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.

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.

The Kayak Launch

It’s a nice day with almost no wind and we decided to go for a paddle on the sea. Great idea ! The first thing you have to master is the “Kayak Launch” so that you can get out there and enjoy the fun times.

Charles on our “Sunday Sea Sojourn”

There’s all sorts of tips and tricks on internet media but a picture tells a thousand words (apparently) so here’s a few photos from Ian, Philip, Charles and Mike to show you how it’s done.

First make sure there are no small waves coming.

Ian (L) and Philip (R) show excellent wave judgment

Remember a support stroke might be needed to stabilise your kayak.

Ian effects a support stroke

Don’t worry if water splashes over you, it’s a wet sport.

Sometimes the wave might slightly impede your forward motion.
If a wave splashes towards you remember to close your mouth

When approaching a small wave lean forward to keep the kayak on an even keel.

Mike keeping it under control and on an even keel

Hope you have a nice day.
Ian, Philip, Mike, Charles and Robyn (our Photographer)

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

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.