The Streaky Bay

The water was glassy calm. That sort of calm that makes the horizon hard to distinguish and gives you a strange feeling of imbalance. The only sound was that of birds passing overhead and the swish of the paddle as we glided along the coastline, cutting through the crystal clear water.

We found our way through the reefy shallows to a quiet beach to stretch our legs and observe the local bird life.

We then headed along the coast towards the entrance to the bay, investigating oyster beds and having a conversation with the local Black Faced Cormorants.

Pointing seaward we sensed an approaching weather change. There was no change in the water conditions but there was a warning in the sky.

Many, many years ago I was told by Peter Carter, a Senior Sea Kayak Instructor, to look up and observe the sky where you will find many answers to the weather. Peter has been around for a long time, some say since the Jurassic Period, and certainly he knows his weather patterns for Southern Australia.

The first indicator of an impending change was in the sky. Streaky Cirrus clouds fanning out across the horizon.

With Peter’s good advice in mind we headed to a safe shore and explored the ocean side of Streaky Bay on foot.

The ocean side is spectacular, rugged and unforgiving.

The wind was increasing but there were still some reasonable waves for the local surfers.

I saw a sign that said “Pearly Gates” 1 km ahead, but I’m not sure if these are the ones.

 Streaky Bay is said to be “Heaven” for surfers and Sea kayakers and for Carcharadon carcharias. (Great White Shark)

 As I write this the wind is registering over 30knots and increasing. Looks like it will be quite a night in this gale.  Cheers Ian Pope.

P.S. I should give Peter Carter his correct title.
Peter Carter BA, BEd, Dip Ed, MACS (Snr), OAM. The last one is the Medal of the Order of Australia received for “services to Canoeing”. Also, a long list of canoe and kayak instructor awards and Life Memberships should be noted. Plus he’s one the few sea kayakers that are older than me. 😊

Let’s jump straight to SUMMER

I vote we jump straight to Summer. Forget about Spring; do we really need it? Winter was tough with lots of time spent mountain biking in the Flinders Ranges and snow falling to blanket the trails. I hate the cold.

But I knew how to raise the temperature almost immediately. I bought myself a kayaking drysuit from Liquid Life and Canoes Plus in Melbourne. Not only did I have instant body heat but during the first use at rolling training it reached 30 degrees Celsuis. I nearly cooked. What a strange sight it must have been with me flopping about in a pillar box red drysuit while others strolled past in board shorts and bikinis.

However, I was able to put it to good use today during an enjoyable surf session . The water is still cold or so I was told by the others.

Joined by Steve (King of England) and Gianni (the Italian Greyhound) we gave the Jackson Rockstar and Jackson Fun kayaks a good work out.

Here’s a sequence of photos of Gianni.

The wave about to close out

Duck your head !!

I bet that hurt !!

…and Steve attacked many good rides

Steve shows how it’s done

But not all rides end perfectly

…and here’s a few more photos to make you wish you joined us.

Gianni gets buried again…..

….and again

…..a nice clean ride at last

Of course the old guy just picks the best waves.

Ian goes down the face and comes out untouched

Have a great day. Stay Safe. Stay Healthy.

Cinderella

I’m cold. The water is  freezing. My head aches and my ears are hurting. The SW wind has sprung up and the balmy 10° C morning now feels like 5° C. I’m wearing every bit of rubber I own, wetsuit rubber I’m talking about, and the layers are not enough.  I start to shiver and decide the next wave will be my last for the day.

The previous wave jacked up vertical with the dropping tide and increased wind. I went vertical as well, straight down the wave face and out of control. My attempt at a saving big bottom turn on the biggest wave of the day failed and I was smashed then dragged upside down. The only upside is I now have very clean sinuses.

It’s just us and a crazy dog braving the ocean today.

Dogs don’t feel the cold

It started to rain but at least we had a nice rainbow above us.

Lucky Rainbow to the south of us

I picked a small wave and headed in knowing that I still had to get through the savage shorebreak and undertow.

Thankful of a small wave to take me home

Steve was following me and took a pounding in the shallows.

That’s Steve sand blasting the kayak hull

The trick is to paddle as far as possible then jump out. Quickly drag your kayak whilst fighting the undertow that wants to knock you over and roll you around in 20cm of water and swirling sand.

I managed a sort of graceful exit and watched Steve trying to look graceful as he staggered onto the beach.

He looked a little lopsided. Oh dear!! Cinderella has lost a slipper but not his thermal sock. Yep that undertow can be powerful.

Something missing Steve ?

Cinderella is missing a slipper

Sometimes there was a lull in the wave action and it was easy to break out.

Remember to close your mouth

Try not to get looped backwards

Out the back you get to pick one of the nicer looking waves.

Nice and steady

About to meet the wave breaking from both directions

A nice slide on a well behaved wave

Stretching exercise or water draining ?

We climbed the 56 stairs to the car as some warmth returned and reflected on another day in COVID lockdown. Here we are doing great with no infections for 12 days, but other states are not so good. You notice that people on the beach keep their distance, not only because of COVID, but straying close to a couple of loony paddlers is to be avoided.

 

Catch up with friends

The sun broke through the early morning mist revealing a beautiful blue sky. The sun on my back feels great as I paddle northwards to catch up with some friends on the water. I’m almost tempted to stow away my woollen beanie and neoprene gloves. Hell, the temperature must have soared to at least 4°C.

COVID restrictions have been further eased in South Australia and it was great to catch up with a few old friends. The 45 minute paddle to the meetup place was perfect, with a light wind chop making the bow rise and fall on the small troughs. I was feeling great being out on the water on such a morning and the beauty of the coastline was an added bonus.

The sun reaches over the cliffs and lights up the rock pillars

I approached a rocky headland expecting to see my friends waiting but the horizon was empty. Still no sign of them as I drifted towards the rocks. Then they all jumped out in front of me. SURPRISE !!!!.. They swam around my kayak with big grins on their faces, duck diving and splashing about in the cold clear water.

It’s so good to be back on the water and with friends it’s so much better. After a playful catchup it was off along the coast again. They shouted a reminder, “bring pizza next time; we’re getting sick of sushi”.

The morning sun was lighting up the ocean capturing fellow paddler Steve in its rays.

Sparkling rays as the sun clears the cliffs

We paddled in close to some of the reefs that were exposed at the low tide and checked out the rocky coastline.

Another great morning and happy to be alive.

CS Canoe MySun kayak. My favourite Italian ride

Stay Safe. Social distance. Wash your hands :)-

What lurks below ?

It’s cold morning on the beach. NO; that’s a lie. It’s a freezing morning on the beach. After a night of crystal clear skies, there’s no wind and the sea is mirror smooth. It’s so cold even the sand feels stiff and frozen.

I’m not normally found paddling around areas at the northern reaches of Spencer Gulf but these are not normal times. The cold fronts have been pushing across southern Australia bringing big seas to the Southern Ocean so I have moved inland a few hundred kilometres. South Australians have been let off the COVID leash, with no infections for around 2 weeks, we are allowed to travel intrastate.

Healthy mangrove forests along the coast

Sometimes you can pull up at a nice lunch spot on the edge of the mangroves and find that after sandwiches and coffee you have a problem. In nautical terms it’s said to be “aground”. A bit of pushing and shoving gets you back on the ocean.

Aground !!!

The water is cold and clear as you glide along alone. It’s these times that I sometimes wonder “What lurks below ?”. I often see dolphins, fur seals and sea lions as well as several species of water diving cormorants, but today I’m sure of seeing the Australian Giant Cuttlefish. I come in close to shore at the prearranged place so that Robyn can get some photos.

Now being our group photographer, she has not only has to be a fair paddler but also ready to make sacrifices to get good shots. Into the freezing water she goes looking for photo opportunities.

Freezing cold water is no barrier

Here’s a slide show of the congregation of Australian Giant Cuttlefish as they come into the cold, shallow waters of Pt Lowly to mate. They grow up to 60 cm weighing around 5kg. and have the ability to change colour and texture to camoflague themselves.

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Unfortunately we are not travelling with Gavin, our group Sommelier, which limited our choice of wine,  but I was able to temp her with a decent Pinot Noir as reward for her work.

Luckily we didn’t come across anything more sinister than Giant Cuttlefish which more than can be said for well known S.A. paddler Mike Dunn. You can see his “encounter” in the video below.

Stay safe. Social distance and wash your hands.
Ian and Robyn