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,

Gone with the wind

Our cunning plan was to paddle to Kangaroo Island for the weekend and explore the camping and photo options on the Chapman River. This would mean a crossing of the notorious Backstairs Passage which I had done countless times, but for Steve it would be his first trip. However, it seems that Euros the god of the South East wind was looking over our shoulder again and our plan would be “gone with the wind”.

After our windy experiences on a recent trip we activated Plan B. Instead of an 18km crossing each way we decided on a 77km down wind paddle from Cape Jervis to Steves’ home beach of Christies Beach, Adelaide.

Steve all packed and ready to go

Steve all packed and ready to go

With the wind around 20-25kn in Backstairs Passage we could hardly make out features on the island.

It was calm in the marina but we knew that the winds were around 20kn and increasing on Backstairs Passage

It was calm in the marina but we knew that the winds were around 20kn and increasing on Backstairs Passage

We were able to sneak out around the marina into Gulf St Vincent hugging the coast where the effects of the wind were greatly reduced, but still enough to give us a wet ride. We planned to keep in close to the cliffs as the SE wind would sheer over the top of the cliffs giving us calm water at the cliff base.

It's this way along the coast

It’s this way along the coast

All set for a wet ride home

All set for a wet ride home

We negotiated the first couple of kilometers past Morgans beach and Starfish Hill until we reached the base of the cliff line. We were then able to hug in close out of the wind and enjoy the scenery towering over us as well as the seabed in crystal clear water.

Nice easy paddling

Nice easy paddling

I was able to get in a little kayak sailing practice with a fully laden boat, something I haven’t done for a while. I’m not sure Steve really appreciated me zig zagging around him, giving him a quick history and geography lesson as I passed, but it did allow for a couple of photos.

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A very relaxed sail as we kept inshore out of the wind

I never tire of this stunning coastline with its cliff plunging straight into the clear water or the small caves and fissures that abound as well as the wildlife that plays here.

Investigating a small cove

Investigating a small cove

Steve the photographer

Steve the photographer

Steve was always among the rocks

Steve was always among the rocks

Do not disturb

Do not disturb

Sea lions played around us

Sea lions played around us

It was hard to get them to stay still for a photo

It was hard to get them to stay still for a photo

Not interested in our passing

Not interested in our passing

Our destination was Normanville where we camped at the local Caravan Park. A nice place to spend the night and there is even a small cafe operating by the jetty.

Next morning the forecast was again winds 20kn SE strengthening to 25-30kn during the day. We launched in the calmer Normanville bay with Steve telling me that having a kayak sail was definitely not “playing fair”.

Not playing fair

Not playing fair

Perfect sailing weather

Perfect sailing weather

We took advantage of the slightly calmer conditions inshore until we reached the cliffs at Carrickalinga where we again hugged the cliff base.

Lolling around in a protected inlet

Lolling around in a protected inlet

Again we were treated to clear water and high cliffs as we slowed to investigate many rocky inlets.

Second Valley ahead

 

Lots of small caves and fissures along the way

Lots of small caves and fissures along the way

Strange rock formations

Jumbled rock formations

Calm water in the cove

Calm water in the cove

As we reached the bluff before Myponga Beach we swung to seaward plotting a course across several kilometers of open water that would see us land at Christies Beach, where we had arranged a pick up. I’m afraid I didn’t have the opportunity to take photos as I was too busy controlling the kayak under sail. I was able to catch waves and often saw the GPS clock 16km/ hr, before being buried into the wave in front.

As the wind increased I had to drop the sail partly because it was getting a little hairy, but mostly because I was  unable to stay in contact with Steve. From there on it was a large wind driven following sea that gave us lots of fun as it sped us towards home.

We had paddled and sailed some amazing coastline covering 77km in 2 days with an average speed of 7km/hr which included lots of time playing along the way. Steves’ first crossing to Kangaroo Island will have to wait until another day.

Happy paddling (and sailing)

Ian                                                     Steve

ian smurf crop (2)

king

 

 

 

Starfish Point

Travelling the west coast of South Australia we sometimes heard local legends about the landscape or the sea. One local legend tells of a point where starfish seem to come together in the last months of summer, much like the aggregation of Cuttlefish at Point Lowly in winter. The idea of having starfish in large numbers seemed odd at first but we decided to check out the area for a likely point of land.

With a rough idea of the area we started our search on foot plodding along the deserted beaches that are covered in shells in all stages of disintegration.

It was a nice day for a walk along the long stretches of deserted beaches and allowed us time to do a little beachcombing

It was a nice day for a walk along the long stretches of deserted beaches and allowed us time to do a little beach combing

The beaches were seperated by limestone headlands that afforded a great view of the coastline

The beaches were separated by limestone headlands that afforded a great view of the coastline

As we had no luck in the general vicinity of our campsite we took to the water to check a number of points and bays along the coast. You can see our campsite on the cliffs in the centre of the photo, which made a perfect spot to admire the view at the end of a long day, whilst enjoying a cold beer.

Our campsite on the cliffs with our own beach

Our campsite on the cliffs with our own beach

Another cove to check out

Another cove to check out

We even tried asking a couple of locals along the way but they seemed more interested in playing in the waves than helping in our quest.

NZ fur seals playing around the kayaks

NZ fur seals playing around the kayaks

Looks like a lot of fun

Looks like the dolphins were having a lot of fun

Everyone on the wave

Everyone on the wave

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We spent hours paddling along the coastline and although it was an incredibly enjoyable pastime, we had no luck in our search. We were buzzed by the local dolphin pods out fishing and had young dolphins play around under our kayaks, but they were too quick for my camera.

Back at camp, Robyn had stern words with 3 “banditos” who she caught stealing carrots, but they too remained silent on the location. They stayed around our camp for days and we would often find them sitting on our doorstep in the morning.

The 3 Banditos often dropped into the camp

The 3 Banditos often dropped into the camp

Our next task was to extend the search a little wider by using our Fatbikes to cover more distance along the beaches. This meant a trek up some sandy tracks and dunes before going cross country to the beach. With the tyre pressure at 6psi it was possible to ride most of the track but sometimes we sank in the fine sand and had to push the bike.

Sometimes the sand was too soft and we had to push

Sometimes the sand was too soft and we had to push

It was cross country from the tracks until we came to the beach

It was cross country from the tracks until we came to the beach

The rewards were some stunning views across the ocean

The rewards were some stunning views across the ocean

Ready to ride another sweeping bay

Ready to ride another sweeping bay

Time for a rest

Time for a rest

Unfortunately our search was unsuccessful, so we decided on one last effort to locate Starfish Point. We visited a few spots  that we had thought less likely to harbor a carpet of starfish.

The points were very rugged and the swell was making them very dangerous even from the shore.

The rocks gave us a great vantage point

The rocks gave us a great vantage point

We realised it was not a safe place to be when a wave crashed over rocks

We realised it was not a safe place to be when a wave crashed over rocks

The bays and surrounding country are stunningly beautiful and certainly worth the effort of visiting.

Sweeping bays bordered by sand dunes

Sweeping bays bordered by sand dunes

Stunning sand dunes with varying shades of colour

Stunning sand dunes with varying shades of colour

San dunes with the contrasting afternoon sky

Sand dunes with the contrasting afternoon sky

We were exploring along a protected rocky point when Robyn spotted flashes of red in the water. We climbed down as far as was safe and found starfish dotted every meter around the point. Unfortunately the conditions were not the best for photography but I will bring my snorkeling gear next time.

Starfish dotted the sea floor

Starfish dotted the sea floor

Maybe it wasn’t just a local legend talked about in the country pub but a real Starfish Point whose location will continue to remain a secret.

 

Venus and other Gods

Venus is the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty, among other things, and we have been wandering along a coastline that we certainly Love. Its’ Beauty is in the rugged cliffs and sandy bays that dot the landscape along the western coast of South Australia.

Unfortunately Venus was travelling with Euros the God of the South East Wind and he was displaying his might. For several days now it has blown too strong for us mere mortal kayak paddlers to venture out into Venus Bay and then out into the open Southern Ocean.

Even the locals stayed ashore today. This was inside the calm bay and you can see the whitecaps on the water

Even the locals stayed ashore today. This was inside the calm bay and you can see the whitecaps on the water

Our plan had been to spend a couple of weeks exploring along the rugged coastline, visiting places that we had been before and exploring some new spots. The coastline between Venus Bay and Smoky Bay is especially beautiful from the water with a series of cliffs towering above and lots of small bays and inlets to explore. In the past we had spent many days paddling and swimming with dolphins and sea lions in Baird Bay as well as relaxing on other deserted beaches.

With the wind howling we couldn’t even get the kayaks off the roof of the car, let alone get to any offshore locations or even into the generally sheltered waters of Venus Bay.

Looking out towards the headlands of the protected Venus Bay

Looking out towards the headlands of the protected Venus Bay

So it was onto the FatBikes for some coastal fun around Venus Bay and across to Entrance Beach.

We jumped on the bikes and set off to explore along the coastal dunes

We jumped on the bikes and set off to explore along the coastal dunes

The sign says 4 wheel drive and we had 4 wheels so on we went

The sign says 4 wheel drive only and we had 4 wheels so on we went

After exploring around dunes we visited the Venus Bay Conservation Park which allowed us access to some wind swept but deserted beaches. The drive gets interesting when you reach the track over the and dunes.

You can just spot the kayaks on the roof of the car as we made our way along the track

You can just spot the kayaks on the roof of the car as we made our way along the track. The track is marked by posts as the track is lost in the sand

Robyn “the snake charmer” managed to have a chat with a good size brown snake who took off up the sand dune leaving only his “snake trail” in the sand. We didn’t follow.

Snake trails across the dune which were blown away within minutes

Snake trails across the dune which were blown away within minutes

This area is quite beautiful with views across Venus Bay.

Looking out towards the islands in the bay

Looking out towards the islands in the bay

We spent time sheltering out of the wind along with the local inhabitants.

Some of the locals sheltered with us on the beach

Some of the locals sheltered with us on the beach

The one paddle that I had really hoped to do was a visit to the “Dreadnoughts”, a group of bommies off the coast of Sceale Bay. On a paddle here 17 years ago, with a group of sea kayak instructors, we tried to weave our way through the breaks. Unsuccessfully I might add. The sea was calm and green as we admired a breaking bommie which soon turned to a wall of white foam when a set of rogue waves came through, cleaning up a couple of the group.

Today you wouldn’t want to be out there.

The photo doesnt do justice to the size of the waves as they extend right across the bay

The photo doesn’t do justice to the size of the waves as they extend right across the bay

We dropped into the once thriving town of Port Kenny. It had been a port serviced by the Mosquito Fleet of flat bottom boats that carted wheat and other goods from the towns along the coast, in the early 1900’s but sadly there are only a few houses and a pub left. There are remnants of previous travelers.

This was probably a very up-market model in its' day

This was probably a very up-market model in its’ day

We moved west in hope of better weather and camped at Smoky Bay. The wind still blew as we retired for the night.

We awoke to a hot and still morning. With no wind and clear blue skies we quickly unloaded the kayaks and paddled off to explore Smoky Bay.

A quick dip to cool off before heading out.

A quick dip to cool off before heading out.

Calm and very clear water ahead

Calm and very clear water ahead

Not a breath of wind and we were 2 km from shore

Not a breath of wind and we were 2 km from shore

We paddled for an hour or so to the other side of the bay where there are large numbers of oyster beds.

Oyster beds in the shallow waters of the bay

Oyster beds in the shallow waters of the bay

We saw Cirrus clouds streaking the sky as we turned for home. The wind again started to increase but  at least we had snuck in a good 2 hour paddle for about 900 km of travel and a week of waiting; still that’s sea kayaking for you.

The Reef

Horseshoe Reef. It’s been around for a long time; certainly longer than me and I feel a strange attraction. I remember being on the beach as a child watching the small boats fishing along the inside of the reef. I visited on school holidays, snorkeled out to the reef as a teenager and still explore it regularly by kayak.

The reef is part of the Mullawirraburka dreaming story of the local Kaurna aboriginal people telling how Mullawirraburka threw his spear into the water to bring the fish closer to the shore forming the reefs of Pt. Noarlunga and Christies Beach.

As the name suggests the reef is formed in an arc with the open end pointing to shore. On the seaward side the reef drops from a steep platform to a  flat expanses of stone and toward shore the reef becomes steeper then drops into 5m of water.

The reef is seldom flat calm. More often there is a confused sea caused by the meeting of waves but always it’s a fun place to hang out.

The outer steep reef edge generates a powerful wave which wraps around both ends of the reef  and in the right conditions these left and right waves peel around the horseshoe shape in opposite directions to collide with huge force.

That’s where the fun begins. You can catch a small wave heading south only to be met with one coming north and you are often spat out upwards; or sometimes you are just buried by a few ton of water. You might come back up the right way but not always.

Steve playing around on a calmer day……dsc_0461

The reef is a place for experienced paddlers and on the right day is an excellent place to put a few sea kayak skills to the test.

Steve8

The Reef on a stormy day

The Reef on a stormy day

But beware the dangers below as there is not only the reef to worry about but also its inhabitants. I guess we may not be the only ones enjoying the reef today.

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Get out and enjoy our local area but remember to “keep it safe” and stay within your ability.

Cheers
Ian Pope