Silent Night

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.

It was almost Silent as we left the growl of the metropolis behind. The wind was a calming whisper as we glided into the darkness. The sound of water gently slapping the kayak and the occasional splash of the paddle were all the sounds we wanted to hear.

Leaving the rest behind

It was Calm. The wind stilled and the ocean surface took on a mirrored finish.

All behind us was Bright. We had left behind the lights of population soon after launching. It was paddling into the darkness with no moon in sight.

Occasionally the wind would surprise us with a cooling gust, making us increase our paddling tempo, then drop away just as fast as it came.

With those eyes he makes a great Vampire

Time and distance fade away as you focus on other things; the rhythm of the paddle, the rocking of the kayak, the joy of being away from the heat and noise of “the others”.

All good things must come to and end and we returned to reality heading inshore, where we greeted the last night walkers on the jetty, saw the Xmas lights still glowing and heard the muted sounds of the late night party goers.

We glided along, not knowing that we were on top of reefs and rocky sections until the camera flash showed us the shallows. Luckily no waves across the headlands tonight.

Hmm…that is shallow
The last night walkers
Xmas lights still burning

We had heard splashes on the water but saw nothing. Probably just sea birds settling for the night. We hoped to hear the puffing of the local dolphin pod but they were elsewhere. We did not want to see or hear (of feel) Mr Chompy who had been seen patrolling the reef during the day. ( Mr Chompy was a guest blogger here some time ago- follow the link to see his blog).

I suspect some of you have noted that I missed out the Holy. That’s because I had originally planned to paddle Xmas eve, however, the wind played havoc with those plans.

Happy New Year. Let’s put 2021 behind us.

It’s almost Summer

The Witches Wind has been blowing relentlessly for weeks. The Witches reside in the East and blow across the Peninsula reeking havoc on the sea swell. At the bottom of the Peninsula they sweep across the swell making it choppy and confused and further up the Gulf they blow strong from the land, flattening any waves.

The Witches are not good for sea kayakers, causing a confused, often angry sea and certainly no good for surf kayakers chasing a wave.

The weather forecast came in. East winds below 10 knots and a small clean surf on the local beach. ACTION STATIONS. Load up my new Jackson Kayak Rockstar playboat and get there. Steve (King of England) was also on it. The swell was small but the water was crystal clear and warm enough to entice a number of rolls and other frivolity.

There were a few small peelers to be had.

Mr King having fun

I saw a flash of white break the surface nearby but luckily it was just a swimmer out for the first sunny day. No tan and lots of white flesh. Steve had a lunch appointment so he called it a day.

Then to prove it was “Almost Summer” I heard the “wump wump wump” of a helicopter overhead and the wail of a siren. Yep, you guessed it Shark Alert.

Public #SharkReport: SA – NEAR OCHRE POINT AT MOANA BEACH . 10:30, 28 Nov 21, 4m, White Shark, Aerial Survelliance → Report to Shark Watch. Helicopter pilot has seen a large 4 – 5m White Shark very close to shore (between 10 – 20m offshore) while flying over Moana Beach near Ochre Point. The Shark was seen close to surfers and it’s movement could not be established.

Oh well it made for a nice finish to the session, sitting on the beach, drinking coffee and watching everyone called to action stations. It’s almost Summer.

Happy Paddling and stay safe.

Lightning Conductors

Q: Can a carbon fibre kayak paddle conduct lightning ?

A:  Yes, very, very well. Not as well as Aluminum, but the lightning has already bothered to jump across over a mile of air, the difference in connectivity of the last few feet will make little difference.

The weather forecast read : …..The chance of a thunderstorm from late this morning. 

Blue skies and sunshine greeted us on the beach. We negotiated the small shore break into crystal clear water and set off along the coast. We could see a ribbon of dark clouds on the horizon and some higher altitude cumulus was showing some height progression, but all was well.

Steve breaks out through a small wave
Interesting cloud formations
Checking out what’s coming

We picked our way along the reefy shoreline finding the calmer swell allowed us to get into places that were not normally accessible. Crystal clear water meant we could observe the reefy bottom with its’ jagged rocks and abundant sea life. This was an area we often visited for a session of Ocean Freestyle Playboating paddling, riding large waves and often making an inspection of the seabed. It was just a little concerning to get a really good look at the jagged barnacle covered rocks and reef that make those waves break.

The water is still chilly at this time in Spring, however, we were not the only ocean dwellers. We came across two snorkelers exploring the underwater coastline.

Snorkeling some distance offshore

There was a distant rumble of thunder and I saw a flash of lightning on the horizon. There were some darker clouds moving in quickly. We guessed it would be some time before it got to us so we headed to a reef that had small breaking waves. Sea Kayaks are not the most agile craft on a wave but the fun of riding a peeling wave shoreward with the reef whizzing by underneath is certainly exhilarating.

The dark clouds were closing and we discussed the possibility of a lightning strike seeing as we were the highest objects on the water and carrying a carbon paddle lightning conductor.

Q: Can a carbon fibre kayak paddle conduct lightning ?

A:  Yes, very, very well. Not as well as Aluminum, but the lightning has already bothered to jump across over a mile of air, the difference in connectivity of the last few feet will make little difference.

Dark clouds approaching

Probably much more chance of catching COVID or being hit by a run away bus, but still we decided on a return to shore.

We headed towards our launch point still catching a few small waves as we passed breaking reefs. I must have been a little complacent when I jumped on a wave with Steve and quickly found myself being dragged along upside down. A quick roll back up when the white water let me go resulted in clean sinus passages.

A great paddle in ideal conditions.

Winds and Windmills

Many borders are closed and COVID is loose in several states across Australia so our only safe holiday choice was to stay in South Australia. Our first adventure was to clock up some mountain bike kilometres in the north Flinders Ranges with a couple of friends.

The weather was warm, the wind less than friendly but we still managed to travel loops on the Mawson Trail as well as other less travelled routes. Add in a hot day walking in the Aroona Valley, visiting the Blinman Hotel “the pub in the scrub” and we had a week of fun sorted.

The winds were still unfriendly when we left the North Flinders area and headed to the edge of the Nullabor plain to visit the iconic surf break of Cactus Beach. The surf was blown out by the southerly wind with no surfers out there today or for the next few days.

Blown out at Cactus

Where there’s Wind there’s Windmills. The town of Penong is several kilometres inland from the ocean but still has its’ share of wind and windmills. There is even a windmill museum with a number of restored windmills in action. These days they are for show as solar powered pumps have taken over the pumping duties.

My duty was that of photographers assistant, carrying gear and generally keeping out the way. We were in luck as in the late afternoon the wind abated and the giant Comet 35 windmill slowly came to a halt. The local Penong football team was in the grand final next weekend and was having their last training session under full lights at the nearby oval. The field of windmills slowly rotated to face the oval and the lights reflected off their blades.

Long exposure at night
Sunset on the massive Comet 35

Our time was running short so we headed back home to Adelaide with the surf forecast there showing signs of good swells. Sadly the swell had eased the day of our arrival and we were greeted by a less than impressive surf break. With the need to get wet I paddled out with Steve to grab what fun we could.

Here’s a 1 minute clip of fun. Thanks for visiting.

Lazy Sunday

Yesterdays stormy weather has passed and there was a tiny ray of sunshine poking through. I had thoughts of a Lazy Sunday morning, perhaps stroll along the beachfront and grab a coffee and croissant (with Covid face mask of course) or maybe just lounge around watching the Olympic games telecast.

Sadly it was not to be.
A few deranged paddlers wanted some fun and they all said they only had the early morning free. Lots of excuses.

Steve (King of England) “I have a band practice after lunch”
Philip (Our German Correspondent) “I have to take my son swimming”
Gianni (International Man of Leisure) “I have a new bottle of Grappa that must be sampled”.

Anyway with paddle in hand I lugged my green Jackson kayak down the 5 flights of steps at the appointed hour to get amongst a few badly formed waves. It turned into a lot of fun with all of us getting hammered whilst trying to master the ocean. Luckily we were able to get a few snippets of video to make it all worthwhile.

Hope you had a nice Lazy Sunday.
Ian and Robyn (camera operator)