The Sea Fog

It was an eerie morning as we wandered on to the beach, along with a few other early risers and dog walkers. The temperature was 28°C at 8am and the sea fog lingered around the headlands as we organised ourselves for a paddle.

An eerie feel to the morning as the sea fog lifts

They have been for a swim and are now ready to chase that ball

Only a few people on the beach

The physiotherapist had told me to take it easy on my injured shoulder (courtesy of a recent mountain bike crash) for the next couple of days. “That’s ok” I replied,” I’m just going for a quiet morning paddle with an old guy I know, so not too much exertion”.

It started out alright but then we both decided that a quiet paddle was a little boring and that a bit of play would be beneficial. Here’s a few photos from our “quiet play” session.

Steve gets belted on the way out and is carried backwards towards the shore.

…and makes a close inspection of the seabed.

Ian plays on a small wave….careful of that shoulder injury

…and bounces around in the choppy waves

Steve starts his famous kayak disappearing act

We don’t have to worry about special training sessions for rough water kayak skills; it’s almost an everyday occurrence for us.

Paddlers Ian and Steve
Photos Robyn

 

Michael versus the Mighty Murray River

Michael Steele, one of our long time paddling partners has always talked about paddling the Murray River. At 2508km it’s Australia’s longest river and flows through 3 Australian states.

It’s been done hundreds, if not thousands of times, in all sorts of craft, from paddle steamers and row boats to canoes and kayaks. Some people have even swum the distance, but Michael is looking for a record performance.

He’s not worried about the fastest time, oldest paddler or any such nonsense. He’s trying to set a meaningful record for someone his age, by recording the most number of Lawn Bowls games played, whilst paddling the River Murray in a kayak. Michael is an avid lawn bowler and intends to “have a roll” on every bowling green he sees.

I have seen photos of Michael climbing a glacier, paddling oceans, walking the Kokoda Track and climbing mountains so Lawn Bowls shouldn’t be a problem.

A kayak, a Lawn Bowler, the mighty Murray River; what could possibly go wrong ?

A Fickle Wind

I awoke before dawn and felt the wind on my face. The forecast last night had been reasonable for a solo kayak excursion with a 10 knot breeze predicted in the morning. Standing on the cliff it felt strange indeed with wind seeming to shift and swirl and certainly well above 10 knots. Maybe it would ease at dawn as it often does along this coast. Indeed a fickle wind.

The lighthouse on Troubridge Hill was still beaming seaward and stars were still visible in the sky as I made my way to the launch site.

Troubridge Hill Lighthouse beaming seaward from the hill

As the sun rose I had a better idea of the conditions from my protected bay, with the wind gusting to 15 knots close inshore. The binoculars showed confused conditions further offshore with standing waves tossing about on the Troubridge Shoal which I needed to traverse if I was to visit Troubridge Island and its’ heritage lighthouse.

I consulted with a local and it seemed not likely to ease any time soon and suggested I find a sheltered spot to enjoy the day .

Getting local knowledge can be hard at times

Paddling solo is always full of challenges especially when my route was 8km offshore traversing the Troubridge Shoal which had been the site of so many shipwrecks and groundings. I sat and waited for a while hoping to see some improvement in the conditions but there was none.

Safety first. Decision made. NO offshore paddling today. I thought about my alternatives; I could do some snorkelling and photography under the Edithburgh Jetty……

I might even meet a mermaid

..or I could hit the beaches on the Fatbike or paddle along the more protected section of the coast, staying well inshore. The Paddle idea won out so I put on the coffee and relaxed a while.

I launched at the Edithburgh marina finding that I was the only vessel heading out today. The plan was to head north towards Wool Bay visiting Coobowie along the way and depending on the wind paddle back or be collected by Robyn.

I was soon out into a 12-15 knot tailwind which sent me rocketing along the coast past the Sea Swimmimg Pool which had a population at this time of day of one.

Robyn and I had visited the pool the previous night when conditions had been calm and the temperature warmer.

The Pool at night was a nice place to relax.

The marina was also calm last night with the moon reflecting on the water.

The marina bathed in moonlight the previous night

I was soon gliding along enjoying the exercise in company with a local dolphin pod. Unfortunately they were camera shy because as soon as I stopped paddling and grabbed the camera they shot off underwater.

The waters close inshore can be shallow with jagged limestone outcrops to keep you on your toes but overall I had quite an easy down wind paddle towards the oyster beds at Coobowie. I weaved in and around them enjoying the clear water.

Oyster bed structures

Gliding along in clear water made for easy fish spotting

I spotted a variety of fish as well as stingrays in the shallows and an interesting “foul ground” marker.

The float is an aluminium beer keg. Hope they emptied it first.

I ventured further along the coast before turning for home and into a headwind. The return trip was quite uneventful as I stayed in close inshore and out of the worst of the headwind. Returning to Edithburgh I paddled under the jetty noting the damage done by recent storms.

The stairs are closed and held together with chains and strong ropes.

I landed quietly in the marina being the only person to be seen.

My solo paddle to Troubridge Island and it’s historical Lighthouse will have to wait until another day.

Happy Paddling
Ian Pope

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. 🙂

 

 

 

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

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