The phrase “Time and Tide wait for no man”, or more correctly man or women, is a common phrase but what does it really mean. The common conception is that it’s a call to action, to do it now, with urgency.
That phrase came to mind prompting action stations as my kayak plunged into the short sharp wave in front at exactly the same time as another hit me beam on and the one behind broke on my rear deck. Oh what fun, buried up to my armpits in a low volume skeg kayak, in a following sea, in 3 metres of water driven by wind gusting over 20 knots.
But back to the beginning. I had been invited to join 2 distinguished gentleman paddlers on a 20+km sea kayak paddle in the northern reaches of Spencer Gulf where we would visit Cockle Spit. Aptly named because it’s a bar that is formed of cockle shells and is dry at lower tides. Steve and Greg are locals to this area.
We arrived earlier so that we could ride the nearby mountain bike tracks at Willowie forest, with Steve as our guide. Riding in 36 degree heat (C not F) is certainly taxing but fun. Settled in the beachside park we watched the sunset and Robyn chased a few photo opportunities.
Back to the present. The day had started calm, with the knowledge of increasing wind, as we left the Port Pirie harbour making our way past large ships docked in the channel.
We followed the channel markers as they weaved their way into open water, leaving the Mangrove trees behind.
The wind increased, as predicted, making for a slightly bumpy, but not unpleasant, 16km paddle until we had Cockle Spit in sight. Actually, you can’t see the Spit until your almost on it but you can use line of sight from various markers to navigate. Steve led Greg and myself to the calm inside of the Spit for a well earned break.
The wind increased again, adding another layer of complexity to the paddle. Steve and Greg decided to push the boundaries of their Mirage kayaks by hoisting their kayak sails. That put my ego under serious pressure, so I engaged warp drive to keep up. Luckily, they soon decided that sailing was a little precarious in these conditions and reverted to paddle power alone.
We made reasonable headway considering the conditions and soon had the Port Germein jetty in sight. I noticed a change in water color at the end of the jetty which is 1.2 km long. Then I realised why Steve had insisted we all had a kayak trolley with us. The tide goes out over 1.5 km in the bay and that sand colored water was indeed sand. So when we ran out of water we simply hooked up the trolley and walked making it more of a biathlon than simple paddle. Steve insisted that we should have made it a triathlon by all going for a swim but Greg and I declined.
Cockle Spit had previously had a tide clock erected in the channel telling ship captains what the tide was at the time. Ships would enter the harbor and anchor whilst being loaded with wheat and other produce by smaller vessels called Lighters.
The Tide Clock has been salvaged and is now housed at the beginning of the jetty as a reminder of an era when navigation was a tricky affair.
The Jetty previously had a lighthouse at the end of the jetty and that has also been restored and placed on land.
Complete with sculptures the Jetty precinct is a nice place to wander, especially the nearby coffee shop.
An interesting paddle in an unusual location with a fair bit of wind and wave thrown in for good measure. We learned later that winds had been strong near our home in Adelaide resulting in downed trees and power lines.
Robyn and I are heading into the Southern Flinders Ranges for gravel road and mtb track riding and some serious Bakery visiting. Time and Tide wait for no man or women. Do it now !