Adventures in Paradise

Cambridge English Dictionaryparadise noun usually singular, a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be:

The water was clear giving a fish eye view as we powered along over the sea bed of sand, sea grass and shells. Paddling on the edge of the mangrove forest the water was clear but changeable in depth. One minute you felt like the bottom was rising up to meet you and next it was dropping away into the green depths.

We normally spend our kayaking time in deeper waters and often offshore, however the weather has not been kind these last few days, which is what you expect in the first month of Winter. So closer inshore was our best option and a great place to see the local birdlife.

There was a splash behind us and a fin speared past into deeper water. It seems that the local Bottle Nosed Dolphin pod was also patrolling along the mangrove forest. I readied my camera which meant they immediately bolted out of range.

We had a view of the mangrove forest

Did I hear singing coming from somewhere deep in the mangroves ? Was I imagining things ? It sounded like an aboriginal song and hopefully it wasn’t the local Barngala Aboriginal group singing to the dolphins and sharks to herd the fish in closer to shore where they could spear them. I’m all in favour of dolphin encounters, and welcome their appearance but I sure don’t want to see a sharks’ fin surface next to me. I think my paddling partner, Robyn, would blame me for an shark appearance.

We nudged into a small opening and found a creek that led deeper into the mangroves. There was evidence of past human use of the creek with a boat launching ramp now laying in disrepair.

The creek winds through the forest
A now abandoned launching area
Crystal clear water and lots of small fish darting about
Oyster catchers feeding in an open section of mangroves

A great day exploring the coast even if the weather was at times overcast and the temperature calling for gloves and beanie. Sometimes you need to get up close and personal to appreciate the aquatic environment.

This was an “Adventures in Paradise”. Paradise for the local Bottle Nosed dolphins; Paradise for the fish and other species that breed in the shallows; Paradise for the birds overhead and those foraging in the shallows; Paradise for us paddlers exploring along the coastline. Paradise because Spencer Gulf is uncrowded on the land as well as the water. Paradise because not only were we able to explore by kayak but the area hosts the worlds’ largest aggregation of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish.


Paradise also because COVID has been spreading in the other Australian states and South Australia had no local transmissions, so we have little in the way of restrictions. Something that won’t last forever given the state of the world.

After our kayak sessions we greeted the Giant Cuttlefish in their own environment, which is freezing cold in June. Donning every piece of wetsuit we owned gave us an hour of intrigue watching the mating ritual of the Cuttlefish. Seems a pity that the male mates and then dies 🙂

Remnants of a southern ocean swell meant slightly less than perfect visibility and a surge rolled us around somewhat.

I had only a small point and shoot waterproof camera so please excuse the average quality photos. Unfortunately I managed to drown another SLR camera recently (my second Nikon AW1) whilst filming fur seals playing under my kayak. I think it will be a return to a Canon unit for me.

There must be millions of these guys along the coast
Hey this guy was red a minute ago…now he’s blue

Sometimes the Cuttlefish were just as curious about us as we were of them. This one got up close and personal.

Who’s more curious ?

Here’s a link to a video I took previously in the area.

For you older folk out there, does anyone remember the TV show “Adventures in Paradise” which screened from 1959 to 1962. I certainly remember the adventures of the yacht Tiki 3 as it plied the South Pacific trade route. Starring James Holden, Gardner McKay and Lani Kai I must of had an interest in the sea at a very very early age.

It’s time for us to leave the ocean and head inland. Mountain Bike rides are always an Adventure in Paradise, especially when we can enjoy some trails in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Cheers
Ian and Robyn

Going Solo

My memory is still quite good, well I hope so anyway; it’s just the rest of the body that’s feeling the effects of time. It’s 1982 (I think) and the day is slightly overcast but at least the wind had dropped overnight. I slid the kayak into the water and checked and rechecked all my gear. No need to turn on any of those electronic gadgets to track my speed and distance as I didn’t have any. Were GPS units even invented then ? I had a small deck mounted compass and a map in a plastic bag and that was it. The kayak was an ancient “Sea Leopard” that was interesting to paddle but it’s low deck meant you were always in for a wet ride and the hatches were not exactly waterproof.

This was my first solo paddle of any note. A crossing of Backstairs Passage to Kangaroo Island and return with a favourable tide later in the afternoon. Actually it remains one of the few times I have set to sea by myself. Mostly I have been part of a pod or at least one other, so there has always been someone to sing along with.

Solo paddling adds another dimension to the adventure of being at sea in a small craft well out of sight of land. So when I see a young paddler pushing the boundaries and paddling open water crossings solo I am very much in awe. Even more so when James Fishers decides to make a series of videos on the way.

Here’s a link to his Youtube videos of his trip across Spencer Gulf from Pt Lincoln to Innes National Park. I hope you enjoy his “home movies”.
Cheers
Ian Pope

Exo Kayaks – Rexy gets the all clear

My Physiotherapist said my hip injury was coming along nicely and I was given the all clear to try a little gentle kayaking. The COVID lockdown has been lifted and we are allowed to travel so it was an early start on this warm Wednesday morning, heading for the South Coast.

I was invited by James Fishers and Steve (King of England) to join them for a short surf kayak session. There were  some big, fat waves on offer so the youngsters were burning off excess energy for a couple of hours, but I would restrict my water time to under an hour.

My long suffering photographer, Robyn, was trying hand held photos with a Tamron 400 lens. Her best vantage point was standing on a park bench above the beach and I think she did a great job of balancing that lens that normally resides on a tripod.

Now that the body is holding together I can get back in the Sea Kayak for some longer paddles. Anyway, here’s a few photos of our gentle session.

Gaining some speed down the face

Launched off the lip the kayak is still bouncing

Easy Rider

Cool and relaxed

Getting a bumpy ride in the soup

Still hanging in there

Some waves were bigger than others

Have a great Wednesday. Stay safe.

“Exo Rexy” to the RESCUE

I was on the treatment table with the Physio trying to prove that he could indeed push his fingers right through my hip joint. He smiled and exclaimed “yep, that’s the spot”.

My body has been squeezed into a small “Playboat” for the last 10 years as well as various other surf kayaks, sea kayaks, polo kayaks and marathon craft over the years, so it was no surprise that eventually I would strike a problem.

What did come as a surprise was the fact that he said it was probably “age related”. Cheeky Bugger I thought, it’s not like I’m pushing 70 or something and  I expect to keep paddling surf kayaks and sea kayaks for at least another 20 years.

I told him it’s ok, I have a friend called Rexy who will fix this problem.

“Exo Rexy” arrived at my place and we were soon on our way to a local surf spot. Rexy the somewhat larger WW playboat, my new friend, from Exo kayaks of Italy is imported by Roy Farrance at Canoes Plus.

We hit the waves, which although sort of smallish, gave me a good idea of how Rexy would handle. Plenty of leg and foot room, easy rolling, fast down a wave and most importantly comfortable. Here’s a few photos.

Nice clean waves provided long rides

Nice waves and Rexy stayed right in the groove

I would paddle back out just in time to catch another nice ride

The waves were not huge but they still had some punch

Hard turns and Rexy handled it with ease

Not quite the maneuver I had in mind

Of course with a clean wave and a photographer around you will likely get a visit from another retiree paddler. Yep, Steve (King of England) paddled out to join me. You just can’t have a photographer around without him knowing and getting in the frame. I think he haunts this coast looking for opportunities to paddle.

Trying to stay on the wave and smile at the camera is not easy

Dropping into another green section

Eventually it was time to call it quits so we both surfed back to shore. Happy that Rexy had come to the rescue.

Homeward bound

The Covid Handshake

After the session we heard that Covid 19 had raised it’s ugly head again and the whole state was in a 6 day total lock down probably extending to 14 days. Stay home, no paddling, no exercise outside your home. I guess it’s back to home Guitar sessions and polishing up the “Lockdown Blues” and “All by myself” songs.

I hope to see you on the water again soon-ish. Stay safe.