A Fickle Wind

I awoke before dawn and felt the wind on my face. The forecast last night had been reasonable for a solo kayak excursion with a 10 knot breeze predicted in the morning. Standing on the cliff it felt strange indeed with wind seeming to shift and swirl and certainly well above 10 knots. Maybe it would ease at dawn as it often does along this coast. Indeed a fickle wind.

The lighthouse on Troubridge Hill was still beaming seaward and stars were still visible in the sky as I made my way to the launch site.

Troubridge Hill Lighthouse beaming seaward from the hill

As the sun rose I had a better idea of the conditions from my protected bay, with the wind gusting to 15 knots close inshore. The binoculars showed confused conditions further offshore with standing waves tossing about on the Troubridge Shoal which I needed to traverse if I was to visit Troubridge Island and its’ heritage lighthouse.

I consulted with a local and it seemed not likely to ease any time soon and suggested I find a sheltered spot to enjoy the day .

Getting local knowledge can be hard at times

Paddling solo is always full of challenges especially when my route was 8km offshore traversing the Troubridge Shoal which had been the site of so many shipwrecks and groundings. I sat and waited for a while hoping to see some improvement in the conditions but there was none.

Safety first. Decision made. NO offshore paddling today. I thought about my alternatives; I could do some snorkelling and photography under the Edithburgh Jetty……

I might even meet a mermaid

..or I could hit the beaches on the Fatbike or paddle along the more protected section of the coast, staying well inshore. The Paddle idea won out so I put on the coffee and relaxed a while.

I launched at the Edithburgh marina finding that I was the only vessel heading out today. The plan was to head north towards Wool Bay visiting Coobowie along the way and depending on the wind paddle back or be collected by Robyn.

I was soon out into a 12-15 knot tailwind which sent me rocketing along the coast past the Sea Swimmimg Pool which had a population at this time of day of one.

Robyn and I had visited the pool the previous night when conditions had been calm and the temperature warmer.

The Pool at night was a nice place to relax.

The marina was also calm last night with the moon reflecting on the water.

The marina bathed in moonlight the previous night

I was soon gliding along enjoying the exercise in company with a local dolphin pod. Unfortunately they were camera shy because as soon as I stopped paddling and grabbed the camera they shot off underwater.

The waters close inshore can be shallow with jagged limestone outcrops to keep you on your toes but overall I had quite an easy down wind paddle towards the oyster beds at Coobowie. I weaved in and around them enjoying the clear water.

Oyster bed structures

Gliding along in clear water made for easy fish spotting

I spotted a variety of fish as well as stingrays in the shallows and an interesting “foul ground” marker.

The float is an aluminium beer keg. Hope they emptied it first.

I ventured further along the coast before turning for home and into a headwind. The return trip was quite uneventful as I stayed in close inshore and out of the worst of the headwind. Returning to Edithburgh I paddled under the jetty noting the damage done by recent storms.

The stairs are closed and held together with chains and strong ropes.

I landed quietly in the marina being the only person to be seen.

My solo paddle to Troubridge Island and it’s historical Lighthouse will have to wait until another day.

Happy Paddling
Ian Pope

Disaster training

Training for Disaster is a philosophy I try to encompass in all aspects of my training as it helps me push the boundaries of my dwindling kayaking skills. I try to look at my kayak skills in different ways and identify the right way and the wrong way. Sometimes it helps to get it wrong in order to improve.

When practicing landing in surf I do it the right way, waiting for a smaller wave to pass under me then paddling after it to chase it shoreward, sliding gracefully up onto the beach and the wrong way, catching the wave, usually broaching the seakayak and having to support stroke as it is bounced along.

Paddle onto the back of a small wave and follow it to shore.

Sometimes you have to wait for a smaller set of waves

Get it right and you will slide gently onto the sand.

Steve shows how it’s done landing between larger sets of waves

Pick the wrong wave and you might meet disaster.

Sometimes you miscalculate badly. That’s me in there somewhere holding onto my paddle

Practicing for the times that you get it wrong will increase your confidence and your ability to recover after errors of judgement and can even make for a lot of fun. You don’t need huge waves to improve skills so try to practice every time you go kayaking.

Often the fun can be just getting out there…..

I was trying to stay dry today !!

Then there are paddlers I know who don’t need to “Train For Disaster”. Disaster is their middle name and part of their everyday paddling life, providing lots of fun moments, some of which are caught on camera like this one.

All Washed Up.  I have no idea what happened here…..but it looks impressive

Cheers ….Ian Pope.

Happy “Hump Day”

 

“Happy Hump Day” to all you worker bees out there. Yep, it’s Wednesday and my Urban Dictionary confirms Wednesday has been  known as hump day since at least the 1950’s. The expression figures Wednesday, the middle of the workweek, as the hump people get over to coast into the weekend.

But it’s also when us “no longer working” paddlers decide to paddle “The Hump” surf break. The text came in early this morning.

“Looks good. Get up. There’s light outside”.

So out of bed, on with surf kayak and hit the road. Unfortunately we also hit major roadworks and two accidents that brought us to a standstill on the way there, but the surf was good all morning.

I don’t want to make you too jealous so I have just grabbed 5 photos to show how much fun we had. Sun shining, water not too cold yet and only a few people on the beach.

Ian on a nice clean face

Steve breaking right

Mr Cool heading back into a green wave face

This could be nasty !!!

The Curtain comes down and wipes him out

Well that’s it for today from Steve and Ian.  Thanks to Robyn our ever patient photographer.

When Night Falls

I slip the spraydeck over the kayak coaming as a small wave washes under the kayak. Grabbing my paddle I feel the  surge lift the hull and I’m free of the land. I take a few strokes into the blackness and feel the bow rise again this time a flood of water pours over the kayak followed soon after by another wave that sends water pouring over my head.

Well that’s a nice introduction to night paddling. Luckily it’s not mid winter when the cold water drenching would have really questioned my sanity.

When the sun goes down the familiar seascape fades and takes you to the twilight zone, where the familiar horizon disappears and a small distance ahead becomes your whole world.

Distances seem difficult to calculate, even when paddling along a coastline lit up by the city lights. Familiar cliffs and beaches along the regular route seem to be somehow different and the small line of white water crashing onto the beach seems louder than ever.

Into the darkness…Photo by Gavin Lodge

Sometimes you are lucky and the wind drops to give you amazing glassy conditions. You can glide along while taking in the beauty of coastal silhouettes. Photography takes on a new dimension.

The rising Moon can give you some amazing effects on the water

Paddling with others can be both challenging and fun. Experienced night paddlers seem able to anticipate each others actions and reactions allowing a certain amount of freedom without compromising safety.

Getting happy snaps of your fellow paddlers in the dark becomes challenging but often rewarding.Sometimes it’s a wrestle with the camera to get a focus point and then you get a lot of flare from the reflective material on kayaking gear. I have gone from a Canon point and shoot style camera to a Nikon DSLR and sometimes the increased complexity pays dividends and sometimes it doesn’t. Practice with the Nikon will eventually pay off !

A calm night with no moon made for an great paddle with Mike, Michael, Steve and Mark along our local coast and I even got a few reasonable shots. The stars were visible as the clouds cleared making for a lovely night on the water.

Mike and Mark enjoying the night sky.

Steve enjoying the new experience of night paddling in calm clear waters

Michael is an old hand at night excursions having done many miles in winter training along the coast

Calm conditions allow more time to enjoy the surroundings and try for more photos

The man made structures take on a different look as you glide past, with their lights reflected in the water.

An oasis of light

The coastline of the city seems deserted when you can’t make out any human movement along the normally busy boardwalks.

Fingers of light

As you meander further offshore the city becomes a ribbon of light on the horizon.

The camera wants to take a long exposure. Just a little difficult bobbing along at sea

Very occasionally my paddle will “double dip”, showing both sunset and moon rise, which is amazing. Often I begin just before sunset allowing me time to organise my gear without torch light and this presents other photo opportunities.

On a calm hot night the best place to be is on the water

Spotted passing a beach sculpture

Over the years there have been memorable “night landings”. Miscalculating the landing spot and capsizing in a stinking bed of rotting seaweed (much to others amusement) ranks high among the experiences on offer as does landing on a “deserted beach” that was soon deserted by a couple of lovers.

The other challenge is finding all your gear in the darkness. Hmmm….where did I put those car keys ?  I had them in my hand a few minutes ago. Hey everyone; anyone seen my car keys ?

It’s fun to be a little out of your comfort zone and night paddling can easily do that.

Cheers
Ian

 

New Years Resolutions

I sat deep in thought. Another year has passed me by and there are still so many things not done. Oh I’m not concerned about the garden around our cottage that’s not been tended the way it should or the shed that still remains a bit of a clutter, but more about the paddles that I haven’t completed yet and the surf breaks that remain unpaddled.

The end of the year was marked by a nice swell at the local spot and I had just spent the last little while riding some nice glassy waves with fellow paddler Steve King, or Steve…King of England as he likes to be known due to his English heritage and now I was finishing my double shot coffee and large sticky bun as is my custom after surf paddling.

I decided on the things that I want more of.
I want to wake to more mornings like this.

A clean swell and no wind in the early morning.

I want many more paddles like this with friends.

Easy take off on a green face

A nice small wave to start the day

I said go RIGHT Steve….the OTHER RIGHT

Steve finishes with a nice slide towards shore

Sometimes the waves rebuild only to finish with a steep break

Steve leans back as it’s about to give him a dunking

This one will do

Hmm….. not the best choice of waves

I want many more moments like those and probably a few less of these, although they seem to come as a set.

Bugger…..He got me again !!!

But aside from paddling my list of NY Resolutions will include;

More guitar practice for my lessons at Glenelg Guitar Studio with Leigh.
More time spent travelling the southern coastline with Robyn.
More time drinking good shiraz from Koltz Wines with Paddler Gavin.
More time doing lots of things except gardening and shed clearing.

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Ian and Robyn