A Calm Sea

I woke before dawn to a special silence. No distant crashing of waves, no wind swaying the trees, no flapping of canvas; the silence of a calm sea.

The dawn came with a burning red horizon viewed through the trees and then as a red streak as I made it to the beach.

The early signs of a Calm Sea
A sign of Calm Seas
On the beach

Today we would be paddling on a calm sea. The last few days had been choppy, wind swept and wet but still a lot of fun as we launched in sloppy conditions and paddled into sheltered bays to investigate the rocky, boulder strewn coastline.

Yes, it’s windy on this coastline as you can see from the trees. The sandy spot around the tree is used as a resting place for the local kangaroos. You can see the tail drag marks in the sand.

Launching in a fairly protected cove

Not only did we have to content with the less than ideal conditions, but this is also a major shipping channel for Port Lincoln where grain carriers carefully navigate the passage of islands that lead them to the Southern Ocean. A Bulk Carrier puts out a hell of a wake which adds to the wave chop and rebound from the islands.

Keep your distance

Not only where the launches interesting, but even the landings in a protected cove, at the end of the paddle, were a mad dash to surf to shore, jump out and drag the kayak up without getting too wet.

Charlie coming into protected waters
Greg showing his style to land without wet feet

We knew today would be different as we prepared the kayaks on the beach at Taylors Landing. Taylors is protected and generally the last mainland point before heading across Thorny Passage to Thistle Island. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good enough weather window to be taking that route, but we would be exploring some stunning coastline.

Thistle Island is far in the distance and the closer island is Taylor Island.

Perfect conditions

Charlie had decided to make attach a Shark shield to his kayak this morning as we had just received the very sad news that a surfer had been taken by a Great White shark not far along the coast.

Loading up and checking the Shark Shield

We slid into the water and were away.

Clear calm water
How’s that for style

With Charlie keen to explore every small rock pool and Greg diligently following it was an excellent day of fun paddling.

We passed rugged granite cliffs and explored around lichen coloured boulders.

Greg was often around rocks
Charlie likes to poke his nose in
The Gulls

The next two photos show the clarity of the water and the reflection of the kayak. Charlie has “borrowed” my Greenland style paddle and is now an affectionado of the “carbon toothpick”.

Along the way we chatted to the local Sea Lions, caught a whiff of the local cormorant flock, watched small fish dart under the kayak as well as enjoying the stunning coastline.

Cormorant Rock
Drifting in close

When we got a little too close the Cormorants would waddle close to the rock edge, jump off and madly flap and run to get height. If you were in the wrong spot they would come straight at you, emptying their bowels, to lighten the load, as they struggled for altitude. Just don’t be in that wrong spot.

…and they’re off

The calm conditions gave us the chance to explore around the rock pools.

Charlie rocks
Ochre cliffs
Clear water

A White Bellied Sea Eagle kept a close eye on us for several kilometres, however, I think we were a little too big to be considered likely prey.

I’m watching you guys

It’s hard to do the scenery justice when taking photos from the kayak with a small Canon camera but here’s a few of the seascape. I have managed to drown another Nikon camera so it’s back to the “point and shoot” Canon until I decide on a new camera.

Our paddle ended on a sloping rock shelf in beautiful warming sunshine.

All that was left to do was take the 4wd track back to camp, take a walk on the beach, indulge in a cold beer, followed by a few glasses of red wine by the fire, which was diligently tended by Greg.

…and then the rain came.

A few days of great paddling.
Ian and Robyn, Greg and Charlie.

Local Appreciation

There was a lot to Appreciate today. I was that lucky guy who was given a large dose of Covid for Xmas meaning I didn’t see Xmas or New Years eve festivities. I had been instructed to return to activity carefully and not stress my system. Yes of course I will do exactly that, although I neglected to mention that I had a short session in my playboat least week which resulted in a bit of regression.

It was a great day. I found a space in the beachside carpark, even though there was a school holidays (or school Horror Days) sailing class underway with a gaggle of parents milling about.

The weather was as forecast with the temperature around 30 degrees (C not F) and the sea calm. I launched quickly with the promise of a little over an hour on the local coastline. The first kilometre was great with breathing easy and heart rate under control. The second kilometre not so good as I could feel a distinct lack of fitness. I slowed somewhat and decided on a very gentle pace for the next 5 kilomteres so that I could enjoy the surroundings.

Cirrus clouds were sweeping across the sky, filtering the sun, the sea and horizon blending together.

The water was crystal clear as I nudged the kayak bow close to the rocks along the shore.

You can see the coastal walk which is steep in places. I have never counted the steps but there are a lot of them. Luckily the walk links coffee shops at Merino Rocks and Hallett Cove where one can recuperate for the return journey.

I had time to say hello to the Cormorants and Seagulls who had been resting on the shoreline after fishing for breakfast.

The professional fisherman were working hard casting for squid. This guy is almost a permanent fixture on the coast. If the wind is under 25 knots you will see him plying his trade.

I plodded along Appreciating the coastline and how lucky I was to have it as my local paddling spot. In future I will make a point of slowing down and taking in the view instead of focusing on my smart watch vibrating my time per kilometre. I was not the only one enjoying the morning, although some seemed a little hesitant to jump in.

My day of Local Appreciation left me feeling happy to be alive, however, my body was telling me it needed a nice coffee and a long nap. Luckily Robyn was able to steer me to a beachside coffee spot for a 3 shot latte and thick raisin toast. I would take care of the nap later.

Hope you have a great week.

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. 😊

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 :)-

Silver Schoolies

I lay in bed keeping warm as the first rays of light appeared over the bay. I could hear that the wind had not abated from the 25+ knots it had been all night, however it was forecast to drop in the next few hours.

The normally protected bay was full of whitecaps

It’s been a strange week of weather with the prevailing wind from the NW which meant the normally sheltered bay and coastline of Pt Turton and Harwicke Bay on Yorke Peninsula, have been a mass of whitecaps and confused seas. We hoped to get out for at least a short kayak down the rocky coastline towards Pt Souttar, so it was unload the kayak and wait for the wind to abate.

Even the dolphins had taken refuge in the marina.

The local dolphin pod is normally seen well offshore but today they were lazing in the marina

We launched in the lee of the marina and made our way southward along the coast. The wind had dropped a lot but was still enough to create a confused sea close to the rocks.

An easy launch on the sandy beach

Cormorants finding a protected place

Sneaking along the rock wall

Gavin our newly appointed Paddlingsouth Sommelier powering along

Hugging the coastline

Soon we had the force of the wind to contend with

We came across the local swimming pool, although at present it was well under water as the tide was driven high up on the beach by the wind. I don’t think we will see many swimmers here today.

The swimming pool has disappeared under the waves

We paddled on until it became a bit of a slog as the wind increased and we then turned for home. The short wind chop combined with clapatis made for quick support strokes when trying to take photos, otherwise I could have been the first swimmer of the day.

Next day the wind again reached 25 knots making for a day of land based activities. We decided to ride our Fatbikes along the beach to the tiny township of Hardwicke Bay, hoping the local store to be open. The sand was hard packed and the tail wind made for excellent progress as we bounced the 15 km around the bay. The local store provided us with coffee and muffins, which gave our butts a rest and gave the wind a chance to increase to another level.

Watching the whitecaps streak across the bay we decided that our easiest route home would be to follow the road behind the sand dunes where we should find some wind protection. Things started off fine for the first few kilometers, until the wind changed direction and increased again. Quite a novel experience being blown sideways off the road by the gusts, with Robyn suffering the most occurrences and Gavin the least, maybe due to weight differences, or was it just skill. After over 30 km of hard riding we hit the last downhill into camp and a well deserved icecream.

November in Pt Turton normally brings great weather as well as lots of Silver Schoolies ! We had first seen some of this group when we rode into Pt Turton on our “Walk the Yorke” bike tour and again a year later.

Wikipedia gives an insight to Schoolies. 
Schoolies or schoolies week refers to the Australian tradition of high-school graduates having week-long holiday following the end of their final exams in November. Schoolies week is seen as a final party with schoolmates before they head their separate ways.

Silver Schoolies are much much older revelers having a week long holiday, just because they can.

They sure know how to celebrate and get together daily for strange activities and from what I could see consuming a variety of beverages. Apparently it is obligatory not to act your age and partake in as many crazy sports as possible. Of course we joined in some of the fun.

Apparently dressing up is just part of the fun

Now that’s what I call a glass of wine. No mucking around with this gal.

The first event on the card was a horse race with horse supplied. You all start on the line and throw a huge dice and pace out the number on the dice.

Our Sommelier took time out from wine tasting to join the first Horse Racing event

Talk about come prepared. She bought her own horse !!

I think this is what they term “riding hands and heels”.

Apparently this is normal attire for the Caravan Park manager

After the winners and losers were sorted out it was on with a huge BBQ lunch and of course a variety of beverages.

The festivities continued all week with unusual events. We witnessed a paper aeroplane competition judged first for accuracy and then distance.

Janet gets in a big throw in the distance event. She credited her success “with having her tongue at the right angle”

Alan was certainly “Best Dressed”. Reminded me of a circus ring master, but in shorts !!

So if your in the vicinity during that week in November and see some odd sights, don’t panic it’s only “Silver Schoolies” at play.  In fact why not join in the activities and stay at the Caravan Park.

One fact that may interest you is that the pharmacy in a near town reported a ten fold increase in prescriptions for blood pressure and cholesterol medication and yes you guessed it, Viagra.


Meet up with Sepia Apama

The morning had dawned cold and still which is a little unusual for these parts. There is normally a breeze from one direction or other that has to be taken into account. No wind, however, a sea fog was rolling in but didn’t discourage a paddle along the rocky coast line of the upper Spencer Gulf. We spent time wandering along the coastline passing Douglas Point and Fitzgerald Bay, headed towards Stony Point on the edge of False Bay.

A strange colour in the sky and a sea fog made for an eerie feeling.

The sea fog slowly rolling towards us.

Not much changes in this part of the coast. This is a photo of Pt Lowly in 1905 and again below on our visit. All of the buildings are still there.

Many overseas visitors seem to think that all the animals of Australia are out to sting, bite or eat them. Of course this is not true, but the snakes, sharks and crocodiles do seem to sit heavy on their mind.

But what about Sepia Apama ? They can camouflage themselves and spring out at their prey from behind a rock. Luckily they don’t have much of an appetite for German Backpackers or in fact any nationality, although, if you start poking your finger in his/her direction you night get a very nasty bite. So who is Sepia Apama ? Sepia Apama is more commonly called the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Giant because they grow up to 60cm long and weigh up to 5kg.

It’s winter and that is mating season for tens of thousands of these interesting creatures who change color to camouflage themselves. The water was very clear and calm so they could be seen all along the rocky coastline of False Bay.

The best way to meet up with Sepia Apama is a dip into the rather chilly 11 degree C water with your camera wearing every bit of wetsuit you own, so here’s 2 minutes of what we saw on our quick dip. You will see the” mating procedure” at around 55 sec. on the video. After mating the female attaches her eggs under a rock

Great paddling area and some unusual creatures.
Ian and Robyn