Lightning Conductors

Q: Can a carbon fibre kayak paddle conduct lightning ?

A:  Yes, very, very well. Not as well as Aluminum, but the lightning has already bothered to jump across over a mile of air, the difference in connectivity of the last few feet will make little difference.

The weather forecast read : …..The chance of a thunderstorm from late this morning. 

Blue skies and sunshine greeted us on the beach. We negotiated the small shore break into crystal clear water and set off along the coast. We could see a ribbon of dark clouds on the horizon and some higher altitude cumulus was showing some height progression, but all was well.

Steve breaks out through a small wave
Interesting cloud formations
Checking out what’s coming

We picked our way along the reefy shoreline finding the calmer swell allowed us to get into places that were not normally accessible. Crystal clear water meant we could observe the reefy bottom with its’ jagged rocks and abundant sea life. This was an area we often visited for a session of Ocean Freestyle Playboating paddling, riding large waves and often making an inspection of the seabed. It was just a little concerning to get a really good look at the jagged barnacle covered rocks and reef that make those waves break.

The water is still chilly at this time in Spring, however, we were not the only ocean dwellers. We came across two snorkelers exploring the underwater coastline.

Snorkeling some distance offshore

There was a distant rumble of thunder and I saw a flash of lightning on the horizon. There were some darker clouds moving in quickly. We guessed it would be some time before it got to us so we headed to a reef that had small breaking waves. Sea Kayaks are not the most agile craft on a wave but the fun of riding a peeling wave shoreward with the reef whizzing by underneath is certainly exhilarating.

The dark clouds were closing and we discussed the possibility of a lightning strike seeing as we were the highest objects on the water and carrying a carbon paddle lightning conductor.

Q: Can a carbon fibre kayak paddle conduct lightning ?

A:  Yes, very, very well. Not as well as Aluminum, but the lightning has already bothered to jump across over a mile of air, the difference in connectivity of the last few feet will make little difference.

Dark clouds approaching

Probably much more chance of catching COVID or being hit by a run away bus, but still we decided on a return to shore.

We headed towards our launch point still catching a few small waves as we passed breaking reefs. I must have been a little complacent when I jumped on a wave with Steve and quickly found myself being dragged along upside down. A quick roll back up when the white water let me go resulted in clean sinus passages.

A great paddle in ideal conditions.

Adventures in Paradise

Cambridge English Dictionaryparadise noun usually singular, a place or condition of great happiness where everything is exactly as you would like it to be:

The water was clear giving a fish eye view as we powered along over the sea bed of sand, sea grass and shells. Paddling on the edge of the mangrove forest the water was clear but changeable in depth. One minute you felt like the bottom was rising up to meet you and next it was dropping away into the green depths.

We normally spend our kayaking time in deeper waters and often offshore, however the weather has not been kind these last few days, which is what you expect in the first month of Winter. So closer inshore was our best option and a great place to see the local birdlife.

There was a splash behind us and a fin speared past into deeper water. It seems that the local Bottle Nosed Dolphin pod was also patrolling along the mangrove forest. I readied my camera which meant they immediately bolted out of range.

We had a view of the mangrove forest

Did I hear singing coming from somewhere deep in the mangroves ? Was I imagining things ? It sounded like an aboriginal song and hopefully it wasn’t the local Barngala Aboriginal group singing to the dolphins and sharks to herd the fish in closer to shore where they could spear them. I’m all in favour of dolphin encounters, and welcome their appearance but I sure don’t want to see a sharks’ fin surface next to me. I think my paddling partner, Robyn, would blame me for an shark appearance.

We nudged into a small opening and found a creek that led deeper into the mangroves. There was evidence of past human use of the creek with a boat launching ramp now laying in disrepair.

The creek winds through the forest
A now abandoned launching area
Crystal clear water and lots of small fish darting about
Oyster catchers feeding in an open section of mangroves

A great day exploring the coast even if the weather was at times overcast and the temperature calling for gloves and beanie. Sometimes you need to get up close and personal to appreciate the aquatic environment.

This was an “Adventures in Paradise”. Paradise for the local Bottle Nosed dolphins; Paradise for the fish and other species that breed in the shallows; Paradise for the birds overhead and those foraging in the shallows; Paradise for us paddlers exploring along the coastline. Paradise because Spencer Gulf is uncrowded on the land as well as the water. Paradise because not only were we able to explore by kayak but the area hosts the worlds’ largest aggregation of the Australian Giant Cuttlefish.


Paradise also because COVID has been spreading in the other Australian states and South Australia had no local transmissions, so we have little in the way of restrictions. Something that won’t last forever given the state of the world.

After our kayak sessions we greeted the Giant Cuttlefish in their own environment, which is freezing cold in June. Donning every piece of wetsuit we owned gave us an hour of intrigue watching the mating ritual of the Cuttlefish. Seems a pity that the male mates and then dies 🙂

Remnants of a southern ocean swell meant slightly less than perfect visibility and a surge rolled us around somewhat.

I had only a small point and shoot waterproof camera so please excuse the average quality photos. Unfortunately I managed to drown another SLR camera recently (my second Nikon AW1) whilst filming fur seals playing under my kayak. I think it will be a return to a Canon unit for me.

There must be millions of these guys along the coast
Hey this guy was red a minute ago…now he’s blue

Sometimes the Cuttlefish were just as curious about us as we were of them. This one got up close and personal.

Who’s more curious ?

Here’s a link to a video I took previously in the area.

For you older folk out there, does anyone remember the TV show “Adventures in Paradise” which screened from 1959 to 1962. I certainly remember the adventures of the yacht Tiki 3 as it plied the South Pacific trade route. Starring James Holden, Gardner McKay and Lani Kai I must of had an interest in the sea at a very very early age.

It’s time for us to leave the ocean and head inland. Mountain Bike rides are always an Adventure in Paradise, especially when we can enjoy some trails in the northern Flinders Ranges.

Cheers
Ian and Robyn

Meet up with Sepia Apama

The morning had dawned cold and still which is a little unusual for these parts. There is normally a breeze from one direction or other that has to be taken into account. No wind, however, a sea fog was rolling in but didn’t discourage a paddle along the rocky coast line of the upper Spencer Gulf. We spent time wandering along the coastline passing Douglas Point and Fitzgerald Bay, headed towards Stony Point on the edge of False Bay.

A strange colour in the sky and a sea fog made for an eerie feeling.

The sea fog slowly rolling towards us.

Not much changes in this part of the coast. This is a photo of Pt Lowly in 1905 and again below on our visit. All of the buildings are still there.

Many overseas visitors seem to think that all the animals of Australia are out to sting, bite or eat them. Of course this is not true, but the snakes, sharks and crocodiles do seem to sit heavy on their mind.

But what about Sepia Apama ? They can camouflage themselves and spring out at their prey from behind a rock. Luckily they don’t have much of an appetite for German Backpackers or in fact any nationality, although, if you start poking your finger in his/her direction you night get a very nasty bite. So who is Sepia Apama ? Sepia Apama is more commonly called the Giant Australian Cuttlefish. Giant because they grow up to 60cm long and weigh up to 5kg.

It’s winter and that is mating season for tens of thousands of these interesting creatures who change color to camouflage themselves. The water was very clear and calm so they could be seen all along the rocky coastline of False Bay.

The best way to meet up with Sepia Apama is a dip into the rather chilly 11 degree C water with your camera wearing every bit of wetsuit you own, so here’s 2 minutes of what we saw on our quick dip. You will see the” mating procedure” at around 55 sec. on the video. After mating the female attaches her eggs under a rock

Great paddling area and some unusual creatures.
Ian and Robyn

 

 

 

 

Celebrate the Morning

Celebrate the Morning with a kayak paddle.
This is the view Sir Rodney (our senior paddler) has just before he launches and messes up the reflections.

Sir Rodney’s view of West Lakes at dawn every morning.

Greet the sun with Sir Rodney. Greet the dolphins and seals with Steve and Ian. Enjoy the seascape and Autumn calm waters because soon Winter will be upon us.  The only consolation is that there might be some waves along our local surf haunts as we move into the colder weather.

But in the meantime, here’s a little of our local coastline and friends.

 

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