Friday Fun

Friday; the last day of the working week for some and others just another day on the calendar. The sun is shining, the breeze is pleasant so decisions need to be made. I could have slipped over to the lawn bowls rink for a few ends; although they banned me because of my “over-arm” action. I could have spent the day in the garden, except I’ve done my 2 days gardening for the year already, so it was definitely hit the waves time.

Robyn, our photographer, Steve and myself strapped the surf kayaks to the roof and set off for a quick fun paddle. The view along the local coast showed some nice wave sets coming in and quite a few surfers in the water.

Looking south along the coast

We were quickly into a few waves with Steve demonstrating his ability to take off on the most steep part of the wave and sometimes make it through to the green section, although not all the time.

Steve takes off steep and fast

Sometimes a steep and fast take off works….but not always

Steve saves himself again

Ian going hard on a nice green wave

The waves were interesting to paddle with continuous sets coming in, making it hard work just to get out the back. Of course not all things went to plan all the time and there were a few got dumpings that made sure your sinus cavity was clear.

Steve tries a 360 maneuver and ends up doing a back loop.

Sometimes things can get a little crowded even with just the 2 of us paddling for a wave.

Steve ready to drop in as Ian tries a steep take off

Ian goes down the line and then…..

I think that one hurt a bit

Occasionally you get trashed by one wave, rolling up to get the same treatment again

Ready for another smashing wave

But it’s all smiles as we head for home.

That put a smile on his dial

Coffee shop bound

Just another Friday morning…… PaddlingSouth,

Seascapes

It was  one of those strange sort of days where you stand on the beach ready to launch, still unsure that the weather will behave. That strange bank of low cloud on the horizon, the headwind whipping up a small chop offshore and the thundery looking cumulus clouds to the east.

The winter has been cold and windy this year and we have had to cancel many planned kayak trips, instead spending the time on mountain bikes, (some of our photos are here and here) so we were looking forward to getting a couple of days on the water.

A check of the latest forecasts and current weather observations, for the next 2 days, was certainly within our limits, so it was “Westward Ho”. For Rodney and Steve it would be their first visit to the south western coast, with Ian having explored there many times over the years.

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The first thing that we encountered was the possibility of paddling blind in a sea fog, because sure enough that low cloud was a sea fog rolling straight at us.

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Luckily it just seemed to skirt around us, leaving us an easy passage, in a slight headwind, towards the exposed western side of Wardang Island. After a couple of hours paddling the wind did as predicted and moderated giving us a beautiful day of paddling along the coast.

We visited the local Pied Cormorant colony.

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The thundery clouds passed us well to the east, making Rodney a happy boy.

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The beauty of this area is definitely the seascapes and the exhilaration of paddling among the  jumble of jagged rocks, passing the graves of several ship wrecks. It’s hard to do the area justice with  just a “point and shoot camera”, bobbing around in a kayak but we hope you like our efforts.

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There are always places you have to explore more closely.

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Our lunch spot couldn’t have been more idyllic. A protected beach on a deserted island.

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The afternoon light on sea stacks made for interesting effects.

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Sometimes it looked like collapse was imminent…….

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and other areas had long since collapsed.

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Legend has it that munitions were stored here during WW2, although I have never climbed into the chamber to confirm.

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We finished the day camped on a smaller island.

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Watching the sunset whilst enjoying some classic Shiraz wines, from the McLaren Vale and Clare Valley wine regions, along with local cheese and olives and lots of other goodies. What could be better than that ?.

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Next day the wind failed to cooperate, being head on all day. We explored more areas along the coast…..

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….before heading across open water to check out Green Island. Locals say that 60 years ago a hermit lived on the island in a small house he had built from shell grit and cement blocks. The house is  still standing (just) and you can also see where he had built rock fish traps.

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So we said farewell to the Pied Cormorants and started the headwind slog back to civilisation.

Paddlers and photographers.

Sir Rodneypope2

 

king

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rodney                               Ian                                        Steve

 

Paddling the Scraper

“We were 73 days out from San Francisco. and entering Backstairs Passage, with less than a days’ sailing to our destination.”

“When we passed CapeWilloughby there was a strong south-east gale with a heavy sea. All hands were on deck and the vessel was running before the gale. I kept the vessel as close on to the western shore as I judged it was safe, as by so doing I would be able to shape a course for Cape Jervis….. Just at this time, as we were entering the passage, to my surprise the vessel struck the outer edge of the Scraper (reef). The wheel was at once put hard down, so as to get farther out, but the next sea hurled her farther in, and the vessel would not answer the helm.”

That was the fate of the 4 masted Schooner “Kona” in 1917, bound for South Australia with a load of lumber from San Francisco and their introduction to the Scraper Reef off the coast of Kangaroo Island. Luckily the 11 crew were able to launch a lifeboat and were washed into the calm waters of Antechamber Bay.

Fortunately our meeting with the Scraper was in very different weather conditions. We had decided to paddle across Backstairs Passage, which is a particularly turbulent stretch of water dividing Kangaroo Island from the mainland. Conditions are made interesting by a 3kn tidal current being squeezed through the Passage as well as the Yatala Shoals, although the Autumn neap tide suggested calmer seas.

Our plan was to paddle across Backstairs Passage to Antechamber Bay and set up camp, paddle the Scraper in calm conditions the following day, then catch a tide back to Cape Jervis on the mainland the next day. With luck we could also venture a few kilometres further along the east coast to land on the tiny beach at Pink Bay near Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, which is the most eastern point of Kangaroo Island.

No mistakes; no miscalculations; extreme caution was in order as getting caught in the wrong place or the wrong tidal stream can mean being swept southwards. Michael and I had done this crossing many times in various conditions but it was Rodney’s first crossing. He had been putting in many hours training in the kayak, not only doing endurance work but lots of sessions paddling the coast in windy, sloppy conditions combined with many sessions handling large surf waves.

We had picked a Neap tide to cross the Strait as the tidal movement would be minimal. The forecast in the morning was for 11kn SE which is a cross wind that would be blowing against the Ebb tide flow. Wind against tide always makes for a very choppy passage and with that in mind we set off from Cape Jervis.

Day 1.
The predicted 11kn SE wind rose to about 15kn soon after departure and went more to a ESE direction giving us a side on sea of around 1m. Lots of white caps and sloppy conditions but easily handled.

Riding the beam on swells into Backstairs Passage

 

Short choppy waves hitting beam on

We were able to use the side sea  to our advantage, often catching small runs that picked up the laden kayaks. The crossing took 2hr 15m and was generally uneventful except for a few waves that pitched up suddenly and landed a ton of water on your shoulder. It’s also a little difficult taking photos in these conditions, so please excuse our defects.

Kangaroo Island approaching

We just missed running over a wooden pallet that had been floating for some time, given the number of barnacles on it.

Floating Flotsam

We had made a couple of course changes during the paddle as we found the wind was holding us further west than we had originally calculated. We hit the shore of Kangaroo Island at Cuttlefish Bay, a tiny sandy bay only accessible by water, exactly as planned.

Arriving Cuttlefish Bay

 

Cuttlefish Bay. Emergency landing spot if needed.

The next job was to push east on the last of the Ebb tide and into a wind that had now gone even more easterly. This meant no protection provided by the high cliffs and lots of boiling clapotis on every small headland. The next 8km took us another 2hr  of hard paddling before we rounded the headland into Antechamber Bay.

Working our way along the cliff face. Resting out of the wind.

 

All smiles as we head into the wind

 

The Navigator

The camp was located inland a few hundred metres on the banks of the Chapman River, however on such a low tide the mouth was closed and a portage was required.

Landed on Antechamber Beach

 

Paddling up the Chapman River

 

View along the river

This riverside campsite went perfectly with a Grant Burge Shiraz, kindly supplied by Rodney, our personal sommelier.

Early evening drinks and snacks

I did tell Rodney the Possums were very friendly but he was still a little amazed to find one sitting at the table with him. This guy grabbed some food and ran.

This guy believes in self serve

The next day was perfect weather with only a light 4kn breeze predicted and very little tidal movement. We set off to portage back into the ocean and head for the Scraper Reef and then to Cape Willoughby and Pink Bay .

Members of the South Australian Boat Draggers Association in action.

The boat draggers

 

Heading out of Antechamber Bay

The Scraper lays approx. 1km off Cape St Albans and is well known for its’ large breaking waves in any easterly weather. Water over the reef is only 1 fathom deep (about 3.3ft/ 1.82m) taken on an average tide.

Unfortunately “Google Earth” doesn’t show “The Scaper” but you can get an idea of the wave action nearby if you view Cape St Albans photographs.

As we rounded Cape St Albans we caught a glimpse of large breaking waves but they were mainly slow moving swells across the reef.

Cape St Albans Lighthouse

 

Arriving at the Scraper on slack water with the calmest conditions I have ever seen here

I paddled into the edge of the reef while Rodney took photos and Michael stood by as our safety paddler.

Riding a “Scraper” swell

We then pushed on towards Cape Willoughby.

Cape Willougby Lighthouse in the distance

….. and landed at nearby Pink Bay.

A calm cove for lunch

You can see the remains of previous inhabitants.

Evidence of habitation

After a lunch stop it was back on the water to catch a small flood tide back to camp.

Heading north from Cape Willoughby Lighthouse

On the way we spent time playing in the rocks around Cape St Albans.

Floating along the cliff face

 

Floating around the rocks at Cape St Albans

Day 3
Light rain had fallen during the night and the wind was evident even in our protected campsite.

Light rain all night

 

Checking the weather from a warm place

We checked weather forecasts through a couple of sources which both predicted an acceptable wind from the SE. We had a phone conversation and ascertained that the wind at nearby Penneshaw was currently 11kn from the SE and it was expected to remain that way for a few hours.

We decided to cross earlier than planned as the last hour of the very small ebb tide would be overridden by the SE wind. We would then be running a flood tide with the wind in the same direction.

We packed and portaged back into Antechamber bay where conditions were as expected, being at the bottom of Beaufort Wind Scale around 4, meaning “smaller waves, becoming larger; numerous whitecaps”.  Our heading would take us within 1 nautical mile of the Yatala Shoals so I knew from experience that the waves would be quite steep and confused where the tidal rips collide.

We started off across the passage with the conditions as predicted.

Goodbye to Antechamer Bay

After 1 hr we found the SE wind had picked up slightly making for sloppy conditions with larger swells and occasional breaking seas. It was actually lots of fun making fast runs down steep waves and then being surrounded in deep troughs.

Michael and I were enjoying the conditions and Rodney was really getting the hang of running parallel to the waves, rising and falling as they swept under him.

Rodney having a fun day out

 

Michael was there one second and buried in water the next

 

Keeping on track

Everything continued to plan as we approached Blowhole Creek on the mainland and then started our run west to Cape Jervis staying a couple of kilometres offshore to get the best of the following sea.

Heading for Blowhole Creek (the gap in the hills)

 

Resting before the run into Cape Jervis

We arrived at Cape Jervis 4 hours after launching, with the crossing of Backstairs Passage from Antechamber Bay to Blowhole Creek taking around 2hr 30m.

Our last duty to load up and head for the Yankalilla Bakery, for a decent cappuccino and pasty.

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Paddlers and photographs by Ian, Michael and Rodney. Editing by Ian.

pope2Yogi bearSir Rodney

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s go Boogie – Riot boogie 50 surf kayak

Life’s been a bit busy lately, what with new toys to play with and people wanting help with kayak fitouts and getting in lots of fun paddles.

I was asked to fit new footrests in a Riot Boogie 50, a surf kayak that I hadn’t paddled before, so I was fully booked for another day. The Boogie 50 comes with foam wedge blocks that are to be cut to the appropriate length for the paddler. Yes the system works, well for some people anyway, but I find them quite limiting when a couple of people want to share the kayak.

IMG_8412Originally the Riot Boogie 50 was set up for adjustable footrests,such as “Footstops”, as the mouldings for them are still in the kayak deck. Again, I find that style less than ideal in a surf kayak so I purchased a set of “Jackson Happy Feet” that would set up the kayak nicely.

First job was to remove the centre foam block ,which is easy after removing the securing tab in the deck and whacking sideways with a large rubber mallet. Then I cut the block to the leg length of the paddler so that it allowed  more heel space. Next it was simply a matter of using some of the surplus hard foam foot wedges, cut to size, to fill most of the kayak bow and then insert the Jackson Happy Feet inflatable footrests. Reinsert the centre foam pillar into the kayak, again with a rubber mallet, re-secure the pillar and your’e ready to inflate the footrests and set them in place.

If you haven’t come across Jackson Happy Feet before, follow this link to check them out. An absolutely brilliant system for getting a solid footrest into any surf or playboat.  I got the Happy Feet from Canoes Plus in Victoria, Australia, who are also the retailer for the Riot Boogie 50 and Jackson Kayaks.

Of course to check out my handy work I needed to hit the water. The local surf was tiny however it was big enough to check out the footrest adjustment and the kayak. The gallery at the bottom shows me in the yellow Riot Boogie and Rodney in a green Jackson Fun, having lots of fun on a beautiful Autumn day.

The Boogie is an older surf kayak design, however I was impressed by it characteristics, being stable to paddle and quite comfortable with an integrated seat and backrest. I managed an hour playing around in small surf and was able to get excellent speed with the 3 fins moved to a forward position. It also rolled easily as I found out when lacking a little concentration as a wave dumped on me. The polyethylene construction, combined with its solid handling characteristics, makes it an ideal choice for beginner to intermediate surf paddlers. The low volume tail, sharp rails on the back and long roomy front end, provides lots of carving power and allows for paddlers of all sizes.  In fact I liked it so much I think I will add one to my toy box very shortly…..Happy Paddling ….Ian

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 Kayak Spedifications

Length Width Weight Cockpit Dims Volume
7’9” 24.7” 36.3 lbs 32” x 17” 50 US gal
236 cm 63 cm 16.5 kg 81 x 43 cm 189 L
›› Surfing powerseat
›› Customizable foam footblocks
›› Drainplug
›› Molded-in padded knee pockets
›› Two rubber grab loops

Surf Kayaking – FUN at any age

Surf kayaking is my greatest kayaking pleasure; well at the moment anyway. I have been returning to some surf breaks that I first tried to board surf at when I was about 16 and then haunted when I was in my thirties. Now a few years later, or maybe that’s decades, I’m still here with an even greater sense of FUN.

Late 1980's. Bells Beach Victoria. 1 car 3 skis 3 white water kayaks

Late 1980’s. Bells Beach Victoria. 1 car 3 skis 3 white water kayaks and lots of FUN. That’s me in the middle.

I owned and surfed many specialist surf kayaks over the years as well as a whole swag of wave ski’s during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Small day at Pondalowie Bay South Australia.

Small day at Pondalowie Bay South Australia. Marty Williams at play.

As we are the driest state on the driest continent there’s no white water paddling to be had and certainly no playboats in kayak shops, but luckily I was able to borrow a Jackson FUN from a friend interstate . Now this is very much a white water playboat and I am a little heavy for it at 88kg but it is certainly comfortable.

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First paddle. Nice wave peaked up, paddled to take off, dropped down the face and threw my weight into a bottom turn. The FUN spun 180 degrees, I screamed backwards, lent back too far, dug the rear deck into the wave, back flipped and airborne as my head kissed the deck.  Cleaned out the sinus anyway !!!.
Hmmm…. this kayak needs a little more finesse than I used with a finned surf kayak.

Another hour or more in some pretty choppy waves but lots of FUN. I’ll write a review of the Jackson FUN, for surf kayaking, after I get it a little better under control. We shot a little footage but the camera malfunctioned, however you should get the idea.

Cheers…Ian Pope
“The best surfer out there is the one having the most FUN”… Duke Kahanamoku.