Celebrate the Morning

Celebrate the Morning with a kayak paddle.
This is the view Sir Rodney (our senior paddler) has just before he launches and messes up the reflections.

Sir Rodney’s view of West Lakes at dawn every morning.

Greet the sun with Sir Rodney. Greet the dolphins and seals with Steve and Ian. Enjoy the seascape and Autumn calm waters because soon Winter will be upon us.  The only consolation is that there might be some waves along our local surf haunts as we move into the colder weather.

But in the meantime, here’s a little of our local coastline and friends.

 

The Sea Fog

It was an eerie morning as we wandered on to the beach, along with a few other early risers and dog walkers. The temperature was 28°C at 8am and the sea fog lingered around the headlands as we organised ourselves for a paddle.

An eerie feel to the morning as the sea fog lifts

They have been for a swim and are now ready to chase that ball

Only a few people on the beach

The physiotherapist had told me to take it easy on my injured shoulder (courtesy of a recent mountain bike crash) for the next couple of days. “That’s ok” I replied,” I’m just going for a quiet morning paddle with an old guy I know, so not too much exertion”.

It started out alright but then we both decided that a quiet paddle was a little boring and that a bit of play would be beneficial. Here’s a few photos from our “quiet play” session.

Steve gets belted on the way out and is carried backwards towards the shore.

…and makes a close inspection of the seabed.

Ian plays on a small wave….careful of that shoulder injury

…and bounces around in the choppy waves

Steve starts his famous kayak disappearing act

We don’t have to worry about special training sessions for rough water kayak skills; it’s almost an everyday occurrence for us.

Paddlers Ian and Steve
Photos Robyn

 

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

Some Days are Diamonds

Some Days are Diamonds ! The night was hot with the north winds of Summer blowing from the inland deserts of Southern Australia but they had abated when the alarm clock kicked me out of bed an hour ago. There is a stillness to the morning with no movement to disturb the left over heat from yesterday. The moon has long gone and it’s dark as I plod down the beach ramp pulling my “My Sun” sea kayak on it trolley.  I can see a ribbon of white at the waters edge and know that the shorebreak will be manageable this morning, at least until the tide starts it’s race inwards.

Out of the darkness appears Steve who already has his kayak on the beach and is geared up and ready to go. I swear this guy doesn’t sleep. We quickly gear up and launch as the sky brightens with the first rays of sun still over the horizon. We are on our way on another “Diamond Day” and will see the sunrise from the water.

The sun peeks over the hills and burns away the wispy clouds of night and brings with it a light breeze that is just enough to ripple the clear water.

The “Diamond Moment” of Sunrise…photo Steve King

We wander our way along the coast, first visiting our favourite reef areas and then heading further along the coast, enjoying the views towards the southern cliff lines.

Changing colours in the cliffs as the sun rises

As predicted the wind has increased a little in the last hour and there is now a definite chop on the water as we head back home catching a few runners on the way. We easily negotiate our way through the dumping shorebreak and slide up on the beach, all smiles.

Another “Diamond Day” has begun and we have enjoyed it from a magnificent vantage point.

But sometimes that “Diamond Day” can lose it’s sparkle, leaving you with severe case of sandy bum.  The shorebreak can be savage at times and the sea kayak sometimes has a mind of it’s own.

You pick up a wave out the back which immediately doubles in size and peaks menacingly over your head. You throw yourself into a brace as it slams down with a deafening boom. Then it all goes all watery as you are spat out, rolled and rocketed towards the shore in knee deep sand filled water. Well at least you’re back on shore; upside down in a few inches of water maybe, but still you made it.

Hold your breath and brace…..photo Robyn Pope

The Shorebreak …photo Gavin Lodge

Autumn is here and that’s the perfect time for early morning paddles with a friend. March has calmer winds and you just add another layer of clothing before heading out and of course there’s never a shorebreak in Autumn. If you’re looking for an early morning paddle then Steve’s the man in Adelaide.

Hope to see you on the water.
Ian Pope (with thanks to Steve King for dragging me out of bed)

Mr CHOMPY

It’s a beautiful summers morning. The sun is warm on my back as I slowly glide along the rocky coastline. The water temperature has jumped up with the recent spate 40 C days and I’m following a small school of fish and have already run through them a couple of times and had quite a feed, so now I’m just sauntering along enjoying the sun and the crystal clear water.

There are a number of small fishing boats out on the usual grounds and I decide that later on, if I can be bothered, I will surface next to them and give them a fright. I just love the way they yell and scream when I appear and there is always the mad scramble for cameras. Lots of video being beamed live to Facebook although the language seems a little out there at times and I wonder if it get censored first.

Then I see him. Strolling along by himself in a flashy little kayak. Quite some distance offshore, probably going out further to avoid the stink from those outboard motors, he is all by himself and would be easy prey. They say they are “all white meat and not many small bones” but I’m reluctant to try one as you have to peel away that fibreglass kayak shell first and I’m already full from a good feed of fish.

Still it could be worth a pass just to give him a scare and send him scurrying back to shore. I quietly glide up behind him and check him out; an older male of the species judging by the white hair and wrinkles.

I don’t think he has seen me so maybe I pop up next to him

I slowly passed right by him just deep enough so that my dorsal could nearly hit his paddle. Yep he saw me as there was that scream of surprise they seem to all have. Are they really that surprised at seeing me saunter by ? It’s not like I’m somewhere unnatural. I’m not strolling along the Esplanade or something.

Hey, the old guy is scrambling to get his camera aimed so I plunge back down into the depths waiting for him to paddle madly to shore. Hmm..he’s still sitting there quietly scanning with his lens so maybe he thinks I’m a playful dolphin. I’ll make another pass just to see his face when he realises I’m not a dolphin nor playful.

I give my back a little rub on the kayak hull, and that does the trick, with camera dropped and him paddling flat out towards shore. Look at him go, I think he’s almost faster than the fishing boats. My job done for the day I slowly saunter southwards enjoying the sun on my back and contemplate whether I should drop in on a couple of surfers later, just for fun of course.

Have a nice day
Mr CHOMPY