people, older people and he just had this wonderful empathy with human beings.
"He related to everybody, and he grew up here so he knew everyone."
An artist, photographer, singer and teacher, Mr Bouma died of cancer on Monday..
His family held a private funeral earlier in the week but wanted a way to publicly - and safely - acknowledge his strong ties to the northern suburbs.
The paddle out was organised by his son, Woodie, who asked all who wanted to join in the paddle out to meet at 8am at Mr Bouma's favourite spot.
Most were locals, but family and friends also travelled from around NSW to take part.
Afterwards, some of the surfers joined family members on the grass near the headland while songs sung by Mr Bouma were broadcast out by large speakers.
"My tears welled up when I first heard his voice going out this morning," Ms Heidenreich said.
"We're going to miss him so much. He was such an unbelievable brother and person, and he'll live in our hearts and our minds forever.
We depend on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe here. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.