The “Seal of Approval”

Another 38°C (100° F) day was forecast, just rounding out another week of heat. So what to do today ?. The last week had seen strong, hot winds blowing across the Adelaide Plains but today was different. NO wind or just a gentle breeze perhaps, so it was load up the kayak and hit the water.

And indeed there was NO wind or maybe just a wisp of a breeze, hardly enough to evaporate the sweat from the brow but perfect conditions combined with an extremely low tide to do a little exploring. The sky was overcast, covered with tropical layers swirling from the north. The horizon blended into the sky making an eerie landscape and the cliffs stood dark and quiet.

The water was crystal clear and you could easily pick out the bottom at 6 metres.

Crystal clear water

Crystal clear water

Clear water and steep cliffs

Clear water and steep cliffs

We explored a little along the rugged coastline.

Michael drifting along

Michael drifting along

Shaun exploring a small crevice

Shaun exploring a small crevice

This way is a bit squeezy in a Seaward Passat Double kayak

This entrance is a bit squeezy in a Seaward Passat Double kayak… but we manage

Steve in close inspection

Steve in close inspection

Shauna tries not to scratch the new kayak

Shauna tries not to scratch the new kayak

Whats around the corner ?

Whats around the corner ?

Clear waters

Clear waters

We drifted along a little, with no plans to be anywhere at any particular time.

Just floating

Just floating

The photographer

The photographer

….and we were not the only ones enjoying the day.

New Zealand Fur seals enjoying the calm waters

New Zealand Fur seals enjoying the calm waters

 

We are not alone. Three other kayaks also enjoying the day.

We are not alone. Three other kayaks also enjoying the day.

We got ourselves in a few tight places with the slightest of swells gently moving the kayaks in and out of rock crevices.

Shaun again and the crevices are getting smaller

Shaun again and the crevices are getting smaller

It was a great day on the water.

Calm waters

Calm waters

We just needed one more thing..and there he was ..the kayakers “Seal of Approval”.

The "Seal of Approval"

The “Seal of Approval”

 

Photos by Ian and Shauna

ian smurf crop (2)stick shauna

 

 

 

 

Kayak drifting by
Shaun                                 Steve                 Michael                     Robyn

jim2kingYogi bearRobyn

The Blowhole

Sea kayak Day Paddle – Cape Jervis to Blowhole Beach.  Actually there isn’t really a blowhole there, not like the type we normally think of where towering waves crash onto a rocky coastline sending plumes of spray skywards. This is Blowhole Creek  in the Deep Creek National Park and one of the picturesque beaches along this very rugged coastline. I have been visiting this beach for the last 40 years and the only thing that has changes is that you can now access it via a 4WD track from within the National Park. In the old days it was a rocky walk down a rough track or straight down the fence line on Cobblers Hill.

This area has a tidal stream of up to 3 knots as water empties and refills the Gulf St Vincent so all paddling needs to be planned with the tides.  My many years experience paddling this coast have also taught me to be very cautious of forecasts and take more notice of the conditions at the time as well my own observations.

The weather forecast a couple of days out had been for smooth seas and light winds so we planned a trip along the coast from Cape Jervis to Blowhole Creek and return. We gathered 5 local paddlers together with the idea of exploring the rocky coastline up close, if the weather forecast was correct.

The "5 fine young men" ready for action

The 5 “fine young men” ready for action

Arriving at Cape Jervis we found that the Backstairs Passage between the mainland and Kangaroo Island was just starting to have white caps on the horizon, stirred up by a Sou’Easterly breeze. Great….another day of headwinds and certainly not what we had hoped for but inshore it would be much calmer.

We got organised and waited in the shelter of the marina for the Kangaroo Island ferry to leave.

Waiting for the KI ferry to leave

Waiting for the KI ferry to leave

Then we plodded off into the increasing gusts.

Michael and Steve

Michael and Steve

Of course there is a shipping lane in Backstairs Passage so you need to keep a wary eye on the horizon.

The Ferry and Container ship crossing paths

The Ferry and Container ship crossing paths

Sean and Michael in the protected waters

Sean and Michael in the protected waters

Heading out of the protection of Cape Jervis. Kangaroo Island in the distance.

Heading out of the protection of Cape Jervis. Kangaroo Island in the distance.

Looking at my GPS I thought “ Hey this was supposed to be an easy paddle riding the ebb tide, but we are only making 5km/hr in the strengthening wind. We decided to stay close inshore and use the headlands for protection from the breeze.

Paddling close inshore to avoid the winds.

Ian showing the way.

We reached Lands End and passed close in at Whites Beach where the underwater power cable goes to Kangaroo Island.

Staying in close

Staying in close

We soon arrived at the more interesting section of the paddle, where the steep cliffs fall straight into the water.

Clear water and shelter from the wind

Clear water and shelter from the wind

This allowed us to get up close and personal with the rocks and swell. As usual Steve was found bobbing around among the rocks.

Steve inspects another crevice

Steve inspects another crevice

Rugged coastline

Rugged coastline

Inspecting the rocky coastline

Inspecting the rocky coastline

We “played” our way along the coast to Naiko inlet which is a small inlet with sandy beach. There we spotted the first signs of life for the trip. Maybe Alien life was a better description as we spotted a spaceship landed among the native bush.

Signs of life on the hill

Signs of life on the hill

A closer view of the landing spot

A closer view of the landing spot

Soon Cobblers Hill was in sight with Blowhole Beach just around the headland. We could see bushwalkers on the Heysen Trail which runs 1200 km from Victor Harbor to Parachilna Gorge in the northern Flinders Ranges.

One more headland to go

One more headland to go

A landing through small surf got us onto the pristine beach for lunch.

Blowhole Beach

Blowhole Beach

Rodney surprised with a bowl of fresh strawberries, cherries and grapes to share. Who said he’s disorganised ??

The lunch spot

The lunch spot

Looking SW

Looking SW

Looking towards Kangaroo Island

Looking towards Kangaroo Island

Then back on the water through a small surf we found that the wind had abated slightly but still gave us an easy ride home as we picked up the start of the flood tide.

Steve on the way out

Steve on the way out

Again we played around in  some rock gardens resulting in me high and dry on rocks. (sorry no photos !!)

Having fun

Having fun

Among the rocks again

Among the rocks again

Checking out a small ravine

Checking out a small ravine

Many years ago some intrepid fisherman built a “get away” on the headland which is now complete with TV antenna. Unfortunately you can see that the “room with a view” has lost its’ door to a recent gale and now resides at the bottom of the cliff. Still your hardly likely to get too many interruptions here.

Room for one

Room for one

We arrived back at Cape Jervis just in time to see the Kangaroo Island ferry heading out for Penneshaw. A great way to spend a day on this mainly deserted coastline with a pristine beach lunch stop.

Arriving at the Cape as the ferry departs

Arriving at the Cape as the ferry departs

This is an excellent place for exciting paddling especially as the swell and associated clapatis increases. It should only be paddled by those with the appropriate sea skills and of course a properly fitted out sea kayak.

Happy Paddling
Ian Pope

blowhole (2)

 

Starting point. Cape Jervis
Distance. 18km return
Hazards. This area is subject to a tidal stream of up to 3 knots so paddlers must take this into account on all trips. Note that South Australia has “dodge tides” and more information is available from the Bureau of Meteorology website (bom.gov.au). There are many reefy/rocky areas along the coast as well as the possibility of large breaking waves with the predominant swell being from the SW. There are limited landing spots along this coast even in good conditions. Take care and seek local knowledge.

Chart AUS 780

Paddlers and Photographers Ian, Shaun, Steve, Michael and Rodney

ian smurf crop (2)

jim2 king Yogi bear Sir Rodney Hubert Biggs

Spring Equinox paddle

Sea kayak Day Paddle –  Seal Island Victor Harbor. Well not so much a day paddle, more like a morning sojourn which can be everything from calm to crazy. Today it was moving towards the crazy side.

It’s the Spring Equinox today and you would think we could rustle up a little spring weather for our Spring Equinox paddle but it was nowhere to be seen. It was another of those strange days you get at Victor Harbor in Spring, where it promises sunshine but delivers cold overcast skies. The forecast was for gentle 10kn SE’ly winds with clear skies but the reality was a 15-18kn SE’ly wind opposing a 2 metre SW swell, overcast skies and a temperature around 13C.

Not ideal conditions for this area today and even under ideal conditions you should have good “sea kayak skills” to paddle this area. However, two of us were standing on the beach with not much else to do except get cold and wet so off we went.

The plan was to paddle from Kent Reserve towards Granite Island, skirting an area of reefy breaks and bommies, then head out to Seal Island, returning via the eastern side of Granite Island.

We headed out getting some protection from Granite Island.

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Although the seas soon became confused with wind against swell.

Seal Island in the distance

Seal Island in the distance

It then became impossible for me to take photos as I was tossed in the steep waves from the wind driven SE hitting the SW swell and also being thumped by occasional large clapatis waves from Granite Island. “BHOP time” (both hands on paddle)

We worked our way out around the various reef breaks .Seal Island is protected by a number of reefy breaks and today all of them were savage.

Nearing Seal Island

Nearing Seal Island

We reached a small protected area near Seal Island.

Reaching a calmer area

Reaching a calmer area

Even the seals decided it was too rough to come out and greet us.

Too cold and wet even for the seals

Too cold and wet even for the seals

Steve was a very happy boy to find a little sheltered spot.

A short respite from the wind

A short respite from the wind

After our short visit with the seals we headed back towards the eastern side of Granite Island with a large lumpy following sea. Again photos were a little difficult to get.

Riding the crests

Riding the crests

Once around the breakwater we were in calm water.

Rounding the breakwater

Rounding the breakwater

Calm waters

Calm waters

Then onward past the jetty.

The boat wharf.

The boat wharf.

Under the causeway

Under the causeway

We watched the tourists on their way onto Granite Island aboard the horse drawn tram…..

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…and then spent some time playing amongst the rocks.

Protected waters

Protected waters. Encounter Bay township in the distance.

Getting up close and personal with granite boulders

Getting up close and personal with granite boulders

Sliding on the swells

Sliding on the swells

A great morning of paddling to celebrate the Spring Equinox. Now where’s my mountain bike ? I’m heading north to where it’s warmer.  Ian…Paddling South.

Starting point. Kent Reserve Victor Harbor

Distance. 8.5km

Seal Island Victor Harbor paddle

Seal Island Victor Harbor paddle

Hazards. A number of dangerous rocks are charted as well as reefy areas. Clapatis from Granite Island can make for a very confused sea in some places. Swell may break near Granite Island. Consult marine chart before attempting. Avoid paddling close to south side of Granite Island due to large swells breaking and dangerous currents.

Chart AUS 127

pope2king

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paddlers and photographers

Ian                                              Steve

Sea kayak day paddle. West Island Victor Harbor.

 Some of my favourite paddling areas are along the coastline, south of Adelaide.  Accessible for paddlers with appropriate “kayak sea skills” and a properly fitted out sea kayak the West Island of Victor harbor is a perfect day paddle…. Ian “Paddling South”.

I had been invited to join 3 paddlers who were spending a beautiful spring day exploring the area of West Island, just offshore from Victor Harbor, which is 83km south of Adelaide.

This is a great place to paddle in calmer conditions and can test your ability in fresher conditions due to the prevailing swells from the Southern Ocean and clapatis from the granite headlands.

Shauna, Steve, Shaun and myself set off in what was predicted to be a 10-15kn Northerly wind , but was actually a 10-12kn South Easterly. That’s fairly typical on this southern coast where things rarely go to plan, and there is always the possibility of sudden and sometimes severe weather changes.

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Shauna leaving the Davenport anchorage

Leaving Kent Reserve in the Davenport Anchorage our plan was to pass on the inside of Wright Island, head out through Shark Alley which is the passage between Wright Island and the mainland Bluff, then head along the coast to West Island.

Steve on his way to The Bluff

Steve on his way to The Bluff

The SE wind made for good time to Wright Island where we passed close to its’ small beach.

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Wright Island beach.

I was able to pass very close to its’ western side.

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The western side of Wright Island. Calm today but normally hit by SW swells.

As we cleared the wind break of the island the winds and opposing  swell, combined with clapatis from the Bluff to give us a bumpy ride. (If you are not totally comfortable here, turn back now !!).

We were able to get in quite close to the south side of the bluff and could see a group of rock climbers on top of a large granite slab.

Spot the rock climbers?

Spot the rock climbers?

We could see West Island ahead of us.

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West Island ahead

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King Beach on the right as the cliffline starts

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Steve spotting wildlife

West Island is a 10 ha granite island that rises to a maximum height of about 40m in the south-west. Its main conservation value lies with its seabird colonies and small marine research station.

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West Island research station

During the 1880’s it was quarried for granite to construct the foundations of Parliament House, Adelaide. From 1913 until the mid-1960s it was zoned as a Reserve for Government Purposes and, for a short period, was used by the Adelaide University Regiment as a target for gunnery practice during field exercises. In 1966 it became a fauna reserve. It was declared a Conservation Park in 1972 and in 1973 and 1975 Pearson Island rock-wallabies were introduced to the island. I am still to spot one of the wallabies on the island so maybe they have not fared well.

The island has a number of NZ fur seals who were lazing on the granite boulders or swimming around our kayaks.

seals west islan 4d

Seals coming out to greet us

seals west island 1

…and coming in for a closer look

seals west island2

Shauna tries to capture this guy on film

Breeding seabirds include Little Penguins, Silver Gulls, Caspian and Fairy Terns. The Little penguin population has suffered a dramatic decline since the 1990’s. In 1992, the population was estimated to be around 4000 penguins. In June 2011, the population was estimated to be less than 20 penguins.The decline echoes the decline of the colony on nearby Granite Island and many other island in the southern ocean and the cause is still largely unknown.

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Shaun investigating where granite has been mined in the past

With the wind abating for a short period we circumnavigated the island……

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Western side of the island where the water is 30m deep

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Granite boulders in strange stacks

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Shaun having a closer look at the coastline

It's getting a little bumpy now

It’s getting a little bumpy now

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Granite seascapes

………….with Steve playing for a while in “rock gardens”.

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Now be careful Steve

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Having FUN

We then steered a course back to Wright Island and its’ small beach as the wind started to swing to the predicted NE direction. A great spot for lunch.

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The predicted wind finally arrives.

Lunch on the beach ……….

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….followed by a head wind paddle back to our starting spot made for a very enjoyable day.

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This is an excellent place for exciting paddling especially as the swell and associated clapatis increases. It should only be paddled by those with the appropriate sea skills and of course a properly fitted out sea kayak.

log

Starting point. Kent Reserve Victor Harbor

Distance. 13km

Hazards. A number of dangerous rocks are charted as well as reefy areas. Clapatis from the headlands can make for a very confused sea in some places. Swell may break in some parts of Shark Alley. Consult marine chart before attempting. Avoid Petrel Cove, west of Rosetta Head due to rips and dangerous rocks.

Chart AUS 127

Paddlers and photographers

stick shauna

kingpope2jim2

 

 

 

 

 

Shauna                      Steve                      Ian                        Shaun

The Western Shore

The Aagot, an iron Barque of 1242 tons, built at Glasgow, 1882, as the Firth Of Clyde, but now laying on rocks on Wardang Island. A gale on 11 October 1907. wrecked the ship in rough seas and  imprisoned the crew on board until the ebb tide moderated conditions and allowed a member of the crew to swim ashore with line. wreck_aagot I’ve paddled past the wreck site a number of times in fair weather and seen the outline of the anchor poking from the rocks at low tide but this time we looked at the wreck from a different angle. We had paddled offshore 13km from Pt Victoria to the north western side of Wardang group of islands with a fresh headwind and short chop. This route is quite shallow and reefy in places and always makes for interesting wave action when the wind is up. We camped the night waiting for a better weather window, but it seemed to disappear, being replaced with a stiff headwind and SW swell. IMG_9904 Our journey down the western side of the island started well enough with a 10-12kn headwind and  sloppy sea but within 2 kilometres of the wreck site it had shifted up a gear to 12-17kn with larger swells and a breaking sea on top. Wardang Goose Is 122Not ideal conditions for kayak photography so we decided to land at one of the small protected beaches and check out the wreck site from the land. Of course there was a savage shore break which proved to be a little fun, especially for Robyn and Ian in the Seaward Passat double kayak. Rodney fared better with a text book landing on the sand. Wardang Goose Is 177

Wardang Goose Is 187 Few people visit this uninhabited island group and generally you will only encounter the occasional fishing boat. Wardang Goose Is 171 We however found numerous tracks of the local inhabitants. Wardang Goose Is 134 A walk over the rocky headland bought us to the wreck site and we could see that in a gale this coast would have been treacherous. Not surprisingly there are many ship wrecks on this coast as it is a low island group that can easily meld in with the mainland when viewed from sea. The island also didn’t have any navigation light until 1909 and even then various maps showed it in different places just to cause a little more confusion. This few kilometers of coastline has the remains of the ships, Aagot, Australian, Investigator, Notre Dame D ‘Arvor, Monarch and McIntyre.

The Aagot anchors lay below these waves.

Wardang Goose Is 159 One strange thing about  beach combing the area was an abundance of right foot thongs washed up. Only right foot…never the left….what a strange phenomenon.

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Our time exploring was cut short as the wind threatened to further increase off shore. We made a perfect departure from the protected beach timing our breakout perfectly to avoid the shore break. The run back to camp was fast and furious sliding down a following sea and occasional breaking waves to arrive at the protection of the north tip of the islands. The north tip is home to a colony of Sea Lions and a large number of Pied Cormorants who inhabit the rocky outcrops so it was relaxing to hide in the lee and enjoy the antics of the locals.

 

Wardang Goose Is 226 Wardang Goose Is 209 Wardang Goose Is 197 We had left our campsite guarded by a Peregrine Falcon who had taken up residence in an old radio tower. IMG_9922 We landed back at camp having had an interesting paddle and looking forward to the evening meal with celebratory red wine. Rodney had chosen an excellent Grant Burge Balthasar 2012 Shiraz and Grant Burge 2010 Corryton Cabernet Sauvignon and Robyn and I provided a lovely Eccolo Wines Sangiovese. The wines  and pre-dinner snacks were enjoyed with great gusto watching the sun set and the full moon rise. Wardang Goose Is 292 Next day we headed along the eastern coast of Wardang Island with thoughts of the Narungga people who had been travelling to Wardang Island long before the arrival of Europeans. The island could be accessed at low tide by wading out to Green Island and then swimming for  kilometres across a deep channel. People would sit on the shore and sing songs and wave branches to distract the sharks from swimmers. I started singing quite loudly when a fin appeared of the stern of the kayak but luckily it was only a dolphin.

Mining of Lime Sand had begun on the island in 1910 and lasted for several years until easier  to access deposits were located. There are still remnants of the small community that was involved in mining and agriculture. The island was once stocked with sheep and large water tanks were constructed, living quarters, shearing sheds and other facilities were built. Several families stayed on the island to manage the stock and the children attended a small school. A barge was used to ferry materials and stock to and from the island and later a ketch, ‘the Narungga’, would move between the island and Dolly’s wharf. IMG_9908 The ketch “Narrunga”, shown here tied up at Dollys Wharf. narnarungga Little remains of Dollys Wharf these days. Wardang Goose Is 037 The last part of the paddle brought a few light rain showers indispersed with periods of bright sunshine and light winds. A fitting end to another great paddle. IMG_0711   …and a few extra photos from our trip.

 

Thanks to Rodney for the photos, delicious snacks interesting wine and of course to Robyn for all other catering.

Ian, Robyn and Rodney. Paddling South …..where not everything goes to plan