Silent Night

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, all is bright.

It was almost Silent as we left the growl of the metropolis behind. The wind was a calming whisper as we glided into the darkness. The sound of water gently slapping the kayak and the occasional splash of the paddle were all the sounds we wanted to hear.

Leaving the rest behind

It was Calm. The wind stilled and the ocean surface took on a mirrored finish.

All behind us was Bright. We had left behind the lights of population soon after launching. It was paddling into the darkness with no moon in sight.

Occasionally the wind would surprise us with a cooling gust, making us increase our paddling tempo, then drop away just as fast as it came.

With those eyes he makes a great Vampire

Time and distance fade away as you focus on other things; the rhythm of the paddle, the rocking of the kayak, the joy of being away from the heat and noise of “the others”.

All good things must come to and end and we returned to reality heading inshore, where we greeted the last night walkers on the jetty, saw the Xmas lights still glowing and heard the muted sounds of the late night party goers.

We glided along, not knowing that we were on top of reefs and rocky sections until the camera flash showed us the shallows. Luckily no waves across the headlands tonight.

Hmm…that is shallow
The last night walkers
Xmas lights still burning

We had heard splashes on the water but saw nothing. Probably just sea birds settling for the night. We hoped to hear the puffing of the local dolphin pod but they were elsewhere. We did not want to see or hear (of feel) Mr Chompy who had been seen patrolling the reef during the day. ( Mr Chompy was a guest blogger here some time ago- follow the link to see his blog).

I suspect some of you have noted that I missed out the Holy. That’s because I had originally planned to paddle Xmas eve, however, the wind played havoc with those plans.

Happy New Year. Let’s put 2021 behind us.

Winds and Windmills

Many borders are closed and COVID is loose in several states across Australia so our only safe holiday choice was to stay in South Australia. Our first adventure was to clock up some mountain bike kilometres in the north Flinders Ranges with a couple of friends.

The weather was warm, the wind less than friendly but we still managed to travel loops on the Mawson Trail as well as other less travelled routes. Add in a hot day walking in the Aroona Valley, visiting the Blinman Hotel “the pub in the scrub” and we had a week of fun sorted.

The winds were still unfriendly when we left the North Flinders area and headed to the edge of the Nullabor plain to visit the iconic surf break of Cactus Beach. The surf was blown out by the southerly wind with no surfers out there today or for the next few days.

Blown out at Cactus

Where there’s Wind there’s Windmills. The town of Penong is several kilometres inland from the ocean but still has its’ share of wind and windmills. There is even a windmill museum with a number of restored windmills in action. These days they are for show as solar powered pumps have taken over the pumping duties.

My duty was that of photographers assistant, carrying gear and generally keeping out the way. We were in luck as in the late afternoon the wind abated and the giant Comet 35 windmill slowly came to a halt. The local Penong football team was in the grand final next weekend and was having their last training session under full lights at the nearby oval. The field of windmills slowly rotated to face the oval and the lights reflected off their blades.

Long exposure at night
Sunset on the massive Comet 35

Our time was running short so we headed back home to Adelaide with the surf forecast there showing signs of good swells. Sadly the swell had eased the day of our arrival and we were greeted by a less than impressive surf break. With the need to get wet I paddled out with Steve to grab what fun we could.

Here’s a 1 minute clip of fun. Thanks for visiting.

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 :)-

Haystacks…..not just a load of hay

On our wanderings across the western coastline of South Australia we have come across lots of harvesting at this time of year. Not only are there long road trains carting grain to the silos but also lots of hay being stacked into large haystacks.

These days it’s more likely to see hay in large “rounds” stacked together rather than the traditional haystacks but we have found a couple of unusual varieties as well.

Rounds of hay are more the norm these days

Square bales stacked high

It doesn’t have to be a stack of hay bales to be called a Haystack. On the Eyre Peninsula we found “Murphy’s Haystacks which may look like an old fashioned Haystack but are rock formations.

Murphy’s haystacks

The kayak paddler comes across many and varied landscapes including islands. This one is called Haystack Island.

Haystack Island off the coast of Yorke Peninsula. On a day with glassy swells.

Haystack Island with a change of weather

It might not look like a Haystack from a distance but when your up close it does take on the colours and shape of hay.

Colours change as the light changes

It seems Australians have an imagination for names but for me the best Haystack is my visits to Haystack Island.

Seascapes

The sky is light blue and the water is crystal clear. You can feel the heat of the sun warming the sand as the northerly wind brings the heat from the inland. It has just gone 7am and there are a few people walking their dogs on the beach before the heat begins to really sear the landscape. There is already a heat haze visible far out on the horizon telling us that it will probably hit 40 Celsius later.

We escape the land for a few hours exercise as we head the kayaks out into Gulf St Vincent, heading south along the coastline. It’s great to be away from the heat of the land and the hustle and bustle of the city which will soon be into full swing with the after Christmas shopping.

You don’t get much calmer than this

It’s good to be gliding along this familiar coastline, especially on a clear morning. The last months have been occupied with many other things. Bike riding to the northern tip of Australia, mountain biking and Fat-biking in the northern Flinders Ranges and travelling the coastline with friends, with a little kayaking squeezed in.

Seascapes are the things that bring me back to the ocean. That place where the land meets the sea in a quiet slurping of a gentle swell around the rocks or in a deafening roar as large waves pound the coast. I’m paddling a favourite piece of coastline not far from the city of Adelaide. It’s a place I have been many times and always find it interesting and calming.

Quiet waters and rock sculptures

Today is definitely a “quiet slurping” day and we are able to get in close along the cliffs to enjoy the movements of the currents.

Just the three of us

We glide along visiting the rocky outcrops where Steve is always found. It’s not really best practice to follow him as the Seaward Passat double is like driving a shopping trolley with wonky wheels when you get in amongst the rock gardens. Both of us were admiring the view and taking photos as we hit a submerged rock and slew sideways, nearly capsizing. How embarrassing would that have been? Note to self; at least one of us should have a paddle in their hands for support if needed. “Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but gelcoat” is the old saying; well this time we left a nice chunk of gelcoat on that rock meaning a minor repair job this week.

The water was so calm Steve even managed a classic “selfie”.

We often lose Steve amongst the rocks and Cormorants

We quietly glided along the line of cliffs admiring the underwater seascape as well as that above.

Clear water and weathered rocks

 

Towering cliffs along the way

Then we turn and head for home and make a bee line for the launch spot. Steve heading off to another Xmas get together and us checking in at a favourite coffee shop.

Have a great 2018 hopefully with lots of paddling. We certainly will. 🙂